Kruger's northern-most SANParks rest camp, Punda Maria is a camp for the wildlife connoisseur. If you're a botanist or a birder, this is a superb area to explore, with many plant species found nowhere else in the park, and easy access to the birding bonanza of Pafuri. For general game viewing it lacks the density and diversity of further south, but is very good for elephants and large buffalo herds. You won't be tripping over lion here, although large prides do turn up occasionally, but there's a good chance of spotting leopard.
The camp itself has undergone extensive modernisation, with a new gate complex, a new swimming pool, waterhole and hide, and a day visitor facility, but the accommodation units themselves still retain their old-world charm.
The camp site has 50 pitches for tent or caravan, 16 of them with power. There are also seven fully equipped en suite two-bed safari tents. There are 18 two person bungalows, without kitchen facilities, and four three-bed bungalows with kitchenettes. All bungalows have toilets and showers. Two family bungalows each have six beds in three bedrooms, fully equipped and with satellite TV.
Punda Maria has the standard main rest camps facilities, including restaurant, cafeteria, shop, laundromat, filling station and swimming pool.
Guided bush walks, game drives, bush breakfast and bush braais are bookable at reception. There is also a pleasant walk around camp, the Paradise flycatcher nature trail, with great bird watching, especially in summer.
Visits to Thulamela archaeological site, around 50km north, can be arranged – enquire at reception. Punda Maria is also the jumping off point for the Nyalaland wilderness trail, probably the most spectacular and certainly the most remote of Kruger's popular wilderness trails.
Wildlife in camp
You could easily spend a day notching up bird species around camp, especially in summer months. Remember to look up for raptors, including the Verreaux's eagle. The birdwatching doesn't stop at night, when several species of owl may be heard and seen. Elephant shrews can also be seen in camp, while an evening braai may well attract a hungry genet.
Nearest park entrance gate
Punda Maria gate is 7km from camp.