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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Kurt Schultz of Kurt Safari Tours, captured this amazing sighting in the Kruger National Park.
Kurt came across a troop of baboons near Skukuza camp in the Kruger National Park. The baboons seemed restless and it was soon discovered that one of the male baboons was carrying a Lion cub.
Lionesses often hide their cubs in the nooks and crannies of large boulders and rock outcrops to protect them from other predators and dangers while they go off hunting.
Kurt said, “Knowing the area, I know there are cubs present in the area lately and being early morning, and close to a granite rock face, I suppose the baboon troop rested during the evening on the rocks. Then probably during the early morning moved down to start their day foraging for food came across the hidden Lion cub.”
“I first thought it was a female baboon but it was in actuality a young male baboon. The young baboon crossed the road and climbed up a marula tree. I waited for about 30 min before it came into view and was moving from tree to tree, the rest of the troop then moved away and the baboon was grooming and caring for the lion cub as if this was a young baboon.”
Kurt had to leave the sighting as he had an appointment at 9 am.
Some people have commented on social media that the Lion King was happening “real life” referring to the scenes in the movie where Rafiki the baboon raises Simba up to anoint him as prince or the next in line for the Lion’s pride thrown and king.
However in reality Africa is a bit more brutal. Baboons are known to kill young leopards and sometimes lion cubs. After 20 years of guiding this is the first time Kurt has seen anything like this. He is referring to how the young male baboon took the cub up the tree and began grooming it, seeming to care for the young lion.
Because Kurt had to leave the sighting we do not know what happened to the young lion cub. Book a trip with Kurt Safaris here.
Watch a video of the amazing sighting below:
The Majingilane Coalition got their name from the reference of watchmen patrolling the night. They marched with intention, never altering their course. Their origin was traced to the Manyelethi Game Reserve, where they were part of a pride with a reputation as buffalo hunters.
The five Majingilane males were born between 2004 and 2005. By 2009 their solo journey apart from their main pride started. And so they moved south towards Sabi Sands. The brothers decided to stick together and the gang started causing a big stir in their new territory.
Challenging Their Predecessors
By 2010 the new coalition faced off against two formidable Mapogo males – Mr. T (Satan) and Kinky-Tail. The encounter was brutal. The Mapogos managed to isolate and kill one of the Majingilanes, breaking his spine with their sheer force. But the remaining four Majingilane lions managed to strike back with a night attack and killed Kinky-Tail.
Mr. T (Satan) joined his other remaining brothers again in the western sector of the Sabi Sands. Everyone was holding their breath for a big showdown between the two coalitions, but this never happened. The remaining four Majingilane males managed to take control of most of the Londolozi reserve area. Following in the brutal footsteps of their predecessors, they purged the land of all the lions not bowing to their dominion.
Settling In To Their New Territory
The first pride that was targeted by the Majingilane Coalition, was the much-loved Tsalala Pride. Out of the eight sub-adults, four were killed. Only the four younger lionesses and their three mothers survived. By 2010 the two adult lionesses succumbed to their powers and started mating with the “enemy”. Survival of the fittest took over and even though the Majingilane males had killed their cubs, they knew that the strongest and best genes had to be passed on.
Their next target was the Sparta Pride. The Majingilanes killed two of the three cubs and by the beginning of 2011 quite a few pride members were missing. The pride had been split up, and not wanting to draw attention to themselves, they did not call out to each other. This means they could not reunite to stand their ground against the attack. The Majingilane lions grew stronger, with their manes darkening and thickening. And they took over more and more land. They reigned the land for over 7 years.
Making Their Mark
The mighty Majingilane male lions definitely ruffled feathers with their arrival. Similar to the way the Mapogo coalition sowed havoc, the Majingilanes greatly affected the lion population of the Sabi Sands.
Their reputation rests on a few factors. Firstly, the size of their territory, as well as the number of pride takeovers they managed. Not quite as infamous as the Mapogo coalition, the Majingilane lions were just as powerful.
The brothers were born in the Orpen area of the Kruger National Park. They meandered into the Sabi Sands reserve at the beginning of 2010. They dominated 5 prides in total. The Majingilane lions were named according to prominent physical features: Dark Mane, Golden Mane, Scar-Nose, and Hip-Scar.
Cubs born from the coalition:
|Tsalala Pride||11 cubs with 3 surviving|
|2 killed by buffalo, 2 killed by a flood, 1 killed by Scar-Nose (Majingilane) and 3 disappeared|
|Breakaway Tsalala Pride:||no cubs|
|Fourways Pride||4 cubs with 3 surviving.|
|1 cub disappeared|
|Styx Pride||6 cubs with 5 surviving|
|1 cub disappeared|
|Sparta Pride||13 cubs with 8 surviving|
|3 killed by flood, 1 killed by Tsalala Pride, 1 disappeared|
|Total||34 cubs, with 19 surviving|
In the prime of their dominion over the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, it was estimated that they controlled 26 676 Hectares. That’s 267 square kilometres or 65 919 Acres. To put it into more perspective, the area they patrolled was about the same as 50 706 American football fields! The perimeter came to about 64.6 km (40.2 miles).
The End of an Era
On average a male lion lives to the age of 10. As part of a coalition, they can maybe stretch their lifespan a little bit further. But because the battle for dominance over their territory is so fierce, they usually don’t make it much further than a decade of domination.
By the end of the Majingilane coalition, the four brothers split up. The first brother to pass away, was the Hip-Scar male. People following the journey of the formidable four lions, had predicted that he would be first to die. He seemed to be the outsider, mostly a loner away from the group. Sometimes the other brothers would ignore his roars, not answering immediately.
Next the Golden Mane lion went missing. Reports say that he was badly injured during a buffalo hunt. And an old lion’s chances of recovering from such an ordeal, are slim to none. He succumbed to his injuries.
The Dark Mane and Scar-Nose males were the core members of the coalition. They were constantly seen together, almost as if inseparable. In the end they also split up, both emaciated. After 8 years of a reign of terror, it was old age that crumbled their dominion.
Click here to view a tribute to the majingilane
The lion (Panthera Leo) is part of the big cat family, Felidae. A lion is an animal symbol used by a wide variety of human cultures to depict strength, superiority, courage, and more. The mighty king of the jungle often appears as sculptures, on flags, and in paintings. They also regularly appear in literature and films. Since the Roman Empire, lions were kept in confinement. And till this day they are a highly sought-after species for zoos worldwide.
The lion is a muscular big cat, with a deep chest and a short, rounded head. The male’s majestic mane is unmistakable and both males and females have a cheeky tuft of hair at the end of their tails. The male and female lions are very distinct from each other. A male can weigh between 150 to 250 kg (330 to 550 lb) and females between 120 to 182 kg (265 to 400 lb). And a lion’s roar is an unmistakable sound, echoing over the African savannah. They prefer living in the savannas and grasslands instead of forests.
Lions are mostly active during the day, but sometimes they hunt at night or twilight as well. The lion population has dwindle to Sub-Saharan Africa and they are critically endangered in western India. Since 1996 their population status is Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. A steady decline of up to 43% has been noticed since the early 90’s. The cause of the population drop is uncertain, but conflicts with humans and habitat loss are the biggest concerns.
Interesting Facts about Lions
The king of the jungle has fascinated people for centuries. Below a few things you might not know about lions.
- There are about 20 000 lions left in the wild. In 26 African countries they are already extinct. 90% of the lions’ historical roaming grounds have disappeared.
- At the rate of expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that in 2050 lions will be extinct in the wild.
- A lion’s biggest enemy is surprisingly the porcupine. About the same size as a small dog, a porcupine is literally a thorn in the lion’s flesh. They are often tricked to sniff at the spikey nemesis and the sharp quills often get stuck in a lion’s jaw for its entire life.
- Lions are the only cat family members with a tasselled tail. These aren’t just for show, they use their fluffy tails as communication tools, either to indicate a direction change, or as a flirty “come hither” invitation.
- A lion’s claws are super sharp. But they are retractable. This way they remain sharp and it prevents accidents during play time. The claws grow in layers. As a layer reaches its end, another replaces it. A claw can measure up to 4cm (1.5 inches) from the nail base to its tip.
- The lion’s back teeth (carnassals) have a scissor-like function. This helps them to tackle a fresh piece of meat. But lions don’t really chew food, they swallow chunks from the side of their mouth.
- Male and female lions have a special way of greeting each other. They rub up against each other, sometimes so enthusiastically, one of them gets knocked over. It’s a sign of bonding, while the lions are rubbing against each other, scent markings are left behind. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s why your cat rubs against your legs.
- The African lions are rated the most social among their big cat cousins. A pride can consist of up to 15 lions.
- A male lion’s main job is to defend its pride’s territory. And the females are in charge of hunting. But the males still get to eat first.
- Before habitat loss, lions lived in Europe and Asia as well. But now most lions stay in Africa. There are only a few Asiatic lions left in the Sasan-Gir National Park, India. It’s estimated that there are only between 300 to 400 lions remaining in the park, which was created specifically to protect them.
- You can hear a lion’s roar up to 8km (5 miles) away.
- Lions can maintain a speed of 85 km/h (50 mph) for a short distance, and can leap up to 10 m (36 feet)
- The name “king of the jungle” is misleading, seeing as lions prefer the plains and grasslands. This popular term may stem from the association between jungles and Africa.
- You can gauge the age of a male lion by looking at its mane. The darker its mane, the older the lion.
- While it is walking, a lion’s heels don’t touch down on the ground.
- A lion can sleep up to 20 hours per day.
The lives of the legendary lions of Sabi the Sands read like the script for a soapie. A thirst for power, brutal techniques to gain it, betrayal among siblings, and unexpected take-overs from the rivals. Below a video series, following the journey of the famous lions of the Sabi Sands.You will be surprised to discover how much these magnificent wild beasts have in common with humans. See the behind the scenes of life in the African jungle.
Lions and Elephants are both members of the Big 5.Lions are strong, carnivorous predators that usually hunt in co ordinated prides to bring their prey, although they can hunt and kill when alone.Elephants are the largest land mammal in existence today, they are massive herbivores that operate in complex family structures called herds. These herds usually led by a matriarch ( female leader ). Elephants can often be encountered on their own either as loan bull or during a temporary foray away from the herd.
The infamous Mapogo Lions of the Sabi Sands have become legends in their own right due to their impressive dominance of the area for 6 years, but also because of the violent and shocking way that they gained control of their territory and held it over the following years.