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Punda Maria, Kruger National Park: Camp Review

SA Logue brings you the lowdown on the camps of the Kruger National Park. See our Kruger Camps tag for more.

Punda Maria Camp

Where is it? In the stunning sandstone hills of the park’s very far north. It’s the closest camp to the park’s border with Zimbabwe – the great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo River – and, because of its small size and splendid peace and quiet – not to mention the extraordinary landscapes that characterize the area – it’s my favorite place in the whole of Kruger. Punda Maria definitely gets SA Logue’s Best of Kruger award.

How large is it? Small – but not as small as a Bushveld camp (like, i.e., Biyamiti). It has a tiny restaurant and a tiny shop.

What price range? This camp is in the lower end, for Kruger accommodation, because it’s one of the oldest (least modern) in the park. (In fact, I think it’s the olders, but am not 100% sure.)

What kind of facilities does it provide? Accommodation, night drives, bush walks, restaurant and shop. There are no stand-alone cabins at Punda Maria (whose name derives from a modification of the Swahili “punda malia”, meaning “zebra”), just barracks-style rows of rooms that share a thatched roof. Each evening, a park ranger comes along to light your own room’s outdoor wick lamp, and you sit in the dusk, looking out over the mopane trees and listening to the yips of hyenas.

Official website (map, pictures of the accommodation, booking, etc.): Punda Maria Camp.

Camp notes: Don’t miss a chance to see the Thulamela Archaeological Ruins, if you venture as far north as Punda. It’s a reconstructed, Iron Age foothill kingdom that you walk to (with armed rangers), and it overlooks a forest of baobab trees. Outstanding. Then there’s Crook’s Corner, an area in the park’s extreme northeast, where the borders of SA, Zimbabwe and Mocambique meet – and which would be shifted by poachers to suit their requirements, depending on the nationality of the law enforcers trying to catch them!

What you might see getting and staying there: Wild dogs, if you’re extremely lucky; otherwise, the unusually pretty Nyala antelope.