In today’s day and age when a number of animal species are endangered, it is vital to provide a safe haven for them. Among all the SANParks, Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa does exactly that.
It is one of the most popular destinations for people holidaying in South Africa. Those with an enthusiasm for the animal world love exploring the wildlife in its element. Exploring the way other mammals live is a great way to bond, be it with your family members, friends, or your special someone.
Spending time in the wild is the perfect way to get away from city life and be in the midst of nature. Below is a brief introduction and guide to visiting the park and what you will find there.
The park has an area of almost 19485 square kilometers, with nine entrances. It is located in the north-eastern part of South Africa and is bordered by Phalaborwa in Limpopo.
Two other boundaries for the national park on the north and south are naturally flowing rivers of Limpopo and Crocodile. The park has several rivers running through it, such as the Sabie, Letaba, Luvuvhu, and Olifants.
Kruger Park is home to a variety of flora and fauna such as the red bushwillow, Acacia, red grass, buffalo grass, knob-thorn, mopane trees, etc.
While the park is a natural environment for the animals, it is increasingly falling prey to poaching, urban development at the borders, mining projects, and climate change influences like droughts.
The ivory from elephant tusks and rhino horns are traded illegally in huge numbers, and these animals are endangered. The administration of the park is taking strict measures to put an end to poaching and to punish those that are responsible.
There are several ways you can get to Kruger National Park. You can reach here by air or by road, from either Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Durban
The most popular route is to fly into Johannesburg, O.R. Tambo International Airport. From there, you can take a flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, MQP. This airport is about 45 km from the southern gate of the park.
If you do not wish to fly with one of the commercial airlines, that is fine. The park has an airport inside, at Skukuza, and a lot of tour companies offer chartered flights which you can take.
Flights are also available from Johannesburg to the Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa airports that serve Kruger. If you are flying from Cape Town or Durban, you can fly into Johannesburg and then onward, or you can take direct flights to Mpumalanga.
Sometimes, the cost of air travel is too high and can disrupt the budget for the trip. The park is about four hours from Johannesburg by road and you can drive down if you don’t wish to fly.
Wildlife in Kruger is abundant. You can see animals like White rhinos, buffaloes, elephants, the big cats like cheetahs, leopards, and lions, Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra, Wildebeest, etc. Lions are usually found in the southern part of the park.
You can see leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs, although they are rare to spot. You can also see antelopes such as the grey rhebok, steenbok, bushbuck, oribi, waterbuck, impala, roan, etc. Some of the park’s other predators are the black-beaked jackal, side-striped jackal, hyena, caracal, African wildcat, civet, etc.
You can spot smaller mammals such as the mongoose, tree squirrel, scrub hare, porcupine, rock dassie, honey badger, etc.
Apart from animals, you can see a variety of birds here such as lappet-faced vulture, saddle-billed stork, martial eagle, kori bustard, ground hornbill, etc.
People come to Kruger National Park to see the wildlife in its natural surroundings. They like to see predators chase and kill their prey. They like to see herds of animals playing, moving together, alerting each other, running to save themselves from the larger animals, etc.
The park offers various safari options in which an open jeep takes you around the park through a dedicated trail. These jeeps can be shared with other people or you can book an entire vehicle just for you.
The duration of the safaris also varies depending on your budget and the number of days you are staying at the park. The operators are well-trained people and share their knowledge with you during the safari. You can book a safari online or along with your accommodation.
Sometimes, visitors do not witness a lot in one day and it might take a few days before you can see most of the animals you had set out to see. So it is suggested that you stay over for a few nights.
Kruger Park accommodation is available in various different options based on your budget and comfort desires.
You can stay at one of the Private Game Lodges, built within the park’s boundaries, called Concession areas. They provide a luxury stay experience along with safaris through the park.
There are a number of private reserves just outside the park where you can find cheaper bed and breakfasts, hotels, lodges, and villas that also provide the safari experience.
There are provisions in the park for self-catering accommodation. The park provides various camps in the form of bungalows, cottages, and communal campsites. These sites are equipped with basic amenities and electric power.
These camps are located within the boundary of the park. There are different types of camping options available. You can choose from:
rest camps where access to the area is shared by multiple families,
private camps that give you exclusive access to the place,
and bush camps that are ideal for large families.
Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp
Letaba Rest camp
Lower Sabie rest Camp
Mopani Rest Camp
Olifants Rest Camp
Orpen rest Camp
Pretoriuskop rest Camp
Punda Maria Rest Camp
Satara Rest Camp
Shingwedzi Rest Camp
Skukuza Rest Camp
Balule Private Camp
Malelane Private Camp
Maroela Private Camp
Tamboti Private Camp
Bateleur Bushveld Camp
Biyamiti Bushveld Camp
Boulders Bush Lodge
Roodewal Bush Lodge
Shimuwini Bushveld Camp
Sirheni Bushveld Camp
Talamati Bushveld Camp
Kruger National Park is a popular tourist destination with abundant vegetation and wildlife available here. With so many different options for accommodation, visitors generally prefer to spend at least three to four days in the park. This allows them to spot a large number of animal species in their natural habitat.
However, human encroachment in the park with their vehicles is contributing to an increase in pollution. And poaching is a matter of serious concern. The development of new properties to cater to the tourists on the outskirts of the park is also adding to problems.
While the experience of visiting the park is fun for us, we must remember that it is the home of the animals. We must respect that and not engage in any activity that is harmful to their well being.