South Africa’s Kruger National Park encompasses more than 7,500 acres of stunning African wildlands where more mammal species roam free than in any other game reserve. Take a journey through one of the planet’s finest wildlife sanctuaries and you’ll encounter the iconic elephants and lions, but also discover many other unexpected treasures the park has to offer.
northeastern South Africa, about 250 miles east of Johannesburg
What to Do
wildlife viewing, game drives, guided walking and hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain biking, 4x4 driving, birding, golfing
When to Go
Kruger National Park is open year round. Dry winter months provide the best game viewing, while summer brings lush vegetation and newborn wildlife. Kruger Park has a hot, subtropical climate and most of the year it is above 80° F during the day.
A guided safari tour by vehicle allows you to cover a lot of ground and see plenty of amazing animals and beautiful places. Plus you learn about the flora and fauna from the experts. It’s also possible to do a self-drive safari in your own vehicle, which some people prefer. Driving on your own gives you the freedom to plan your own itinerary and move at your own pace.
Walk or hike for a more intimate connection to the animals, plants, and landscape. If you travel by foot, you must be accompanied by a professional guide. (We’re talking about traveling through lion and rhino country after all.) You can take a quick bush walk or an overnight backpacking trip into the remote heart of the park to escape the crowds. Travel through the wildest parts of the park rewards the adventurous with views of scarcer species and secluded waterholes.
Watch the sunrise from the bird hide at Lake Panic. (FYI: A hide is an observation shelter that allows for bird and game viewing.) From the hide, you can see everything from mottled buff squacco birds to crocodiles, hippos, and monitor lizards. Water lilies and dragonflies decorate the lake, creating a colorful, scenic backdrop for wildlife photography.
Visit the southernmost naturally occurring baobab tree in Africa, located between Tshokwane picnic site and Satara. This huge baobab tree with an enormous circumference is well-marked on maps, so you won’t miss it. Southern Africa's most distinctive tree, the baobab can live up to 3,000 years and reach heights of 75 feet and trunk widths of 30 feet.
Just outside the park, you can tour the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, where orphaned, vulnerable, or endangered animals are rehabilitated, and if possible, released back into the wild. The center is home to a variety of animal and bird species including the cheetah and king cheetah, leopard, lion, white rhinoceros, sable antelope, serval, African wild cat, southern ground hornbill, and blue crane.
Kruger National Park houses around 300 archaeological sites that reveal the history and culture of ancient African peoples. Thulamela is a reconstructed walled kingdom that was occupied from the 13th to 16th centuries. The site contains a stone fortress that was inhabited by an estimated 2,000 people who were farmers, goldsmiths and global traders, and includes a burial site that was likely for a king and queen.Read More...
Accommodations range from the posh Skukuza Safari Lodge with its own golf course to single-room huts with communal kitchens to RV and tent camping. For more of a bush feel, try the tents at Letaba, set deep in mopane forest, or Tamboti, which is visited nightly by honey badgers, genets, and hyenas. Don’t worry, lodging areas are fenced!
A night game drive with a bush braai rolls a unique wildlife viewing experience and local food tasting into one go. These expeditions leave in the afternoon for a short game drive, provide an outdoor barbecue including wild game and local fare, and return you home in the dark to view nocturnal animal activity.
The park is home to over 3,414 species of flora and fauna–147 mammal species, 114 reptiles, over 507 bird species, and more than 2000 plant species. You can often spot the African big five in one day: rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, and cape buffalo.
Check the sighting boards and the Latest Sightings app to find out where, when, and what animals others have recently seen in the area. Every camp has its own sightings board that usually includes big mammals such as leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants, wild dogs, and hyenas. Rhinos aren’t listed any more because of poaching.
Wear the right colors in the park. Going with neutral earth tones is a good idea–not just a fashion statement! White makes you highly visible to animals (and gets dirty really quickly). Red attracts animals (definitely don’t want to be lunch), and blue and black attract Tsetse flies.Read More...