The Kruger National Park - South Africa 's greatest and most Popular Self Drive Safari Destination

The Kruger National Park in South Africa is without doubt the flagship of the South African National Parks. It has long been a favourite safari destination for both our local population and international visitors. Once you have passed through the entrance gates it feels as if you have entered another world, Safari world, the real Africa, the Africa of Dr Stanley and David Livingstone. This is the country of Harry Wolhuter and Jock of the Bushveld.

Time has stood still in this vast tract of land which makes up the Kruger National Park of South Africa. This gives you the opportunity to really unwind, relax and enjoy the wilderness safari experience that you can only find in Africa. 

The infrastructure in this park is excellent. The self drive enthusiast will really enjoy the opportunity to go game viewing along the many roads all accessible for ordinary sedans.

For the wild at heart there is the opportunity to go game viewing along wilderness 4X4 tracks that is booked on a first come first serve basis. You do need a 4 wheel drive vehicle to do these trails and must be self sufficient and equipped with recovery gear.

The Kruger National Park in South Africa offers you...

...one of the best opportunities for self drive game viewing, giving you that real being on safari on your own experience. It also offers official game drives which can be booked at the various rest camps. You can also go on night drives which offer you the unique opportunity to view nocturnal wildlife on the go that you would normally not see during the daytime.

White RhinosWhite Rhinos grazing in the Southern Kruger

The various rest camps in the Kruger National Park caters for all. The accommodation ranges from luxury lodges and chalets to camping and caravanning.

Bush camps and tented accommodation offers another dimension to the accommodation available in the park.  There are shops and restaurants in most of the rest camps.

Other accommodation can also be found outside the park.

There are numerous hides and picnic spots along the various routes where you can stop to stretch your legs. You must remember to bring along your binoculars, cameras, wildlife guide books, bird guide books and tree guide books. You can buy guide books and maps in some of the rest camps as well as at the entrance gates. 

Malaria is present in the Lowveld region of South Africa, especially during summer, so please take the necessary precautions before visiting the Kruger.

So, where is the Kruger National Park in South Africa?

The Kruger National Park forms the eastern boundary between South Africa and Mozambique. It stretches across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces from Pafuri in the far north to Crocodile Bridge in the South.

A Bit of Kruger History...

The Kruger National Park was formed in 1926 when the Sabi and Shingwedzi game reserves were combined and was named after President Paul Kruger of the old Transvaal Republic.

The original proclamation for a Game Reserve was made way back in 1898 which resulted in the proclamation of the Sabi Game Reserve in 1902 and the Shingwedzi Game Reserve in 1903. The first warden of the reserve was James Stevenson Hamilton.

Two great books to read about the early days and history of the reserve and the region are Jock of the Bushveld by Sir Percy FitzPatrick and Memories of a Game Ranger by Harry Wolhuter.

Kruger National Park Safari Options...

The Kruger is a popular self drive destination. The road networks range from good tar and gravel roads along which you are free to drive bearing in mind that you have to be back in the rest camps or outside of the reserve before the gate closing times.

There are also wilderness trails in the Northern, Central and Southern Kruger that can be booked on a first come first served basis in the rest camps. These are day drives along tracks that are reserved for 4 wheel drive vehicles only and as such you have to be geared and rigged for self recovery should you get stuck along the routes.

The Lebombo trail is a 5 day trek from Crocodile bridge to Pafuri in the far north of the reserve. This trail is for 4X4 vehicles only and you have to be self sufficient to camp along the trail. You do the trail under the guidance of a park ranger.

The Northern Kruger...

Punda Maria is another very old rest camp. It's location in the far north of the Kruger National Park makes it possible to explore this region with its magnificent Boabab trees and fever trees. I have seen more Nyala along the Limpopo river than anywhere else in the reserve.

It is also a very handy stopover for those overlanding to Vilanculos in Mozambique.

Another feature of Punda Maria which I thoroughly enjoy is the hide inside the rest camp overlooking a waterhole just outside the fence. We have seen elephants and all sorts of wildlife coming to drink at night.  One afternoon I sat and watched as a pair of Bateleurs came for a drink and spent the afternoon preening on the bank of the waterhole before taking off again at dusk. Shingwedzi is an excellent stopover to break the long journey to and from the far northern parts of the park.

Letaba is one of my favourite destinations. The shady campsites are great and I just love the bushbuck that wander freely around the rest camp. A must visit is the elephant museum. This camp is also a convenient stopover to travel through the Limpopo Cross Border Park to Xai Xai on the Mozambique coast.

The Central Kruger...

Satara is very popular with the local camping fraternity. It is a lovely rest camp in the central Kruger. It also includes the satellite camp of Balule.

Orpen also includes the satellite camps of Maroela and Tamboti. I like camping at Maroela. It is quiet camping site away from the hustle and bustle of the main rest camp at Orpen.

The other rest camps of the The Central Kruger are Balule and Olifants.

You are welcome to have a look at our photos that we have taken in the Central Kruger.

The Southern Kruger...

Skukuza is the oldest and biggest rest camp in the Kruger National Park of South Africa. It is also the headquarters of SanParks in this game reserve. This sprawling complex is a like a small town and  has all the facilities you need to ensure an enjoyable safari in the Kruger.

Other rest camps in the Southern Kruger are:

  • Lower Sabie
  • Pretoriuskop
  • Berg en Dal which includes the satellite camp of Malelane
  • Crocodile bridge

Wildlife and Birdlife...

This is undoubtable the main reason most  people visit any game reserve. There certainly is a huge variety of animals and birds in the park. The different eco zones in the park makes for exciting game viewing and bird spotting.

To whet your appetite you can view some of our bird photos and wildlife photos that we have taken on some of our visits to the Kruger park.

Kruger National Park South Africa Gate Locations and Times...

You must take heed of the opening and closing times of the entrance gates into the Kruger National Park. The various rest camps' gates also close at night. Plan your trips accordingly so that you do not get locked out / in!

Find Accommodation in and around the Kruger...

My first choice is always to try and find accommodation in the Kruger national Park itself. Accommodation choices range from Rustic Camping to Luxury Lodges.

Due to its popularity it can sometimes be difficult to find accommodation in the park, especially during the local school holidays. You need to make bookings well in advance.

There is however, other accommodation available outside the park, close to the various entrance gates. By making use of these accommodation options it is still possible to enjoy the Kruger national Park as a day visitor. Just make sure of the gate opening and closing times and plan your trips accordingly.

You can make use of the SafariNow service to find and book accommodation close to the Kruger. I personally make use of their service and find them to be professional and efficient in their dealings.


 

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