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The second largest game reserve, the Kruger National Park is south Africa’s flagship Game reserve. Originally the Kruger Park was the Sabi Game Reserve, and it was only in 1927 when the National Parks Act was declared that the Kruger National Park came into existence (by merging the Sabi Game Reserve with the Shingwedzi Game Reserve). In 1927 the first motorists drove through the park for a mere pound.
Today the park spreads across 2 of the country’s provinces (Limpopo and Mpumalanga) and spans an awesome 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) . Just the drive from North to South of the park is 60 kilometres (220 mi), while east to west is only 5 kilometres (40 mi). It is also home to Africa’s Big Five, the birding Big Six, as well as thousands of indigenous fauna and flora. Day guests to the park can visit between 5 - 18:30 in the South African Summer months Nov - Feb); 6:00 - 18:00 during Spring (Aug - Oct) and Autumn (Mar - Apr); and 6:00 - 17:30 during Winter (May - Jul). Visitors staying overnight in one of the parks various accommodation offerings will have broader access to the park after normal daily hours.
Of course, visiting the Kruger National Park usually means safari time, and efforts to spot the Big Five, as well as the other 142 mammal species to be found in the park. Then there is of course the the truly magnificent scenery, which not just plays home to the animals of the park, but also the vast and diverse birdlife. So where to begin?
The first, most inexpensive activity is of course to do a self-drive safari. Whether you are staying in the park, or outside it, a self-drive safari is always doable. The park rangers will provide you with maps, as well as expert advice about where to go to find whichever creatures you are looking for. They will also depart the parks rules to you. It is vital you follows these; both for your safety, the safety of other visitors, and most importantly - the safety of all the creatures who call the park home.
If a self-drive isn’t your thing, and you’re stating at one of the park’s many guest lodges, then a guided safari is the way to go. Guests are taken through the park by expert rangers , who not only know the best places to go and when, but will also shares their expertise knowledge about the animals and your majestical surrounds.
if you truly wish to get up-close, and personal with the nature in the park, then why not try out a walking safari? These will allow you to enjoy close encounters with some of the parks less carnivorous creatures, as well as learn detailed information about animal tracking, conservation, and the importance of the habitat to the creatures in which it homes. It’s also an ideal opportunity for a little bit of bird watching, and your guide will be able to point out many of the parks more friendly feathery friends.
If you are keen on bird watching and want to find the reclusive and rare birds of the park then consider going on a birding safari. The guides know all the knooks and crannies in which the majestic creatures hide, and know exactly when they come out to hunt. Of course you don’t always need to go on a safari, if you’re staying in the park, you’ll definitely be able to get fair amount of bird watching done at your accommodations.
A more unique safari experience of horseback safaris is available to horse lovers staying in the park. And you don’t need to be an expert - they are available to novice, intermediate and experienced riders. One of the more epic safari rides takes you into the African bush for sundowners - and a true african sunset.
For golf lovers, make sure you visit the only golf-course in the Kruger. The stunning, 18-hole course will offer you a truly unique golfing experience, as well as an opportunity to admire the majestic surrounds of the park.
For those staying at one of many of the lodges in the Kruger will also be able to enjoy a number of leisure and relaxation activities depending on where you stay. These can include wine tastings, spa days, swimming, and just general relaxing while taking in the astounding views.
There are very few gastronomical settings that are as beautifully natural as that of the Kruger Park. There are a variety of restaurants to stop at throughout the park, mainly situated in the various rest camps. Remember, if you’re not eating at your accommodation, be sure to either pack your own food or plan to stop at one of these astounding eateries.
Stop at the gracious Tindlovu restaurant in the Berg-en-dal restaurant for delicious freshly prepared homely foods. The venue can also be hired for conferences and weddings.
For a quick bite to eat the Deli in the Satara rest camp is the place to swing by. Here you’ll find easy to grab and go healthy foods, such as freshly prepared sandwiches and salads.
If you are wanting a relaxed start to your day then stop at the Deli in the Skukuza rest camp. Here you can enjoy coffee, light meals, and treat along the gorgeous Sabie river.
For a taste of history, as well as delicious foods, then make a stop at the Selati Station Grill House in the Skukuza rest camp. The restaurant is built around an old train that used to take visitors around the park.
Picnicking in the Kruger is usually a favourite amongst day visitors. There are little kiosks that sell light meals, and snacks. There are also outdoor fire pits available for hire if you wish to enjoy an outdoor braai, and wood can normally be bought at the kiosk.
The is a wide selection of place to stay, both inside and outside, the Kruger National Park, which will suit both your budget and experience needs!
Luxury Tents: Sleep in the glorious outdoors, but with all the added comforts of luxury bedding and running water in the permanent tents of the Garonga Safari Camp. The permanent tents have indoor showers, luxury comforts, and simply stunning views. The camp is situated just west of the Kruger in the Makalali Conservancy.
Self-catering: if you’re heading to the Kruger with friends, family or both, then it will be well worth your money to book into a self-catering accommodation. Many can sleep upwards of six people, and they allow you to take your adventure at your own pace. For large groups the LeoLapa House, just outside the Kruger in the Mjejane Private Nature Reserve is ideal.
Tree Houses: For a once in-a-lifetime experience opt to snuggle up amongst the trees at the Varty Camp. Here guests will enjoy delicious views of the Londolozi Private Game reserve from their tree-top chalets, as well as their own private plunge pools.
Lodges: Slip away into nature, and avoid the crowds Monwana Game Lodge. Situated in the heart of the Thornybush Nature Reserve, this stunning lodge offers guests a luxurious, yet homely experience. Wildlife is often seen frequenting the river banks on the Monwana River on which the lodge sits.
Getting to and from the Kruger Park is not nearly as hard as people imagine, with 9 points of entry and easy access from surrounding airports. Unless you have arranged for your accommodation to collect you from a meeting point and bring you into the park, you will need to either have your own car or hire one.
Air: There are numerous airports surrounding the the park, which are close to the various points of entry. These include Kruger Park Gateway Airport; Eastgate Airport; and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. You can also opt to fly directly into the Kruger and land at Skukuza Airport. The Kruger National Park is also reachable from O.R Thambo, although you will need to drive approx. 420 Kms (about 5hrs) to get there.
Car: It is highly recommended that you hire or use your own car to travel through the Kruger. You can hire a car from several agencies online and pick them up at both O.R Thambo or Kruger Mpumalanga International airports.
The Kruger National Park is often called “the Kruger”; “The Park”; or simply “Kruger” by locals and visitors alike.
At 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) the park is roughly the same size as Israel.
The area in which the Kruger Park lies is known as the “lowveld”.
In 1927 the first motor vehicle drove through the park for a mere 1 pound.
The first warden of the Kruger was James Stevenson-Hamilton.
The park is home to 254 cultural heritage sites.
There is evidence that prehistoric man lived in the region approx. 500 000 - 100 000 years ago.
With 147 different species, the Kruger is home to the widest variety of mammals in African Nature Reserves.
There are over 500 bird species to be found in the park, including the ‘Big Six’; the Lappet faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Saddle billed Stork; Kori Bustard; Ground Hornbill; and Pel’s Fishing Owl.
The Kruger park is comprised of not just one but six different eco-systems.
For a more down to earth experience there are guest houses. Less expensive than hotels, they offer a more homey environment, as well as more privacy. Converted from a private house it’s a much gentler environment and for those with furry friends, there are also pet friendly options. They are usually well situated with shops and places of interest nearby. Being so small it offers a much more personal and intimate attention to it’s upkeep, leaving you with a more polished and homely experience.