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.