Have you ever been on safari to the Kruger National Park? Undoubtedly, it’s one of southern Africa’s most famous wildlife reserves and it’s certainly one of the biggest at almost 20,000 km². It also has the largest variety of wildlife compared to any other park in Africa: 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
But what makes Kruger such a drawcard? Why are there more than 12 dedicated Kruger groups on Facebook? And what makes people go back time and time again… and again and again?
Kruger just has a special kind of magic. It’s one of those time-honoured places where, once you visit, you can’t help leaving a piece of yourself there.
Here are four reasons why I think Kruger is amazing:
1. Kruger is huge.
It’s humbling yet comforting to stand on a lookout point and know that no matter in which direction you look, it’s wild, untamed, unpredictable African bush.
2. No two safaris are ever the same.
Kruger is as good a safari destination for first timers or seasoned safari goers – it never ceases to deliver some of the most incredible sightings.
These photos were all taken on one 4-day Kruger Park safari in mid-September, before the rains –an ideal time for game viewing as the grasses are dry and trampled down, and visibility is superb.
3. Kruger is a year-round destination with a sighting for all seasons.
In the dry winter months, typically June to September, game is easier to spot and sightings are often incredible, especially at waterholes. The dry season reaches its zenith in September/October and the anticipation for rain is almost palpable. The bush is dry and dusty, yet game viewing is spectacular. With the first rains, the bush shrugs off its drab winter coat for its lime green covering over a matter of days.
November to March is mid-summer and temperatures can soar to above 38°C (100°F), often with dramatic thunderstorms. It’s a time of abundance with heaps of cute babies being born and loads of predator action. The bush is lush and green and the birdlife is prolific. April and May herald the start of the dry season: the days start to get cooler, animals seek out permanent water sources, the migratory birds head northwards, and game viewing becomes a bit easier again.
4. You can go with a guide or drive yourself
While there are pros and cons about going it alone in Kruger or going in a guided open safari vehicle, your chances of better and more varied game viewing on a guided safari is undeniably much, much better.
Apart from the benefit of using an open safari vehicle for game drives, the top guides have an uncanny knack of knowing where you’re likely to find the various game and they are in contact with others to share good sightings.
As one recent guest happily enthused: “The day drives, night drive and the morning walk were among the top memories of my life! For me, it is a once in a lifetime trip. We had ‘up close’ experiences that exceed all expectations, from small animals like chameleons to the elephants. We saw wild dogs, huge crocodiles, two leopards, lots of lions, rhinos, hippos, wildebeest… I would do it again if I ever could.”
That’s Kruger for you. Always ready with a surprise – or two!
The quick facts:
– Kruger is one of the world’s greatest game reserves. The diversity and sheer number of wildlife are outstanding: elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo (the Big 5) plus giraffe, zebra, hippo and another 139 species of mammals, 114 species of reptiles and over 500 different species of birds.
– Kruger is massive. It spans 19,485 km² with six different ecosystems and an estimated 2,000 species of plants.
– Kruger stretches some 360 kilometres from south to north.
– Kruger was first proclaimed in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve by Paul Kruger.
– Kruger borders two of South Africa’s neighbours: Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
– Kruger is open all year round and is worth a visit in any season.
– Kruger has 21 rest camps, two private lodge concessions and 15 private safari lodges.
– There are over 250 known cultural heritage sites within Kruger, including 125 rock art sites.
– The first private vehicles were permitted to enter Kruger in 1927, at a princely sum of £1!