The R40 heads north from Nelspruit along the western border of the Kruger National Park, passing through prosperous tropical-fruit-growing farmlands and crowded, poverty-stricken African areas. The only reason you’re likely to find yourself heading north along this road from Hazyview is to access the private game reserves – Sabi Sands, Manyeleti or Timbavati – that join up with the western flank of Kruger, or to reach the Orpen Gate, for the rewarding central section of Kruger National Park. Though marked prominently on maps, Klaserie, which lies on the border of Mpumalanga and Limpopo Province, is little more than an easily missed petrol station and shop, surrounded by a number of private game farms – poor cousins to the pricier lodges inside the game reserves to the east.
North of the Mpumalanga border, in Limpopo, you’ll pass little towns en route to the central section of Kruger National Park and the Manyeleti and Timbavati private game reserves. Coming down the Escarpment along the R36/R527 from the Blyde River viewpoints, you’ll encounter a fork in the road after about 75km. The more northerly road leads to the towns of Hoedspruit, which is not a desirable destination or place to base yourself, particularly in the area at the foot of the Escarpment, and Klaserie. Much further north and generally reached from Polokwane on the N1, the mining town of Phalaborwa is conveniently 2km from the Phalaborwa Gate into central Kruger and the rewarding camps of Letaba and Olifants.
At the Elephant Sanctuary, 5km from Hazyview on the R536 road to Sabie, you can touch and feed the two orphaned elephants rescued from a culling programme. A variety of programmes offers close encounters with the elephants – the “Brush Down” Programme, where you groom the animals and feel the texture of their skin and ears, combined with “Trunk in Hand” where you walk alongside them, lightly holding their trunks, is recommended. Rides are also available.