Kruger Safari Tours & Holidays

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Kruger Safari Tours & Holidays

4.5/5  –  301 Kruger Reviews

South Africa’s premier safari destination, Kruger throws up some staggering statistics. Established in 1898, it extends over some 19,000 sq km (7,335 sq mi) and supports a total of 147 mammal species (the largest of any African national park), including an estimated 13,000 elephants, 40,000 buffalo, 2000 lions and more rhinos than any other protected area. Kruger is an ideal safari destination at both ends of the price and experiential spectrum. No other major African park is so well geared towards budget-conscious self-drivers. Equally, some of the all-inclusive private and concession lodges associated with Kruger and its immediate environs – among them Mala Mala, Sabi Sabi and Londolozi – rank among the most exclusive, prestigious and costly in Africa.

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8 Questions About Kruger National Park Safaris

Answered by Philip Briggs

When is the best time to visit Kruger Park?

“The best time for Kruger safaris is in the southern hemisphere winter months of April to September, with wildlife-viewing conditions tending to improve throughout this period. Climatically, it is most pleasant during the dry winter months (warm by day, cool by night) and there are fewer mosquitoes, reducing the risk of contracting malaria. Winter offers the most productive wildlife viewing, since the vegetation tends to be lower and thinner, allowing for better visibility, and the lack of rain causes wildlife to congregate around perennial water sources. Bird watchers may arrange their Kruger tours in summer, when large numbers of migrant birds arrive from Europe, and many resident species display a colorful breeding plumage. If you don’t like crowds, avoid visiting Kruger during South African school holidays.”

1

What are the most popular areas in Kruger?

“Most Kruger safari packages concentrate on the park’s southern third. Partly this is because it is the closest section of the park to Johannesburg – and pretty much everywhere else in South Africa – which means it slots most comfortably into a countrywide itinerary. In addition, the south has denser wildlife populations than the north, wildlife tends to be more habituated to cars, and there is a greater choice of rest camps and concession lodges. Probably the most productive and popular game-drives in the south comprise a triangle of roads connecting Skukuza, Lower Sabie and Satara, and the two roads running south from Skukuza to Melelane and Lower Sabie to Crocodile Bridge gate. The popularity of these roads means they can become congested during busy periods such as school holidays, which is when locals tend to visit Kruger.”

2

Is Kruger good for a self-drive safari trip?

“Yes, Kruger is arguably the best self-drive safari destination anywhere in Africa, thanks to its easy accessibility, combined with a network of good surfaced roads and well-equipped rest camps, and the ready availability of interpretative material such as maps and dedicated field guides. Self-drivers can either rent a car in Johannesburg or Pretoria and drive to Kruger or fly to an airport within the park or just outside it, and – by advance arrangement – pick up a rental car there. Self-drivers should bear in mind that cars drive on the left side of the road (like the UK and many former British colonies, but unlike the USA and most of Europe and Asia). You should allow for average driving speeds of around 30km/hour within the park (the speed limit in Kruger is 50km/hour on surfaced roads and 40km/hour on dirt, but you also need to allow time for stops to look at wildlife). Another attraction for independent travelers is that prices for Kruger safaris tend to be very low compared to other major African parks.”

3

What animals can I expect to see as part of a Kruger tour?

“All the Big Five are present in significant numbers. However, wildlife viewing in Kruger can be a bit hit-and-miss, so those seeking a Big Five quick fix would be better off heading to one of the private reserves that offer expertly guided all-inclusive safari packages. That said, those who allocate a couple of days to their Kruger safari can be confident of encountering large herds of buffalo and elephant, and also stand a good chance of seeing lion, white rhino and, to a lesser extent, leopard and black rhino. Other wildlife commonly seen on Kruger safari trips includes cheetah, African wild dog, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, southern giraffe, plains zebra, hippo, warthog, wildebeest, impala, greater kudu, common waterbuck, vervet monkey and chacma baboon. Birdlife is prolific, with more than 500 species recorded, and the park is particularly good for colorful savannah dwellers such as lilac-breasted roller, yellow-billed hornbill and white-fronted bee-eater. There is also a wide variety of eagles, vultures and other raptors, and hefty ground dwellers like the southern ground hornbill, kori bustard and ostrich.”

4

How long is the drive to Kruger?

“Coming from Johannesburg or elsewhere in Gauteng, most of the southern gates lie between 400km/248mi and 500km/310mi to the east, a drive of up to five hours on good surfaced roads. Coming from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport outside Mbombela (Nelspruit), most of the southern gates lie between 40km/25mi and 100km/62mi away, so allow up to 90 minutes. The most remote gate from Johannesburg is Pafuri, which lies about 620km/385mi to the northeast, a seven- to eight-hour drive on roads that deteriorate as you approach the park. When planning your Kruger holidays in the context of a full South Africa tour, be conscious that the park is an astonishing 1800km/1118mi from Cape Town using the most direct route, and almost 750km/466mi from Durban.”

5

What condition are the roads in within Kruger?

“An excellent network of surfaced roads suitable for all sedan cars connects all gates and rest camps in Kruger. This is supplemented by a subsidiary network of unsurfaced roads, most of which are also suitable for any sedan car, though some might become problematic after heavy rain. A good map showing the full internal road network can be bought inexpensively at any gate or the entrance gate of rest camps, and all junctions within the park are signposted to facilitate easy navigation. From a wildlife-viewing perspective, surfaced roads often follow busier routes, so following quieter unsurfaced routes will probably enhance your Kruger vacation.”

6

Is the park fenced?

“Until a few years back, the entire park was fenced. Today, however, it shares open borders with a number of private reserves that run along the western border, though in most (if not all) cases, these private reserves are fenced along their outward boundary. Fences along the international boundaries with the other two components of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – namely Limpopo National Park (Mozambique) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe) – are no longer maintained, allowing wildlife some freedom of movement into these neighboring reserves.”

7

What lodges or camps do you recommend for a Kruger holiday?

“For a short Kruger holiday (up to three nights), I would concentrate on the far south, where my favorite camp is Lower Sabie, which has a beautiful location on the Sabie River at the fulcrum of several top-notch wildlife-viewing roads. Skukuza, the park’s largest rest camp, is a bit too busy for some, but it’s very well equipped (everything from ATMs and car-rental outlets to a well-stocked supermarket and restaurant) and also has a useful location for exploring some good wildlife-viewing roads. Those able to dedicate more time to a Kruger tour (four or more nights) could head to the central plains – Satara Camp lies in an area of open savanna where lion and cheetah are often seen. Olifants Camp has a stunning location on a wooded ridge overlooking the eponymous river, and tiny Balule Camp is ideal for those seeking a remote and super-affordable bush experience. An extended Kruger safari tour – ideally seven to 10 days – might also take in the far north, where my favorite rest camps are riverside Shingwedzi and remote Punda Maria. For those seeking more exclusive Kruger safari packages, try one of the dozen or so upscale concession lodges that scatter the park, offering a similarly luxurious all-inclusive guided experience to the legendary Sabi Sands block of private reserves along its western border.”

8

Kruger Safari Reviews

4.5/5 301 Reviews
Expert
Alan Murphy  –  
Australia AU

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

Killing time in Kruger
5/5

The mothership of South Africa’s parks, Kruger is more organised and has more variety of accommodation than any other park. It also has a HUGE number of animals with the Big 5 and every other kind of 5 you can think of rustling around in...

Full Review

Expert
Mike Unwin  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Safaris for everyone
5/5

I love the Kruger. But I admit that this sometimes puts me in a minority. Many safari purists scorn the tarred roads and large public camps of South Africa’s premier park as a travesty of ‘real’ wilderness. And they have a point: the...

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Ron Wille  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Feb 18, 2019
5/5

What we exprienced in one week is enough to remember for the rest of our lives. At least 30 lions, 3 leopards with cubs, rhino's, hippo's, crocs, hyena's, buffaloes, really hundreds of elephants, antilopes, beautiful birds and many, many...

Full Review

Abspires40  –  
United Arab Emirates AE
Reviewed: Jan 27, 2019
Experience the uniqueness of the true African Bush when you visit Kruger National Park
5/5

I have been going to the Kruger National Park most of my life as i used to live in SA. Now that i am no longer living in SA, i long for the true African bush of the Kruger park even more. I probably took too many of those unique and...

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Bert  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jan 21, 2019
5/5

Kruger seems to be bush (where I was at least), which is more enclosed by vegetations, trees and hilly terrain. If you want the expansive type of visits where you see herds of giraffe galloping across the wide open plain, or the "great...

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efusco  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jan 8, 2019
Rewarding
5/5

We had a wonderful trip to Kruger and got to see most of the wildlife we were hoping to see and got as close to most as we would have liked. The amenities were good and didn't interfere with the 'vibe' of feeling like you were in the bush....

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