A true heavyweight among Africa’s parks and reserves, the Kruger National Park is roughly the size of Israel or Wales and spans two of South Africa’s provinces. The beauty of the Kruger National Park, apart from its staggering beauty, is that it’s so accessible. Just a few hours drive from Johannesburg, it also has its own international airport for easy connections to Cape Town and Mozambique’s Indian Ocean islands. The Kruger Park offers exceptional Big Five game viewing and accommodation that ranges from camping to luxurious, without being too far off the beaten track.
Why we love the Kruger is that a safari here can be anything you want it to be – a romantic and decadent honeymoon at one of the Park’s legendary private reserves, or thrilling and wild as you go on foot with a guide in Big Five country. You can choose between affordable self-drive safaris for the independent traveler, small group participation safaris, fly-in safaris, for those with less time, and Kruger Park family safaris that are tailored around the needs of children.
Why not combine your Kruger safari with a few days in Cape Town, a beach break in Mozambiqueor an adventure at Victoria Falls? If you can’t find the exact itinerary you’d like in our range of Kruger holidays, simply contact us and one of our safari experts will tailor-make a trip to your budget and specifications.
Where to go in the Kruger National Park
When visiting Kruger you can choose between three distinct types of safaris – government run SANParks camps within the Park, private reserves running along Kruger’s western border, and private concessions contained within the Kruger Park itself.
It all depends on your budget and the kind of safari you are after. If you’re keen on a self-drive safari, are on more of a budget, or enjoy sleeping under canvas in a campsite, staying at one of the SANParks camps is perfect for you. Extremely well managed, with an extensive network of tarred and gravel roads, and great visitor facilities, most South African’s and seasoned safari goers rate the SANParks camps extremely highly.
The private reserves along Kruger’s western border are privately owned and run game reserves, usually grouped into large conglomerates and then divided into individual reserves. These include some of the best and biggest brand names in safari travel such as Sabi Sabi, Thornybush, Londolozi and Mala Mala, and they offer what many consider to be the ultimate African safari.
It’s here that you’ll find astonishingly good accommodation, management and guiding, but you’re also virtually guaranteed of seeing the Big 5. The private reserves are also less restricted in terms of off-road driving, guided nature walks and night drives, and so you will get every opportunity to spot animals, may of which are more habituated to people, which means many up-close encounters.
Similar to the private reserves in the Greater Kruger National Park, the Kruger Park’s private concessions are exclusive-use areas contained within the Park itself. You can expect exceptional game viewing, with a very high standard of guiding and accommodation, and also a chance to explore the heart of the Kruger National Park.
It is also possible to stay outside the Kruger Park and travel around inside the Park on day visits.
When to go to the Kruger National Park
Generally considered a year-round destination, the Kruger National Park has two distinct seasons.
Most visitors to the Kruger National Park come for the wildlife and there’s no question that the dry winter season from May to October is considered the best time to go to Kruger for game viewing, as well as walking safaris. Less vegetation and permanent water sources make animals lower to spot, and day time temperatures are lower.
Mid-winter – June to August – there are few mosquitoes, little if any rain and temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day and refreshingly cool at night. The end-of-winter months of September and October often experience uncomfortably hot and humid conditions, but you will often be rewarded with very high concentrations of animals around permanent water sources – this period is often regarded as the best game-viewing time for a Kruger Park safari.
The summer rains begin from November onwards, peak in January and February and end around April. It’s during this time that the Kruger is transformed into a beautiful, lush green landscape – many a photographer’s dream. During the “green season”, game viewing is still good – with many young antelope born, and predators hot on their heels – and it’s also best time to visit the Kruger for bird watching as well as safari-and-beach holiday combinations.
If you do plan to visit the Kruger Park during the summer months, we would recommend consulting a medical practitioner for advice about malaria. The risk of malaria is low, but the region does lie within the malarial belt.
Download our free South Africa travel guide, for even more info on this iconic destination.