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Kruger National Park

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Kruger National Park

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Introduction

Black Backed Jackel

Black Backed Jackel

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Kruger National Park is the largest of all of South Africa's game parks with around 19,000 square kilometres to explore. The park is located in the northeast of the country, at the borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe, in the provinces of Mpumalanga (southern section) and Limpopo (northern section). Recently the park has become part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace-park consisting of Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe) and Limpopo National Park (Mozambique). It is the most visited of all national parks in South Africa and can become very busy during the South African holiday periods, especially during Christmas and Newyears and around Easter. Also, as some of the roads are tarred, it makes this park one of the best to visit if you are travelling in a small 2wd vehicle.

Kruger National Park is one of the most biodiverse national parks in South Africa and in fact the whole of Africa. Huge varieties are reported amongst the mammals as well as birds, plants and even fish. No less than 147 different mammals exist here and tens of thousands of buffalos and zebras roam the park. Other animals easily spotted are elephants, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, several species of antelope and predators like lions and the somehow more elusive leopard. Cheetahs, African wild dogs (only 250) and black rhinos are all present as well, but numbers are more limited.

For more information, also visit the Kruger National Park website.

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Opening Hours

The gates and restcamps have specific opening and closing hours that change with the seasons:

Entrance Gates Open:

  • Oct - Mar : 05h30
  • Apr - Sep: 06h00

Camp Gates Open:

  • Nov - Jan : 04h30
  • Oct and Mar: 05h30
  • Apr - Sep: 06h00

All Gates Close:

  • Nov - Jan : 18h30
  • Oct and Mar: 18h00
  • Apr - Sep: 17h30

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Cost

Daily conservation fees are paid when entering the park gates.
Valid from 1 September 2009 to 31 October 2010:

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):

  • R40 per person, per day

SADC Nationals (with passport):

  • R80 per person, per day
  • R40 per child, per day

Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):

  • R160 per adult, per day
  • R80 per child, per day

Purchasing a Wild Card:
If you are a nature and wildlife enthusiast and you want to visit many parks during your stay, you might consider buying a Wild Card which enables you to unlimited visits of all of the South African National Parks and many others as well, including the Cape parks, Swaziland parks and Kwazulu Natal parks. There are also possibilities to buy 'cluster' cards, for example only the arid parks in the northwest or the parks in Kwazulu-Natal. The card is available for adults/couples/families and is valid for one year after purchasing the card. Especially when you are planning an extensive stay in on of the larger and more expensive parks like Kruger or Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, it pays to get one as a 5-6 day stay is already more expensive when paying the per day rate. Wild Cards can be bought online, but also at the entry gates of all the joining parks as well as the park camps if present.

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Activities

Free activities:-

  • Driving and looking for wildlife on the tarred/gravel roads in one's private car on the extensive road network throughout the park. There is an extensive set of rules regarding driving in the park which visitors will receive when they enter. The three main rules being the 50km/hour speed limit (beware: there are traffic cops hiding behind bushes); visitors to exit park or return to rest camp by sunset and stay out until sunrise; and visitors cannot alight from their vehicles unless they are in a designated area. There are many creautures and rare animal species to be seen and to keep up on the movements of wildlife on the sighting boards at the rest camps reception areas. These sighting boards are updated daily by the rangers and the public.
  • Stopping at the picnic spots and enjoying a breakfast or a braai (SA term for BBQ).
  • Swimming at the rest camps where there are pools: Skukuza, Pretoriuskop, etc.
  • Visit the elephant museum at the Letaba restcamp.

Organised park activities with a service charge:

  • Guided walks: Daily guided morning and afternoon walks are available from most rest camps.
  • Game drives: Sunrise and sunset game drives are available as well as nocturnal game drives. These drives allow you to see nocturnal activity which otherwise is not allowed, unless staying at the exclusive private loadges in the KNP. Animals are most active at sunrise and sunset on their way to watering holes so it's a perfect opportunity for game spotting.
  • Bush braais: A game drive leads you (with a group of people) into an open field where lanterns and a fire has been prepared and you have a braai in the bush.
  • Mountain bike trails: This is only available at Olifants rest camp. They supply you with the mountain bikes, backpacks, water bottles, bicycle helmets and snacks. There is space for a maximum of 6 guest and 2 trained guides join you. The trails are 3 to 4 hours long in the morning or in the afternoon.
  • Golf: There is an unfenced 9 course (18 tee) golf course on the outskits of Skukuza rest camp.
  • Mphongolo backpacking trail: This is a new, primitive Backpacking Trail which starts from Shingwedzi Camp and is conducted in the large wilderness area between the Shingwedzi and Mphongolo rivers. The trail stretches over four days and three nights and guests are expected to provide their own camping equipment and food for the duration of the trail. There are no overnight huts on this trail. There are two trained guides that join you.
  • Wilderness trail: 49% of the surface area of the Kruger National Park is zoned as an official wilderness areas. It is in this wilderness areas that the Kruger National Park conducts wilderness trails - currently there are 7 wilderness trails. The trail stretches over three days and two nights. Guests stay in a primitive, rustic camp - with no electricity, cell phone reception or any other people - and experience the bush on foot. On foot one sees less of the bigger animals and more of the bigger picture. There is a maximum of 8 guests per trail between the ages of 12 - 65 years. There are two trained guides that join you. Note: These trails are booked out for a couple of months in advance, but a well-structured waiting list is in place.

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Getting There

By Car

The park is easily reached from Johannesburg and Pretoria by car, driving east towards Mozambique. The main gates are all located in the south and this area is much more crowded in comparison to the less visited northern parts where wildlife densities don't match the south. All the main rest camps have petrol stations.

By Plane

The closest airport is the Kruger Mpumplanga International Airport (KMIA), situated between Nelspruit (25 kilometres away) and White River. Pelican Air Services flies to Vilanculos in Mozambique, Airlink flies to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Livingstone and Durban, and South African Express flies to Johannesburg.

The next gates are closest to the KMIA:

  • Paul Kruger Gate: 108 kilometres from Nelspruit on R40, 87 kilometres from White River on R40, 41 kilometres from Hazyview on R536
  • Numbi Gate: 31 kilometres from White River on R40, 52 kilometres from Nelspruit on R40
  • Malelane Gate: 64 kilometres from Nelspruit on N4
  • Crocodile Bridge: 125 kilometres from Nelspruit on N4/R571.

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Eat

All the main rest camps have restaurants and shops to buy food and drinks.

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Day visitors

All the main camps have day visitors area. There are a number of picnic spots throughout the park where visitors can stop to rest, use ablusion facilities, prepare food (for a fee visitors can hire gas skottels to prepare food on), etc.

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Sleep

There are a number of different restcamps and two bush lodges inside the Kruger National Park NP that are run by SANParks. Booking is at their website as well. These camps have different accomodation types: camping, huts, bungalows, cottages, etc. The camps in the south are the most easily accessed from Nelspruit.

The main restcamps are:

There are two bush lodges:

There are also exclusive private lodges inside the Kruger National Park. Booking is at their respective websites:

This is the only accomadation available inside the Kruger National Park. All other accomodation advertised will be outsdide the Kruger National Park requiring you to enter and exit the park on a daily basis.

Some of the budget accommodation nearby the Kruger National Park including travellers' ratings include:

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Kruger Inn Backpackers2007 Marloth Park (Kruger Park) P O Box 670, KomatipoortHostel-
Kruger View Lodge for Backpackers61 Bosbok Street KomatipoortHostel88
Lion's Head LodgeRanch 66JU White RiverHostel-
Hhusha Hhusha Guestpackers15 Park Street MalelaneHostel-
Crocodile River Lodge1619 Moddervis street Marloth ParkGuesthouse-

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