Kruger, the flagship of South Africa’s extensive national park system, is one of the oldest game parks in Africa, first established in 1898, and rivals the best wildlife viewing experiences on the continent. It covers more than 7,300 square miles in parts of two provinces (Limpopo and Mpumalanga), and shouldn’t be rushed to be fully appreciated.
Along with 142 other mammal species, constituting the widest selection of mammals anywhere in Africa, you can spot the Big Five here -- lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffalo. You’ll also find hippos, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, and cheetahs. Guides lead both morning and evening game drives, when viewing is best, as well as bush walks. During the winter months (May-September), especially, it’s a good idea to bring warm clothing for evening drives, and during he South African summer (October-April), it’s best to prepare for rain.
Park vs. Poachers
The park is located toward the far northeastern reaches of the country, in an area known as the Lowveld, which is blessed with a wide diversity of life (vegetation as well as animals) and ecosystems. Kruger is recognized for its environmental management policies, and wildlife poaching is vigorously prosecuted, though rhino poaching remains a serious problem.
Conservation efforts also extend to the longtime human history evident in the area. Within the park, you can find ancient bushman rock paintings at nearly 130 different sites, and archaeological sites such as the Masorini and Albasini (old Portuguese trading posts) and Thulamela. The latter, the ruins of a stone citadel dating from a centuries-old civilization, is reminiscent of the Zimbabwe Ruins. Prehistoric man is believed to have occupied the area for as long as 500,000 years, and Stone Age cultural artifacts have been found dating back 100,000 years. You may want to stop in at the Stevenson-Hamilton Knowledge Resource Center, which houses a museum where some of the park’s historical artifacts are kept.
Wide Range of Lodgings
Accommodations are plentiful within the park, ranging from some luxurious private lodges to tent camping. A step above the latter is the “safari tent,” permanent canvas tent bedrooms situated on platforms, often containing kitchens and washrooms. Small huts and bungalows – single bedroom units with bathrooms and kitchens – and cottages, single or multiple bedroom units withliving rooms as well as bathrooms and kitchens, are also available, as are guest houses with lounge areas and views.The park is also lined in places by private reserves along its borders.
The far northern part of the park is the wildest and is difficult to access, but adventurous travelers should inquire with their safari operators about visiting there. Bordering countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique have agreed to remove their border fences along some far northern stretches of the park to create the mammoth Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a true transnational wilderness.
With Kruger National Park as a not-to-be-missed destination in South Africa, using Stride to help you choose among the many safari operators serving the area to get the right option with a minimum of hassle. You’ll find a wide selection catering to every level of comfort and budget.