One of the main attractions of South Africa, the Kruger National Park is famous in the world for the extension and diversity of its flora and fauna. The “Big Five” is all there is: buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinos. A world-class conservation program which also means that you will find wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, as well as large cats of all kinds. This huge territory encompasses a number of geographical areas, with a range of wildlife including the distinctive baobab and the ground floors typical of the “savanna” of South Africa.
Tips for going to Kruger national park in South Africa
– Because of its location and benefits, we loved the Olifants, Satara and Skukuza camps.
– To see big cats, it is best to leave very early in the morning or at sunset.
– Go calmly and with the certainty that you will see many animals and very close.
– If you are very close to elephants, try not to place yourself between a baby and her parents and don’t stop the car.
– If you see animals crossing the road, stop and wait for them to pass. No hurry.
– Deviate from the main roads whenever you can and go to the water reserves. Sooner or later, “someone will come.”
– It’s okay to bring music and so on but, stop and listen to the sound of wild Nature… it’s a pass.
Although it can be visited throughout the year, the high season in the Kruger coincides with summer in South Africa (and the rainy season). That is, from November to February. This means that there will be more people and that everything will be a bit more expensive (especially in December and January). Of course, it is when the Park is full of more life. As the rainy season progresses, the weed grows, and sighting is more difficult. Although the average annual temperature is 25º, in winter (from June to August), the climate is colder and drier.
How do I get to the Kruger?
It all depends on the trip you have in mind and, above all, on time, you plan to be in South Africa. If you have a few days, you can fly daily from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa (PHW), Hoedspruit (HDS) or Nelspruit is known as Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP). They all have connections with Cape Town, in case that is your next stop. We made a road trip through the country of 6,524 kilometers by rental car from Johannesburg. The idea was to travel at our own pace some of the most important places in the country. For this, we use 5 weeks. Although an average of 186.4 km per day, we went at a fairly slow pace.
In any case, we recommend car rental (with air conditioning yes or yes) both to tour the Kruger (it takes 5 hours from Johannesburg to the Kruger), as to do it in other areas of the country. The good thing about going with your own car is (obviously) that you can move freely and not depend on constantly booking excursions.
Before entering the Kruger, touring the Panorama Route is almost mandatory. Spectacular landscapes with more than affordable tickets. You can spend the night in Graskop and the next day (direction Phalaborwa) visit the Pinnacle, the God’s Window, the Rain Forest, the Berlin Falls, the Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Blyde Canyon River.
As it is possible that you do not have 12 days to see the whole Park, it should be noted that the most interesting part of the Kruger is from the middle down so, it is best to enter the Park through the center in Phalaborwa or the south via Malelane or Crocodile Bridge.
I know how to get there, but what do I do when I’m at the door?
Even before flying to South Africa, what you need to do yes or yes is to visit the official website of the National Parks of South Africa (SANPARKS) Here you will find all the necessary information about the Park and the possibility of reserving accommodation (essential if you are leaving In high season). Ideally, trace a route inside the Park and spend two nights in each camp to be able to see different areas calmly.
In case you do not like it or cannot plan so far in advance, you can stand there without reservation, and it is all full, it is possible to enter and leave the Park in the day(more or less 328R per person and day according to season) and sleep in any hostel, guesthouse or lodge near the access doors. Anyway, a very interesting option if you are going to be many days, go as a couple or group and want to visit several parks is to take out the Wild Card.
If you have not booked a full tour and go on your own, at the park entrance access control, you will have to go to the office to formalize the park entrance. In addition to paying, they will make you fill out a form with the details of all the occupants of the vehicle and the vehicle. Look closely because you can see an indicative map of the area and what animals have been seen that day and where.
We advise you to buy the map that is sold in the store of the entrance. In addition to being able to guide you, come the drawings and names of the animals that you will be able to see (and mark as you do), the distances between camps and various tips. After a brief inspection of the vehicle (depending on the door you are in), you can now enter the Park. From there, the adventure begins. The feeling of being in the middle of the natural habitat of so many wild animals is incredible.
For us, going with your own vehicle gives you the freedom to improvise the road and be as long as you want in the place you want. Although specialized tour vehicles are higher, they are usually three seats. It would be a shame to go there and touch you in the middle or that being on one side “punished” is always giving you the sun or you can not take pictures at your leisure on one side and another. In any case, a good combination is to go with your vehicle and book a specialized tour (especially to see the lions). Likewise, we saw practically everything going on our own.
How do I move through the Park?
For safety and respect for animals, it is forbidden to drive at more than 50 km / h which, it is fine to be able to observe everything since if you go very fast, you can “miss” a rhinoceros. It is very important to take this speed into account when calculating the time it may take from one place to another or to reach the exit gate before they close. As you can imagine, it is forbidden to get off the vehicle in areas that are not enabled for it. Well, you could do it but, as they tell you everywhere “under your responsibility.” So, you will see if you want to be part of an animal’s menu or not.
If you make daily visits (you can enter around 06:00) and do not sleep in the Park, keep in mind that the doors close at 18:00. When asked what happens if I don’t have time to leave? The answer is, “they open you, but they put a fine on you as you consider the door.” Don’t take a chance and go ahead.
Surely in more than one moment, you will wonder what happens if I click? Well, to tell you the truth it is very difficult for that to happen since both the main roads and the roads are in very good condition. If it happens and you don’t have coverage to call, take it easy and wait a bit. Surely someone happens to let you know in less than you imagine.
What do I need to bring? What do I do with mosquitoes?
In the main camps, there is everything: restaurants, shop, bathrooms … There you can stop to rest and buy what you need. Anyway, it does not hurt to bring a mosquito repellent (better buy it directly in South Africa). We went in October and, since it wasn’t a rainy season, we didn’t see a mosquito. Although nothing happens for extreme precautions, especially if you go with children:
– In the car, it carries enough water for the trip between camps and tries to control its consumption so that the desire to go to the bathroom does not come at the least inopportune moment.
– It’s also good to bring nuts or something to eat. Always inside the cabin. There is no plan to go down to open the trunk for a sandwich.
– Wear light clothes and long sleeves (if you want, you can spray it with repellent).
– If you are going to apply the repellent directly to the skin, do it minutes after applying the sunscreen.
– Try to avoid being outdoors when the mosquitoes “go hunting” (first thing in the morning and at sunset).
– A good natural repellent is to bring lemons to cut in half and in which to introduce cloves. You can also drop in the suitcase between the clothes from days before.
Okay, but what about malaria?
The risk of malaria is, above all, in the border areas with Mozambique. As we are not doctors, but travelers, we recommend that you go and inform yourself well of what needs to be done at your nearest international vaccination center before going to South Africa. We take the necessary precautions for prevention, but we do not take Malarone (although we do). For many reasons:
– This is prophylaxis that does not prevent you from being bitten by an Anopheles mosquito that carries malaria.
– Whether you are taking it or not, if a mosquito bites you with malaria the treatment is the same: you have to take four Malarone pills in a single dose for three days and thus have enough time to get to the nearest hospital.
– The side effects (headache, numbness, etc.) or side effects (especially in the liver) that this medicine has, we do not like very much.
All very well but … I am going with a child! Is Kruger safe?
We planted there with Koke when he was 10 months old, and nothing happened. What’s more, there were children everywhere. Hallucinate with animals, enjoying the landscapes and feeling Nature in its purest form. We (although for a moment we doubt), we are glad to have gone all three together. And you know what? We will return for sure.