South Africa’s largest national park as well as one of the most sought-after wildlife sanctuaries of the world, the Kruger National Park is rich in an enviable biodiversity that includes the Big Five along with more than hundreds of other animal and bird species. With the Lebombo Mountains in the east, granite hills in the south and forests cover in the north, the Kruger National Park is also bordered by the Limpopo and Crocodile Rivers on its northern and southern flanks, giving rise to wonderful scenic backdrops against the thriving wildlife.
WHAT TO SEE
The park was first protected by the South African Republic government in 1898 and went on to become South Africa’s first national park in 1926. Sprawled over an area of more than 19000 sq km it is currently part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a park that links the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, Limpopo National Park in Mozambique with the Kruger National Park.
Things to do
The Kruger National Park is home to the big five, the lion, elephants, leopard, rhino and buffalo. The other animals that are found here include, the endangered African wild dog, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, bushbuck hippo, nyala, mountain reedbuck, antelope, waterbuck, spotted hyena and more. Kruger is known to have more species of the larger mammals than any other African reserve.
However, it is not only the Big Five but also the little animal species that make their presence felt. Fondly also called the Little five, the smaller animal species include the elephant shrew, buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise, rhino beetle and the antlion.
With more than 500 bird species, Kruger also boasts of the Big Six Birds that are found in the region. These are the martial eagle, lappet-faced vulture, kori bustard, saddle billed stork, ground hornbill and Pel’s fishing owl.
The other animals and reptiles found within the park area include the African rock python, black mamba, crocodiles, bull shark, as well as varied species of butterflies, insects and spiders.
The park also has a history of tribal and ethnic cultures, with the Bushman rock paintings and other archeological sites found not too far away from the reserve main area. The Albasini ruins are the remains of the trading post of the well-known Portuguese trader called Joao Albasini.
The Masorini ruins are 12 km from the Phalaborwa gate and are where the ruins of the mining and smelting industries from ancient times are found. The local BaPhalaborwa people have constructed huts and live along the border of the park. There is also a museum and picnic area near the huts and ruined furnaces.
Thulamela is a large iron gate and a part of the Zimbabwe culture. Besides, one can visit the Letaba Elephant Museum, Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library and the Jock of the Bushveld Route around the park area for more insight into the culture and history of the land.
The Kruger National Park is a popular destination amongst not only hardcore wildlife enthusiasts but also often visited by families, honeymooners and groups who find the fascination of watching the majestic large mammals in their natural habitat appealing and equaling satisfying.
The Kruger is hence for everyone and with its well-developed lodges, modern amenities and readily accessible roads that run within the park area as well, it is most definitely a delight for all types of tourists, including children, families, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.
How to reach
Lying in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga of South Africa, the Kruger National Park is one of the best connected and accessible park s of Africa. It has nine entry gates and hence leaves one with multiple routes and entry options.
Johannesburg is 406km away from Kruger and has a busy international airport. From Johannesburg, the drive to Kruger is well accessible along N4.
However, one can also fly from Johannesburg to the Kruger Mpumalanga International airport that is closer to the southern gate or to Hoedspruit or Phalaborwa to enter the central and northern sections of the park respectively.