Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier Game Park and is the most visited in South Africa. Inside, you have countless opportunities to spot the Big 5; rhinoceros, leopard, elephant, buffalo and lion, these 5 animals dominate Kruger with their strength and sheer size. The park is located 400 km from Johannesburg and is the size of Wales, at almost 2 million hectares.
We came through Kruger on our overland Tucan Tour and had been looking forward to this since we booked. It was such a special experience seeing the variety of animals in their natural habitat and although we sat on a vehicle for almost 10 hours a day… it was totally worth it.
Below you can read about our experiences and then tips for your time in Kruger.
Our day through Kruger National Park
What an awesome 2 days we had! We pulled into Kruger and immediately had our eyes peeled for everything and anything that was moving about. It started off rather slow but after 35 minutes of grazing we spotted our first giraffe and I was sure to let the whole bus know with a very loud “GIRAFFFFFFFE!”. All heads were turned and the photos began… all bazillion of them. Whoops!
Driving through the park was so surreal, the landscape was right out of the Lion King especially with the classic African Acacia tree located throughout the park and in the distance. Seeing the sunrise and sunset over the course of the 2 days was beyond spectacular and definitely one of those pinch yourself moments. As the sun’s coming up, we set the scene by playing Lion King’s “Circle of Life” and boy did it fit all too well with the moment.
Over the course of the next 8 hours we saw elephants + their babies, lions + cubs, zebras, giraffes + their babies, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, warthogs, baboons, monkeys, buffalo, wildebeests, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles + their babies, impalas, a vast range of antelopes, ostrich, antbear, vultures and a huge variety of birds. Unfortunately, the only animal we didn’t spot, that we wanted to see was the hyena and wild dog (which we saw later in Namibia and Phinda Private Game Reserve).
We had one of the most enjoyable, successful game drives through Kruger. Our tour leader and driver told us it was one of their best. Success? We think so! This game drive gave us a small taste of the beauty of the African wildlife and we’re already planning when we can make it back to East Africa and game drive through the Serengeti. Who’s in?
The best time to visit Kruger
Kruger is open year round but different parts of the year are better for different reasons. The best wildlife viewing in Kruger is during the dry winter months from May to October. At this time the vegetation is low and the bush is dry therefore the animals congregate around waterholes and rivers. Mid winter (June to August) is a very comfortable time of year to visit Kruger as there are fewer mosquitoes, little if any rain and temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day and cool at night. Regardless of when you visit Kruger, you won’t be disappointed!
How long to spend in Kruger
There isn’t a limit to how long you should stay, these animals never get old to look at, but generally at least 2-3 days. You’ll find people often change between camp sites as each location has something different to offer. By doing this, it gives you a different area to view the game.
- Kruger is massive and many people try and cover too much land in one day. Slow travel and regular stopping allows you to see more than covering great distances. Remember, you aren’t driving down a freeway and generally won’t drive over 30 km/hr.
- The best time to view the game is during sunrise and sunset as the days can be too hot. You’ll most likely find sleeping or hiding animals during the middle of the day and much less action.
- Keep your windows closed and doors locked when stopped at camps. The monkeys and baboons know full well how to nick your stuff. Feeding them is strictly prohibited and often leads to their death sentence by park rangers as they become aggressive.
- To get an idea of past animal sightings, check out the reference boards at the rest camps. People will put stickers where the animals have been spotted.
- Do not exit your vehicle or allow any part of your body outside of the windows at any time. Hefty fees and death warrants (by animals) could come your way.
- Always make sure you can reach your campsite before the gates close (sunset) to avoid being turned away.
- Lastly, don’t forget to pack binoculars and a full camera battery!
Although Malaria is well managed in Kruger you can never be too sure as it is present. If you plan to visit Kruger, especially in the summer then you should take precautions. Anti-malaria tablets were recommended to us by our doctor, however, half our tour took them and the others didn’t. Everyone is different so consult your doctor with your travel plans and make your own decisions. Keep insect repellent on you for the camp sites and sleep with your windows closed.
There are many different ways to experience game drives in Kruger and below you can see the pros and cons of each.
- Pro – The most cost effective, your own schedule and your own vehicle.
- Con – No guide to explain about the animals or point you in the right direction.
Overland Vehicle (what we were in)
- Pro – Being in a tall vehicle, we had the advantage of seeing above all the other vehicles and further into the distance along with 360 views as you can move about the vehicle.
- Con – You can’t get as close to the animals and or take any off road routes, the truck is louder and can sometimes frighten the animals, you’re without a local guide.
Safari Vehicle (Our favourite)
- Pro – Open air vehicle with a local guide, very close to the animals, off-road driving allowed, real safari experience.
- Con – The most expensive (varying by companies), set times; unless you book privately, can be cool in the winter months for the morning and evening drives.
Where to stay in Kruger
There are many different accommodation options to suit almost every budget. They range from basic campsites and self-catering lodges to all-inclusive exclusive lodges at places such as Sabi Sands. We were on an organized tour so unfortunately, we didn’t choose where we stayed, nor did we research, however, we did stay at 2 of the main rest sites which are located in the South of the park. Berg-en-Dal and Skukuza. Both of these had great facilities, petrol stations, swimming pools (for guests), a small shop & a restaurant. Further North in the park, we also stopped at Satara which offers the best grazing land in Kruger and is very famous for its concentration of general game.
There are a number of smaller bush camps such as Bateleur, that are more quiet and remote. They have BBQ facilities but no shops or restaurants. You also have premier lodges which require advanced bookings and are not accessible for day visitors like the main camps. These lodges offer a really unique experience and some of them can be found here.
For more information on accommodation in Kruger, check out the following page.
Married Day Survived: 440