With summer holidays fast approaching, Kruger National Park is preparing for its busiest season. It remains South Africa’s best game park to get up close and personal with wild animals in a stunning location and remains one of the biggest and oldest national parks in the world.
Besides the most obvious reason – seeing the 10 most sought-after animals (the Big 5 and Little 5) – we can’t think of at least 9 others to go there.
- Unique. Probably the only major park in Africa where you can do a self-drive safari with ease.
- A proud history. Parts of the park were declared in 1898 and Kruger was officially named a park in 1926. With 9 main gates, the park is 360 kilometres long and 65 km from east to west, or half the size of the Netherlands or the same size as Wales.
- Animals, animals, animals. With more than 1,600 lions, 13,000 elephants, 37,000 buffalo and 4,400 crocodiles, you never know what you will spot on a game drive. There are the big five and the little five – what Kruger calls the curious critters – the antlion, the elephant shrew, the leopard tortoise, the red-billed buffalo weaver, and the rhino beetle.
- Bird life. For the avid twitcher, there are over 500 species of birds can be spotted during game drives.
- Lodgings galore. More than a dozen main rest camps like Olifantsfontein and Satara and Skukuza, with five satellite camps; 5 bushveld camps; and 3 bushveld lodges. Book through the SANParks Kruger website. More than a dozen luxury camps, ranging from Singita’s Lebombo to the Outpost and Jock Safari Lodge, Lion Sands and Pafuri. On the border of the park are numerous great lodgings, like the R100-million newly redesigned Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate, which overlooks the park and where you can have sundowners at the infinity pool after a day of game-viewing.
- Family friendly. While a lot of private lodges have an age limit of 12, Kruger is where you can take the youngsters and introduce them to wildlife from early on. And then have a braai/barbecue outside your bungalow. At each Kruger camp, they list the animals most worth searching out nearby, like, at Satara, red-billed buffalo weaver, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest and honey badgers.
- Guided walks. Every days from most camps, guided walks are led by rangers or guides. This is where children under 13 are not allowed, however. See below for a view of Skukuza Camp and its facilities.
- Accessibility. There are airports located in Skukuza, Hoedspruit and Nelspruit, making air travel to Kruger another option.
- Unrivalled plant life. There are 16 ecosystems within Kruger, home to almost 2,000 different plant species, including over 220 grasses and over 330 indigenous tree species. In central and northern Kruger, watch out for the iconic baobab tree.
Ancient history. Kruger contains over 250 known cultural heritage sites, including ancient iron age sites and spectacular rock art. Three of these sites are open to the public and offer a glimpse into the lives of our forefathers, Masorini, the Albasini Ruins and the 500-year-old Thulamela, which is linked to the Zimbabwean culture started at Mapungubwe.