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.
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
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, but it is also easily accessible and boasts several malaria-free reserves. As many 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 has the best infrastructure, with a wide variety of safari accommodation options 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. These programmes give children the opportunity to learn more about Africa’s wildlife and biodiversity through guided, safe and age-appropriate activities.
Some of the family-friendly lodges that should 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 taking the time to do thorough research. This will help you find the perfect lodge that best suits you and your family’s needs. Take note that some lodges have a minimum age restriction ranging anywhere between 4 and 12 years old.
Safari with kids
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.
Lodges have age restrictions
It is important to note that not all safari activities are open to children of all ages. Most lodges and safari camps have age restrictions when it comes to their safari experiences and game drives. 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. This is dependent on the specific game lodge 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 while you go on 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 consist of a guide who keeps the children entertained with a range of activities around the camp. Some activities include storytelling, painting/drawing animals, birding and bug collecting.
Walking safaris and guided bush walks are other activities where the age restriction can vary and is often dependant on the prevalence of dangerous game in the area/reserve. The general age restriction for walking safaris is 16 years old.
**Tip: While the general age restriction pertaining to kids taking part in safari experiences applies to most game lodges, it can still vary from one lodge to the next. It is recommended that you do your research for full clarification regarding their specific age restrictions and guidelines.
Private game-drive vehicles
Many lodges ask that families with young children book private game-drive vehicles which enables you to enjoy a tailor-made safari. 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
With regards to 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 pertaining to game drives and safari experiences. There are very few 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.
Proximity to wildlife
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
Many of South Africa’s lodges and safari camps are unfenced to offer guests an unparalleled and immersive African wilderness experience. 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
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
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 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.
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Great news for wildlife and nature lovers! It’s finally time to explore the nearly 2 million hectares of unrivalled natural beauty and untamed wilderness and wildlife of the real African bush at the renowned Kruger National Park. South Africa National Parks (SANParks) announced on the 6th of June 2020 that self-drive excursions for day visitors will be permitted from Monday, 8 June 2020 in parks that cater for self-drives. While Namaqua National Park as well as Boulders Beach and Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park remain closed for the time being, most gates at Kruger National Park will be open except for Pafuri and Numbi gates. This means wildlife enthusiasts will once again be able to enjoy the authentic sights and sounds of the African bush by visiting one of the most sought-after wildlife destinations in Africa – the Kruger National Park!
**Disclaimer/Important note: This article was last updated on 18/06/2020 as per the current Lockdown Alert Level 3 Regulations and official SANParks regulations and statements. It is therefore subject to change in accordance with South Africa’s Lockdown Regulations.
- Lockdown Alert Level 3 Regulations & Guidelines
- Timeslots & Opening & Closing Times
- Lockdown Alert Level 3 Guidelines while in The Kruger Park
- Rest Camps, Restaurants, Shops, Petrol Stations
- General guidelines when visiting The Kruger National Park
- Entrance Gates telephone numbers
- Daily Conservation Fee
- About The Kruger National Park
Lockdown Alert Level 3 Regulations & Guidelines
Although the re-opening of the Kruger National Park is great news for wildlife and nature lovers, strict guidelines have been put in place for self-drive day visitors that are in accordance with the Lockdown Alert Level 3 regulations. SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni issued a statement in which he said that while they are very happy to announce the re-opening of some of their national parks for self-drive excursions, it is their top priority to ensure that it is done under the strictest health protocols to safeguard both their staff and guests.
For self-drive day visitors who intend to visit the Kruger National Park during South Africa’s Lockdown Alert Level 3, here are all the guidelines, regulations, and information you need to know. Additionally you can visit the SANParks website for all Level 3 Lockdown protocols and regulations.
- Gate quotas for the Kruger National Park have been revised to approximately one third (30%) of what they were prior to COVID-19. As social distancing in vehicles is paramount, all vehicles are allowed to carry only 70% of their capacity. Here is a general guideline provided by SANParks:
|Vehicle Category||Seat Capacity||Max Occupants|
|Sedan||4 – 5||3|
|SUV||5 – 7||3 – 5|
|Double Cab||4 – 5||3|
|Single Cab||2 – 3||1 – 2|
- Group travel (any number of persons in one vehicle that is from more than one household) is prohibited at this stage; including OSV’s, buses & taxis. This means self-drive will be limited to households only and not individuals from different households in one vehicle.
- Visitors are highly encouraged to pre-book and pay online for day visits. Such bookings can be made online through SANParks website or through the traditional means of making bookings, e.g. email, telephonic (012 428 9111) or through one of the reservation offices. Wild Card members will have to ensure that their membership is valid prior to arrival.
- All visitors are requested to complete the Gate Registration Form (inclusive of COVID-19 questions) before arrival. This form can be found online and will make things run smoother if they are printed and filled out ahead of time and handed to the gate official upon arrival. Visitors will also be required to complete a SANParks Gate Client Declaration and Contact Tracing Upon Exit – This form can also be found online
- All visitors will be temperature screened at the gate and asked to confirm that you are not experiencing any clinical symptoms before you can enter the Kruger National Park.
- Before visiting the Kruger National Park it is essential to ensure that you have had no exposure with a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19. Make sure to check body temperature and any clinical symptoms (cough, fever, dry throat, difficulty breathing) of everyone in your travel group. Anyone with a temperature above 37.3 °C or experiencing any clinical symptoms should remain at home and will not be allowed into the park. This is not only vital for your own health and safety, but for the health and safety of others.
- Ensure that everyone in your vehicle has a mask and sufficient hand sanitizer to frequently disinfect hands.
- All visitor’s movements will be traced and recorded upon entry and exit to the Park to ensure compliance with all regulations.
- Visitors are not allowed to depart from the Kruger National Park into a different province than the one that they entered from, unless they are valid permit holders to do so. No cross-border travelling will be allowed through Giriyondo and Pafuri border posts with Mozambique.
- No overnight guests/overnights stays are allowed until further notice.
- Ensure that you take acceptable means of identification along when visiting the Kruger National Park. This does not only apply to the drivers of vehicles but could be requested of all adults that enter or visit the park.
- Strict social distancing of at least two metres (2m) must be maintained in all permitted public areas inside the park.
Timeslots & Opening & Closing Times
Three time slots for arrival will be introduced with the understanding that booked day visitors must arrive at the gate within that time span, especially if full quota is not booked.
- Slot 1 is from 06:00 to 08:00
- Slot 2 from 08:00 to 10:00
- Slot 3 from 10:00 onwards.
Gate hours and regulations should be strictly adhered to when visiting the Kruger Park. General Kruger National Park Gate Hours are:
|Entrance Gates Open||05:30||05:30||5:30||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||05:30||05:30||05:30|
|Camp Gates Open||04:30||05:30||05:30||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||05:30||04:30||04:30|
|All Gates Close||18:30||18:30||18:00||18:00||17:30||17:30||17:30||18:00||18:00||18:00||18:30||18:30|
Lockdown Alert Level 3 Guidelines while in the Kruger Park
- Upon visiting the Kruger National Park during Lockdown Alert Level 3 all general park rules still apply.
- Access control into the gate reception office and safe social distancing (of at least 2m) will apply and should be strictly adhered to in all public areas.
- Plan your route ahead of time! The national lockdown regulations relating to movement between provinces must be observed within the parks. This means inter-provincial travel within parks that stretch between two provinces will not be permitted. Visitors must exit into the province from which they entered the park.
- Bird Hides, Picnic Spots and Day Visitor Sites will be kept closed until ready for operation. Tshokwane – only ablutions available from 8 June 2020. Afsaal will be open from 12 June 2020.
- Braaing at picnic sites will not be allowed during this period.
- Bathroom facilities will be open at the entry gates, main camps, and large picnic spots (Afsaal, Nkuhlu and Tshokwane).
- All visitors should wear a mask and practice strict social distancing (of at least 2m) when making use of the bathrooms facilities as well as when out in public spaces.
- Alcohol may not be brought in or purchased in the Park by day visitors.
- Pack a rubbish bag to ensure you return home with all the waste you generate while visiting the park. Visitors are also requested not to deposit their litter inside the bins within the parks but to leave with as much of it as hygienically possible.
- Guests are urged to be extra cautious when driving in the Kruger National Park as animals are not used to vehicles after such a long period without them.
- The use of drones inside (and over) our national parks is strictly prohibited.
**Important note: If you experience any clinical symptoms while in the park, immediately avoid contact with people outside your travel group, keep on your mask, exit the park, and seek medical care. The COVID-19 Emergency hotline is: 0800 029 999 | WhatsApp Support Line: 0600-123456. For more information about our Parks, visit our website: www.sanparks.org
Rest Camps, Restaurants, Shops, Petrol Stations
- A limited number of filling stations/petrol stations will be open in some parks and will operate in strict accordance with relevant Level 3 lockdown regulations. These filling stations will operate 09:30 to 17:00 daily.
Bathroom Facilities & Rest Camps
- Designated toilet facilities will be open and available at the entry gates, main camps, and large picnic spots (Afsaal, Nkuhlu and Tshokwane).
- Camp receptions will remain closed during Alert Level 3 until further notice
Restaurants will be closed for sit-down dining; however some restaurants will offer limited take-away menus and services. Here is a list of the restaurant take-away services that will be open in certain camps (as per SANParks official document) from Monday 8 June 2020:
- Lower Sabie
- Afsaal Picnic Spot
- Punda Maria.
Here is a list of the shops that will be open for operation in certain camps (as per SANParks official document) from Monday 8 June 2020:
- Letaba (07:00 – 17:00)
- Satara (07:00 – 17:00)
- Skukuza (07:00 – 17:00)
- Lower Sabie Rest Camp (07:00 – 17:00)
- Orpen (06:30 – 17:00)
- Pretoriuskop (06:30 – 17:00)
- Crocodile Bridge (06:30 – 17:00)
- Berg-en-Dal (07:00 – 17:00)
- Shingwedzi (10:00 – 15:00)
General Guidelines when visiting the Kruger Park
The function of SANParks is to protect, conserve and control the national parks and other protected areas assigned to it. To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip through the Kruger National Park, it is important for all visitors to the park to kindly adhere to the rules and regulations under the Protected Areas Act. Here are general rules, regulations, information, and guidelines outlined by SANParks when visiting the Kruger National Park or any of their national parks:
- Please always stay in your vehicle when exploring the Park. As the Kruger National Park is home to a glorious diversity of wildlife, some of which may pose a potential threat to humans as you enter their natural habitat, visitors are only allowed to get out of their vehicles in safe designated areas. Additionally no part of your body may protrude from a window or sunroof while driving and doors should always remain closed.
- Please take careful note of the maximum speed limits applicable in the various areas of the Kruger Park. Note that not all roads are accessible to vehicles exceeding a certain mass, type, or size.
- Safety while driving should always remain top priority. General rules of the road apply within the Kruger National Park. It is an offence to drive on South African roads without a recognized driver’s license or under the influence of alcohol. Driving or operating any vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner or in a deliberate disregard for the safety of a person, animal or property is a serious offence and can result in a summons being issued as per official SANParks regulations.
- Vehicles must always remain on the designated roads and off-road driving or driving on closed or no-entry roads is a serious offence.
- Feeding of wildlife inside the park is strictly prohibited! The feeding or intentional disturbance of wildlife is a serious offence.
- No plant, animal, wildlife or any natural or cultural items may be removed from the Kruger Park without permission. To cut, damage, destroy or be in possession of any plant or part thereof, including dry wood or firewood is a serious offence. Importing of any specimen of an alien or listed invasive species into a national park is strictly prohibited.
- No firearms may be brought into the Park.
- No pets (dogs, cats, birds or any other) may be brought into a Kruger Park. Transgressors will be dealt with firmly, issued with a summons and serious action will be taken. Guide dogs for visually impaired guests are the only exception, but only if the proper procedures are followed in consultation with park management and if the owner has the necessary inoculations and permits as ordained by the state veterinary department.
- The Kruger National Park has a NO TOLERANCE POLICY with regards to poaching, killing, or injuring of animals.
- Starting or causing of any fire, whether it be intentional or unintentional other than in a fireplace or container purposely made available is strictly prohibited and will result in a summons being issued.
- Behaving in an offensive, improper, indecent, or disorderly manner will simply NOT be tolerated. Playing of any radio, compact disc player, music system, musical system or instrument that may cause any noise that results in the disturbance of any species, specimen or wildlife as well as other individuals visiting the park is strictly prohibited and will be fined if not adhered to.
- The hindering, intimidating, or obstructing of an authorized Kruger National Park official in the execution if his/her duties or the performance of his/her functions will not be tolerated and is subject to a penalty. Violation, refusal, or failure to obey or comply with any prohibition, request or instruction imposed by these regulations or by the management authority or authorized official will result in prosecution.
- Beware of Malaria – The Kruger National Park and Mapungubwe National Parks fall within a malaria zone. A 24hour malaria hotline is available on 0822341800 and where relevant, please consult your medical practitioner.
- Kindly familiarize yourself with the general conditions prevalent in the park you are going to visit by visiting the website at sanparks.org and link onto Parks A-Z as there may be vital information contained therein to assist with your visit.
Entrance Gates Telephone Numbers
|Entrance Gate||Telephone Number|
|Crocodile Bridge Gate||+27 (0)13 735 6012|
|Kruger Gate||+27 (0)13 735 5107|
|Malelane Gate||+27 (0)13 735 6152|
|Numbi Gate||+27 (0)13 735 5133|
|Orpen Gate||+27 (0)13 735 0237/0238|
|Pafuri Gate||+27 (0)13 735 5574|
|Phabeni Gate||+27 (0)13 735 5890|
|Phalaborwa Gate||+27 (0)13 735 3547|
|Punda Maria Gate||+27 (0)13 735 6870|
Daily Conservation Fee
Daily Conservation fees for 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020
|South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)||R100 per adult, per day
R50 per child, per day
|SADC Nationals (with passport)||R200 per adult, per day
R100 per child, per day
|Standard Conservation Fee||R400 per adult, per day
R200 per child, per day
About the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National park is South Africa’s most beautiful and exciting African Safari destination. This South African National Park is also one of the largest game reserves in Africa. Home to nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometres, the Kruger Park is spread across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north of South Africa. Just south of Zimbabwe and west of Mozambique. Lying in the heart of the Lowveld, the Kruger Park truly offers an unparalleled African safari and wildlife experience, boasting an incredible diversity of birdlife and wildlife.
Ranking among the best in Africa, the Kruger National Park is undoubtedly considered the flagship of the country’s national parks. Attracting thousands of visitors each year from all around the world looking to experience the ultimate African safari destination and magnificent sights and sounds of the African bush first-hand. A visit to the world-renowned Kruger National Park undoubtedly deserves to be on everyone’s bucket-list when visiting the beautiful and vibrant Africa. To find out more about when the best time is to plan your trip to the Kruger National park, have a look at our blog here!
But, just to get you a little more excited, here are some great wildlife and birdlife sightings you can look forward to when visiting the Kruger. The Kruger National Park is home to approximately 147 mammal species as well as a prolific diversity of bird life. With over 500 bird species on the Kruger National Park list, it’s any bird lover’s paradise.
Here are some amazing wildlife and birdlife sightings, as well as a few remarkable vegetation, fauna & flora, and incredible natural/cultural features to look out for when visiting the Kruger National Park:
- The African 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.
Besides these magnificent sightings and encounters, the Kruger National Park boasts such an incredible diversity of wildlife, bio-diversity and birdlife. With so many remarkable creatures and animals to see as well as bucket-list worthy sightings of rare species (some of which you may never encounter anywhere else in the world) it truly is any nature, birdlife and wildlife enthusiast’s dream destination. When visiting the Kruger, it is a great idea to keep up to date with the movements of the wildlife in the Kruger National Park by consulting the sightings map at reception as it is updated daily!
You can also follow the Kruger National Park on all their social media channels for spectacular wildlife sightings, up-close encounters, up-to-date information, recent spottings, and of course the unapologetic beauty of the African bushveld.
- Instagram: @sanparks
- Facebook: @South.African.National.Parks
- Twitter: @SANParksKNP
- YouTube: SANParks
**Disclaimer/Important note: This article was last updated on 18/06/2020 as per the current Lockdown Alert Level 3 Regulations and official SANParks regulations and statements. It is therefore subject to change in accordance with South Africa’s Lockdown Regulations.