Covering 19,485km2, Kruger National Park stands among the world’s largest game reserves stretching to the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces to the north east of South Africa. Kruger National Park stretches for 65km (40mi) from East to west and 360km (220mi) from North to South with its headquarters located at Skukuza.
Kruger National Park was first gazetted in the year 1898 and was officially declared a national Park in 1926 becoming the first South Africa’s National Park. The Park is part of the great Limpopo Transfrontier Park a remarkable peace park that connects it with Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park.
Kruger National Park’s section that adjoins the Canyons Biosphere was declared by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve and the Park in general feature a count of seven (7) gates.
|Crocodile Bridge Gate||on the extension of Rissikstreet||from Komatipoort||25°21′30.48″S 31°53′36.59″E|
|Malelane Gate||on the R570 off the N4||near Malelane||25°27′42.73″S 31°31′58.70″E|
|Numbi Gate||on the R569 road||from Hazyview||25°9′19.26″S 31°11′51.00″E|
|Orpen Gate||on the R531 road||from Klaserie||24°28′32.95″S 31°23′26.79″E|
|Pafuri Gate||on the R525 road||
|Paul Kruger Gate||on the R536 road||from Hazyview||24°58′52.70″S 31°29′6.92″E|
|Phabeni Gate||on the road off the R536||from Hazyview||25°01′30.42″S 31°14′29.15″E|
|Phalaborwa Gate||on the R71 road||from Phalaborwa||23°56′43.63″S 31°9′54.15″E|
|Punda Maria Gate||on the R524 road||from Thohoyandou||22°44′17.89″S 31°0′32.52″E|
Regarding the history, the Kruger National Park started as Sabi Game Reserve established in 1898 when Jakob Louis Van Wyk presented a motion in the Old South Africa’s Volksraad to create a game reserve and by the majority of one vote in September 1895, Paul Kruger of Transvaal Republic declared it a Government Wildlife Reserve on March 26th 1898 which later changed to Sabi and eventually Kruger National Park in 1926.
The Kruger National Park was formerly established to neutralise hunting and thus protect the dwindling counts of wild game in the area. The Sabi Reserve was to the south of the present day park and the Shingwedzi Reserve was to the south of the park as established in 1903 under the reign of James Stevenson Hamilton – the first warden of the reserve. These two reserves and the adjacent farms were then combined in 1926 to establish the great Kruger National Park. The Sabi commenced the reception of extensive travel groups in the year 1923 as a section of the Round in Nine tours presented by South African Railways.
The tourist visitation in Kruger National Park rose considerably after its declaration in 1926. In the year 1927, three cars had been recorded to have entered the park and the number rose subsequently to 180 cars in the year 1928 and 850 cars in the year 1929. The fencing of Kruger National Park commenced in the year 1959 with the with the work commencing along the Crocodile River to the southern boundary and this was aimed at curbing disease spread, enable border patrolling and limit the poachers movement. In 1969, the government forcefully took over land belonging to the Makuleke area to the north of the park though they regained it in 1996 following the submission of the land claim.
Kruger National Park along with Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park were joined to form a peace park under the names of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
The national Park features two rivers to the south and north namely Crocodile River and Limpopo River respectively while the eastern side is bordered by the Lebombo Mountains which distinguishes it with Mozambique. The Kruger’s altitude lies between 200m in the East, 840m to the south west and the park’s highest elevation is named Khandzalive. A multitude of rivers flow from west to East through the park namely Olifants, Sabie, Crocodile, Luvuvhu, Letaba and Limpopo Rivers.
In terms of climate, Kruger National Park features a lowveld sub tropical climate where the summer days are hot and humid with the temperatures rising to over 38 degrees Celsius.
The Kruger National Park features great diversity including 336 species of trees, 34 species of Amphibians, 49 species of fish, 114 species of Reptiles, 507 species of birds along with 147 species of mammals.
Attractions in Kruger National Park
Wildlife as a South Africa Safari attraction in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is a home to the Africa’s Big Five recorded to among the outstanding darlings to the African explorers right from the past and in the contemporary times. Kruger features about 1500 lions, 1,000 leopards, 12,000 elephants and 5,000 Rhinos both white and black. Besides the big five, Kruger National Park features about 145 species of mammals including; Zebra, Giraffe, Warthog, Hippopotamus, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, wild dog, Eland, Greater Kudu, Bushbuck, Nyala, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Mountain Reedbuck, common reedbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Tsessebe, Impala, Suni, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Oribi, Sharpe’s Grysbok, Red Duiker, Common Duiker, Bush pig, Cape rock Hyrax, bush hyrax, Aardvark, Caracal, serval cat and Hedge hog among others
Flora as a South Africa Safari attraction in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is diverse botanically with a range of ecological zones along with 336 species of trees. The four distinct vegetation areas mark the park including the thorn trees and red bush-willow veld to the south of Olifants marked with red bush willow and acacia species; Knob-thorn and Marula veld marked with red grass, Buffalo grass along with marula and lead wood tree species; Red bush-willow and mopane veld to the north of Olifants River marked with two dominant species like Red bush willow and mopane tree and lastly Shrub Mopane veld to the park’s north east. Other distinctive vegetation thrives in smaller areas of the park including the sandveld close to Punda Maria and Pretoriuskop. Kruger National Park feature impressive tree species that are worth mention and exploration including; Adansonia digitata, Afzelia quanzensis, Balanites maughamii, Boscia albitrunca, Breonadia salicina, Catha edulis, Philenoptera violacea, Pterocarpus angolensis, Securidaca longepedunculata, Sclerocarya birrea subsp. Caffra, Sideroxylon inerme subsp. Inerme, Warburgia salutaris, Combretum imberbe and Elaeodendron transvaalensis.
Masorini Heritage SiteBirds as a South Africa Safari attraction in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park feature 517 bird species of which 253 bird species are residents, 117 species are non breeding migrants while the 147 are nomads. The Park also features the Big Six Birds whose dub arises from their preference for extensive territories and sensitivity to habitat loss and these include; martial eagle, lappet-faced vulture, saddle-billed stork, ground hornbill, kori bustard along with Pel’s fishing owl. Kruger National Park features 25 – 30 saddle-billed stork breeding pairs along with a range of non breeding individuals. Among other bird species thriving in Kruger National Park include; Bat hawk, Sanderings, Grey Plover, Grey headed bull, Damara tern, Cape Wagtail, Plum colored starling, Hawk Eagle, Brown headed cariol, Black stork, Bateleur Eagle, Crested Barbet, Scoops Owl, Crested Barbet, Purple roller and King fisher among others.
Culture as a South Africa Safari attraction in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park also features remarkable cultural sites that are worth exploring. These include;
This site is noted to have been home of the baPhalaborwa clan who survived on Iron melting in the Stone Area period. The village was restored in 1973 and features of stone walls, potsherds, grinding stones, implements that emanate from the Stone Age era along the foundry remains that date back to the 19th Century. The Masorini Hill Picturesque is positioned at 11km from Phalaborwa entry gate along the Letaba rest camp road. This site gives an insight of how the natives had developed specialized economies even before the coming of whites. Other archaeological sites of interest include; Thulamela hill.
Tourist Activities in Kruger National Park
Game Drive as a South Africa Safari activity in Kruger National Park
Game drive is among the major safari activities that are carried out in Kruger National Park. The game drive can be done in the morning, afternoon and at night. The Morning game drive depart 30 minutes to the official park opening time and lasts 3 – 3 ½ hours.
The evening game drive or Sunset drives depart close to sun set and return after the sun set taking 3 hours. This drive offers possibilities of viewing grazers in the calm afternoon along with predators launching their night hunts.
The Kruger National Park also has provision for night game drives which commence between 19: 30 – 20:00 hours lasting for 2 hours. Under the expert guidance, there is a possibility of exploring the range of Kruger’s nocturnals including the Porcupine, honey badger and the Aardvark among others.
Guided Walks as a South Africa Safari activity in Kruger National Park
The guided walks in Kruger National Park are conducted both in the morning and in the afternoon. The maximum of eight (8) people are taken on the guided walk in the company of an armed ranger guides who offer protection and themed interpretation of interesting features that you come across. Though the activity do not last for long hours and thus less exhaustive, it advisable to put on comfortable shoes and natural color clothing. The children who are still below 12 years may not be allowed to participate in the activity.
4×4 Adventure Trails as a South Africa safari activity in Kruger National Park
4×4 Adventure trails present an opportunity for the travellers on wildlife safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park to engage in an off the beaten track and adventure into the park’s landscapes which are rarely encountered. The 4×4 vehicles reduce environmental damage since some of the trails traverse river beds and dongas and are not gravelled. The adventure trails are taken at own risk and it advisable to carry along the GPS. One 4×4 adventure trail exists in Kruger National Park and a count of six (6) vehicles are allowed each day on this trail.
Mafunyane 4×4 Eco-Trail
This trail takes four (4) days and three (3) nights on self catering guided adventure arrangement to the Kruger National Park’s North West in between River Olifants and Luvuvhu. The trail route extends to 270km distance and all the travellers take their own 4×4 vehicles with adequate provisions like camping gear, water, food and firewood. An expert guide will take the lead and offer the all required interpretation.
The sites for overnight feature eco-friendly toilets, shower and fire place. The Mufunyane trail commences at Phalaborwa Gate every afternoon of Thursday 12pm ending on the morning of Sunday at Punda Maria Camp only active during the dry season stretching from March 1st to November 30th. A count of five (5) and with a maximum of four (4) people in each vehicle without children below 12 years are allowed to traverse the trail. In cases of heavy rains along with any other management problem like anti poaching operation, uncontrolled fires, the trail can be cancelled at a close notice with full refund of the participants.
The Mountain biking activity is conducted at Olifants area and the travellers on South Africa Safari interested in taking up this activity are carried on open game viewing vehicle while the bikes are carried on the bike trailer to the starting point. This comes to along with water bottles, back packs, bicycle helmets which is compulsory, juice and snack. Six (6) participants are allowed on each trail. The biking activity can be carried out in the morning and in the afternoon lasting from 3 – 4 hours determined by the route taken and the departure time is determined by the season. The bikers have to carry their puncture repair kits, spares, tools and tubes among others.
Birding as a South Africa Safari Activity in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is a diverse birding safari destination featuring myriad of 517 bird species including the martial eagle, lappet-faced vulture, saddle-billed stork, ground hornbill, kori bustard, Pel’s fishing owl, saddle-billed stork, Bat hawk, Sanderings, Grey Plover, Grey headed bull, Damara tern, Cape Wagtail, Plum colored starling, Hawk Eagle, Brown headed cariol, Black stork, Bateleur Eagle, Crested Barbet, Scoops Owl, Crested Barbet, Purple roller and King fisher among other species. Birding activity is best done from October to March when the Migrant species over 200 of them fly to South Africa from various parts of the Eurasia and Africa. The nomad and migrant bird species arrive in Kruger after the initial summer rains when there is plenty food arising from water availability. These bird species depart in the second week of April.
How to get to Kruger National Park
There are daily scheduled flights from Johanesnburg to Kruger National Park Skukuza Airport, the Hoedspruit Airport, Phalaborwa Airport along with Kruger/Mpumalanga International Airport positioned in the middle of White River and Nelspruit. Also there are daily flights that connect from Cape town and Durban to Kruger.
Scheduled Flights to Skukuza Airport
|OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg)||Skukuza Airport||10:00|
|Cape Town International Airport||Skukuza Airport||10:35|
|Skukuza Airport||Cape Town International Airport||11:20|
|Skukuza Airport||Cape Town International Airport||13:20|
There is Bus shuttle service operating between Mpumalanga International Airport and the Kruger National Park and the transfer takes 1 hr 20 minutes. Besides bus shuttle, there are numerous Coach Tours at various luxury categories.
|Gates||Route||Distance from Johannesburg|
|Crocodile Bridge||N4 via Witbank & Nelspruit to Komatipoort||475km|
|Malelane||N4 via Witbank & Nelspruit to Malelane||428km|
|Numbi||N4 to Nelspruit, R40 to White River, R538/R539 to Numbi||411km|
|Phabeni||N4 to Belfast, R540 to Lydenburg via Dullstroom, R37 to Sabie, R536 to Hazyview, on to gate||440km|
|Paul Kruger||N4 to Belfast, R540 to Lydenburg via Dullstroom, R37 to Sabie, R536 to Hazyview, on to gate||470km|
|Orpen||N4 to Belfast, R540 to Lydenburg via Dullstroom, R36 and R531 to Orpen via Ohrigstad, JG Strijdom Tunnel and Klaserie.||490km|
|Punda Maria||N1 to Louis Trichardt, R524 to Punda Maria||550km|
|Pafuri||N1 to Louis Trichardt, on to Musina (Messina), but turn right at R525||600km|
|Entry Gates Open||05:30||05:30||05:30||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||05:30||05:30||05:30|
|Camp Gates Open||04:30||05:30||05:30||06:00||06:00||06:00||06:00||
|All Gates Close||18:30||18:30||18:00||18:00||17:30||17:30||17:30||18:00||18:00||18:00||18:30||18:30|
Accommodation in Kruger National Park
Hoyo Hoyo Game Lodge
The Hoyo Hoyo Lodge is located on Mluwati River banks in the interior of Kruger National Park. Hoyo-Hoyo presents accommodation in six (6) air conditioned circular Tsonga homesteads featuring traditional earth-colored walls which are tapered with thatched reed roofs. The Lodge features a great tradition of the Tsonga people.
The Rooms at Hoyo – Hoyo game lodge feature the following facilities;
- Separate bath and outdoor shower
- Insect repellent
- Bathroom amenities
- Tea and coffee-making facilities
- Air Conditioning
Facilities at Hoyo – Hoyo Game Lodge
- Spa treatments & massage in the private deck
- No Wi-Fi or cell phone signal
- Swimming pool
|Double||R 3 890,00|
|Single||R 5 700,00|
Lion Sands River Lodge
The Lions Sands River Lodge is positioned in Mpumalanga is luxury facility inside Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve and serves as an ideal accommodation center for affluent travellers on safari in South Africa. The lodge welcomes Children of 10 years and above.
Accommodation at Lion Sands River Lodge is 20 thatched rooms overlooking the Sabi River configured as;
- Twelve (12) Luxury rooms with lounge area, en suite bath room, wooden deck and a mini bar
- Six (6) Superior Luxury rooms of which four (4) of these are interconnecting thus good for families
- Two (2) River Suites
Facilities at Lion Sands Lodge
- Dining area
- Open Plan Lounge
- Two (2) Swimming pools
- Free Wi-Fi
- Children babysitting & activities available
- Curio shop
Accommodation Rates for Lion Sands Lodge
|Room type||Single||Double per person|
|Superior Luxury room||R13,490.00||R9,110.00|
|Peak Season 18th December 2016 – 3rd January 2017|
|Superior Luxury Room||R16,115.00|
The Leadwood lodge is a luxury lodge positioned along the Mabrak and Sand Rivers offering a tranquil gateway amidst the ancient led wood trees that form the background for its naming. The Leadwood lodge presents accommodation in four (4) suites that are privately located suitable for family and friend groups.
Facilities at Leadwood Lodge
- Four (4) suites
- Fire place in every suite
- Private lap pools
- Lodge Swimming pool
- Outdoor Boma
- Game drives both day & night
- Wine cellar
Hamilton’s Tented Camp
The Hamiltons Tented Camp is a luxury Tented Accommodation named after the first warden of Kruger National Park. The lodge features the 19th century nostalgia with antique bathroom basins, old steamer trunks along with pith helmets, hurricane lanterns.
The Accommodation at Hamilton’s Camp is presented in six (6) elevated Tents overlooking the Nwatswitsonto River along with the Kruger wilderness.
Room facilities and amenities at Hamilton’s Tented Camp
- Separate bath and outdoor shower
- Insect repellent
- Bathroom amenities
- Tea and coffee-making facilities
- Air Conditioning
Hamilton’s Tented Camp Facilities
- Swimming pool
- Butler Service
- Land Lines available at Imbali
- Daily scheduled flights into Skukuza Airport and Hoedspruit Airport. Federal flights to the Manyeleti airstrip.
- No Cell Phone Reception & specific termite mounds exist on which cell network can be got
- Bottled water in the rooms
- Welcome drinks on arrival
The Plains Camp is positioned in Skukuza in Kruger National Park presenting convertible accommodation to the guests on South Africa Safaris. Accommodation is presented in Tented rooms en suite all with the views of the Kruger plains.
Facilities at Plains Camp;
- Four (4) en suite Tents with hot running water
- Rooms have Ceiling fans
- Generator electricity
- Daily housekeeping
Camp Shonga is small intimate bush camp positioned on Mount Lebombo foothills with remarkable views of the African bushveld.
Facilities at Camp Shonga
- Central Lounge Area
- Indoor & outdoor dining area
- Boma fire
- Five (5) en suite private tents featuring outside shower & ball and claw baths
- Standing fans in rooms
- Splash pool
- Recliner Chairs & Umbrella
Accommodation Rates for Camp Shonga
|Double||R3380 pp / sharing|
Galago Camp presents a self catering accommodation arrangement in five (5) en suite rooms which can accommodate up to ten (10) guests.
Facilities at Galago Camp
- Three (3) luxury chalets of which two (2) are family units capable of taking four (4) people each
- Main building with garden & pool
- Garden chalet taking up to 2 Pax
- One family room in the main building taking up to 4 Pax
- Air conditioning in the rooms
- Outdoor and Indoor cooking facilities but guests come with their supplies
Accommodation rates at Galago Camp
|2016||R11 200 per night|
|2017||R12 300 per night|
The Vuyatela Lodge is built in an environmental friendly way featuring the local architecture of South Africa. The name Vuyatela literally means Come and visit again.
Accommodation at Vuyatela Lodge is presented in five (5) suites with;
- Private lounge
- Glass doors overlooking the savannah
- Four poster King size beds
- Outdoor showers
- Spa baths
Facilities at Vuyatela Lodge
- Main building overlooking the water hole
- A library
- Wireless internet
Accommodation at Vuyatela Lodge
|2016||R15 400 per night|
|2017||R16 900 per night|