If you are planning on visiting the Kruger National Park you should know a few things about this world-famous park before you arrive.
The park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Africa and it offers many opportunities for game viewing, learning, recreation, and nature photography.
Here is an overview of the Kruger National Park:
1. Uniqueness – The park is the flagship of the South African national parks and is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. The park is 350 kilometers from north to south, about 60 kilometers wide and has five perennial rivers traversing it.
2. Location and history – The park is located in the North East of South Africa in two provinces, namely Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. The park borders Mozambique to the east and Zimbabwe to the north. The Kruger Park was first proclaimed in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve and in 2002 the fences between Kruger and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou, were taken down to create the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).
3. Size – nearly 20 000 square kilometers just in South Africa. The Kruger parks gets about 1.5 million visitors per year making it South Africa’s second most popular tourist attraction behind only the city of Cape Town.
4. Known for – a combination of comfortable and affordable accommodation, good quality roads, unique rest camps, amazing diversity of wildlife, about 120 waterholes along the tourist roads and very good photographic opportunities for animals both in and out the camps.
5. Roads – There are about 850 kilometers of tarred roads in the Park, 1444 kilometers gravel roads and more than 4200 kilometers of fire breaks in the park. You do not need a 4×4 unless you are going into Mozambique or going on one of the 4×4 trails in the park. The southern Kruger park is situated 440 km from Johannesburg and the northern part about 530 kilometers from Johannesburg. You can fly to Nelspruit, Phalaborwa or Skukuza and then hire a car or drive from Johannesburg. The roads leading to the nine park entrance gates from cities in South Africa are all tarmac and in good condition.
6. Weather – The Kruger has two main seasons; the rainy season and the dry season. The subtropical climate has hot rainy summers starting in October and ending around March. The summer rains transform the park into a lush flowering paradise, but the increased plant life can make game viewing and photography more difficult. The winter months from April to September are pleasant with warm dry days and cool to cold nights. Traditionally, the best game viewing is in late winter as the vegetation becomes sparse and water is restricted to rivers and water holes but we have had good game viewing in all seasons.
7. Accommodation – The Kruger has the full spectrum from luxury lodges to camping. If you enjoy a self-drive budget safari then this is the park for you! There are 25 rest camps with huts, tents, guest houses, cottages, and bungalows; most with fully equipped kitchens, air conditioners, en-suite bathrooms and all the units are serviced daily
8. Activities and Facilities – you have a choice from 5 wilderness trails, 4×4 adventure trails, backpacking trails, mountain bike trails, night drives, self-drive safaris, bush walks and bush barbeques. There are nearly 3000 kilometers of game viewing roads, 11 bird hides (including two that are ‘sleep-over’ hides), 14 picnic sites, shops and restaurants at all the main camps and swimming pools at most main camps. Skukuza, the biggest camp, has an ATM machine, a bank, a library, a doctor, a church, two restaurants, a plant nursery, two swimming pools, conference centre, golf course – you name it Skukuza has it!
9. Safety Tips – Please stay in your vehicles when in the park and please stick to the speed limit. People have been attacked by animals when getting out of their cars while others have died when speeding caused their vehicle to end up in the Letaba river!
10. Things to seek in the Kruger:
- The Big Five – Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino.
- Africa’s Small Five – Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle.
- The Big Six Birds – Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet- faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Saddle-bill Stork.
- Big Five Trees – The Baobab, Fever Tree, Lala Palm, Sausage Tree, and Umbrella Thorn, all make ideal photographic subjects due to their unique shapes and colors.
- Africa’s Super Seven – The Big Five plus Cheetah and Wild Dogs.
- Africa’s Elusive Eleven – nocturnal animals that are rare so don’t put your camera away after the sun goes down!
- Natural/Cultural Features – Letaba Elephant Museum, Jock of the Bushveld Route, Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library, and the archaeological sites of Thulamela, Masorini and Albasini.
- The superb views from Olifants camp, Tshanga and Nkumbe lookout points.
- Pafuri and Mlondozi – the two best picnic sites in the park.
- Sunset dam and Lake Panic bird hide for excellent game viewing.
The Kruger National Park offers a safari experience that ranks with the best in Africa and the park’s genuine African atmosphere has an fascination that entices visitors to return again and again.