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.

Kruger National Park open during Lockdown Level 3

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.

Visit the Kruger Park South Africa

 

Article Content:

  1. Lockdown Alert Level 3 Regulations & Guidelines
  2. Timeslots & Opening & Closing Times
  3. Lockdown Alert Level 3 Guidelines while in The Kruger Park
  4. Rest Camps, Restaurants, Shops, Petrol Stations
  5. General guidelines when visiting The Kruger National Park
  6. Entrance Gates telephone numbers
  7. Daily Conservation Fee
  8. About The Kruger National Park

Lockdown Alert Level 3 Regulations & Guidelines

 

Visit Kruger National Park wildlife

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
Microbus 10 7
Minibus 14 9
Minibus 16 11
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

Visit the Kruger National Park South Africa

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:

Gate Times Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
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

Wildlife sightings in Kruger National Park South Africa

  • 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

Kruger National Park wildlife at watering hole

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

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
  • Skukuza
  • Afsaal Picnic Spot
  • Pretoriuskop
  • Satara
  • Olifants
  • Letaba
  • Mopani
  • Shingwedzi
  • Punda Maria.

Shops

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

Kruger National Park wildlife sightings

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

Kruger National Park Lion Sighting

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!

Kruger National Park Big 5 Wildlife Sightings

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.

 

Kruger National Park wildlife, birdlife, vegetation

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.

**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.

As South Africa is in the midst of a Nationwide Lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, all travel has been placed on hold for the foreseeable future. Just because we can’t physically travel to some of our top African safari destinations, doesn’t mean we can’t experience all the natural beauty, amazing wildlife, birdlife and endemic fauna and flora virtually. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can now embark on a virtual journey to Africa’s most beautiful wildlife destinations from the comfort of your home. Making it possible for nature and wildlife lovers to experience the sights and sounds of the African bush by means of live streams, interactive game drives, and live Q&As hosted by expert field guides, game rangers and wildlife experts on the ground. On top of that, several game reserves offer round-the-clock live footage of key wildlife hotspots through webcams connected to Africam.com and Explore.org.

While me might not be able to hop into an open safari vehicle and go on a safari adventure right this moment, here are some of the best virtual safaris to enjoy online during the Corona Virus Lockdown.

WildEarth

WildEarth Virtual Safari Experience

Photo credit: WildEarth

WildEarth SafariLIVE is an award winning, expertly hosted LIVE safari experience, broadcasted directly from the African bush into your home. Available on both the internet and television, WildEarth’s SafariLIVE gives you the opportunity to enjoy a virtual safari and interact with a knowledgeable game ranger in real time. In partnership with a range of Africa’s top game reserves, lodges, and safari companies, WildEarth will be broadcasting twice-daily, 3-hour long game drives as they explore the heart of the African wilderness. Currently their SafariLIVE virtual safari experiences are broadcasted live from Djuma Private Game Reserve, Chitwa Chitwa in The Sabi Sands, &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve, and Tswalu Kalahari. All these reserves are found in South Africa and offer a vast expanse of wilderness within which Africa’s magnificent wildlife can freely roam.

By making use of safari vehicles, guides on foot, drones, balloons, rovers, and remote cams, they give you the opportunity to explore the glorious African wilderness and its magnificent wildlife in their natural habitat. From incredible sightings of the renowned Big 5 to other prolific wildlife and birdlife sightings, you will be right at the edge of your seat enjoying every second of the adventure. The WildEarth SafariLIVE broadcasts are entirely unscripted, unpredictable, and happening in real time. You never know what you’re going to get – making every sighting and encounter as thrilling as the next.

The WildEarth SafariLIVE is broadcasted in two main timeslots, Sunrise Safari and Sunset Safari. These virtual safari broadcasts can be enjoyed on the following days and times:

Sunrise Safari

  • Monday to Sunday
  • Central African Time (CAT): 06:30am – 09:30am
  • East African Time (EAT): 07:30am – 10:30am
  • Eastern Standard Time (EST): 00:30am – 03:30am

Sunset Safari

  • Monday to Sunday
  • Central African Time (CAT): 15:00pm – 18:00pm
  • East African Time (EAT): 16:00pm – 19:00pm
  • Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EST): 09:00am – 12:00pm

WildEarth’s virtual safaris are broadcasted live in real-time, but in case you miss the action you can visit their SafariLIVE YouTube channel as all the videos will be saved there.

WildEarth Kids

WildEarth also has an incredible virtual safari experience for all the young nature and wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy – WildEarth Kids! WildEarth Kids is all about connecting kids with nature and inspiring the next generation of conservation ambassadors. This exciting wildlife adventure takes kids aged 4-18 on free, live, and interactive virtual safari rides, transporting them from wherever they are onto the back of a virtual safari vehicle. For 45 minutes, kids join safariLIVE and tour some of the most iconic wildlife destinations in Africa. They can interact with the expert guides and game rangers in real time as they drive through the African wilderness, asking questions about what they see.

This fun and interactive virtual safari takes place during the first 45 minutes of both the Sunrise and Sunset drives. During that time, the guides will only answer questions specifically from the kids. These questions can be sent to them via [email protected]. Currently no bookings of sessions are required. This means the whole family can join in on all the virtual safari and wildlife fun as often as you want.

&Beyond

phinda-cheetah-game-drive-safari

Photo credit: &Beyond

Experiential travel company &Beyond is bringing the African wilderness to you by means of their WILDwatch LIVE initiative. &Beyond’s WILDwatch LIVE comes in two exciting parts that can be enjoyed by nature and wildlife lovers across the world.

On YouTube or Facebook

In an attempt to liven up your lockdown and give you an authentic African wildlife experience, &Beyond collaborated with wildlife broadcasting experts, WildEarth, to stream (in real time) twice-daily, three-hour long game drives from &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve – two of South Africa’s top game reserves, both of which are adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Authentic and non-scripted, the game drives will follow the sights and sounds of the African bush as they unfold. The stream will move between three or four live feeds to bring viewers the action as it happens. Creating a seamless multi-feed virtual safari experience hosted by both &Beyond and WildEarth’s expert field guides. Viewers will be able to interact with the guides in real time as if they were on an actual game drive by asking them questions on YouTube or using #wildearth on Twitter.

You can join &Beyond and WildEarth’s virtual safari adventure by tuning into Wildwatch Live for a sunrise or sunset safari which takes place at the following times:

  • 06:30am – 09:30am CAT (sunrise dependent)
  • 15:00pm – 18:00pm CAT (sunset dependent)

The first 45 minutes of each afternoon drive will be dedicated to young wildlife fans and the guides will only answer questions asked by children during this time. Parents can sign their kids up by selecting a date on wildearth.tv/kids. Children (or parents) can then email any questions to [email protected] for age appropriate and personalized responses.

On Instagram Live

Besides joining the &Beyond and WildEarth guides for a thrilling virtual safari in the heart of the African bushveld on YouTube or Facebook, you can also watch all the action unfold on Instagram Live. Their expert guides in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve are always out and about, and will be jumping online, ad hoc, on &Beyond Travel’s Instagram page when they come across any exciting wildlife sightings. If you’d like to sign-up and receive notifications for when these Instagram Live streams will be taking place, be sure to do the following:

  1. Follow @andBeyondTravel on Instagram
  2. Select the “Following” button and go to Notifications
  3. Select Live Videos and make sure “Get all Notifications” is selected

Check out andBeyond’s live WILDwatch game drives here.

Tintswalo Safari Lodge Virtual Safaris

tintswalo-safari-lodge-virtual-safari-experience

Photo credit: Tintswalo Safari Lodge

Tucked into the beautiful Manyeleti Game Reserve in the heart of the Greater Kruger National Park, Tintswalo Safari Lodge has launched free virtual safaris where you can explore the wonders of the African bush from the comfort of your home. The game rich Manyeleti Game Reserve is known for its incredible Big 5 sightings, which include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos. Besides the African Big 5, Manyeleti Game Reserve also boasts a prolific variety of birdlife and other wildlife species. Now you get to experience all the action and spectacular sightings the Manyeleti Game Reserve has to offer courtesy of Tintswalo Safari Lodge’s ‘On the Beat’ virtual safaris.

Their ‘On the Beat’ virtual safaris include phenomenal video footage of actual sightings and exciting wildlife encounters experienced by their game rangers on patrol. The videos will be uploaded daily on all their social media channels. Make sure you follow them to avoid missing out.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Photo credit: Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve is a premier safari destination located in South Africa’s ecologically and culturally significant province of Eastern Cape. The head ranger of Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Andrew Kearney, is doing a series of “lockdown” episodes where he aims to showcase the beautiful African wilderness to as many people as possible. These special lockdown episodes will feature highlights from his daily walks and drives, as well as other interesting titbits and insights into life at the Eastern Cape reserve. As the Shamwari Private Game Reserve is home to the renowned Big 5 as well as vast herds of wildlife, birdlife, and incredible ecological diversity, you can expect some amazing sightings and encounters.

You can find head ranger Andrew Kearney’s virtual safari lockdown episodes on Shamwari Private Game Reserve’s social media platforms.

Singita Sabi Sand

Singita Sabi Sand Safari

Photo credit: Singita Sabi Sand

Singita is a conservation and ecotourism brand that has been preserving and protecting the African wilderness and its many inhabitants for the past 26 years. Singita’s unique philosophy lives on in each of their fifteen award-winning lodges and camps spread across six diverse ecosystems and four countries in Africa. At each of their premium lodges and camps they aim to offer guests an authentic African wildlife and safari experience unlike any other. Singita has three Sabi Sand lodges located in South Africa. The Sabi Sand is a privately owned game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Together these two areas make up some of South Africa’s most pristine land.

As they aren’t able to share their incredible wildlife and African bushveld with guests at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are doing it virtually by live-streaming game drives. These live-streamed virtual game drives will be hosted by resident photographer and former guide Ross Cooper twice daily on their Facebook and Instagram platforms. Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for their high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings. Not to mention the spectacular lion, large rhino bulls and tiny baby elephant sightings Ross Cooper encounters on his live drives through the Singita Sabi Sand concession. This makes for a thrilling virtual safari experience filled with exciting up-close wildlife encounters.

Motswari Private Game Reserve

Motswari-Private-Game-Reserve_Game-Drives

Photo credit: Motswari Private Game Reserve

The Motswari Private Game Reserve is located within the Timbavati and Umbabat Private Nature Reserve. These two breath-taking nature reserves form part of the Associated Private Nature Reserve region which borders on the Kruger National Park. The Timbavati and Umbabat Private Nature Reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, which allows wildlife species to move freely between these expansive parks. This means visitors can look forward to some phenomenal Big 5 sightings as well as incredible wildlife and birdlife encounters.

To ensure nature and wildlife lovers don’t miss out on the wonders of the African bush, Motswari Private Game Reserve has two guides who patrol the reserve daily, filming their drives and wildlife encounters and sightings along the way. All the highlights from their drives are then posted to their Instagram feed for everyone to enjoy. Ensuring you get your daily dose of African bush magic from the comfort of your home. Follow Motswari Private Game Reserve on Instagram to avoid missing out on all the incredible wildlife action!

Savanna Private Game Reserve

Savanna Lodge Private Game Reserve

Photo credit: Savanna Private Game Reserve

Savanna Private Game Reserve is an exclusive 5-star lodge situated in the internationally acclaimed Sabi Sand Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park Conservancy. Known for their authentic safari experiences and magnificent Big 5 sightings, it is considered completely normal to see lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinos all in one game drive.  The numerous nearby dams and series of waterholes in front of the lodge also attracts several other wildlife and birdlife species.

To ensure wildlife enthusiasts don’t miss a single second of the action, Savanna Private Game Reserve has put together a virtual safari experience in the form of daily [email protected] Safari’ segments. These segments consist of +/- 10 – 20-minute videos featuring each day’s safari highlights and thrilling wildlife sightings and encounters. Savanna Private Game Reserve shares their daily ‘[email protected] Safari’ segments on their Facebook page for everyone to enjoy. Follow them as they explore the magnificent Sabi Sand Reserve and everything it has to offer.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve Pangolin

Photo credit: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is South Africa’s largest private game reserve and one of the best places in Southern Africa to see cheetah in the wild. Situated in the Savannah Biome, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve lies in a transition zone between the true Kalahari ecotype and arid Savannah. This unique location contributes to a greater habitat diversity than anywhere else in the Kalahari. The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is home to one of the very few mountain ranges in the southern Kalahari, the Korannaberg, as well as rolling hills and expansive grasslands. Tswalu is also known to receive more rainfall than many other parts of the Kalahari. Giving rise to a rich biodiversity, thriving ecosystems and diverse range of wildlife and birdlife.

In the shelter of the mountains you will find Tswalu’s 240 bird and 80 mammal species, including Hartmann’s mountain zebra and wild dog. On top of that you will encounter incredible Kalahari species you may never have seen before. While giraffe, zebra, and buffalo will be familiar sightings if you’ve been on a safari before, this will likely be your first opportunity to capture iconic Kalahari sightings such as dainty springbok with a backdrop of red sand, or the silhouette of a gemsbok atop a dune. It really is something special!

Now you can experience all the magic of the Kalahari and its unique wildlife from the comfort of your home. Every Thursday the area’s researchers and wildlife experts will post live videos and Q&A’s to Tswalu’s Instagram and Facebook pages, inviting you to enjoy every second of the action along with them.

Tau Watering Hole, Madikwe Game Reserve

Tau Game Lodge

Photo credit: Tau Game Lodge

Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve is located on the Northern border of South Africa and Botswana. The magnificent Madikwe Game Reserve is the fourth largest game reserve in the country and one of Africa’s most sought-after wildlife destinations.  The beautiful Tau Game Lodge overlooks the famous Tau Waterhole, which is an oasis for a vast variety of wildlife species in the area. Elephants, giraffes, lions, zebras, and cheetahs are just a few of the Madikwe Game Reserve regulars you will spot at the Tau Waterhole.

To share these spectacular wildlife sightings with the rest of the world, Tau Game Lodge has set up a 24-hour Tau live camera feed. This gives viewers the opportunity to enjoy a secret window into this sanctuary and its robust ecosystem as elephants bathe, lions roar, wild dogs roam, and crocodiles prey.

Check out the Tau Watering Hole live camera here.

The Naledi Cat-EYE

Naledi Game Lodge

Photo credit: Naledi Game Lodge

The Naledi Game Lodge is a World Luxury Hotel and TripAdvisor award winning wildlife safari and luxury game lodge located in an exclusive private reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. The Greater Kruger extends across several private reserves with no fences to impede the migration of game. One of these private reserves is Balule Nature Reserve – The exclusive 40,000-hectare reserve in which Naledi operates. The reserve holds high natural densities of Africa’s Big Five as well as an abundance of other wildlife and birdlife species.

Explore.org in association with Africam.com is giving viewers a live window into the African wild with a live camera feed over the Balule Nature Reserve’s watering hole. For an entirely unique perspective of the animals that frequent the watering hole, this live camera has been set up at the eye level of a leopard. As other larger wildlife species such as elephants and giraffes tower over the camera, viewers will be able to enjoy a whole other viewpoint of these magnificent animals as they visit the waterhole. According to Explore.org, you are likely to spot a vast variety of wildlife species ranging from curious cheetahs, lions, elephants, giraffes, impalas, baboons and warthogs to Egyptian geese, meerkats, waterbuck, and porcupines.

Watch the Naledi Cat-EYE live camera feed here.

Tembe Elephant Park

Tembe Elephant Park

Photo credit: Tembe Elephant Park

South Africa’s Tembe Elephant Park is a 300kmreserve located between Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mozambique. It is known for having the largest elephant population on the African continent. Now you can watch these gentle giants of the African bushveld from the comfort of your home via a live feed. Both Africam.com and Explore.org have live webcams set up at the Tembe Elephant Park watering hole. Giving viewers the opportunity to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

Even when the largest visitors don’t make an appearance, it is still worth the watch as the reserve is home to a variety of other wildlife species, including lions, rhino, buffalo and suni antelopes, to mention just a few. As it’s a 24/7 live feed, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the African wilderness whenever you choose.

Check out Tembe Elephant Park’s live camera feed here.

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

ulusaba-game-drive

Photo credit: Ulusaba Private Game Reserve South Africa | Virgin Limited Edition

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is located in the heart of the South African bushveld. As Ulusaba is a member of Virgin Limited Edition, a select group of luxury hotels, they have teamed up with Virgin to host a thrilling virtual safari experience every Monday at 3:30pm via Instagram. This is the perfect opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to see leopard cups, a lion pride or any of the Big Five in their natural habitat. Be sure to follow them on Instagram to avoid missing out on all the action and incredible wildlife sightings and encounters.