If it’s away from the madding crowd you’re after, Tsendze Rustic Camp in the Northern region of the Kruger National Park, is an absolute gem.
Make sure to allow at least an hour prior to gate closing time to check in at the nearby rest camp, Mopani. Here you are allocated your campsite number. That’s another great thing about Tsendze, you can choose your spot in advance. Once you have your confirmed booking via Sanparks, contact Mopani with the reservation number. We stayed in stand number 14 which is a really good spot if you want to be near the perimeter fence. Other good options are site numbers 3, 24 or 26. If you prefer to be near the ablution facilities, try site numbers 10, 11 or 17.
Mopani Rest Camp has wonderful facilities including a fuel station, a really well-stocked shop and a delightful restaurant with great views if you want to spoil yourself.
There are lots of game driving routes in the area and two bird hides close by. Be prepared for many elephant encounters and very large herds of buffalo in the area.
Our attraction to the central and northern regions of the Kruger National Park is due to the fact that it’s not as popular as the south where the roads can get somewhat congested due to the prolific numbers of “cat” sightings. The north has it’s fair share but the beauty of it is you need to make your own finds. This to us is far more thrilling!
Back to Tsendze Rustic Camp! There are a total of 30 sites which are all relatively private in comparison to other camps. The gorgeous old leadwood trees and Mopani thicket add an awesome ambiance. The bird life is abundant, it’s easy to spend a full relaxing day in camp going from tree to tree exploring. One can also walk the perimeter fence however in early January it was very overgrown.
Two ablution blocks and two kitchens service the sites. There is no electricity. Ablution lights rely on solar and there are gas geysers supplying hot water. Each ablution has an outdoor shower option which is absolutely stunning.
Animals to be on the look out for are the rare Tsessebe and Roan Antelope. We were lucky enough to find both! Elephants are far more aggressive in the north of the park so make sure to give them room and do not aggravate them in any way. Should you find yourself in an awkward spot, keep dead still and quiet, and switch off your engine.
Temperatures are very high in the north. In January be prepared for some pretty hectic electric storms, heavy rain and temps in the mid 40’s. Wet towels are a godsend!!! Vlakvark’s aging seams around the windows did let a fair bit of rain in but hey, it adds to the fun of camping. As hardened campers, we deal with it!
Just a few kilometers north of Mopani you will cross the Tropic of Capricorn and of course the further north you venture, the larger the baobabs become as well as the elephants!
In conclusion, as a camper in Kruger there’s definitely a few camps you should not miss out on. This is one of those, alongside Balule and Maroela. Tsendze is one of the top 3 in Kruger for the serious camper. No shop, no electricity, blissfully quiet. Go prepared!