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Kruger National Park Guide

Kruger National Park is the Real Africa!

With nearly 7725 sq. miles or 2 million hectares of land, the diversity of life is unrivaled. Add to this, the archaeological and historical interest and significance of its sites and you have an incomparable place to visit.

One of the oldest parks in South Africa, Kruger National Park, was established in 1898 as the Sabi Game Preserve; in 1926 it became South Africa’s first national park as the Kruger National Park. It covers more than 7580 square miles, (19,633 sq. km) of land in South Africa’s Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. From north to south, it extends 220 miles (360 km) and 40 miles (65 km) from east to west.

Part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

In 2002 South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique signed a treaty that established the partnership that is setting up the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Together the Kruger, the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, the Limpopo in Mozambique and many other state-owned and private parks are forming a multinational peace park and the world’s largest trans-frontier wildlife conservation area.

The fences between the provinces are being taken down and it will eventually include the lands adjoining these parks, measuring 14,507 sq. miles (37,573 km2), and increasing to almost 38,610 sq. miles (100,000 sq. km) when completed. Since the area involved includes the migration routes for many animals, and with the political boundaries (and fences) removed, animals will be free to roam throughout the entire parks system.

The governments of each partnering nation have agreed to collaborate in tourism events and tours, tourist products and pricing, protecting animals from poachers, and protecting the stone-age and iron-age sites.

Kruger_National_Park_locator_map.svg  Kruger National Park sign
Kruger National Park is 224 miles (360 km) from north to south and 40 miles (65 km) east to west. One of the oldest and therefore one of the best established parks in South Africa, it has nine entrance gates, enabling tourists access to not only the interior of the Park but also to the many game reserves and camps within the Park.

The Limpopo town of Phalaborwa is the only town that actually borders the park. The Limpopo River to the north and the Crocodile River to the south act as natural boarders, the Sabie River and the Letaba Rivers are among the several rivers that run through Kruger. The Lebombo Mountains also border the Park. Khandzalive, the highest peak at 2756 ft (840 m), is located in near Berg-en-Dal.

Winter (summer in the Northern Hemisphere) is the best time to visit Kruger National Park, partly because it is the driest and coolest period of the year. Better for the humans and seeing the animals because it’s dryer, the grasses are more sparse and the animals can be seen coming regularly to the waterholes, morning and evening. The rainy season begins in October.

Being subtropical, the Park’ summer (September-May), is hot and humid, with temperatures well above 100°F (38°C).

The Park Has Four Main Areas of Flora and Fauna.

The Red Bush-willow Veld, north of the Olifants River, is in the western half of the park where a mixture of red bush-willow, acacia and marula trees occur. The acacias are predominant along the Sable River, as well as along other rivers and streams. The Mopane (butterfly or turpentine tree) is predominate in the northeastern part of the park and in Pretoriuskop (the oldest rest camp in the Park).

The eastern portion of the Park, south of the Olifants River, are some of the most important grazing lands. Red grass and buffalo grass are predominant while the main tree species are the knob-thorn, leadwood and marula.

There are more that 517 different species of birds with 253 permanent residents, 147 nomadic species and about 117 migrants.

With 147 kinds of animals, Kruger National Park has the largest number of mammal species, more than any of the other African game reserves. You’ll definitely find the ‘Big Five’ – elephants, lions, water buffalo, leopards and rhinos, along with lots of other large and smaller creatures from giraffes, hippos and hyenas to antelopes, foxes, cheetah, honey badgers, mongoose, primates, hare, porcupine and rabbits, to name but a few. Kruger has some of the African Wild Dogs, a highly endangered species, they number only 400 animals in all of South Africa.

            284953_413688638693993_1611886214_n  Cheetahs  Antelope  gorilla

You will find around 114 species of reptiles, from the black mamba to more than three thousand crocodiles. There are more than fifty species of fish and 33 species of amphibians. Zambezi shark can live in fresh water and have been known to travel up the Luvuhu and Limpopo rivers.

As you can see, with all the wildlife available just in Kruger, you are very likely to see many  species of African wildlife. However because of its popularity Kruger National Park also gets more tourist traffic than any of the other parks and reserves in the area.

In addition, you’ll find a large number of different types and levels of luxury in the accommodation, tours and safaris.

                   images (2)  Accommodate with infinity pool 2  Hotel

Not only can you arrange for a guided tour of the Park, but with its extensive road and trail systems, you can also enjoy your own self-guided tour. Car rentals are available in the neighboring town, with various packages on offer.

It is important to understand that although this vast wilderness area has established camps and lodges, no one traveling in the Park should go alone. Travel with a companion or in a caravan so that if there is a problem or a breakdown, someone is on hand to go for help.

It’s also really important to be aware of your surroundings – this is a wild environment with wild animals, and services few and far between.  Whatever you bring in, please take it out with you and leave any camp you use in the same condition you found it, or better. Many of the more primitive camps don’t have potable (drinking) water, so you must  bring plenty of your own water, although you can fill up at most of the rest areas.

The next part of this guide will discuss some of the safari packages, accommodation and facilities that are offered at Kruger. A guide for all the major camps is also available in another parts of this website. You can find lots of information on online,  about Kruger or about the latest progress of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. You can book many of the tours and safari packages online, as well.

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Part Two – Your Guide to the Kruger National Park

Millions of visitors come to Kruger each year and it is an experience the whole family will enjoy. There are many types of landscapes throughout the Park – grasslands, savannahs, mountains, wetlands, etc. Some areas have high concentrations of specific animals, others in the same area have groups of various species.

Accommodation in Kruger National Park.

With 15 safari lodges, 2 lodge concession areas and 21 rest camps there’s bound to be something for every traveler. Some camps are extremely primitive, while others have amenities like running water and electricity. Although primitive, many of the camps are close to great wildlife viewing areas.

There are nine gates that enter the Park, although some are just roads leading in while others like the Pafuri Gate at the north entrance has an information center with accommodation, food and petrol facilities.

Things to Take into Consideration When Visiting Kruger National Park.

You may see animals crossing roads or resting near them, it is important for you and the animals’ safety that you don’t interfere with them. Please do not feed them, get close to them or try to interact with them.

The nine wilderness trails are in areas completely untouched by man and on some of them, you can travel for several days.  Many of the trails have been made by the animals, so as visitors are using them too, being cautious is extremely important.Warning sign

While thinking about a journey to Kruger National Park, please make sure you and your family are up to the challenge.

  • There are going to be times when you will have to get up very early for viewing wildlife and you may have to hike to the viewing location. Are you up for that physically?
  • Safari tours usually use 4 wheel drive vehicles and will go over a number of bumps and ruts. No superhighways here!
  • Ensure your health is up to the trip – talk with your doctor, get the correct inoculations or booster shots you need for the places and times of the year you will be visiting, usually 4-6 weeks before before leaving home. The malaria mosquito is more prevalent in the summer, so be prepared.
  • Travel and health insurance are more than just a good idea and while you don’t want accidents to happen, it’s always better to be prepared.

 

Ways to Experience Kruger National Park.

If you want to spend some quality time with the family, try one of the family holiday packages, perhaps the “Family Matters Package”. With this package your family will spend two exciting nights in the southeastern part of the Park, staying in the Family Safari Lodge, a private concession. It’s luxury accommodation with a swimming pool, gym, spa, fine dining and for the children, nightly story telling. There are several day and nighttime opportunities to view the ‘Big Five’ and knowledgeable guides will to tell you all about the animals. Opportunities for bird watching are also included.

SONY DSC  Mother + baby elephant
If a romantic holiday is what you’re looking for, safari packages that cater to couples honeymooning (or not) can be arranged, for instance the “Lifetime Celebration Package”. This is the ideal retreat for those who are newly wed or who want to celebrate a few years or a lifetime together. It includes a three nights stay at a luxury lodge on the Sweni River. The lodge has luxurious honeymoon suites raised on stilts, open floor plans with floor to ceiling glass walls, enabling you and your partner to gaze at the stars or enjoy an outdoor shower while the wildlife comes to the river to drink. Meals are included as well as the morning and evening safari drives to see all that the area has to offer. Between safari drives into the bush, you can relax by the pool, enjoy a spa or lounge with your beloved on one of the decks.

There are so many unique adventure packages, any one of which could be your perfect South African experience.

coffee bay fishing  giraffs and zebra  Elephants at sunset  Beautiful-Rock-Restaurant

The “Cultural Package” is a unique three day adventure into the heart of the Kruger National Park. You will get to experience one of the unique traditional Tsonga Huts, get to know the local Shangaan tribe and more of what the area has available. Some of the safari’s highlights include amazing bird watching, Big Five game drives, as well as stories about the native culture.

This safari will be a truly unique experience because, not only do you get to see some amazing animals, but you also have an opportunity to experience the local people, their customs and traditions.

Whether you are staying for a few days, a week or more, or simply passing through, enjoy the opportunities to see the incredible wildlife and the amazing landscapes. And, if you need all the comforts of home or want to enjoy a more primitive camping experience, do a little research and you’re sure to find something that will suit you.

Look online for much more information about Kruger and what it has to offer, from booking your safari, to what the current rates are to what flights will bring you to the Park. Whether you are traveling alone, with your family or with a group, there are packages that will cover your needs.

Some websites allow you to book your flight, lodging and safari packages all at the same time and they often offer substantial discounts and extra amenities when you book everything together. Packages may not include gratuities, taxes and other fees, so be sure to check carefully just exactly what is, or is not, included.

Whatever you choose, whoever you travel with, Kruger National Park is one of those place that must be on your “bucket list” – to be done at least once in this lifetime!

Piece fo Africa