A Kruger National Park safari is the wildlife highlight of any South African trip, with Kruger rightly considered one of Africa’s premier national parks. At 2 million hectares Kruger is roughly the size of Wales and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. The park covers 19,485 km sq of northeast South Africa, extending 360 km from north to south and 65 km from east to west, and borders Zimbabwe to the north and Mozambique to the east.
The park’s natural boundaries are the Limpopo and Crocodile rivers in the north and south respectively (two of Africa’s best rivers for wildlife), and the Lebombo Mountains in the East. The western boundary is made up of a number of fenceless conservancies serving high-end safari lodges managing the land.
Kruger is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a transnational park that links Kruger National Park with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, allowing for much greater wildlife ranges.
The Kruger National Park is unrivaled in the diversity of its life forms. According to SANParks Kruger is home to an astonishing number of species: 147 mammals, 507 birds, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, and 336 trees.
The big five are all present – in some abundance – along with just about any game you care to mention. It truly is a place where you’re all but guaranteed to have a number of intimate wildlife experiences on any given day (though perhaps not one as epic as the now-famous battle at Kruger). The park makes it easy to stay up to date with wildlife activity with sightings maps at each rest camp, where rangers and visitors alike mark where they’ve seen which animals on giant maps.
The southern end of the park has the highest concentrations of animals, and is busiest with people and cars, while the north has more spectacular scenery in the form of bushveld, and is highly recommended for the feeling of absolute wilderness.
Kruger National Park map:
The Kruger Park map below is courtesy of SANParks, and shows the main camps, picnic sites, lookout points, and points you’re allowed to get out of your car in the park, as well as the road network split between tarmac and gravel.
Kruger National Park entrance fee:
Kruger National Park prices are based on the number of days you spend in the park . The entrance fee is ZAR400 per adult and ZAR200 per child per day for non-residents.
Kruger National Park activities:
- Game drives and night game drives are available from most of the camps within the park.
- There are seven guided walking trails in the park. Read more here.
- One massive draw of the Kruger Park is that it’s self-drive, and has a great network of tarmac, gravel and dirt roads crisscrossing the park. Although it’s popular with tourists and locals alike, it’s still possible to drive for hours without seeing another car. As with all self-drive safaris, don’t try to cover too great a distance, rather slow travel and regular stopping tends to result in more wildlife spotting.
- All the main rest camps have day visitor areas, and there are also designated picnic areas dotted around the park where you can hire skottels (outdoor elevated frying pans) to cook on, making for a truly memorable mealtime.
How to get to Kruger National Park:
Kruger is around 500km from Johannesburg, and the nearest big town to Kruger is Nelspruit. It’s possible to get public transport to within a few kilometers of one of the nine entrance gates, but you’ll need your own vehicle to enter the park and get around it unless you’ve arranged a safari with a company (see our recommended South African safari companies).
Best time to visit Kruger:
Kruger has a subtropical climate with hot and humid days through the summer and pleasant daytime temperatures in the winter. As the park is 360 km from north to south, the weather can and does vary as you move through the park. The most northern point of Pafuri is generally around 2 to 3 degrees hotter than Skukuza in the southern end of the park.
Each season has something different to offer in Kruger, though it’s best to avoid the South African school holidays when crowds can descend on the park, and accommodation is booked out months ahead of time.
The dry season in Kruger is May to September, with the rainy season running from October to April. The dry season is best for wildlife spotting as vegetation is sparse and animals are drawn to waterholes to drink, whilst November and December are the best months for seeing newborns in the park.
Kruger National Park Accommodation:
Kruger is blessed with 12 high-quality main rest camps, many complete with pool, restaurant, shop, petrol station and internet. There are also a number of high-end private concessions bordering Kruger, offering truly luxurious accommodation, plus lots of budget to high-end accommodation close to the nine park gates allowing you to visit just for the day.
Kruger National Park camps:
All accommodation options inside Kruger park can be booked on the SanParks website. Each of the 12 camp has a range of accommodation options, from camping ($20 per site per night) to huts ($40 for 2 people per night) to private cottages (from $150). SANParks also manage a number of several bushveld camps and overnight hides:
• Skukuza: The biggest camp in Kruger, and park. It’s a short drive from Skukuza Airport, the only commercial airport in the park.
• Berg-en-Dal: Contains several overlooks and a swimming pool, an home to the Rhino Trail, a one hour walking trail.
• Malelane: A satellite camp of Berg-en-Dal with limited accommodation options and facilities.
• Crocodile Bridge: Right on the park’s southern border, providing easy access to the town of Komatipoort, and the Mozambican border.
• Letaba Rest Camp: In the centre of the park, with Elephant Hall – a small museum dedicated to the elephants of Kruger.
• Lower Sabie: In a great location 50km south of Skukuza, on the Sabie River and close to a mix of terrains.
• Mopani Rest Camp: On the north bank of Pioneer Dam, with good chances of spotting hippo and crocodile.
• Olifants (and satellite Balule):
• Orpen (and satellites Maroela & Tamboti):
• Punda Maria:
Search & book accommodation around Kruger National Park:
Kruger National Park malaria risk
Kruger is one of the two South African National Parks situated in a malaria-risk area (the other being Mapungubwe National Park). The risk is usually low, but highest at the end of the rainy season between November and April.
Aside from taking anti-malarial medication (which should be done in consultation with a doctor) the risk of contracting malaria can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites in the first place. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn, so it’s advisable to stay indoors at this time and cover exposed skin with light clothing and insect repellent. Burning anti-mosquito coils and using netted screens and mosquito nets are also useful ways to reduce malaria risk whilst at Kruger.
Have you been to Kruger National Park and have something to share? Please let us know in the comments section below.