Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park Overview

Best time to go

May – September (Dry season)

High Season

December – January | July – August

Low Season

April to mid-June | September – November

Size

19,485km² / 7,523mi²

Altitude

140-783m / 459-2,569ft

Location

South Africa

Best Weather

April – May | September – October (Mild weather & little rain)

Dry Season

May – September (Winter)

Wet Season

October – April (Summer)

Worst Weather

June – August (Cold mornings & nights) | December – February (Hot & humid)

South African tourism has a secret weapon – the Kruger National Park! Regarded as one of the greatest national parks in the world, the renowned Kruger National Park is South Africa’s flagship national park. Deemed the third largest national park worldwide and one of the largest in Africa, the pristine wilderness within the Kruger Park consists of 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.

Boasting a vast diversity of wildlife and birdlife, the Kruger Park offers an unparalleled African safari and wildlife experience that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Kruger National Park Wildlife

Kruger National Park

Boasting a vast diversity of wildlife, the Kruger National Park is deemed the crown jewel of South Africa’s national parks, as well as one of the greatest national parks and wildlife destinations in the world. Beyond its sheer abundance of wildlife, the extraordinary and devoted efforts of countless wildlife management and conservation initiatives have loudly and proudly established the Kruger Park as one of the top destinations in Africa to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

Kruger National Park

Regarded as one of the greatest national parks and wildlife destinations in both Africa and the world, it only seems fitting that the Kruger National Park is deemed one of the top, if not THE TOP, national parks to witness the renowned African Big 5, lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo in all its natural glory – Considered the ultimate treasures of the South African bushveld.

Kruger National Park

White Rhino in the Kruger National Park

With regards to the iconic African Big 5, the Kruger Park is believed to support the world’s largest population of white rhino, roughly estimated at 8,000, despite the rapid recent and longstanding increase in poaching. Black rhino, on the other hand, are extremely rare and seldom seen – However, if you do happen to catch a glimpse of a sighting of this remarkable animal (regardless of how brief it may be), you can count yourself incredibly lucky indeed!

In addition to the largest population of white rhino, the Kruger National Park is also home to the largest wild concentration of leopards anywhere in the world.

Kruger National Park

Leopard in the Kruger National Park

Besides the sought-after African Big 5, the Kruger National Park is known for its spectacular sightings of several endangered or ‘rarely seen’ wildlife species, including the sable, roan antelope, cheetah, and African wild dog (in fact, the Kruger Park’s African wild dogs are one of the few populations of this endangered species left in the world).

Kruger National Park

Endangered African Wild Dog in the Kruger National Park

Graceful antelope are another highlight of the Kruger Park, with the greater kudu, waterbuck, and impala being merely three of the Kruger’s prevalent antelope species. Two mysterious species to look out for are steenbok and the common duiker, both of which are an incredible sight to behold.

Kruger National Park

Kudu in the Kruger National Park

It is estimated that 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 remarkable species that make up the African Little 5, which include the leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion, and the red-billed buffalo weaver.

As the Kruger National Park is regarded as one of the greatest national parks, these are merely a few of the wildlife wonders you can look forward to. Trust us, there’s a whole lot more game viewing and pristine wildlife sightings and encounters you can expect to experience when visiting and exploring this premier South African national park.

Kruger National Park Birdlife

Kruger National Park

Yellow-Billed Hornbill in Kruger National Park

More than 500 bird species have been recorded in the Kruger National Park, representing roughly 60% of the total for South Africa. Some of these spectacular bird species are not found anywhere else in South Africa, undoubtedly making the Kruger Park the ultimate bird watching destination for avid global and local birders.

If you’re a head-over-heels birding enthusiast, be sure to keep an eye out for the Kruger National Park’s Birding Big 6 when visiting the park. The Birding Big 6 include the Saddle-billed Stork; Kori Bustard; Martial Eagle; Lappet-faced Vulture; Pel’s Fishing-Owl and the Ground Hornbill.

Kruger National Park

Ground Hornbill in Kruger National Park

Notable birds in the Kruger National Park include:

  • Bateleur (common)
  • Lilac-breasted roller (common)
  • Saddle-billed stork (common)
  • Swainson’s spurfowl (common)
  • White-fronted-bee-eater (common)

Birding specials & real treats for avid birders in Kruger National Park include:

  • African finfoot
  • Bearded scrub robin
  • Brown-headed parrot
  • Greater blue-eared starling
  • Kori bustard
  • Lappet-faced vulture
  • Martial eagle
  • Pel’s fishing-owl
  • Saddle-billed stork
  • Senegal lapwing
  • Southern ground hornbill
  • Tawny eagle
  • Thick-billed cuckoo
  • Thrush nightingale
  • White-headed vulture
  • Yellow-billed oxpecker

Best time for bird watching in the Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

While the Kruger National Park is renowned for its remarkable year-round birdwatching, it is at its best from November to April (wet summer season) when various Eurasian and intra-African migrant species are present.

Kruger National Park Scenery & Vegetation

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park’s primary habitat is woodland savannah and features a relatively thick vegetation throughout, especially during its wet summer season.

The Kruger Park comprises of five different vegetation zones, each of which attracts a distinct wildlife and birdlife population according to its vegetation and climate, as well as 16 diverse ecosystems within its borders.

The varied climates that exist within the Kruger Park have a major impact on the type of vegetation that can both exist and thrive within a specific ecosystem and vegetation zone. This in turn affects the distribution and population density of the wildlife and birdlife found within each vegetation zone. You could therefore easily spend a week or more exploring different parts of the Kruger Park, from the southern koppies (small rocky hills) and acacias to the northern mopane and baobab trees in the north, discovering an incredible variety of wildlife, birdlife, and vegetation along the way.

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is celebrated for its rich biodiversity and vast, vibrant, and varied plant life. Boasting over 2000 plant species, including more than 235 different types of grasses, and over 330 indigenous tree species (be sure to keep a lookout for the famous baobab tree located in the tropical northern section of the park, as well as the striking yellow fever tree, typically situated near water), the Kruger Park is any nature enthusiast’s dream destination.

Kruger National Park

The gently undulating landscape of the Kruger has its highest peak at Khandzalive (839m), in the southwest section of the park, whereas Olifants Camp, sitting high on a bluff overlooking the iconic Olifants River, is undoubtedly one of the Kruger Park’s most scenic highlights with jaw-dropping views of the vast Kruger wilderness.

Best Time To Go To Kruger National Park

Best Time To Go

May – September (Dry season)

High Season

December – January | July – August

Low Season

April to mid-June | September – November

Best Weather

April – May | September – October (Mild weather & little rain)

Worst Weather

June – August (Cold mornings & nights) | December – February (Hot & humid)

While the Kruger National Park is regarded as the ideal year-round safari and wildlife destination, boasting excellent year-round game viewing, each season has something unique and exciting to offer. The Kruger National Park has two distinct seasons:

  • The Dry Season: May – September (Winter)
  • The Wet Season: October – March (Summer)

Here are some of the seasonal highlights you can expect to experience during the Kruger National Park’s dry season and wet season.

Dry winter season in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Dry season highlights

*Prime time for game viewing

*Optimal visibility due to sparse vegetation

*The bone-dry, end-of-winter months of September and October is when the concentration of animals around water sources are at their highest

*May (which marks the start of the dry season) is when the African wild dogs begin their denning period – providing visitors with the best opportunity to view these rarely seen endangered animals

*Huge herds of elephants migrate from Mozambique and Zimbabwe into the Northern Kruger in search of winter grazing during the Kruger Park’s dry season

*Bird lovers can expect great birdlife sightings as July marks the arrival of local bird species such as the stonechat

*Weeping boer-beans burst into flower during September, attracting a myriad of bird life, insects, monkeys and more

*The ancient baobab trees flower during the Kruger Park’s dry season

*Best time for walking safaris / Guided bush walks

*Dry season falls within the Kruger National Park’s low season. This means the park’s roads and camps will be far less crowded, allowing for optimal game viewing opportunities and wildlife sightings

*Mild temperatures & minimal rain

*There is virtually no risk of Malaria

Wet summer season in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Wet season highlights

*Lush green landscapes due to high rainfall (Green Season)

*The Kruger Park is filled with newborn wildlife (most animals give birth at the start of the Kruger’s rainy season) | The wet season is the prime time for newborn & young summer-born wildlife sightings

*Great time to see predators in action due to the increase in newborn wildlife

*February is the waterbuck birthing season, leading to increased encounters with these unique fluffy calves

*March is the peak of the Greater kudu and Cape buffalo breeding season. This creates increased excitement amongst the predators, lions in particular

*Birding is excellent as the summer migrant birds arrive

*Superb time of year for photographers and nature lovers as the high rainfall transforms the Kruger National Park into a beautiful lush green paradise

*The high rainfall fills all the rivers and waterholes that have dried up over the dry winter season

*Wildlife are in excellent condition

Kruger National Park Weather & Climate

Kruger National Park

Dry Season

May – September

May:

  • Transitional month between summer and winter marking the end of summer
  • Average morning temperature: 12°C
  • Average day-time temperature: 27°C

June – August:

  • Temperatures cool down significantly
  • Average morning temperature: 10°C
  • Average day-time temperature: 26°C

September:

  • Temperatures gradually start to rise & the first rainfall brings relief from the dry conditions
  • Average morning temperature: 14°C
  • Average day-time temperature: 29°C

Wet Season

October – March

October – November:

  • Temperatures start to gradually rise with increased rainfall, especially in the afternoons
  • Average morning temperature: 18°C
  • Average day-time temperature: 31°C

December – February:

  • Known as the Kruger Park’s wettest and hottest months
  • High levels of humidity and torrential downpours in the afternoon
  • Average day-time temperature: 32°C but can soar up to an unbearable 40°C

March – April:

  • Temperatures start to cool down, rainfall decreases & humidity starts to drop
  • April is often characterised by lovely clear weather conditions
  • Average day-time temperature: 30°C

How to get to the Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

There are two primary ways to get to the Kruger National Park, by air (flying) or by road (personal or rental car).

Getting to the Kruger National Park by air

Flying is undoubtedly the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way to travel to the Kruger Park.

There are three airports serving the Kruger National Park:

  • Phalaborwa Airport: Northern Kruger Park
  • Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport: Central Kruger Park
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI): Southern Kruger Park
  • Skukuza Airport: Recently re-opened airport located in the Kruger National Park | Southern Kruger Park

Most international and local visitors to the Kruger National Park fly via O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where daily flights are offered between Johannesburg and many of the regional airstrips surrounding the Kruger Park. The flight from Johannesburg to the Kruger takes approximately 90 minutes and can drop you off at the airstrip in the park closest to the specific lodge you are staying.

Daily flights also operate and travel to Skukuza from Cape Town via the Cape Town International Airport. In addition, the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport operates daily flights from Durban (via King Shaka International Airport) and Cape Town. Another flight is also available from Cape Town to Hoedspruit. Several of the Kruger National Park lodges offer transport to and from the various regional airports.

Getting to the Kruger National Park by road

The Kruger National Park is very accessible and easy to reach when traveling by road. From Johannesburg, it will take you approximately 5 – 7 hours to get to the Kruger Park, however, the upside is, it will give you plenty of time and freedom to stop and explore other attractions along the way.

Alternatively, you can choose to travel by plane to the Kruger Park International Airport in Mbombela (Nelspruit), and drive to the Kruger from there.

Here is a general guide of the approximate distance of the Kruger National Park from the main cities:

  • Johannesburg/Pretoria: Approximately 420 km (to the southern gate)
  • Durban: Approximately 752 km
  • Bloemfontein: Approximately 834 km
  • Port Elizabeth: Approximately 1 436 km
  • Cape Town: Approximately 1 842 km