The Kruger National Park is the primary destination in South Africa for many local and international tourists. Each year more than half a million visitors are registered. The National Park was opened in 1898 at the instigation of then-president Paul Kruger. After hunters had considerably decimated the originally rich game stock, all the land between the Sabie and the Crocodile Rivers was put under the protection of Nature Conservation to ensure the survival of the remaining animals. Only as recently as 1961 was the extended Kruger Park fenced in.
The park stretches from the Crocodile River in the south up to the Limpopo River, which is the international border in the north. Altogether it is 350 km long, 65 km wide and comprises an area of about 20,000 sq km. Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammal species.
A network of roads of 1863km leads through the National Park, 697km of them being tarred. For the visitor there are numerous differently equipped rest camps, most of them scenically positioned. One needs to be self sufficient in these camps, as the accommodation/camping options here are self-catering. Within the park boundaries, travel is only allowed between sunrise and sunset. After dark one has to stay in one of the fenced rest camps, or one of the private concessions.
The best time for observing the animals is the dry winter season. Then the grass is low and bushes and trees don’t have leaves, so one has unobstructed views. Because it virtually doesn’t rain in winter, the animals come to the waterholes to drink in the mornings and evenings and can easily be watched from the car. Game drives can be cold though, and summer is still a very popular time to visit, when one can enjoy the heat of the day back at the lodge around a swimming pool or in the spa, relaxing.
The areas adjacent to Kruger have become very popular safari options for many tourists, with a number of well-established private game reserves, conservancies and conservation areas on the western boundary of Kruger. These cater to the visitor who does not want to self-drive and/or self-cater. In fact, here visitors benefit from the local knowledge of the game rangers and trackers who will host you during your stay, finding the best sightings of wildlife, plus share loads of their fascinating stories about the fauna and flora you are driving through. This, added to the high standard of catering and service at these lodges, all make for a seamless and extremely enjoyable safari.
It is here that many exclusive lodges are available for tourists on safari, offering luxury accommodation, superb service and world class game viewing. These are reserves mostly unfenced on their Kruger Park boundaries, allowing the wildlife to move freely between these areas and the Kruger National Park itself.
The Sabi Sand is the most famous of these private reserves, being home to legendary lodges such as Singita, Sabi Sabi, MalaMala, Lion Sands and more. Other well known private reserves are the Timbavati, Thornybush, Manyeleti, Klaserie, Kapama and Makalali.
Some lodges and areas we recommend in the Greater Kruger National Park:
Timbavati: Royal Malewane, Ngala, King’s Camp, Motswari, Tanda Tula, Thornybush, Kambaku.
Sabi Sand Singita, Londolozi, Lion Sands, Sabi Sabi, Kirkman’s Camp, Chitwa Chitwa.
Kruger Park Concessions: Singita Lebombo, Singita Sweni, Hamiltons, Imbali, Hoyo Hoyo.
LION SANDS NARINA LODGE
HAMILTON’S TENTED CAMP