Updated: Jan 20
Most people would certainly have heard about Kruger National Park and will have a fair idea of what it looks like and what to expect. Nevertheless we feel it is a good idea to tell you a little more in detail what it is because a lot of first time customers still have plenty of questions about one of Africa's most famous wildlife destinations.
Parts of what today is known as Kruger National Park were proclaimed a government national park named Sabi Sabi Game Reserve in 1898 by its name giver by then president of the South African Republic Paul Kruger. Initially the area was designed to control hunting of the animals because the numbers had severely diminished. Tourism into the park started around 1927, roughly one year after the area was officially pronounced Kruger National Park. Since then the numbers of tourists have been growing each year. Over the following decades tribes were relocated and areas added to the park until it has reached today's size of 19.485 square km (which roughly is the size of Wales) and gradually the whole area was fenced. However in the late 1990s fences between the Park itself and neighboring game reserves were dropped and added another 400.000 hectares to its surface. These areas are known as Greater Kruger National Park and animals roam free between the areas and the park itself.
In the park itself you can find 12 main government run camps who all have shops, petrol stations and restaurants among other facilities and which are popular with domestic and international tourists as well as several smaller camps which provide more basic accommodation in often more remote areas of the park. The famous luxury lodges seen on TV are mostly privately owned and can be found in the adjacent Greater Kruger National Park. Within the park tourists can do their own safaris or book guided safaris and other activities at the government rest camps. Generally we do not advise inexperienced people to do their own safaris but rather opt for the more comfortable option of staying in Greater Kruger Park where usually all food and safaris are included. This is obviously also safer since the moment you drive into the park you are in Big 5 country and you need to be careful at all times. Another advantage of having a guide/ranger with you is that you will get all the explanations and see many more animals compared to when you drive yourself. The main roads within the park are all tarred but if you do your own game drive you have the possibility to leave and try your driving skills on dirt roads. However and unlike the park rangers and game rangers in the lodges you are not allowed to leave the roads at any point in time. Not even if you drive into one of the famous elephant road blocks and want to go around...
"I Never Knew Of A Morning in Africa When I Woke Up And Was Not Happy." - Ernest Hemingway
The weather in Kruger National Park is subtropical. The summer months are very hot and humid and the winter is fairly cold and dry. However since the park is a mere 360 km from North to South the climate within the park also varies. The Southern Park is more mountainous and usually 2-3 degrees C cooler than the dry areas in the North. Same as for the weather, the flora also changes within the park. It is divided in 16 macro ecozones with different terrain types and a total of 336 different types of trees. There are 147 species of mammals, 507 species of birds, 114 species of reptiles, 49 species of fish and 34 species of amphibians. For this reason, the Kruger National Park is one of the world’s premier game viewing destinations. Among the hundreds of species listed above, the most popular remain the age old classics – rhino, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, lions, cheetahs, warthog, zebra, crocodiles, giraffe and many antelope species. Bird watching is also very popular at some of the camps and some very interesting fish species, including the extremely rare lungfish, can be spotted in the Park’s 7 rivers. The ‘Big Five’ is always top on an explorer’s list and the Kruger is one of the best destinations to see them within a short period of time, sometimes even on one game drive. Can you name them? Log in and comment below and get a small token of appreciation from us!
Unfortunately when talking about the animals in the park we have to talk about the poaching problem. In the recent years the killing of rhinoceros has become an increasingly big issue all over the park. There is a real war going on with not only animal but also human loss on both sides. In the recent years the South African government has increased its efforts to fight poaching by use of technology such as drones and helicopters. A very interesting anti-poaching unit can be found in Balule Game Reserve, the Black Mambas, an (almost) all-female anti-poaching unit. You can find more information about them here and leave a small donation if you like their effort.
Would Kruger National Park be a destination for you? We certainly love it...
Have a great day and thanks for reading.