Visit Kruger National Park during SANParks Week

Visit the Kruger National Park during SANParks Free Access Week 2020! The annual South African National Parks Week is an initiative aimed at giving all South African citizens the opportunity to experience the incredible variety of National Parks our country has to offer. This year SANParks will celebrate its 15th annual South African National Parks Week from the 16th – 20th of November 2020, granting free access to day visitors to most of its National Parks across the country, including the renowned Kruger National Park (KNP).

The week-long campaign will be applicable to all the National Parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Namaqua National Park, the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway in Table Mountain National Park.

Total South Africa and First National Bank (FNB) are official partners, helping SANParks achieve its vision to create a sustainable National Park System that connects society. The purpose of this amazing initiative is to familiarise and create awareness of the National Parks that exist in South Africa and foster a greater understanding of environmental conservation amongst South African citizens as well as cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage.

“It is important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of our National Parks.” – SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni

The SANParks Free Access Week celebration usually takes place during September (tourism month) but due to the global COVID-19 pandemic this year, SANParks moved the event to a later date with the hope that the country would have moved to a lower level of lockdown allowing freer movement of people who ordinarily could not afford to visit the Kruger National Park as well as its other National Parks.

The Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park Gareth Coleman reiterated his excitement to welcome South African citizens to the Kruger National Park, while highlighting the importance of adhering to COVID-19 protocols and regulations in his statement: “The country is on Alert Level 1 of the lockdown in November; we are happy to give access to our people for them to come and enjoy their natural heritage, even if under unusual circumstances. We are still under lockdown and the virus is still with us; therefore we would like to request the public to continue to observe all the COVID-19 protocols including sanitising, wearing of face masks, and observing social distancing.”

Conditions for free entry into Kruger National Park

  • All South Africans must produce a valid SA ID to enter for free during South African National Parks Week. No electronic copies of IDs will be accepted.
  • Only children below the age of 16 gain entry without proof of identity.
  • Groups regarded as commercial ventures: private open safari vehicles operators, tourists who come to the Park on tour buses and overnight visitors are not included in this free access arrangement.
  • It should be noted that free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.
  • All members of the public visiting the Kruger National Park and other National Parks are requested to adhere to all the COVID-19 protocols and regulations including sanitising, wearing of face masks, and observing social distancing.
  • Due to COVID-19, all the parks will be operating under capacity constraints, and a first come – first serve basis principle will apply. To find out more regarding the capacity constraints and daily quotas allowed per National Park, visit the SANParks website.

Kruger National Park Gate Quotas

Gate 0 – 2 hours
after gate opens
2 – 4 hours
after gate opens
4+ hours
after gate opens
Crocodile Bridge Gate 320 192 192
Kruger Gate 192 128 192
Malelane Gate 192 128 192
Numbi Gate 192 128 192
Orpen Gate 192 128 128
Phabeni Gate 256 128 128
Pafuri Gate 128 128 128
Phalaborwa Gate 192 128 192
Punda Maria Gate 128 128 192

Reference: SANParks

Top attractions & experiences

Visit Kruger National Park during SANParks Week

  • The Big Five: Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino.
  • The Little Five: Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle.
  • Birding Big Six: Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet- faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Saddle-bill Stork.
  • Five Trees: Baobab, Fever Tree, Knob Thorn, Marula, Mopane.
  • Natural/Cultural Features: Letaba Elephant Museum, Jock of the Bushveld Route, Albasini Ruins, Masorini Ruins, Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library, Thulamela.

Available activities

Visit Kruger National Park during SANParks Week

  • Self-drives & game drives
  • Wilderness trails
  • Guided Walks
  • 4×4 Trails
  • Mountain biking
  • Eco Trails
  • Wildlife sightings
  • Bird watching

“SANParks and their employees proudly look after National Parks for the people of our country and the world. During SA National Parks Week we encourage all South Africans; in particular those from communities that border the Park and may never have an opportunity to visit to make a turn and come and see for themselves. This is why during the SA National Parks Week we offer free access to all the citizens of South Africa. We would like to make the public aware however that entries are limited. Because we are a conservation area we must observe the normal daily quota for visitors at the gates so people must arrive early. Quotas still apply during that week and entry will be given on a first come first served basis.” – Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park Gareth Coleman

Visit the SANParks website for more information.

Issued by:
South African National Parks – Kruger National Park

To find out more about the Kruger National Park and all the reasons why you should go on a Kruger Park Safari check out our blog!

 

National Parks included in SANParks Week

It’s time to explore the renowned Kruger National Park like you never have before. Boasting nearly 2.2 million hectares of unspoiled African bushveld that stretches for 352 kilometres across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north of South Africa, the Kruger National Park is not only the third largest National Park in the world, but the flagship of South Africa’s national parks. Lying in the heart of the Lowveld, the Kruger Park offers an unparalleled African safari and wildlife experience that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before

It’s no surprise that wildlife and nature lovers travel from all around the world to witness the unspoilt natural beauty and untamed wilderness of the Kruger National Park first-hand. If going on an authentic African safari in the Kruger National Park is not on your bucket-list, you better add it right away – trust us, you won’t be disappointed in the slightest!

Here are some of the top reasons why you should go on a Kruger Park safari.

EXCELLENT WILDLIFE & BIG 5 SIGHTINGS

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

The Kruger National Park’s incredible diversity of wildlife is one of the top reasons why it is regarded as the crown jewel of South Africa’s national parks. Through careful wildlife management and dedicated conservation initiatives, the Kruger National Park has established itself as one of the top destinations in Africa to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Not to mention one of the best reserves to see the renowned African Big 5. Dubbed the treasures of the African bushveld, the iconic Big 5 include the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. These remarkable animals often take centre stage, with locals and tourists travelling from all corners of the globe to witness them first-hand.

Besides the African Big 5, the Kruger National Park is home to more than 148 (the most of any African country) of southern Africa’s 350 mammal species, 18 of which are listed in the Red Data Book, approximately 507 bird species, 18 reptile species, 35 species of amphibians, and 50 indigenous freshwater fish species.

The Kruger is also known for its spectacular sightings of endangered or ‘rarely seen’ animals such as the African wild dogs, cheetah, sable, and roan antelope. That’s not all – The Kruger is where you will find the beloved members that make up the Little 5. Africa’s Little 5 include the leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion, and the red-billed buffalo weaver. The Kruger National Park’s incredible and diverse wildlife is without a doubt one of the top reasons to go on a Kruger Park safari.

SIX DIFFERENT ECOSYSTEMS IN ONE PARK

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

The Kruger National Park boasts 2.2 million hectares of unspoilt African wilderness and spans a total of almost 20 000 square kilometres. Such a large space means that no part of the Kruger Park is the same. Stretching across Mpumalanga and Limpopo and bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the park gives rise to a diverse ecology as well as six different ecosystems. Besides the fact that the Kruger National Park is home to the renowned African Big 5, as well as an incredible diversity of wildlife and birdlife, the changing landscape of the Kruger means that there are more than 2 000 plant species present in the park, and six major rivers flowing through it, supporting a rich and diverse habitat.

EASILY ACCESSIBLE

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

Whether you’re going on a self-drive safari adventure, a thrilling open-vehicle game drive, or a fly-in safari, the Kruger National Park is highly accessible. Travelling to the Kruger Park is both easy and convenient as wildlife lovers now have more options than ever before to access the park. If you choose to fly, there are several scheduled flights to the Kruger Park from Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. There are also three airports close to the Kruger: Skukuza, Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit airports and the Mpumalanga International Airport. Skukuza Airport offers daily direct flights from Cape Town however, most flights to the Kruger Park are from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. For high-end travellers and groups, charter flights can also access the Kruger National Park.

For those travelling by car, the Kruger National Park has nine entrance gates. These entrance gates are accessible centrally, as well as from the north and south. The park’s southern gates can be reached in about five hours from Johannesburg. Once inside the park, the Kruger boasts an excellent network of sealed and well-maintained gravel roads.

EXCELLENT BIRD WATCHING

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

Boasting more than 517 bird species, some of which are not found anywhere else in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is the ultimate bird watching destination. If you’re a birding enthusiast, be sure to keep an eye out for the Kruger’s Big 6 when visiting the park. The Big 6 include the Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard, Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, Pel’s Fishing-Owl and Ground Hornbill. Birding is excellent during the Kruger National Park’s wet summer season (October – March) as it marks the time when the summer migrant birds arrive.

GREAT FOR DAY VISITORS

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

The Kruger National Park is the perfect destination for a day filled with magnificent wildlife and birdlife sightings and encounters as well as tons of fun safari adventures for the whole family. The park opens its gates early, giving visitors the opportunity to spend the whole day exploring one of Africa’s most pristine national parks.  If you’re planning to enjoy a self-drive wildlife adventure through the Kruger Park, make sure you take your time and plan your route accordingly – that way you get a real taste of what the Kruger National Park has to offer!

VARIETY OF ACCOMMODATION

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

Photo credit: Kruger National Park | Siyabona Africa

The reserves in and around the Kruger National Park offer a wide variety of accommodation options to choose from, catering to all budgets and levels of adventure. The Kruger Park boasts 12 main rest camps, five smaller satellite camps as well as several incredible bush lodges and bush camps. From campsites, self-catering accommodation, and standard rondavels to exquisite five-star luxury safari lodges and the most renowned private concession lodges in the world, there is something for everyone. Exceptional luxury can be found in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Thornybush and Madikwe Game Reserve. However, there are plenty more to suit your budget and expectations.

BUCKET-LIST HOLIDAY DESTINATION

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

Considered by many to be one of the greatest national parks in the world, the Kruger National Park should be on every wildlife lover and nature enthusiast’s travel bucket-list. Not only is it the best and largest national park in Africa, it’s also one of Africa’s most sought-after wildlife destinations. With so much to offer, the Kruger Park truly is the ultimate bucket-list holiday destination.

The fact that it is the largest national park in Africa means that there is so much to explore and discover. While visiting many of Africa’s smaller game reserves is a matter of staying in one lodge and spending just a day or two exploring the surroundings, this is not the case with the Kruger Park. As the Kruger National Park consists of nearly 2.2 million hectares of unspoiled wilderness, stretching 400km/248mi up the Mozambique border to the bottom of Zimbabwe, it offers visitors a unique holiday and travel experience. This, combined with its easy access, incredible biodiversity, and varied environments, means you could easily spend a week or more exploring different parts of the park, creating your very own, self-contained holiday and travel experience along the way.

The fact that each region of the Kruger Park boasts a different ecosystem and terrain, attracting varying predators, prey, wildlife and birdlife, means your bucket-list journey through the Kruger National Park will be jam-packed with tons of adventure, untamed beauty, and exceptional sightings and encounters all the way through.

OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK ADVENTURES

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

Photo credit: Kruger National Park | Siyabona Africa

Being one of Africa’s most sought-after national parks and wildlife destinations means the Kruger National Park attracts quite the crowd. However, given the Kruger Park’s size and diversity of terrains, there are plenty of ways to escape the large crowds, and tick some thrilling safari experiences and adventures off your bucket-list.

Embark on a guided night drive and explore the Kruger’s open roads without all the cars and crowds (as the Kruger Park’s gates officially close at sunset for visitors unless you are on a guided safari drive). As an extra bonus, you may even spot a prowling big cat as well as the Kruger’s many nocturnal wildlife.

Another great way to escape the crowds, wander slightly off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the African wilderness is by enjoying a guided walking safari or bush walk. A guided walking safari involves venturing into the Kruger’s bushveld while accompanied by a highly experienced and knowledgeable ranger. This thrilling safari adventure gives you the opportunity to experience nature in real time, come face to face with the wonders of the African bush, learn all about spoor (which includes animal tracks, scents, trails and droppings), as well as the incredible wildlife and birdlife of the Kruger Park. Not to mention enjoy some amazing wildlife sightings and encounters along the way. To really feel one with nature and push yourself to the ultimate adventure limit, book a wilderness or backpacking trail where you’ll spend a few days walking through the bush and nights by the campfire.

Besides these three thrilling safari adventures, the Kruger National Park has a variety of exciting experiences that can be enjoyed by all its visitors.

FAMILY FRIENDLY

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

The Kruger National Park is a great family-friendly destination. Most lodges and camps in the park make provisions for children of all ages, meaning a great safari experience for the whole family. A trip to the Kruger Park is both educational and fun, making it a wonderful choice for families.

THE CLIMATE

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

Each season brings its own special perks and unique sightings, which means you can visit the Kruger National Park all year round. Boasting a glorious sub-tropical climate, you can enjoy sunshine for most of the year. As far as wildlife is concerned, the dry winter months are known to be the best time for game viewing, but, at the same time, the wet summer months have new-borns, full waterholes, and migrant birds to offer.

YOUR CHOICE OF EXPERIENCE

Why You Should Go on a Kruger Park Safari

As the Kruger National Park boasts a variety of different reserves, terrains, and concessions, it has the added advantage of giving guests a lot of choice about where to go for the experience they would like. Each section of the park is unique and provides visitors with a vastly different experience. Each section of the Kruger Park also has its own selection of lodges and camps that offer superb accommodation options, services, and safari activities and experiences ranging from walking safaris to 4×4 game drives.

Are you thinking of going on a safari holiday with your kids, but you’re not sure what to expect? A safari might not be the first activity that comes to mind when planning a getaway with young children, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better experience that exposes your little ones to nature, wildlife, and traditional African cultures. With that being said, it can be challenging to find family friendly lodges or resorts that specifically cater to families.

To ensure you have an unforgettable African safari experience, we’ve put together everything you need to know to plan your perfect family safari holiday.

Best African country for a safari with kids

Can you take kids on a safari

While Africa offers several pristine safari experiences in various countries, South Africa is undoubtedly the top destination for a safari with children. Not only is it home to an exceptional range of national parks and conservation areas, it is easily accessible and boasts several malaria-free reserves. As many young children aren’t able to take malaria prophylactics (especially when they are very young), it is crucial to avoid high malaria zones. South Africa is almost entirely malaria-free, with the renowned Madikwe Safari Lodge being one of the country’s top malaria-free reserves.

South Africa also has the best infrastructure and widest variety of safari accommodation and family friendly lodges. Most of these lodges have dedicated kids’ clubs, children play areas, and exciting safari programmes. These safari programmes include a variety of adventures and “mini-safaris,” introducing kids to the bush in a safe and regulated way. Top family friendly lodges and camps across South Africa are recognising the importance of having dedicated safaris for kids and are even offering specialist junior ranger programmes in which children learn more about Africa’s wildlife and biodiversity through age-appropriate, safe guided activities.

Can you take kids on a safari

Some of the top family friendly lodges that deserve to be on your safari travel bucket-list are Madikwe Safari Lodge; Marataba Safari Lodge; Kambaku Safari Lodge; Nottens Safari Lodge; Rockfig Timbavati, and Black Rhino Safari Lodge.

**TIP: When planning your family safari holiday, we highly recommend that you take the necessary time to do your research. This will help you find the perfect family friendly lodge that best suits you and your family’s needs. Families going on a safari holiday should be aware that although most safari camps and lodges welcome children of (nearly) all ages, some have a minimum age restriction ranging anywhere between 4 and 12 years old. Doing the appropriate research is vital to avoid disappointment.

Safari with kids

Can you take kids on a safari

Photo credit: Kruger Park

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether you can take kids on a safari. The short answer is yes, definitely! However, there are several important factors to consider when planning a family safari trip, especially if you’re looking to go on a safari or game drive with your children.

Lodges have age restrictions

Can you take kids on a safari

It is important to note that not all safari activities are open to children of all ages. Most lodges (including family friendly lodges) and safari camps have age restrictions when it comes to their safari experiences and game drives. These age restrictions can vary from one lodge to the next. The majority of game lodges do not allow children under the age of 5 on game vehicles. Some lodges extend their age restriction to 6 – 8 years old. It all depends on the specific game lodge or safari camp and their set of safety regulations and guidelines

If you are travelling with young children (under the permitted age for a safari or game drive) and would like to go on a safari, you may be able to book a private safari vehicle for you and your family, provided that the lodge you are staying at offers this service.

Alternatively, almost all of South Africa’s family friendly lodges offer excellent babysitting services that are only too happy to look after your little ones while you go on a safari. Many safari camps and lodges have also developed tailored children’s activity programmes and some even have a dedicated guide specially allocated to families with young children. For kids aged between 4 and 8, these programmes mostly consist of a guide who takes them under their wing and keeps them entertained with a range of activities around camp. Some of these activities include storytelling, painting/drawing animals, birding and bug collecting. These dedicated guides will keep an eye on your kids while you go on a game drive or enjoy any other safari activity.

Walking safaris and guided bush walks is another activity where the age restriction can vary at the camp/lodge’s discretion and is often dependant on the prevalence of dangerous game in the area/reserve. The general age restriction for walking safaris at most lodges and safari camps is 16 years old.

**Tip: While the general age restriction pertaining to kids going on safaris or taking part in any safari experiences such as bush walks applies to most game lodges and safari camps, it can still vary from one lodge to the next. It is recommended that you do your research and/or contact the lodge/camp you are staying at beforehand for full clarification regarding their specific age restrictions and guidelines.

Private game-drive vehicles

Can you take kids on a safari

Many lodges and camps prefer or insist that families with young children book private game-drive vehicles. When using a private vehicle on game drives, you’re able to dictate exactly how long you stay at each sighting and how long you’re out in the bush for. This really comes in handy if your little ones become restless while out. An extra bonus is that it gives the whole family the opportunity to enjoy a bucket-list worthy African safari experience.

Pricing and discounts for children

In terms of pricing, most game lodges and safari camps consider anyone over the age of 12 to be an adult. This is not to be confused with the minimum age restrictions that apply to various safari experiences and activities. As children over the age of 12 are regarded as adults, they generally pay adult fare. There are very few game lodges (including family friendly game lodges) and safari camps that offer discounts to children over the age of 12, and even children under the age of 12 need to be sharing with an adult to receive a discounted rate.

Proximately to wildlife

Can you take kids on a safari

Photo credit: Kruger Park

Some policies restrict how close guides with young passengers onboard can get to predators, especially in open vehicles. This means your viewing of the big cats, such as lions, leopards and cheetahs, and perhaps even other unpredictable game like buffalo may be very restricted or distant if there are children present on the safari.

Many lodges are unfenced

Can you take kids on a safari

To offer guests an unparalleled and immersive African wilderness experience, many of South Africa’s lodges and safari camps are unfenced. An unfenced lodge or camp allows all wildlife – including predators like lions, leopards and hyenas that are very active at night – to wander through. If you are travelling with very young children, you may want to stay at a fully fenced lodge.

Have you spotted the Elephant Seals along the Cape coastline? There are a few different species of seals that can be found along the South African coast. The charismatic and playful Cape Fur Seal is by far the most popular and commonly seen seal species. These ocean locals are frequently spotted along the Cape Peninsula and False Bay coastline. However, Sub Antarctic fur seals, Leopard seals and Southern Elephant seals can also be seen from time to time along the South African coast.

ABOUT ELEPHANT SEALS

Elephant Seals in Cape Town

There are two types of Elephant Seals, namely the Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonine) and the Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris). The Southern Elephant Seal is considered the largest seal species in the world.

The male Elephant Seal measures approximately 6m in length and weighs up to 3.7 tons. They are estimated to be up to 10 times bigger than their female counterparts. The Elephant Seal gets its name from its unmistakable swollen, proboscis-like snout of the male, which is used to produce very loud roars, especially during breeding season. Female Elephant Seals are drab brown in colour and lacks the proboscis. They are also chubby in appearance compared to the male Elephant Seals. Elephant Seals feed mostly on Squid, fish, sharks, rays, ratfish, molluscs, crustaceans, krill, and algae.

Southern Elephant Seals primarily breed on main land sites and islands stretching from the Antarctic continent to Patagonia. They can typically be found swimming around the sub-Antarctic islands about 2000 kilometres south of South Africa. These majestic and fascinating ocean beings typically haul out twice a year to moult, mate and give birth. While they prefer gradually sloped, sandy or pebbled beaches, they have also been spotted on boulders and rocky shores. Southern Elephant Seals are known to find a beach somewhere between Antarctica and South Africa on which to moult.

ELEPHANT SEALS IN CAPE TOWN

The Prince Edwards Island and the Tristan da Cunha group are the two closest colonies of Elephant Seals to the South African coastline. Elephant Seals are extremely rare in Cape Town. However, a few stragglers find their way to South Africa each year and join the Cape Fur Seal colonies. There are roughly around 10 sightings a year of this species on our coastline.

Two Elephant Seals in particular have made themselves right at home in the Cape. So much so that they have captured the hearts of countless Cape Town locals and even earned themselves their very own names. Solo is a charming Elephant Seal that resides in Plettenberg Bay and Buffel is a regular in the Cape waters and loves to explore various regions of Cape Town.

Buffel the Elephant Seal

Elephant Seals in Cape Town - Buffel

Photo credit: Laurie Mulrine

Buffel, as the seal is affectionately known to locals, has fast become somewhat of a Cape Town celebrity in his own right, and this year Cape Town’s favourite seal is back on our shores for his annual moult.

**Note: What is moulting? Moulting is a process during which Elephant Seals shed a layer of their skin and hair. The moulting process takes approximately 4 weeks/1 month. This is done to maintain healthy skin and is an adaptation to their extended deep, cold dives. During their deep dives, Elephant Seals limit the blood flow to their skin and extremities. Most of the blood flow is sent to their brain and core organs. In order for Elephant Seals to maintain a healthy pelt, they have developed a strategy which includes spending a month on a beach, in order to allow blood to circulate continuously past the skin, while ensuring that there isn’t excessive loss of body heat. During the moulting process Elephant Seals spend a large portion of their time on the beach or buried in the sand. Their old skin becomes incredibly itchy and they typically don’t swim, mate, or eat. They simply survive on their large amounts of stored body fat. Elephant Seals are particularly vulnerable during this time, and visitors and residents are advised to steer clear of these marine animals as they undergo the process of moulting.

Buffel is a 1200+kg male Southern Elephant Seal that is said to have arrived in Cape Town in 2014. Since gracing the Cape coastline with his presence he has been showing up at various beaches around the Western Cape. In 2019, Buffel was often found lazing around Fish Hoek Beach along the False Bay coastline where he made himself a nesting area in the popular stretch.

He was also frequently spotted on the famous Duiker Island in Hout Bay, where, along with his fellow Duiker Island co-inhabitants the Cape Fur Seals, he spent most of his time sun-bathing on the rocks, taking an occasional dip in the ocean to cool off or lying in the warm sand. Visitors and spectators watched in awe as Buffel shifted and swirled around in the sand using his flippers to throw sand over his body as protection against the hot Cape Town sun. Buffel can now be spotted at Buffels Bay in Cape Point.

No one really knows why Buffel has chosen to grace Cape Town with his incredible presence, yet we are tremendously thrilled to welcome him back to our shores year after year. Over the years he has become very relaxed in his surroundings, even with the higher number of people around. Buffel’s laid-back and relaxed attitude gives visitors the unique opportunity to witness this fascinating and amazing ocean being in all his glory, provided they stay well behind the erected barriers. It is incredibly important to be very respectful of his surroundings.

Solo the Elephant Seal

Solo The Elephant Seal Plettenberg Bay

Photo by Clyde Thomas

Solo is an enormous Elephant Seal male who resides with the Cape Fur Seal colony on the Robberg Peninsula in Plettenberg Bay. Although several Elephant Seals have been recorded in Plettenberg Bay over the past 10 – 15 years, Solo is the most recent Elephant Seal inhabitant and is believed to have arrived in Plettenberg Bay in 2011. Since then, he has been returning to the Robberg Peninsula on a yearly basis. It appears that he arrives shortly after moulting and remains in Plettenberg Bay for several months thereafter. Solo can often be seen sleeping on the mountain baking in the glorious Cape sun, or entertaining guests visiting the Robberg Peninsula by splashing in the water and showing of its beautiful nature and cool tricks and twirls.

Solo Elephant Seal Plettenberg Bay

Photo by Clyde Thomas

If you do decide to go and experience this rare sighting of an Elephant Seal in Cape Town, we urge you to be extremely respectful of their surroundings and stay behind the cordened area. As you’d typically need to travel to the Antarctic or sub-Antarctic to see a seal like this, seeing a magnificent Elephant Seal in Cape Town is something truly remarkable and a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t soon forget.

FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT ELEPHANST SEALS

Elephant Seals in Cape Town

  • Elephants Seals are the deepest divers of the seal world and are beaten only by some whale species amongst all marine mammals.
  • They are the largest species of Pinniped on the planet. At full size, Elephant Seals can weigh a maximum of 5000 kg’s and be 6.8m long.
  • Southern elephant seals can travel up to 33,800 km per year – This is the longest known migration for any mammal.
  • They are among the seal species that can stay on land for the longest periods of time. This is mainly owed to the fact that they can stay dry for several consecutive weeks each year.
  • Southern Elephant Seals can dive at depths of 400 to 1,000 m for more than 20 minutes to hunt squid and fish. Southern Elephant Seals are the deepest diving air-breathing non-cetaceans and have been recorded at a maximum of 2,133 m in depth.
  • Southern Elephant Seals spend almost 90% of their lives in the water.
  • The trunk-like nose of Elephant Seals serves two main purposes: Males use the proboscis to generate loud roars to fend off other males, especially during breeding season. Secondly, both male and female Elephant Seals use their trunk-like nose to re-absorb moisture during their mating fasts.
  • Elephant Seal males can weigh up to 10 times more than what their female counterparts weigh. This is the greatest weight disparity between sexes of any mammal.

Botswana is one of Africa’s most exclusive safari destinations. One of Botswana’s primary attractions is its vast wilderness. The evergreen jewel of the Okavango Delta is at the heart of Botswana’s safari attractions, flanked in the east by the rolling savannah of the Savute and the sought-after elephant paradise of the Chobe. South of the Delta you will find the far-flung stretches of the Makgadikgadi saltpans and the semi-desert grasslands of the Kalahari.

The Kruger National Park has been named the 20th most popular travel destination in the world on Big 7 Travel’s list of ‘The 50 Most Popular Destinations For Post-Lockdown Travel’ – and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Big 7 Travel looks at the destinations their readers are searching for the most on site, conduct a survey of their 1.5 million audience members on social media and analyse trending holiday locations on Google Search in the past 30 days to compile their final list of the 50 most popular destinations for post-lockdown travel.

While travel has been off-limits during the global Coronavirus pandemic to help curb the spread of COVID-19, people have been keeping their travel dreams alive by dreaming of where they would like to go next when its finally safe enough to do so. With that being said, we couldn’t be happier that 1.5 million people from 60 other countries are eager and excited to visit South Africa’s most beautiful and premier African Safari destination – the Kruger National Park!

Ranking among the best in Africa, the Kruger National Park is considered the flagship of the country’s national parks. Lying in the heart of the Lowveld, the Kruger Park offers an unparalleled African safari and wildlife experience that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Here are our top 10 reasons why the Kruger National Park is the ultimate post-lockdown destination and why you should add it to your post-lockdown travel bucket-list right away.

ONE OF THE BEST & LARGEST NATIONAL PARKS IN AFRICA

Visit the Kruger National Park South Africa

There is no doubt that South African tourism has a secret weapon – the Kruger National Park! Many visitors from around the world consider the Kruger National Park to be one of the greatest national parks in the world. It is in fact the third largest National Park worldwide. The pristine wilderness within the Kruger Park consists of nearly 2.2 million hectares of unspoiled African bushveld that stretch for 352 kilometres across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north of South Africa. Besides its millions of unspoilt hectares, the Kruger National Park boasts a variety of safari camps, guest lodges, rest camps and resorts across the reserve.

EXCELLENT WILDLIFE & BIG 5 SIGHTINGS

Kruger National Park Big 5

The Kruger National Park is home to a glorious diversity of wildlife. Through careful wildlife management and conservation initiatives, the Kruger Park has become one of the top destinations in Africa to see wild animals in their natural habitat. Besides its pristine game viewing opportunities, the Kruger Park is one of the best African game reserves to see the renowned African Big 5, also considered the ultimate treasures of the South African bushveld. The African Big 5 include the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. These iconic animals are the most popular sightings on safari excursions, and both local and international tourists travel from far and wide to witness them in their natural habitat. The Kruger is also known for its spectacular sightings of endangered or ‘rarely seen’ animals such as the African wild dogs, cheetah, sable, and roan antelope.

Besides the iconic Big 5, the Kruger National Park is home to approximately 148 of southern Africa’s 350 mammal species, 18 of which are listed in the Red Data Book, 507 bird species, as well as 18 reptile, 35 amphibian and 50 indigenous freshwater fish species. Not to mention the incredible species that make up the Little 5, which include the leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion, and the red-billed buffalo weaver.

KRUGER PARK IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE

Kruger National Park

Travelling to the Kruger National Park is easy and convenient as wildlife and nature lovers now have more options than ever before to reach this premier African game reserve. To enjoy all the wonders of the Kruger Park you don’t have to navigate a 4WD deep into the bush. You can either choose to travel to the Kruger Park by car. The park’s southern gates can be reached in about five hours from Johannesburg, with amazing sights en-route such as the stunning Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Besides travelling via road, there are several scheduled flights to the Kruger Park from Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Charter flights can also access the reserve for groups and high-end travellers.

Once you’ve made your way into the Kruger Park through one of it’s nine main gates, you will be able to explore all the natural beauty, wildlife, birdlife and untamed African bushveld of the Kruger by making use of its excellent network of sealed and well-maintained gravel roads. There are also many well-appointed picnic sites, viewpoints, and bird hides inside the park. On top of that, the Kruger Park’s rest camps boast excellent facilities, including well-stocked shops, restaurants, and spotless ablution facilities. You will also find several petrol/filling stations located throughout the park. It’s safe to say that the Kruger National Park is an extremely accessible and tourist friendly game reserve.

DAY VISITORS ARE WELCOME

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is the perfect destination for a memorable and exciting African wildlife adventure with the whole family. The park opens its gates to day visitors who wish to explore and experience everything this premier African game reserve has to offer. If you’re planning to enjoy a self-drive wildlife adventure through the Kruger Park, make sure you take your time and plan your route accordingly – that way you get a real taste of what the Kruger Park has to offer!

EXCELLENT BIRD WATCHING

Kruger National Park Bird Watching

The Kruger National Park is any bird lover’s dream come true. Boasting more than 517 bird species in their natural habitat, some of which are not found anywhere else in South Africa, and hideaways in the most remote places, the Kruger Park is the ultimate bird watching destination. If you’re a birding enthusiast, make sure to keep an eye out for the Kruger’s Big 6 of the bird world. The Big 6 includes the Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard, Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, Pel’s Fishing-Owl and Ground Hornbill. Birding is also excellent during the Kruger Park’s wet summer season (October – March) as the summer migrant birds arrive.

THE KRUGER OFFERS A VARIETY OF ACCOMMODATION & EXPERIENCES CATERING TO ALL BUDGETS

kruger national park safari lodge camp shawu

Photo credit: Kruger National Park | Siyabona Africa

To ensure the Kruger National Park is accessible to as many wildlife and nature lovers as possible, they pride themselves on catering to a variety of budgets and tastes in terms of experiences and accommodation. The Kruger Park boasts 12 main rest camps and five smaller satellite camps as well as various bush lodges and bush camps. From campsites, self-catering accommodation and standard rondavels to exquisite five-star luxury safari lodges and the most renowned private concession lodges in the world, there is something for everyone.

THERE ARE 4 MAIN WAYS TO EXPERIENCE THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Visit Kruger National Park

  1. Enjoying a self-drive safari and staying in self-catering accommodation in one of the Sanparks camps or outside accommodation (lodge or hotel). This is a less expensive and budget-friendly option.
  2. Going on a guided Kruger Park open vehicle safari adventure and staying inside the Kruger National Park at one of its many rest camps and accommodation options. These are typically scheduled small group safaris or private safaris with an experienced guide. This is also a budget-friendly option.
  3. Embarking on a luxury safari experience at one of the concession lodges inside the Kruger National Park. These lodges generally use their own road network in their concession area, as well as some of the public roads in the Kruger Park. Typically these lodges offer upmarket accommodation at a higher price.
  4. Going on an exclusive safari at a private game lodge in one of the adjacent private reserves. These private safari lodges have their own traversing area, and offer exciting game drives in open safari vehicles, which are able to go off-road to get close to the animals. Providing you with once-in-a-lifetime up-close encounters and sightings of Africa’s most magnificent wild animals in their natural habitat. These experiences range from basic budget lodges to high-end luxury lodges.

BUCKET-LIST HOLIDAY & TRAVEL DESTINATION

Wildlife sightings in Kruger National Park South Africa

If there’s anything on your South African travel bucket-list it should DEFINITELY be a trip to the Kruger National Park. There is a reason why millions of people from around the world consider the Kruger National Park to be one of the greatest national parks in the world. Not only is it the best and largest national park in Africa, it’s also one of Africa’s most sought-after wildlife-watching destinations. From a rich biodiversity, diverse fauna and flora, exceptional wildlife and birdlife sightings, thrilling African safari adventures, unapologetic natural beauty and so much more, the Kruger Park quite literally has it all. Making it the ultimate holiday and travel destination!

While visiting many African game reserves and lodges is a matter of merely staying in one lodge and spending just a day or two checking out the surrounds. In contrast, as the Kruger National Park consists of nearly 2.2 million hectares of unspoiled African bushveld, stretching 400km/248mi up the Mozambique border to the bottom of Zimbabwe, it offers visitors an entirely different and unique holiday and travel experience. This, combined with its easy access and incredible diversity of environments to explore, gives visitors the opportunity to create their very own bucket-list worthy, self-contained holiday and travel experience.

 

Kruger National Park wildlife sightings

You could spend a week or more exploring different parts of the park, from the southern koppies (small rocky hills) and acacias to the northern mopane and baobab trees, regardless of whether you’re staying in one place or moving around – Its completely up to you – Your African wildlife travel adventure, your choice! Plus, the fact that each region of the Kruger Park boasts a different ecosystem and terrain, attracting varying predators, prey, wildlife and birdlife, means your bucket-list journey though the Kruger National Park will be jam-packed with tons of adventure, excitement, magnificent sightings, and the untamed beauty of the African wilderness all the way through.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK ADVENTURES & EXPERIENCES

Kruger National Park Guided walking safari

Photo credit: Kruger National Park | Siyabona Africa

As the Kruger National Park is known as one of the best national parks in Africa, some safari connoisseurs may say that the Kruger can be overpopulated with humans due to its easy access and sought-after status. However, given the park’s elephantine size and diversity of terrains to explore from grassland to tropical riverine forest, there are various ways you can escape the crowds and have an absolutely unforgettable African wildlife experience. All while ticking a few adventures off your bucket-list too!

By embarking on a guided night drive, you can enjoy the Kruger’s open roads without all the cars and crowds (as the Kruger Park’s gates officially close at sunset for visitors unless you are on a guided safari drive). As an extra bonus, you may even spot a prowling big cat as well as the Kruger’s many nocturnal wildlife.

Another great way to escape the crowds, wonder a bit off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the full African wilderness experience is by enjoying a guided walking safari or bush walk. This exciting Kruger adventure gives you the opportunity to experience nature in real time and come face to face with the wonders of the African bush. A guided walking safari or bush walk involves venturing into the Kruger’s bushveld while accompanied by a highly experienced and knowledgeable ranger where you will learn all about spoor, which includes animal tracks, scents, trails or droppings, as well as the incredible wildlife and birdlife of the Kruger Park. Not to mention enjoy some amazing wildlife sightings along the way. Besides these two thrilling adventures, the Kruger Park has a variety of exciting experiences that can be enjoyed by all its visitors.

THE KRUGER PARK CLIMATE

Kruger National Park South Africa

When to visit the Kruger National Park is one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a trip to this top African safari destination. The time of year you choose to visit the park will have a big impact on your overall experience. While it is an all year-round destination with the Kruger Park boasting a subtropical climate, the Kruger has two distinct seasons – The dry winter season (May – September) and wet summer season (October – March). With each season offering a uniquely different experience in terms of game viewing opportunities, temperatures, park conditions, surrounding scenery and bird and wildlife sightings.

DRY SEASON: MAY – SEPTEMBER

Kruger National Park Big 5 Rhino

As far as wildlife and game viewing opportunities are concerned, the dry winter season is considered the best time to visit the Kruger National Park. The dry season and its associated sparse vegetation and prime visibility provide visitors with the best opportunity to experience sensational wildlife sightings and encounters, including sightings of South Africa’s beloved Big Five. The Kruger Park’s dry season is also the best time of the year for walking safaris. Other perks of the Kruger’s dry season include lovely mild day-time temperatures, low levels of humidity and minimal rainfall. The dry season is also the Kruger Park’s low season, which means the roads and camps are far less crowded – providing you with a more enjoyable experience overall.

WET SEASON: OCTOBER – MARCH

Visit the Kruger Park South Africa

While the Kruger Park’s wet summer season is not considered the prime time for wildlife sightings and game viewing, there are some great perks that will certainly make your trip to the Kruger worthwhile. As the Kruger Park’s wet summer season is also its peak rainy season, filled with subtropical rainstorms, it is often referred to as the ‘Green Season’ – With the landscapes of the Kruger transforming into a beautiful lush green paradise. This makes it a superb destination for photographers and nature lovers from around the world. By far one of the Kruger Park’s most exciting summer season highlights is the fact that the park is filled with newborn wildlife as most animals give birth during this period – making it a great time to spot wildlife with their young. Birding is also excellent during the Kruger Park’s wet season as the summer migrant birds arrive.

Check out our ‘Best time to go to the Kruger National Park’ blog to find out more about what you can expect to experience during each Kruger Park season as well as all the tips, highlights and need to know information before visiting the Kruger National Park.

BIODIVERSITY & UNRIVALLED FAUNA & FLORA

Visit the Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park’s ecosystem comprises of five different vegetation zones, each of which attract different wildlife according to the vegetation and climate. The varying climatic conditions of the Kruger impact the type of vegetation in the ecosystem according to whether they can survive and flourish in each vegetation zone. In turn, this affects both the distribution and population density of the wildlife and birdlife found within each vegetation zone, with each favouring some or other ecosystem environment.

Baobab tree Kruger National Park

Photo credit: Kruger National Park | Siyabona Africa

In addition to the Kruger Park’s 5 vegetation zones, there are 16 ecosystems within the Kruger’s borders. The Kruger National Park is known for its incredible diversity of fauna and flora. The park contains over 2000 plant species, including more than 235 different types of grasses, and over 330 indigenous tree species. Travelling through the Kruger Park is remarkable in the sense that you will be crossing over into different ecosystems, with the vegetation, scenery and population of wildlife constantly changing.

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland deltas. It is a vast and virtually untouched freshwater wetland and is deemed one of the world’s premier wilderness areas. The Delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometres of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River, which gives rise to the Okavango Delta’s dynamic ecosystem.