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Tsendze rustic camp, Kruger National Park

Located in the top section of Kruger National Park, Tsendze rustic camp is one of those places that after you find it, you want to keep it to yourself.

Tsendze is perfect for those who are looking for a self-catering rustic bushveld experience, away from the Kruger crowds. For other tips on how to beat the crowds in Kruger, read this post

Waterbuck female and her calf in the bush
A waterbuck and her calf near the rustic camp.

Tsendze comes from the Tsonga word ‘tsendzeleka’ meaning “turn around”  in reference to someone lost in the bush.

Tsendze rustic camp is 27 miles north of Letaba rest camp and only 5 miles south of Mopani Rest Camp by the seasonal Tsendze river. Tsendze is in the Mooiplaas Ranger Section area, which is known for large herds of buffalo, many elephant bulls, lions, and waterbucks. The camp is shaded by mopane trees, leadwood, and apple leaf trees. 

four elephants walking on dry grass
Elephants near Tsendze

Tsendze rustic camp facilities

Tsendze rustic campsite is managed from Mopani camp and has no reception area. Check-in time is at least 1 hour before the gate closes and it takes place at Mopani Restcamp. Before entering Tsendze you must have checked in. 

The closest Kruger gate to Tsendze camp is Phalaborwa gate, which is 43 miles away and over 1 hour drive to camp. Make sure you take this into account when arriving the first day as you have to go to Mopani first. 

Tsendze has 34  tent/caravan sites.  Maximum of 6 persons per site. If you are after a specific site you can try and ask for that particular site when booking.  Each camping site is equipped with its own braai stand and a rubbish bin. One fresh water tap is shared per three sites. 

The entrance gate at Tsendze rustic camp site is always closed so you have to get out of your car to open the gate and close it behind you. Always double-check for wildlife before leaving your car. 

Tsendze rustic camp wooden gate
Tsendze Rustic Camp gate
yellow tent set by a fence
One of the Tsendze campsites
table and two camp chairs at a camping spot
Dining at Tsendze
  • There are NO chalets or rooms at Tsendze. 
  • Two communal camp kitchens.
  • Two ablution facilities (wheelchair friendly and with an option of open-air showers).
person on a trail with long grass
The short trail to one of the communal kitchen at Tsendze Rustic Camp in Kruger.
kitchen facilities at a rest camp
One of the kitchen blocks at the rustic camp
outdoor tiled shower
Outdoor shower at Tsendze
  • Warm water from gas geysers, with lights from a solar battery system.
  • There is no electricity supply at any of the campsites. No power points.
  • No portable power generators are allowed.
  • Two communal refrigeration facilities are available.
  • No shop, restaurant, or fuel station in camp (all available at Mopani 4.3 miles away).
  • No ATM at camp.
  • No Reception office at camp.

Keep your outdoor lighting to a minimum to not disturb other visitors. 

Activities at Tsendze Rustic Camp

There are no activities available at Tsendze. Guests can book all activities available at Mopani Rest Camp reception (or on tel: (013) 735 6535/6) and guests will be picked up from Tsendze main gate.

There’s a little trail that goes along the perimeter fence if you want to go for a short walk. Bear in mind that this trail goes through all the campsites, so be respectful of other guests.

rest camp fence
Tsendze perimeter fence.

Tsendze is right next to the lovely Mooiplaas picnic site overlooking the Tsendze riverbank. Perfect spot if you are meeting someone or if you want to have lunch out of the rain. 

picnic spot in Kruger
Mooiplaas picnic spot, Kruger National Park

Activities at Mopani Rest Camp

One of the great things about Tsendze is that you are camping in a rustic camp away from the busy camps, but at the same time you are really close to Mopani Rest Camp where you can take advantage of the facilities of a main rest camp, like the restaurant with its gorgeous views over the Pioneerdam. 

table overlooking a dam
View from Mopani restaurant
View of a dam
View from the restaurant at Mopani Rest Camp


All activities can be booked at reception.

  • Guided bush walks and game drives 
  • Bush Breakfast and Bush Braai (Barbecue). Includes game drive to the venue. 
  • Tropic of Capricorn: (located 12km north of the camp)
  • Pioneer Dam Bird Hide (located 4km outside the camp and just south of Mopani)
  • Wildlife films (shown daily at reception during office hours)
  • In camp, trail walk, following the fence. This trail brings you down to the water level. There is a fence between the trail and the water, so it is safe from wildlife like crocodiles and elephants. Perfect place to search for crocodiles, elephants, and other wildlife across the Pioneer reservoir. 
baby crocodile on a rock
Spot baby crocodiles along the trail.

Game drives from Tsendze

Shipandani overnight hide is only ten minutes away from Tsendze. While the bird hides can be booked overnight, these are available for all guests during the day. 

Bird hide by a river
Shipandani bird hide and grey heron
crocodile swimming in a river
African jacana and crocodile at Tsendze river

11 miles north of Tsendze you can visit the Tropic of Capricorn sign. You can get there using the main Shingwedzi-Mopani road, or if you have more time, take the Tropic of Capricorn loop. 

A one-hour drive north will take you to the popular Red Rocks Lookout. 

Final thoughts

Tsendze is the perfect camp in Kruger for those looking for a bush experience and who still want to be near facilities. This is a very popular rustic camp, so make your booking well in advance.

lion belly up
Tsendze is the perfect place to rest

Cristina Garcia

Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has worked in the field with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Directors of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization.

Read her posts at Travel For Wildlife and see more of her work at Truly Wild, & Our Wild Yard.