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Kruger National Park

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The Kruger National Park (KNP) is located in north-east of South Africa and was established in 1898 by the South African President Paul Kruger as a protected area for wildlife and it opened its gate the general public in 1927 for the first time. It is one of the main attractions of South Africa and it is considered the flagship of South African National Parks (SANPark).

Kruger monument in front of the Paul Kruger gate by JensANDMarian 2001

Understand

The Kruger National Park (KNP) is located in the north-east of South Africa and runs along the border of Mozambique in the east, Zimbabwe in the north, and the southern border is the Crocodile River. The park covers 20000 km2 and is divided in 14 different ecozones, each supporting different wildlife. The park is run by the South African National Park Organization (SANP) and is probably the best managed African National Park. Wildlife conservation, education and tourism are the main objectives of the KNP. Effective measures to prevent poaching are in place and as a result of this cars are generally inspected upon entering and leaving the park. The infrastructure of the park is outstanding by African standards and roads inside the park are of very good quality and potholes on the main roads are rare. Smaller sidetracks are close to the originals landscape, but manageable with a normal car, although a 4x4 offers probably a better comfort on this type of terrain. KNP roads have speed limits range from 20 to 50 km/h and it is not wise to go much faster, because game tends to cross the roads out of nowhere. The park has several camp sites, of which some of them offer accommodation, (super) market, restaurants, park management office, filling station (pump), designated pick nick areas, laundry service, communal kitchen, barbeque and swimming pool facilities and most places accept payment by credit card.

Two white rhinos searching for food

The southern part of the park along the Sabie and Crocodile river is rich in water and has a lot of game viewing opportunities. Here you can see the best of African flora and fauna such as Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalos often referred as the big five, but there are plenty of others to see as well. Driving around the Sabie river will always result in seeing some interesting animals. The vegetation around the Sabie river can be very dense forest and thicket and it gets a little bit more open driving down south to the Crocodile river. The northern part of the park supports less flora and fauna and is often referred as the birding paradise. The KNP offers self-drive, bush-drive and more excitingly bush walks through the park, where you can see the animals even closer than from the car.

Camps

Camps inside the KNP provide shelter to visitors and are the only places inside the park where you leave your car safely. The level of service dependents on the camp size and can range from a tent site with a pick-nick area and bathroom facillities to a small town with swimming pool, library, restaurant, cafeteria, filling station, supermarket and golf course. Travel from one site to another takes on average 2 hours, whereas distances in the south are shorter and northern camps can be a little bit further apart (see map above).

  • Balule is a rustic bush camp with little luxury, but a lot of bush romantic. It is located in the middle of the KNP near the Olifant camp where you have to check in and then drive 11 km to get to the Balule camp. The camp is located on the banks of the olifant river and it suits you best when you are prepared for self catering and if a you are happy to share a communal kitchen.
  • Berg en Dal Visitors of the camp can rest in the local cafeteria or prepare food in the communal kitchen, buy fuel in the petrol station, have a picnic, use public telephones, enjoy a good dinner in the restaurant and cool down in the swimming pool. The camp offers accommodation ranging from tent sites with powerpoint to caravan sites, three bed bungalows and bigger facilities such as 6 and 8 bed houses. Activities from this camp include the Bushman and Wolhuter Wilderness Trails (see also Do section), morning drive, night drive and the Rhino trail camp walk.
  • Crocodile bridge is located in the most southern part of KNP and it is a camp and as well a gate site. The proximity to the SA civilisation one stone throw apart from the camp means that there is no wilderness romantic, but it serves you well if you are a late comer and the KNP gates are shut. Facilities include laundry service.
  • Letaba is located in the central section of KNP in the middle of elephant country, accommodation ranges from tents to huts catering 2-4 persons per accommodation.
    Zebras near Lower Sabie
    The camp is known for its elephant sightings and has an exhibition about the elephant life cycle. Camp facilities include: cafeteria, fence perimeter, laundry and restaurant.
  • Lower Sabie is located in the south east of KNP and offers superb game viewing. Therefore it is one of the most wanted camps by the locals. You can often spot white rhino, lion, cheetah, elephant and buffalo around the camp, because these animals come down to the river to drink. Accommodation is the bare bone minimum such as simple one, two, three and five bed huts without kitchen and bathroom and cooking utensils are not provided. That ultimately leaves visitors from overseas outside of this camp, nevertheless it is a great opportunity to stop in this camp for a rest.
  • Mopani is the newest and most comfortable rest camps in the KNP build near a dam that attracts a lot of wildlife in the monotone northern mopane dominated shrupveld vegetation. Wildlife spotting from the camp is superb and you would have to drive for hours to see more game from your car than in this camp. Enjoy a splash in the swimming pool after a game drive you are prepared for dinner in the local restaurant which is supposed to be far better than in other camps and it offers dinner à la carte. Accommodation in this camp offers fully equipped kitchen and supports up to 6 persons in a house.
  • Olifants is located in the middle of the KNP on top of a hill side overlooking the banks of the Olifant River. You can see Africa unfold from your terrace and the Olifant camp has the best settings from all camps. You can see kudu, elephants, lions and giraffes from your room when they come to the Olifant River to bath and to drink.
  • Orpen offers basic accommodation for 2-3 persons in a hut without bathroom. Consider to stay there if it is too late to reach another camp before darkness.
  • Pretoriuskop is a large rest camp close to the Numbi Gate located in the southwest of KNP. The landscape consists of rocky mountain and steep ridges supporting klipspringer, reedbuck, rhinos, giraffes and wild dogs in the surrounding shrubs. Accommodations are traditionally thatched rondawels for up to three visitors without bathroom. Other camp facilities include swimming pool, laundry, restaurant and cafeteria.
  • Punda Maria lies in the northern part of KNP in the border of Zimbabwe. The camp sits on top of a hill and whitewashed thatches are arranged in terraces. The camp offers a rich flora and famous for its huge variety in birds. The camp facilities include one restaurant.
  • Satara is located in the central part of KNP and is surrounded by hot plains and offers good grazing opportunities and attracts a lot of game. It is the second biggest camp in the KNP and offers accommodation, restaurant, cafeteria and laundry facilities.
  • Shingwedzi lies in the middle of the mopane shrubveld and benefits from the proximity of the Shingwedzi River and the Kaniedood Dam which attract most of the game in this area. The camp facilities include accommodation, restaurant, swimming pool, cafeteria and laundry.
The old railway bridge near Skukuza
  • Skukuza is located in the southwest of the KNP and serves the Headquarter of KNP, it is located 20 minutes from the Kuger Gate and is the biggest camp inside the KNP. If offers a gas station (pump), library, post office, car rental, grocery store, youth hostel, 9 hole golf course (the hottest one in the world) and swimming pool. Skukuza is situated directly at the Sabie River and animals often come here to drink.
  • Tamboti is a tent camp in the banks of the seasonal Timbavati River and you can see the beasts from your tent coming to the river. Facilities include accommodation and communal kitchen without cooking utensils.

Get in

By car

From Nelspruit you will have to chose to which park gate you want to go. Nearest gates are: Malelane (south east), Numbi (south west) and Kruger Gate (south west, slightly north of the Numbi gate). The N4 is a toll road and you have to pay for its use. Depending on which gate you want to reach, add one or two hours from Nelspruit to find out how long your journey will be. Please be aware that the KNP gates are closed after darkness and it is not permitted to drive at night inside the park.


Animals have the right of way! By Fluglotse2000.

The distance from Johannesburg to the 9 different gates of the KNP are approximately:

  • Numbi gate: 411 km
  • Madelane gate: 428 km
  • Phabeni gate: 430-440 km
  • Crocodile Bridge gate: 475 km
  • Paul Kruger gate: 460-470 km
  • Orpen: 490 km
  • Phalaborwa: 490 km
  • Punda Maria: 550 km
  • Parfuri: 600 km


Driving in darkness is considered to be dangerous outside the park especially if you are not used to drive in Africa. Pedestrians walk along the roads as well as local taxis/minibus services and both of them are difficult to spot at night. The area of the Numbi gate had a number of incidences involving barriers on roads and South Africans blame the proximity to Mozambique for this.

By plane

Airports nearby the KNP are:

  • Phalaborwa Airport [1] is located 2 km from the Phalaborwa gate of the KNP and serves as a entry route for the northern camps such as Letaba, Olifants, Punda Maria and Shingwedzi. The airport is well connected to Johannesburg International Airport with two flights per day during the week and a single flight on Saturday and Sunday. The airport has car rental opportunities.
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) [2] receives flights from Johannesburg International Airport, Durban, Cape Town and Vilanculos. Car rental is possible via: Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Imperial Car Rental and National.
    • Distances to KNP gates from KMIA are
      • Kruger Gate 82 km
      • Malelane Gate 63 km
      • Numbi Gate 40 km
      • Phabeni Gate 76 km
  • Malelane Regional Airport near the Malelane Gate is mainly used for private flights and business aircraft.

Get around

The KNP is not open all day and night. Entry gate and camp gate opening and closing times are as follows:

  • November-January - Open 4h30 (camp gate) and 5h30 (entry gate), close 18h30
  • February - Open 5h30, close 18h30
  • March- Open 5h30, close 18h00
  • April - Open 6h00, close 18h00
  • May-July - Open 6h00, close 17h30
  • August/September - Open 6h00, close 18h00
  • October - Open 5h30, close 18h00
  • November-January - Open 4h30 (camp) and 5h30 (entry, close 18h30)

If you are later back in the camp or found driving around at night, you will be charged very high rates. So make sure to be out or back in the camp before closing time!

Avis is the only car rental company with an office inside the park at Skukuza camp, but other companies from Nelspruit and at the two above mentioned airports are happy to provide you with a car as well. You may want to consider an air-conditioned car in the hot climate of the KNP.

Male elephant ready for charge. By Fluglotse2000.

The maximum speed limit is 50 km/h on tarred roads, 40 on gravel roads and 20 km/h in rest camps. However cruising speed of 30 km/h is recommended for maximum safety. Having such speed restrictions in place it would take you roughly 10 hours to cross the KNP in south - north direction. Distances between camps sites are on average 1-2 hours in the south and a little bit more than that in the north. Consider the distances between camps site when planning your trip and remember that you are not allowed to leave your car once you left a camp site.

It is a custom to share information about animal sightings with other park visitors. This happens casually and information is exchanged when two cars from the opposite direction meet and stop for a short chit-chat.

Make sure you have an up-to-date map, enough to eat and drink, cameras and binoculars, reference books and a litter bag with you.

Take care when approaching animals. They are wild and unpredictable. If you have the feeling that animals get angry, leave! Elephants and rhinos can be very dangerous to you and your car!

Do

  • Bush drives First time visitors may want to consider to book a guided tour through the KNP with local park guides. Bush drives are available from Berg en dal, Letaba, and Skukuza camp and cost around 170 Rand / person. Experienced rangers will take you in a 4x4 car to the KNP and explain you the finer details of game spotting.
  • Night drives Discovering the KNP on your own is a great adventure, but there are a view things that you can not do without a ranger. One of them is to have a night drive through the park to see nocturnal creatures such as lions, leopards and hyenas. Tours take a couple of hours and leave usually shortly before the main gates close in the night.
  • Wilderness trail Discover African flora and fauna on foot is an unforgettable lifetime experience and only few places in Africa offer such tours. You join a group of up to 8 mates and a ranger on a hiking tour that lasts for 3 days and you learn a lot of things about South African wildlife and there is no way that you could face the enemy closer than on this tour. Imagine to see a lion, elephant, rhino only a few meters from you. This is a breathtaking experience. Four different trails for the KNP are listed below:
    • Bushman trail Berg en dal camp offers the bushman trail around the Berg en dal camp which is surrounded by granite rocks. Expect to see elephants, white rhinos and buffalos.
    • Metsimetsi trail Is best enjoyed during the South African winter, check in at Skukuza camp and you will travel north to the N’waswitsontso river nearby the Satara camp.
    • Napi trail Check in at Pretoriuskop to enjoy the Napi trail and you may see white rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs and in the past you saw wild dogs which are rare nowadays.
    • Nyalaland trail Check in Punda Maria camp in the north of the KNP to spot crocodiles, elephants and hippos as well as bird watching is going to be on your agenda.
  • Play golf at the 9 hole golf course in Skukuza, originally designed for the local personal it was recently opened to the public. Please bring your golf clubs with you and enjoy this very special golf course. Considering the average temperature in the KNP this is one of the toughest 9 hole golf courses in the world.
  • Crocodile river view point is nearby the Crocodile camp going north on the main park road direction Lower Sabie and then following the sign to the Crocodile river view point on a dirt track for a couple of miles. As a reward you can get out of your car and go with a park guide down to the river to watch hippos and crocs from a few meters distance.

Bookings can be made by email: Traveltrade@parks-sa.co.za , online SANPark link, phone +27 (0)12 428-9111, fax +27 (0)12 343-0905, by mail South African National Parks, PO Box 787, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

See

Preparations


Sabie river is the place with the most abundant wildlife in the Kruger National Park
  • Optical equipment

Game drives are best enjoyed when having good optical equipment such as binocular and/or camera. All optical equipment has to cope with very difficult light conditions such as intense sunlight during daytime and very little light a crack of dawn, when the majority of animals are active. Some animals such as elephants and giraffes tend to approach closely to cars and standard equipment will allow good viewing, whereas lions, cheetahs and leopards are sometimes shy and you will see them closer with a 10x fold magnification binocular, ideally night vision glass quality or through an 200 mm camera lens or better a 500 mm lens, but keep in mind that cheap lenses can not cope with the difficult light in the morning and pictures are likely to look dark. Having enough film material or memory stickers with you is of help, but you could buy them if need be in the National Park. Consider that you may shoot more pictures than ever before in your live because there are so many interesting things to see. It is probably better to have twice or five times as many films/memory stickers/other storage media with than you would take on a normal holiday. Same applies for your camera battery, even if you have never changed it before it is likely to be flat after one day of game viewing where big lenses and continues focusing will suck on the battery more than usual.

  • Water

Last but not least it is always good to have enough water to your hand, because the KNP can be very hot and temperatures around 30C in the shadow are common.

Plants

The KNP is home of 336 tree species of which the Umbrella thorn, Baobab and Mopane are very prominent plants.


Baobab
  • Baobabs (Adansonia digitata) occur in drier areas only. Their trunk is huge in proportion to the branches. It crown looks as if the tree had been turned upside down, because the branches are gnarled and twisted like roots. It has large white flowers from Octover to November and fruits in April and May. These fruits are often eaten by baboons and monkeys.


  • The Feaver-tree Acacia (Acacia xanthophloea) is an easy to recognize tree. It's trunk is slender and the bark has an unique, yellow-green colour, as a result of minerals that are stored in the bark. It is called fever-tree, because in earlier times people believed they would get sick when coming close to this tree. It is heavily browsed by elephants.
  • The Umbrella Acacia (Acacia tortillis) is one of the best known trees of Africa, because of its typical umbrella shape. As its name suggests it is full of thorns and only specialist browsers can reach its leaves without suffering from the thorn defense (see also Giraffe).


Weeping boern bean
  • Weeping boern bean (Schotia brachypetala) is a tree that prefers wet ground and is commonly found on river banks only after years of good rainfall. It has beautiful red flowers between September to October.


For further details see also African flora and fauna.

Animals

Birds

Spottedbacked weaver
Saddlebilled stork

The KNP is home of 507 bird species of which some of them shown on pictures. See also African flora and fauna for further details

  • Carmine bee eater (Merops nubicoides)is an insect hunting bird that prays on bees and grasshoppers.
  • Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) can be spotted close to dams, when drying their feathers from a previous dive.
  • Fish eagle (Heliaeetus vocifer) is a fish hunter that can be spotted along the sabie river.
  • Helmeted guineafowl (Numida melagris) can often be spotted in small groups along roads when they are picking insects or seeds.
  • Redbilled oxpecker (Buphaguse rythrorhynchus) give relief to grazing animal, like Kudu, Impala or Rhino by removing ticks from the skin.
  • Spottedbacked weaver is a very colourful yellow bird with characteristic hanging nests. Breeding colonies can often be found along rivers and birds often visit camps for a few scraps of food.
  • Saddlebilled stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) is easy to spot because of its colourful appearance and its size. It spends the European winter in the KNP.

Mammals

Most visitor will regard mammals as the main attraction and often look out for the Big Five (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffallo) and there are another 140 different mammal species to look for as well. The term Big Five stems back from the times when animals were hunted. The Big Five were considered the most dangerous animals to hunt.

  • Burchells zebra (Equus burchellii) can be seen in small groups of less than 10 animals consisting of one stallion several mares and foals. The mare leaves the herd to give birth to the foal and rejoins after birth.
Blue Wildebeest.
  • Blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) form small groups and are seasonal breeders. Offspring arrives from November to February and is born within the herd. Calves may be defended fierce fully against any attacker.
Bufallo
  • Buffalos (Syncerus caffer)are fierce beasts. Males may reach up to 700 kg of weight. Buffalos live in herds and have strong social bonds. They can form groups of up to several thousand members when the environment permits and groups are organized by dominant males and females. Predators are actively attacked to defend calves, injured or old members. Mothers give birth to 40kg calves which are capable of walking shortly after birth. Calves are weaned after seven month, but stay close to their mother for 12 month. Their most preferred habitat are thickets and open savannah with protective properties.
  • Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) live in social groups guided by a dominant male. Newborn baboons are black and are carried around by their mothers. They later ride on the back of their mother and after three to four month they change their colour to brown-grey like the adults.
  • Cheetahs are the fastest mammals on earth and feared hunters. You will have to be lucky to see them from very close because they tend to be hidden in high grass or you hide in the dense thicket of KNP. Cheetahs are usually singles and smaller groups are mother and offspring. They are active during the daytime and hunt in the cool hours of the day and reach maximum speed of up 100 km/h in a short and explosive burst and have to tackle their prey in a single attack. The preferred prey is Impala, but birds are on the menu as well.
  • Dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvule) live in social groups with one dominant breeding pair and the rest of the group assists with raising the offspring. The mongoose is active during daytime and they run quickly into their tunnels if frightened, but also return quickly and are funny to look at. They live often close to streams, rivers, ponds as well as along open camp sites surrounded by high grass and thicket. The mongoose lives on insects, small birds and eggs.
Elephants
  • Elephants are among the most common sightings in the KNP and you will be able to see them from very close – and for some visitors probably to close and it is definitely nothing for a faint hart visitor. Elephants are the biggest land mammals and a male can weight up to 6000 kg and female can reach up to 3500 kg. They live in large family groups led by the most experienced female. Males are only tolerated till a certain age in the family and have to leave the family and form bachelors groups. Males join the group only when they are in must, but only the strongest bulls are tolerated. Elephants can often be seen around rivers when they have a bath and a good sip of water. Elephants can drink up to 160 litres of water and eat several hundred kilograms of plants per day. They are active at day and night time. Elephants are peaceful creatures and become aggressive only when attacked, wounded or when they want to protect their babies.
  • Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) are the tallest mammals on earth and male reach a height of up to 5.2 metre and females can be 4.7 metres tall and have a maximum weight of 1400 kg. They live in loose family groups and newborn calves join the group after one week. Young giraffes grow fast and reach one meter size within six month. Family groups can range from 4 to 30 members, but the structure is loose and fluctuations are common. Giraffes are browsers and can reach leaves that are not accessible by any other terrestrial mammal. To maintain such an enormous body on a vegetarian diet giraffes are eating up to 20 hours a day and rest only during the hottest hours of the day. Giraffes give birth after 450 days of pregnancy to a single calf of up to 100 kg and the calf can instantly stand on four legs and walks soon after.
Hippos at the Crocodile river
  • Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) can frequently be spotted in the KNP for example in the Crocodile river. You may see them from very close at the Crocodile view point near the Crocodile gate. A ranger accompanies you to the river and you can see the hippos very close. Hippo calves have a birth weight of around 30 kg and are dependent on their mother for 5 month, after that they start to graze.
  • Impala (Aepyceros melampus) live in big herds and newborn lambs join the herd after 1-2 days. They are excellent sprinters and can outrun many predators. Another defense technique is confusing the attacking hunter. All members of the herd will jump around in different directions, so that the predator can not concentrate on a singel individual. Males have impressive horns, but these are mainly used for fights about females rather than a defence weapon.
  • Kudus (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) are big antelopes and very common in the KNP. Calves are born outside of the herd and are kept in a secret location for 1-2 weeks before they join the herd. They are loved in the national park, but farmers hate them, because a 2 meter high fence does not stop them from entering farm premises and eating the crops.
Lion cubs and mum
  • Lions (Panthera leon) are common in the KNP, nevertheless you have to be lucky to see them from very close. Lions hunt early in the morning or in the night and during the day they allow themselves to be lazy. Males often do not contribute to the hunting, but they demand their lion share and everybody has to wait until it is their turn. Their menu consists mainly of bigger mammals and Zebras seem to be their favourite if available. To see them in action you have to get up before crack of dawn or you see them only resting after a big dinner. Lion cubs are dependent on their mother for up to two years and they start to enjoy hunting when they are about 11 month old. Lions are social cats and live in prides of 3-30 lions with consists of 1-4 males, several females and cubs.
Dozy hyena
  • Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) has a bad reputation for no good reason. They are good hunters and are not only dependent on the leftovers from lions. Puppies rely on their mothers’s milk for 9-12 month and start to look after themselves with the age of 15 month. They live in packs of 3-4 animals and can form larger groups as well. The leader of the pack is a female and they hunt often during the night, but can be spotted during the daytime as well. They prey on insects, mammals such as zebras and wildebeest and sometimes they bring down a giraffe, or fight off lions from their catch and tend to explore bins in national parks.
  • Silver backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) are dog like animals with big ears and long tails. They live alone or in small groups and are night active in human areas. They can be seen during daytime in animal sanctuaries. Their diet is composed of everything they can tackle ranging from insects, hares to small antelopes, leftovers and in human settlements they sometimes live of sheep and goats.
  • Vervet monkey is a social monkey that lives close to rivers and feeds on leaves, fruits and insects. Family groups are up to 20 members strong. Newborn vervet monkeys are dependent on their mother for three month and from then on become youngsters.
Rhino mother with Calf
  • White Rhinoceros (Ceratoterium simum) were extincted in the KNP and where re-introduced in their natural habitat and have developed very well since then. Calves can stand immediately after birth, but they are very slow at walking. After one month it can follow its mother grazing and stays close to its mother for up to three years.

There is no difference in colour between Black and White Rhinos.


Warthog
  • Warthogs (Phacochoenerus aethiopicus) are medium sized mammalians having a mixed diet. Warthog babies are born at the beginning of the rain season (December-January) and life for the first 6-7 weeks in their burrow and then start to follow their mother.


Wild dogs
  • Wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)live in packs of 10-15 members with hierarchical structure where only the dominant female has pubs and the rest helps to care for them. The pubs are born in a den and they stay there for up to three weeks before they explore their environment. After five weeks the pubs start eating regurgitated meat and after 8-10 weeks they leave the den forever and follow the pack. Wild dog sightings are always a big event so watch out for them because they are considered to be the rarest predator in Africa! Wild dogs are mainly active during the day and they hunt in the early hours or late afternoon. They prey on small mammals, like Impalas and Duikers and they manage occasionally buffalos, too.

Reptiles

The KNP is home of 114 reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes, geckos and turtles.

  • Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) live along rivers and are very successful hunters and eat whatever they can. They control their body temperature by lying in the sun to warm up in winter or to cool down in water in the hot summer.
Leopard tortoise
  • Leopard tortoises (Geocholone pardalis) can be spotted best on tarred roads (they are virtually invisible in the high grass from a car), as they like to drink water from tarred roads.
  • African Rock Pythons (Phyton sebae natalensis) can be found throughout the park, but often in woodlands and near permanent water.

For more details see African flora and fauna.

Buy

Bigger camp sites such as the Lower Sabie and Skukuza have comfortable shopping facilities and you can buy almost everything there - right in the middle of nowhere. This includes groceries and wine and beer and souvenirs. Artistic wood carvings can be found there as well and is usually of reasonable quality and cheaper than in Cape Town. Carving can be found in and around the gates to the Kruger National Park as well.

Eat

The KNP has several eat options ranging from self-catering and provides therefore some shopping facilities in the park, designated pick-nick areas, cafeterias in most of the camps and restaurants in some of them. Most of the facilities look clean and will generally cater simple snacks and decent food. Lodges inside and outside the park will cater luxurious food often arranged in well-sheltered outdoor restaurants with open fireplace and barbeque South African specialties such as:

  • wart hog sausage
  • springbok tenderloin
  • ostrich steak
  • Biltong made of game, like Kudu, Zebra or Elephant

Drink

  • Water: keep fit and drink lots of water during the daytime to prevent dehydration.
  • Wine: well South African wines deserve lots of praise for their outstanding quality and have not many rivals to fear in the world. As in many wine producing countries the best wines may never leave the country of origin and they are waiting there for you to be tasted.

Sleep

Inside the KNP

All camps listed below offer various types of accommodation for 2 to 6 persons in a hut/bungalow/tent/rondavels without kitchen and bathroom whereas others offer access to a communal kitchen and some places have fully equipped kitchens.

  • Balule has camp sites.
  • Berg en Dal has cottages, camp sites for tents/caravan and chalets.
  • Crocodile bridge has bungalows, camp sites for tents/caravan and chalets
  • Letaba has cottages, huts, camp sites for tents/caravan, chalets and guesthouse.
  • Lower Sabie has cottages.
  • Mopani has guesthouse and chalets.
  • Olifants has 2-4 bed bungalows.
  • Pretoriuskop has huts, bungalows, cottages and camp sites.
  • Punda Maria has cottages, bungalows and camp sites.
  • Shingwedzi has camp sites, huts, cottages, and guesthouse.
  • Skukuza - Main camp. Has camp sites, furnished tents, bungalows, guest cottages, guesthouse and youthhostel.
  • Tamboti is a tent camp in the banks of the seasonal Timbavati River and you can see the beasts from your tent coming to the river. Facilities include accommodation and communal kitchen without cooking utensils.

Bookings can be made by email Traveltrade@parks-sa.co.za , online SA National Parks link, phone +27 (0)12 428-9111, fax: +27 (0)12 343-0905, by mail South African National Parks, PO Box 787, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

Outside the KNP

  • Malelane Sun Lodge next to the Malelane gate is a luxury accommodation next to the KNP. It is well situated next to the Crocodile River and close to the most attractive game viewing opportunities in the KNP. Its facilities include 9 hole golf course, tennis, swimming pool, restaurant, car park and bar.
  • Protea Kruger Gate Elegant lodge in front of the Kruger gate situated in the banks of the Sabie river offers good access to the most attractive part of the KNP, apartments are designed as tree huts and are connected by raised wood walkways. Facilities of the lodge include play area for kids, swimming pool in scenic area, spacious car park, electric security fence, several bars, pool service an enormous park like garden with some kind of wildlife such as green monkeys, springbok, bush babies and occasional visitors such as a rhino and cheetah have been spotted. Dinnertime is announced with a traditional African drum and it sound like “tam-tam” and a fabulous display of exquisite South African food is then waiting for you. You have the choice between a big salad buffet supplemented by barbequed meat. The service is generally very good and staff is very friendly and charming, nevertheless sometime slow by hectic European/American standards and order can be delivered by piecemeal, first the scones, 15 minutes later the coffee, 20 minutes later the bill, 20 minutes later collecting the money for the bill, 30 minutes later bringing the change ….. Prices for a room are around 300 $ / day, excluding dinner and drinks of which both of them are cheap by European or American standards. Link to Protea Kruger Gate address On the Sabie River at the Kruger Gate, SKUKUZA, Mpumalanga, South Africa, phone +2713 735-5671, fax +2713 735-5676, email sales@phkrugergate.co.za
  • Mvuradona Game Lodge is nestled a the Crocodile River and only a few minutes from either Malelane and Crocodile Bridge Gate. The Lodge has its own population of giraffe, zebra, lion and other animals. Transfers from the surrounding airports and game drives can be arranged. They four-star lodge offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. All rooms are equipped with satellite TV and MNet and coffee/tea facilities. Rates start from R450 per person sharing, up to R1050 per person sharing in the luxury suites during High Season.
  • In one of the many private reserves along the border. Those inside the Sabi Sand Reserve like Singita and Sabi Sabi are all world renowned, so expect to pay top dollar. Sabie Park and Marloth Park are geared towards frequent visitors / residents.

Get out

Private Game Reserves and Lodges

Are mainly located in the north east of the Mpumalanga Province and often share a border with the south-western part of the KNP. In the last years most fences between the KNP and private game parks have been dismantled and animals can freely chose were to go.

  • Mala Mala is famous for easily seeing the big five and it has been operated since almost 40 years. It is often the rest place for celebs, industry tycoons and however can afford the hefty price tag that comes with superb service. Mala Mala is split in three different sites.
  • Main camp is a luxurious place in the middle of Mpumalanga with elegant rooms, each rooms has two bathrooms, telephone ….. and things you would expect in a upper class hotel, but not in the middle of the bushveld. Other parts of the hotel demonstrate its history as a hunting camp actively involved in animal killing as it was in fashion some time ago by presenting animal skins, heads and massive elephant tusks.
  • Harry’s camp is the budget version of Mala Mala and shares the same wildlife experience as the main camp for less money. Facilities include bar, swimming pool and of course a private air-strip.
  • Kirkman’s camp is a ex-cattle farm in a colonial style house near the sand river. Decoration reminds the visitor of past times and the reception looks like a exposition of old weapons, animal skins and other hunting trophies. Facilities include swimming pool, bar and private airstrip. address box 2575 Randburg 2125 phone 011 886 4382 fax 011 789 2677 email reservations@malamala.com url http://www.malamala.com/
  • Sabi Sabi is among the most famous and slightly more expensive game lodges around the KNP. Together with Mala Mala they pioneered private game reserves and this is partly because of their much favoured location near the Sand River as a source of permanent water. Game viewing is absolutely superb and you stand good chances of seeing many highlights.
  • Selati Lodge is a charming place decorated in colonial style from the nineteenth century and has therefore no electricity and receives a maximum of 16 guests in 8 rooms and has bar and pool facilities.
  • Bush Lodge is located close to a water hole and some of the rooms overlook it. The lodge is tastefully decorated with African art and accommodates 54 guests in chalets and 5 suits. Facilities include bar and pool. address box 52665, saxonweld 2132 phone 011 483 3939 fax 011 483 3799 email res@sabisabi.com url http://www.sabisabi.com

Other destinations

  • Durban is primarily a holiday/resort city at the Indian Ocean but also boasts South Africa's busiest container port.
  • Drakensberg -- Massive and spectacular mountain range. Peaks exceed 3000 meters above sea level. Climbing, hiking, wilderness trails, mountain biking, fly fishing, and more.
  • Johannesburg (the biggest city south of the Sahara) and Pretoria in the Gauteng Province are busy cities of banks and government institutions.

Climate

South Africa is located south of the equator and has therefore a reverse order of summer and winter than Europe and North America. Generally is the KNP a dry and hot area, regardless of summer or winter. The South African summer (September -April) in the KNP is hot and sunny with occasional showers and temperature in the shadow range from 18-30C. and the winter (May-August) is warm and dry with temperatures ranging from 8-22C. September-April Hot and sunny with sporadic thunder showers. Average temp 18-30 degrees celsius

Stay safe

  • Respecting speed limits inside the KNP is mandatory. Big game is crossing the roads in the park without any warning and an upset elephant is not easy to deal with - the same applies for rhinos and giraffe bulls. Speed limits are 50km/h on tarred roads and 20km/h on gravel roads.
  • You must not get out of your car inside the Kruger National Park unless you reach a safe place to do so. These are camps, picknic places and designated view points.
  • You are not allowed to drive at dark through the park (the gates normally close and open in daylight). Please be careful when driving outside the park at night, especially in rural areas.
  • Firearms must be declared and sealed at the entrance gate.
  • No pets are permitted in the KNP
  • Do not feed animals for you own safety as well as for the animal well-being.
  • KNP and surrounding areas in the eastern part of the country are in a seasonal malaria zone. Consult a physician regarding appropriate precautions given the time of year you will be travelling. The most important defenses against malaria are: using mosquito repellent with DEET concentration greater than 50%; covering your skin, especially around dusk; and using mosquito nets while sleeping. South African pharmacies also offer a wide range of malaria tablets, which you can take a few days prior to arrival in a malaria zone and that are by far cheaper than in other parts of the world.

External links

  • Kruger National Park - part of the South Africa National Parks website.
  • http://www.krugerpark.co.za/ private tour operator with helpful information.
  • http://www.kruger2canyons.com/ - the central sector of the Kruger National Park and the Central Lowveld region (extending up to the Blyde River Canyon and Panorama Route) together constitute the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere. This website is a guide to this UN-designated reserve, which recognises the global conservation importance of the Kruger and its environs, and the sometimes conflicting imperatives of stimulating economic development in and around the Park in order to ameliorate local poverty.
  • ecoAfrica's guide to lodges, safaris and rest camps in Kruger

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