Tsendze Rustic Camp – a hidden gem in the Kruger

The twelve main rest camps are usually the only camps many travelers consider staying at in the Kruger National Park, however there are many other hidden gems the park offers.

One of these gems I discovered recently, is Tsendze Rustic Camp.

Tsendze is a rustic camp site about 7km south of the Mopani Rest Camp. It offers only 34 stands, all of which are covered with luscious greens in the summer which provide ample shade for those hot bushveld days. The majority of stands are located next to the fence, making it ideal for wildlife viewing especially since the seasonal Tsendze River next to the camp attracts an abundance of wildlife.

The camp, as the name implies is rustic, which means there is no electricity, no convenience store, no restaurant and more than often, no lights. Generators are also not allowed, as this is a low-impact noise facility. Upon entry through the bulky wooden gates, which you have to open and close yourself, you get the immediate sense that this is a peaceful camp and your fellow campers are those type of people who has a true love and respect for the bush.

Tsendze Rustic Campsite
There is ample shade for all stands during the summer months

The camp offers two communal kitchens and ablution blocks. The bathroom lights are generated by a solar battery system (if the weather allows), so it is advisable to always take a torch with you. One great feature about this camp is the outdoor showers. This was the only shower I used because it gives you the opportunity to gaze at the stars and take in the fresh air while washing all your troubles away.

The kitchen offers sinks for washing up, gas stoves, and deep freezers for campers who want to keep their perishable items frozen during the time at the Tsendze.

On our first night at Tsendze Rustic Camp we were greeted by Rodgerh Hobyane and Elina Mona, they have been managing the camp for many years.

You won’t get this personal and heartening welcome at any other camp in the Kruger.

Rodgerh is also an expert in locating the African Scops Owl sleeping in one of the many trees in camp. Camouflaged like the bark of the tree, it’s only an experienced eye like Rodgerh’s who can find these sleeping owls during the day.

African Scops' Owl
African Scops Owl perfectly camouflaged in one of the trees at Tsendze Rustic Camp

You can also look forward to the diverse ensemble of bush night sounds at Tsendze. Just as you are about to fall asleep with the song of the local Scops owls rhythmic kyoot-kyoot, you will be awaken by the laugh of a hyena and a few minutes later the roar of a lion in the far distance. Minutes later a hippo and then the trumpet of an elephant. All of this happened in one night.

I’ve never experienced such wealth of night sounds like I have at Tsendze. You won’t get to experience such an intensity of night sounds at any of the main camps.

If the main camps are too crowded, and you are looking for a different, basic and truly bushveld Kruger experience, go stay at Tsendze.

Bookings for Tsendze Rustic Camp can be made through the SANParks website:

https://www.sanparks.org/

Check-in is at Mopanie Rest Camp and give them a call ahead of time to request a specific site.