Route to Elephant Plains: Various Possibilities

There are various routes to Elephant Plains. It’s best to choose the route to Elephant Plains depending upon the places you are visiting before and after EP.

From Johannesburg (6 to 7 hrs)

Route – Johannesburg OR Tambo – Witbank – Dullstroom – Lydenburg – Ohrigstad – South African Wildlife College – Elephant Plains

  • Turn left onto the R540 past Dullstroom to Lydenburg.
  • From Lydenburg take the R36 to Origstad. Pass through the JG Strijdom Tunnel.
  • From the tunnel, continue for approx. 27 km before turning right to go towards Klaserie.
  • Continue straight along the Klaserie road until you reach a sign pointing to Orpen & The South African Wildlife College.
  • Turn left and continue on the R531 for about 30 km until you see the entrance to The South African Wildlife College on your left-hand side.
  • Immediately after the College, you will see a small dirt track on your right-hand side, which takes you off of the tar road.
  • After reaching Hluvukani, follow the map as indicated.
  • Drive past the Orpen & South African Wildlife College turn off and continue straight on until you reach Acornhoek.
  • Turn left at the traffic light and follow below directions and map.

Note – On this route, Hippo Jessica is a detour of 30 Km but it becomes tough to fit with the timings of Hippo Jessica which is closed in the afternoon.

From Johannesburg via Panoramic Route

Route – Johannesburg OR Tambo – Witbank – Dullstroom – Lydenburg – Graskop – God’s Window – Bourke’s Luck – Acornhoek – Elephant Plains

If you want to do Panoramic Route, it will be around 70 Km more than the direct route:

  • Take the N4 from JHB / Pretoria. Bypass Witbank and Middelburg, continue on to Belfast.
  • Turn left onto the R540 past Dullstroom to Lydenburg.
  • From Lydenburg take R 533 to Graskop
  • From Graskop take R 532 for Panoramic Route.
  • For God’s Window and Wonder View take a detour on R534. After that continue on R532
  • Stop at Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels Viewpoint
  • Then take R36
  • After that take R527, follow for approximately 17 Km
  • Then take  R531
  • Then take R40 towards Acornhoek.
  • One you reach Acornhoek, follow the map

From Johannesburg via Nelspruit (Dullstroom won’t come en-route)

Route – Johannesburg OR Tambo – Witbank – Nelspruit – Hazyview – Bushbuckridge – Acornhoek – Elephant Plains

  • From Johannesburg, take the N12 to Emalahleni (Witbank).
  • At Emalahleni (Witbank), take the N4 to Nelspruit.
  • You will go through 2 national toll gates on this road – Please ensure to carry enough money for all toll gates.
  • Take the R40 from Nelspruit to White River and proceed to Hazyview.
  • Remain on the R40 towards Bushbuckridge
  • Turn right at the traffic lights (Acornhoek) – to Manyeleti / Tulamahashe / Hluvukani
  • Then follow map

From Orpen Gate (2 hrs)

  • Leave Orpen Gate and continue on the R531 for about 10km.
  • Just before you reach The South African Wildlife College on your right-hand side, you will see a dirt track on your left. Take the dirt track. (If you stay on the paved road till you see a sign for the Southern Africa Wildlife College. you have gone too far!). The unpaved road twists a little, keep heading south. You pass by a couple of small communities. And finally, reach Hluvukani.
  • At Hluvukani, turn left (east) and in a few kilometres, you will see signs for Gowrie gate.
  • Drive through the gate pay your fees, and follow the signs to Elephant Plains.

From Acornhoek/Hluvukani as indicated on Elephants Plain Map

  • Travel from Acornhoek to Hluvukani for 38 Km. 
  • At Hluvukani you will see a Viva Garage on your right
  • Follow the tar road for approximately 6.8 Km towards Manyelethi.
  • Turn right onto the dirt road at Seville A & Sabi Sand signs
  • Follow the dirt road for 6.4 km until Utha Clinic is on left.
  • Turn left on gravel road (Utha Store will be on the right) – 7 km to the Gowrie Gate.
  • Entrance fee to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve is payable in cash (ZAR 190 per vehicle & ZAR 50 per person)
  • Please note the Gowrie Gate is only open between 5:00am & 11:00pm
  • Travel straight through the Gowrie Gate. At signboards continue straight to Elephants plains – 6.1 km
  • Turn to Elephant Plains & follow the road for 2.4 Km until the entrance to the lodge.


  • Please note that the lodge can only be reached through the Gowrie Gate and not through Newington or Shaws Gate. Due to river crossings, it is also not possible to travel through the reserve. The last +/- 20km is a dirt road. Allow yourself at least 45 minutes from the end of the tar road to the lodge.
  • The road is better through South African Wildlife College then Acornhoek. But route through Acornhoek might be a tad bit easier to find.
  • Do map your route beforehand.
  • Carry a map from Elephant Plains’ website along with GPS.
  • At times, GPS doesn’t take the right route. In GPS, enter the next destination instead of the final destination so it takes you through the right route.
  • After Acornhoek/Hluvukani, follow the map and do not trust the GPS.

Basically, there are many different routes from Johannesburg to Elephant Plains, direct or via panoramic route and you have to plan according to the places you want to see.

Planning a trip to Kruger?

Check out all the other posts in Kruger series:
Kruger Trip Planning Essentials and a comparison between the Kruger National Park and the Kruger Private Reserve
Our Detailed Itinerary and Trip Report – Part 1 – Satara Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park
Our Detailed Itinerary and Trip Report – Part 2  – Elephant Plains in the Kruger Private Reserve

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