South Africa is a country rich in natural beauty and heritage, offering every kind of traveler a buffet of experiences to look forward to. Whether you want horizontal me-time on a pristine beach, wish to explore upbeat inner cities, or tick a handful of UNESCO World Heritage Sites off your bucket-list, Mzanzi has it all.
But let’s not beat around the bush. Every traveler coming to South Africa, even the most well-heeled urbanite, wants to take a walk on the wild side in the legendary Kruger National Park.
Wedged into the northeast corner of the country, South Africa’s flagship national park has reigned over travel itineraries for as long as anyone can remember. So much so, that name itself conjures images of lonely dirt roads and khaki-clad guides, of rugged mountains rising from golden hued bush plains, and of big cats and even bigger elephants that are just a bit too close for comfort.
Have a look at the video below and see why we are in love with Kruger Park.
There’s hardly a better place to answer Africa’s call of the wild. All of the continent’s iconic safari species along with roughly 137 other mammals and over 500 varieties of bird can be spotted in this behemoth bushveld, which has 254 known cultural heritage sites to boot.
However, we don’t need to tell you that visiting the Kruger National Park is well worth it – you already know that. But, like every intrepid explorer, you need to be prepared and in order to be prepared, you need to ask questions. So, we compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions about Kruger and answered them for you before you even had to ask.
Our Top 5 Questions we get asked about tours to Kruger:
When is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park?
Kruger is a year-round destination, so deciding what time of year to visit depends entirely on what you want to see. If you’re short on time and need to tick all of the Big Five off your list, then the dry winter season is the best time to visit the Kruger. During this time of year, the bush is sparse, encouraging Kruger’s wildlife population to congregate around watering holes, which makes for some superb game viewing opportunities. Temperatures also rarely climb above the high twenties during the day, so you’ll have a gentler introduction to the otherwise infamous African climate.
In the summertime, temperatures soar and the pace slows down. The bushveld is lush with vegetation thanks to heavy rains and game viewing requires plenty of stealth and patience. Those up to the task will be rewarded with the chance to spot plenty of adorable newborn critters tottering around the veld along with an abundance of bird species.
Do you need to take malaria pills for your visit to Kruger?
Yes, the Kruger Park is a malaria risk area, so you need to take proper precaution. That said, it is important to note that it is a low-risk area; all lodges in the park and neighboring reserves have fitted mosquito nets and screens in all rooms along with other deterrents.
The highest risk period is between November and April – the end of the summer rainy season. But if you come prepared, you will be able to easily avoid infection
How long should I stay in the Kruger National Park?
The answer to this is not so cut and dry. There are a ton of factors that you need to consider when planning the length of your stay in the Kruger National Park but it all comes down to knowing what your immovable requests are.
Would you be okay with not seeing all of the Big Five? Does the infamous African heat put you off? Are you content with seeing a small sliver of the park? Or is the urge to explore all of the region’s winding dirt roads too inviting to deny?
This is where it helps to have someone on the inside. Someone who knows the lay of the land. Luckily, you have us. On average, we’d recommend no less than three nights in the Kruger. But, if time is on your side then six days will give you enough time to explore more of the region and ensures that your wildlife sightings are as varied as the landscape.
How long are the game drives and guided walks in the Kruger Park?
When it comes to wildlife watching, patience will be your most advantageous virtue. Both morning and late afternoon game drives in the Kruger usually last about three to three-and-a-half hours. Likewise, guided walks usually last about three hours. And, on a full day game drive, you can expect to be on the road from early morning until gate closing time, with a break in the middle for lunch.
In the case of morning vs evening game drives, you’ll be happy to hear that both times are fantastic for spotting animals. If you’re the kind of person who likes to rise with the sun then you might be lucky enough to spot a few of the nocturnal animals returning from their night’s forage for food, or bloodied lions fresh from a kill looking for a comfy spot to rest for the day.
In the late afternoon, the animals are once again on the move and predators are out looking for dinner. Besides giving you the best seat in the house to watch Africa’s iconic sunset, sundowner/sunset safaris are, arguably, the most thrilling. Anything can happen and often does! At the very least, you’re bound to see a few nightjars, scrub hares and springhares. At best, you may spot a Leopard – Africa’s most elusive big cat.
What else is there to do in the Kruger?
Kruger Park has something for everyone. Depending on where you stay, you can expect to discover ancient rock art from another lifetime, dine beneath the African night sky, and sleep in treetop retreats with the sounds of the wild below you.
For a dose of adrenaline, swap four wheels for two and explore the region’s epic Mountain bike trails. Or ditch the wheels altogether and opt for a guided walk so that you can tune into all the sights, sounds and smells that get lost when you’re in a vehicle. And, when you’re tired of roughing it out, the park’s luxurious spas offer plenty of African inspired treatments to help ease the tension that may occur from watching a lion stalk its prey.
Useful info on Kruger Park:
If visiting Kruger independently you might want to consider the below:
The entrance gates to the park open between 5:30 and 6 am depending on the season whereas if you stay within a camp in Kruger National Park you will have the advantage of a slightly earlier entry as camp gates open between 4:30 and 6 am depending on the month.
All gates will close to the park and camps between 17:30 and 18:30 pm at night depending on the season so time your visit accordingly.
There are various gates to gain access to the National Park as it covers a vast region. More detail on which gate is relevant to you based on where you will be entering the park can we obtained for the Sanparks website.
We also have some great tips for travelling Kruger National Park on a budget, don’t forget to check it out. If you want to know more about the history of the Kruger Park then be sure to read our post detailing the facts and more.