In terms of wildlife alone, Kruger is one of the world's greatest national parks. The diversity, density and sheer numbers of animals is almost unparalleled, and all of Africa's iconic safari species – elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and zebra – live out their dramatic days here, along with a supporting cast of 137 other mammal species and more than 500 varieties of bird.
The landscape is on a grand scale, stretching over 19,485 sq km, and though less in your face than the wildlife, it certainly has the power to charm. Beautiful granite kopjes (hills) pepper the bushveld in the south, the Lebombo Mountains rise from the savannah in the east and tropical forests cut across the far north. But what makes Kruger truly special is the access and opportunities it provides the visitor. A vast network of roads is there to explore on your own (incredibly), guided wildlife activities are everywhere and accommodation is both plentiful and great value.
Yes, Kruger can sometimes become crowded. And yes, you may have to wait in line to see those lions. But that's because the vast network of roads makes Kruger one of Africa's most accessible parks (explore on your own or take one of the plentiful guided wildlife activities) and accommodation is both plentiful and great value. If you think the crowds may overwhelm, consider the private reserves that surround the national park. Among these is Sabi Sand, one of Africa's finest.
BEST TIME TO VISIT KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
The best time to visit Kruger National Park is at the beginning or end of the region's dry season, which falls between April and September. During Kruger's dry season, temperatures are mostly pleasant (with nighttime temps dipping into the high 40s and daytime temps occasionally reaching into the mid-80s). What's more, vegetation is sparse and water levels are low due to the lack of rain, meaning visitors will have a better chance of spotting animals. However, extreme dry seasons can also result in increased animal deaths, so it's best to avoid visiting in July, August and September, the season's driest months. And in the rainy season (from October to March), abundant rainstorms and foliage can make it difficult to see animals.
October-March - As its name implies, Kruger's rainy season is filled with subtropical rainstorms. Though the park's landscape will be beautiful to photograph at this time, more foliage and poor visibility from the rain will make it harder to see animals. Plus, mosquitoes are more prevalent during wet periods, and many safari vehicles are open to the elements, so bush walks and game drives can be a bit uncomfortable in the rain. Daytime temperatures in the rainy season average in the mid-80s to low 90s, while evening temps will fall into the low to high 60s.
April-September - The early and late months in Kruger's dry season offer ample opportunities to spot animals. Limited water and vegetation result in fewer viewing obstructions, and animals will typically congregate around what little water can be found in the park. The season's middle months are also great for game viewing, as long as the area does not have an uncharacteristically dry year. Rain showers are few and far between, so plan on leaving your umbrella at home. Mosquitoes won't be as much of a nuisance during the day, but travelers should still wear insect repellent with DEET as a precaution. Average highs will sit comfortably between the high 70s and mid-80s, with cooler temps in the high 40s to low 60s coming at night.
GETTING TO KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
There are several ways of getting to Kruger National Park. Journeys usually begin (and end) in Johannesburg or Cape Town. However, the most convenient option typically involves a direct flight from Kruger Mpumulanga International Airport to Livingstone Airport, meaning you won't have to overnight in Johannesburg.
Fly Directly to Your Safari Lodge
Daily flights operate between Johannesburg and many of the private lodges surrounding the Kruger. This is the easiest and most convenient way to travel to the park. The flights take about 90 minutes and deliver you to the nearest airstrip of the lodge you are travelling to. A representative or ranger from your lodge will meet you at the airstrip and transfer you by game drive vehicle directly to your lodge.
Fly To Hoedspruit/Eastgate (HDS) or Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA/MQP) (Fractionally less expensive)
Several daily flights operate from Johannesburg to HDS or KMIA/MQP in the Kruger Surrounds and Panorama Route area. There is one flight daily from Cape Town direct to either HDS or KMIA/MQP. From these airports you can be transferred either by escorted road transfer (2/3 hours each way) or by charter flight (approx 25mins). If you are staying in the Sabi Sand Region, the most suitable airport would be KMIA/MQP and if you are staying further north, for example in the Timbavati Game Reserve, then HDS is the best option. Your consultant will be able to advise you further.
Self Drive (Least expensive but most time consuming)
Self driving to the Kruger Park is a feasible option for those on a budget. The Kruger is about a six-hour drive from Johannesburg. The road is tarred and well maintained with clean service stations along the way. Fuel is never a problem in South Africa, and easy-to-follow maps are available with all car rentals. Why not split your time between the Kruger and the Kruger Surrounds and Panorama Route? The Kruger surrounds is famous for God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon and Bourkes Luck Potholes. Mpumalanga is also home to some of South Africa's most spectacular scenery, including waterfalls and mountain passes.
GETTING AROUND KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to get around Kruger National Park is to book a safari tour. Safari guides know the park's roads and game-viewing areas well, so you won't have to worry about getting lost while trying to spot animals. Many safari packages also cover food, lodging, game drives and transportation to and from a regional airstrip or Johannesburg. If you'd rather avoid a group tour, you can rent a car at most of Kruger's airports and Skukuza rest camp. Car hires are also available from Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), but you'll have to drive 244 miles (or about four hours) to reach the park. A faster (albeit pricier) option is to fly into Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP), Hoedspruit Airport (HDS), Hendrik Van Eck Airport (PHW) or Skukuza Airport (SZK) from O.R. Tambo.
Safari - Safari tours offer a convenient way to get around Kruger without blowing your budget. Guides can provide a wealth of information about local flora and fauna while navigating the park's roads, meaning you can focus all your energy on searching for wildlife. Safaris generally span several days and include one or two game drives on each day of your trip. Plus, most safari rates – which vary by company – cover accommodations, airport transfers, park entrance fees and some or all meals. The majority of local safari operators offer group tours, but pricier options, such as Moriti Private Safaris, provide private, customizable tours.
Car - Driving around Kruger is not recommended. Poorly marked roads can be confusing to navigate, and fuel stations are only offered at main rest camps. However, travelers will have the flexibility of choosing their own start and stop times for park drives. To navigate Kruger's roads, consult maps like those found on the park's website and Siyabona Africa's website. Most major car rental companies have kiosks at O.R. Tambo and Kruger Mpumalanga, while Skukuza, Hoedspruit and Hendrik Van Eck only offer car hires from Avis or Bidvest Car Rental. On average, standard car rentals cost $12 to $20 per day. Note: An international driver's permit is required to drive in South Africa. Applications for international driver's permits are available on DMV.org's website and AAA's website.
Plane - The fastest way to get to and from Kruger is to fly into one of four airstrips located in or just outside of the park's perimeter. All regional airports offer direct flights every day to and from Johannesburg. On average, round-trip tickets between O.R. Tambo and Skukuza, Hoedspruit, Hendrik Van Eck or Kruger Mpumalanga cost approximately $100 to $400 per person. Kruger Mpumalanga has the most daily flights of any regional airport, while Skukuza is the only airstrip situated within Kruger's gates. Every flight is operated by South African Airways' partner Airlink and lasts less than an hour.
WHERE TO STAY IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
Set in Hoedspruit, 18 km from Kinyonga Reptile Centre, Ukuthula Bush Lodge offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar. 44 km from Lissataba Private Game Reserve and 19 km from Otters Den Ballooning, the property provides a shared lounge and a garden. The air-conditioned rooms provide a garden view and come with a wardrobe and free WiFi. At the hotel, all rooms include a patio with a mountain view. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower, a hairdryer and free toiletries. A continental breakfast is available every morning at Ukuthula Bush Lodge. The accommodation offers a sun terrace. Guests at Ukuthula Bush Lodge will be able to enjoy activities in and around Hoedspruit, like hiking. Waterhole/Pan is 19 km from the hotel, while Jessica the Hippo is 20 km from the property. The nearest airport is Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport, 14 km from Ukuthula Bush Lodge.
Set in Malelane, 11 km from Malelane Gate, Riverview Inn offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a garden. Each accommodation at the 4-star hotel has river views, and guests can enjoy access to a sun terrace. The air-conditioned rooms provide pool view and come with a wardrobe and free WiFi. At the hotel, every room includes a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. At Riverview Inn, the rooms come with a seating area. The nearest airport is Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, 61 km from the accommodation.
Situated within the Greater Kruger National Park, Lions Place is located in Grietjie Private Nature Reserve. It offers a viewing tower and upper deck area to enjoy the bush view and spot game that comes to drink at the waterhole in front of the lodge. The tastefully decorated rooms offer tea-and-coffee making facilities, air conditioning and safety deposit box. The bathrooms are fitted with a shower. Guests can relax on sun loungers by the pool. The game drives are offered at an additional charge and are hosted by guides in either English or French. The nearest airport is Phalaborwa Airport, 21 km from Lions Place.
Set in Nelspruit, 8 km from Mbombela Stadium, Sheppard Boutique Guest House offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. Each accommodation at the 4-star hotel has garden views, and guests can enjoy access to a garden and to a terrace. The accommodation features a concierge service and free WiFi throughout the property. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel all rooms include a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Guests at Sheppard Boutique Guest House can enjoy a continental or a buffet breakfast. I'Langa Mall is 5 km from the accommodation, while Nelspruit Nature Reserve is 5 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kruger Mpumalanga International, 27 km from Sheppard Boutique Guest House, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
Bushveld Terrace - Hotel on Kruger is situated 290 m from the Kruger National Park’s Phalaborwa Gate. The hotel features an outdoor pool, a restaurant and a sun terrace. Decorated in natural colours, the elegant rooms at Bushveld Terrace come complete with a flat-screen satellite TV, desk, small refrigerator and tea-and-coffee-making facilities. Each unit offers an en suite bathroom and some include a seating area. The hotel’s restaurant serves breakfast daily, and has an à la carte and buffet menu. Packed lunches can be arranged upon request. Free WiFi is available and facilities offered include a children's playground. Guests can explore the Kruger National Park that boasts an array of wildlife. Activities in the surrounding area include golfing and hiking. The hotel is within 3 km from the Phalaborwa Airport and 4 km from the Hans Merensky Golf Estate. Airport transfers to and from the hotel can be arranged upon advance request.
This unique boutique hotel offers elegant rooms with a patio in a scenic setting with native trees and savannah landscape. Perry's Bridge Hollow includes several restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool and shops on-site. Guests can book trips and activities at the tour desk. The air-conditioned rooms at Perry's Bridge Hollow Boutique Hotel include satellite TV, a refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities. They each have a bathroom with a shower and an extra outdoor shower is available on the patio. Perry's Bridge is only a 15-minute drive from the Kruger National Park. The famous Panorama Route is 40 minutes away by car. Free private parking is available on site. Guests can relax with a cocktail at Kuka Restaurant & Cocktail bar or enjoy a pizza at Pappa’s Pizzeria. The Perry’s Bridge Trading Post & Corner store includes a delicatessen, beauty salon and home décor store.
Located 68 km from the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park, Moya Safari Villa features accommodation, a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a garden and a bar. There is a private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer in each unit, along with free toiletries. A terrace can be found at Moya Safari Villa, along with a shared lounge. Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is 25 km from the lodge,while Jessica the Hippo is 19 km from the property. The nearest airport is Hoedspruit Eastgate, 14 km from Moya Safari Villa, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
Situated within the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Ivory Wilderness River Rock Lodge features a viewing deck, lounge and splash pool overlooking the Klaserie River. The thatched accommodation at Ivory Wilderness is equipped with a wardrobe, bedside lamps, mosquito nets and an en suite bathroom with a bath and a shower. They all offer either river or pool views. All meals are included in the rates at Ivory Wilderness River Rock Lodge. Ivory Wilderness River Rock lodge specialises in guided walking safaris and game drives. The lodge also provides free WiFi, an ironing service, as well as business facilities like fax and photocopying. Eastgate Airport is 80 km from the lodge.
Situated in Hoedspruit, within 22 km of Kinyonga Reptile Centre and 47 km of Lissataba Private Game Reserve, Rafiki Bush Lodge provides accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool and a garden, and free WiFi. Among the various facilities are a terrace, a shared lounge, as well as a bar. The property is 24 km from Jessica the Hippo and 49 km from Blyderivierpoort Dam. The units at the hotel come with a seating area. Rafiki Bush Lodge offers some rooms with mountain views, and each room includes a patio. The rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at Rafiki Bush Lodge. Speaking Afrikaans, English and Spanish, staff at the reception can help you plan your stay. Leading Edge Flight School is 7 km away and the nearest airport is Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport, 19 km from the property.
Vuyani Tented Camp features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and bar in Hoedspruit. Featuring a shared lounge, the 5-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. The rooms at the hotel are equipped with a seating area. All units will provide guests with a desk and a kettle. Guests at Vuyani Tented Camp can enjoy a buffet or a à la carte breakfast. The accommodation offers a barbecue. Kinyonga Reptile Centre is 32 km from Vuyani Tented Camp, while Jessica the Hippo is 34 km away. The nearest airport is Hoedspruit Eastgate, 28 km from the hotel, and the property offers a free airport shuttle service.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
Located in the north-eastern corner of South Africa, Kruger Park covers an area of 2 million hectares. Added to that is Greater Kruger, 180 000 hectares of protected wilderness which lies on the Park’s western boundary. Combined, the Kruger region is the largest and one of the finest safari destinations in southern Africa.
If you’re planning a safari holiday in South Africa, you might be wondering whether you should stay in Kruger National Park itself or at one of the private reserves that lie adjacent to the national park. Turisti-Info will help you decide by clearing up the difference between the two wilderness regions and tips on where to stay depending on what interests you and your family or friends.
Within the borders of the large Sabi Sand Game Reserve are some of Southern Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges and the best wildlife watching on the continent. The area is routinely selected by safari connoisseurs as their destination of choice. As there’s no fencing between the various private lodges within the greater Sabi Sand area, all share the same wealth of birds and animals, but they're all far enough apart that no-one gets in each other's way.
With four luxury lodges and the Big Five in residence (as well as occasional passing wild dogs and great birding), 13,000-hectare Kapama gets all of the important things right. Unlike most other private reserves, which constitute a patchwork of privately owned landholdings, Kapama is unusual in that it's the preserve of just one family, who have added to the reserve over the years since its establishment in 1986. The family also runs the Centre for Endangered Species on the reserve's southern boundary.
Timbavati abuts Kruger National Park's western boundary and has an excellent mix of wildlife, conservation and good accommodation. Its accommodation settings are less sumptuous than those at Sabi Sand, so it tends to be more reasonably priced, without forgoing too many amenities. The reserve was once known for its population of white lions. Far more reliably, we saw the Big Five on a single game drive.
About halfway between the rest camps at Satara and Skukuza, or between Lower Sabie and Satara, Tshokwane has been transformed from an attractive picnic spot into a genuine stopover as you move between central and southern Kruger. The restaurant serves light meals, such as wors roll or kudu wors, jaffles and homemade pies, as well as other sausages off the braai and salads.
On the outskirts of a beautiful fever-tree forest, Crooks Corner marks not only the confluence of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers but also the historic meeting place of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and smugglers (it's all in the name). It's more for the scenery and geopolitical interest than for wildlife.
Even if you're not staying at Letaba Rest Camp, it's worth swinging by to check out this excellent museum. It has life-size skeletons and dozens of fascinating displays and information panels on everything from Kruger's big tuskers to the place of elephants in world and Kruger history.
This overlooks a section of the Timbavati River that animals often visit to slake their thirst. It's especially good early morning or late afternoon.
This waterhole north of Berg-en-dal usually lives up to its name (renoster is rhino in Afrikaans). Late afternoon is best.
A 600-sq-km (or 60,000 hectare) private wildlife reserve in the greater Kruger area, Klaserie has strong conservation credentials.
This large water hole is where the famous YouTube video 'Battle at Kruger' (lions versus buffaloes versus croc) was filmed.
During the apartheid era, the 23,000-hectare Manyeleti was the only wildlife reserve that blacks were permitted to visit. Due to its unfenced boundary with Kruger there is no shortage of animals here (including the Big Five), but you may have to look a littler harder than in Sabi Sand or Timbavati as there's less water. As compensation, prices are much lower here, and the birdwatching, with 300 recorded species, is excellent.
This 13,816-hectare reserve is a collaboration between 12 lodges (the number keeps going up every year), with a focus on high-end comforts and excellent game drives. As with all of the private reserves, it's big on conservation and community projects. All of the lodges can be contacted through the Thornybush website.
One of Kruger's designated picnic spots. Between Skukuza and Lower Sabie. It's in a wildlife-rich area (elephants in particular love the riverbed when it's dry), so get out your binoculars and keep your wits about you.
Near the Luvuvhu River, this is one of Kruger's picnic areas; visitors can alight from their vehicles here. Birdlife is particularly prolific up here in the north, so have binoculars and your field guide at the ready.
One of Kruger's designated picnic spots. North of Lower Sabie, which means it can get crowded in peak season. Given how prolific wildlife is in the area, scan the surrounding area before getting out of your vehicle.
Set atop a rare ridge not far from the Tshokwane stop and restaurant, Nkumbe offers a vast view over the western savannah. The views are glorious. Watch for rhinos on the plains down below.
This dam on the Letaba River along the S62 is worth a visit. Waterbucks and lions are regularly sighted here, and en route you may pass elephants, buffaloes and steenboks.
One of Kruger's designated picnic spots. Between Shingwedzi and Punda Maria, in the park's far north. There's excellent birdwatching in the vicinity.
On the doorstep of Lower Sabie, the dam is often alive with birdlife, hippos, crocs and more. Given its proximity to the rest camp, it can get busy.
One of Kruger's designated picnic spots. Northwest of Satara. Have a late lunch here as a prelude to a loop along the S127 and S39.
This has become a very popular activity in the Kruger National Park, mostly due to the hugely diverse selection of birds. Birds are in abundance throughout the park but the Northern area of the park is particularly favoured. Some of the birds that are found here can be seen nowhere else in Southern Africa. The Kruger National Park currently has eleven bird hides to choose from and over 226 different species of birds have been sited.
The Kruger National Park sports four courses for you to try your hand at. The Sabie River golf course, the Leopard Creek golf course, Skukuza and the Hans Merensky golf course. As the Park enjoys a sub-tropical climate, golf is best played in the cooler months of winter. This is a great opportunity to get up and close with wildlife, while enjoying 18 holes
Swapping four wheels for two may be a wise choice. The most prestigious trails can be found at Olifants Camp where you will be supplied with all the equipment you need. Different trails are available depending on your skill and fitness level.
You will be collected at your Lodge between 5:30 & 06:00 am (Only Lodges in Hazyview Hotels and Lodges, Perry’s Bridge outpost). Guests will enter the Kruger National Park just as the gates open. The guide will explore various watering holes and lookout points throughout the morning to increase the amount and variety of animals guests can encounter
Nothing will put you in the heart of an African adventure quite like walking in The Kruger National Park.You will walk with experienced guides. The aim of the walk is to learn and appreciate the intricate details of the nature surrounding you. Once your senses have been activated, you will be able to tune into all the sights, sounds and smells that one often does not get to experience in a vehicle.
We collect our guests very early from their lodges in the Hazyview and at the well-known Perry’s Bridge Trading Post & Tourism Centre. We can also provide private tours for guests staying in Skukuza, Pretoriuskop, outside of Hazyview, White River and Nelspruit (Mbombela). Our custom built open safari vehicles affords all guests great comfort and the optimal view of animals, especially the Big 5!
WHERE TO EAT IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
DIY bush dining at its best, with great wildlife watching nearby. One of Kruger's designated picnic spots. Northwest of Satara. Have a late lunch here as a prelude to a loop along the S127 and S39.
Picnic-area, turned open-air cafe with above-average variety.
Mugg & Bean inhabits a deck looking out over the water.
Easily the best views of any of the rest-camp restaurants.
Dine under the stars as the resident bushbuck grazes nearby
Great food in an exclusive setting.
Travellers should be up to date for routine childhood vaccines such as tetanus, measles and hepatitis B. Any of the following vaccines may also be recommended – hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies, influenza. Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.