Kruger Park is one of Africa's largest game reserves. With its location - southeastern of South Africa - it is most probably one of people's first stops if flying
into Johannesburg. It is the density of wildlife which attracts a great amount of South Africa's fans each year. And although the park has become very touristy in all these years, it has
obtained its charm and aside of wildlife observing it offers many other opportunities too. Here is a blog post about everything you should know before visiting the national
SEE ALSO: Wildlife in Kruger Park
Why should I go?
First of all, let's answer the question - why should one go? Let's start with the landscape. Kruger Park has 35 unique landscape types. Bush plains, mountains, rivers and tropical forests define the landscape. It is home to several plant communities. Imagine, it has over 200 different kind of grasses, 400 different kinds of trees and 1,000 other sorts of plants (Wray, 2015). Bear in mind, Kruger Park has almost the same size as Slovenia (19,485 km2)!
In Kruger Park you can find 3,000 crocodiles, over 5,000 giraffes, 150,000 impalas, almost 3,000 lions, 27,000 African buffalos, over 11,000 elephants and many other species. Many tourists visit the park in order to find the Big 5 - the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt, which are the lion, leopard, African elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo.
The lions are most likely to be seen between Skukuza and Satara. From Skukuza to Lower Sabie, there might be a great chance to see leopards and from Malelane to Skukuza there is an area of many white rhinos. At Mahonie Loop watch our for elephants, warthogs and impalas. For more pics of the wildlife, have a look at my blog post Wildlife in Kruger Park.
The diversity of its landscape makes the Kruger Park unique, but also the density of wildlife is an added value. On top of that, there are also these magnificent sunsets! Imagine driving through the park, when suddenly this strong yellow light turns into orange and then purple. The trees suddenly appear to be black and the majority of animals finally comes out .. it's wonderful!
When to Go
The best time to visit the Kruger park is in the dry, winter season. This is between June and October. It's the time when animals can be easily found as they are gathering near the rivers and lakes.
Tours and Entrance Fee
Self-drive tours. We went on a self-drive tour. Prior to our visit, we rented our car at the Johannesburg airport and drove all the way to Graskop. After staying 2 nights near the Blyde River Canyon, we entered the Kruger park at the Phabeni Gate. Just before the official entrance, there is a welcome office where you fill out a form with your names and address and pay the entrance fee of about 15 EUR. You will get a flyer with some information of gate times and behaviour rules. Be aware, if you want a map, you will have to pay for it or even better, you can print it here. After this, make sure to have your passport ready and your booking confirmation (if staying in one of the Kruger Park lodges) since you will have to show it at the gate.
And remember: Since there are no petrol stations in the park, fill up the tank before you enter!
Organized tours. It is also possible to join an organized tour. Walking safaris, early-morning or night safaris, family safaris... there is a huge array of safaris to choose from. If you like to book a tour through your accommodation provider or the Kruger Park tours, is up to you.
It is very important to pay attention to the opening hours because I guess you don't really want to be stucked in the park during the night when all the wild beasts come out ;) It almost happened to us, though... :) Well, if you arrive late, you will be fined 10 EUR.
Information obtained from http://www.krugerpark.co.za:
Kruger Park Gates open:
Park and Camp Gates Close:
What to Bring
- insect repellent
- neutral coloured clothes, long-sleeved shirts (Malaria area in the North)
- warm clothes (the evenings can get cold)
- lots of water
- sandwiches, some snacks (there are some picnic places in Kruger Park where you can get out and have lunch - be aware of stealing monkeys though!!)
- camera + objective lens (if possible 70-300mm)
How Long to Stay
We would recommend you to stay 2 whole days. One day is maybe not enough because there is a chance that you won't see all the animals you actually want to encounter. But it is a good reason to stay longer, if you want to do some voluntary work.
Malaria in Kruger Park
The northern part of Kruger park is a malaria zone. Consult with your doctor, if you need a professional advice regarding malaria in South Africa. We didn't take any antimalarial drugs because we knew, we are going to visit South Africa in the winter time where the density of mosquitos is low. We regularly used the insect repellent and wore neutral coloured clothes. And what is more, we pretty much stayed in the car during our self-drive through the Kruger park.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the lovely lodge called Buckler's Africa, located just outside of the most southern point of the Kruger Park. The best part of the location is that if you're lucky you can observe animals while having your breakfast! So cool! Anyways, the lodge holds a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor and it shines with its score of 9.3 on booking.com! With booking a double room with a kitchenette (133 EUR for 2 nights for both), we had the chance to cook our meals on our own (don't forget to buy the ingredients prior to arrival). However, we also decided to try out their breakfast. Hell, it was fantastic (an additional payment of 6 EUR for continental breakfast or 8 EUR for English breakfast)! The only downside of the property is that it doesn't have WIFI. But is that really a minus? Maybe all you want is to go offline for a couple of days ;) They can also arrange a Full-Day Game Drive for you, including breakfast and entrance fee, with a price of 57 EUR).
Observing wildlife in South Africa is an extravagant adventure which you really shouldn't miss! It is not a cheap experience, but believe me, it will for sure become a lifelong lasting memory! And what if Kruger Park does not meet your expectations? Well, there are always alternatives to the Kruger Park, such as the Pilanesberg National Park, Madikwe Game Reserve, Marakele National Park and many more! We went wildlife watching also in Swaziland...
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How did you experience your time at Kruger Park? Let us know in the comments below!