Male lions in front of Jock Safari Lodge

Kruger National Park offers the most incredible safari holidays with the ‘Big 5’ (Buffalo, leopard, lion, rhino, and elephant) in South Africa.

This area is over 2 million hectares in size and is one of the greatest game reserves in the world. Home to a large variety of wildlife; including the ‘Big 5’. There is an impressive number of species: 147 mammals, 507 birds, 114 reptiles, 34 amphibians, 49 fish, and 336 tree species!

Leopard on game drive in Kruger National Park
Leopard on a game drive in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park falls into two provinces; Mpumalanga and Limpopo and also borders Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland). The park is 350km (about 220miles) from North to South; so it is impossible to see it all in one visit. There are many packages for 3 days or more; which will enable you to experience the best the park has to offer in a short amount of time.

Is it safe for children?

As long as all visitors to the park follow the rules; stay in vehicles during drives and respect the animals; a visit to the bush is no more dangerous than any other vacation. Some lodges may have age restrictions in place; please check when you make a booking.

Best time to visit Kruger National Park

The winter months between May to September offer excellent game viewing with a lower risk of malaria. In winter; before the rains; the animals have to find water and therefore; you are bound to find wildlife at the watering holes and rivers; that still have water. Daytime temperatures are warm and at night it can be a little chilly. The ideal time for tracking or a walking safari is during winter when it’s cooler in the middle of the day. Best game viewing, as animals gather around waterholes and are easier to spot in the thinned-out bush.

Summertime (October to April) can be very hot so it is advisable to stay in air-conditioned accommodation. The rains make the area lush and green with newborn animals, prolific birdlife, and a variety of flowers. Summer is the best time for a photographic safari as landscapes are greener and watering holes fuller. Although offered year-round, night drives in Kruger are ideal during the summer months when evenings are warmer. Birding is also better at this time of year as the migrant birds return. The best time to view baby animals in the bush is during summer; usually at the start of the rainy season.

Since malaria occurs in the region (particularly in the summer months); visitors are advised to take prophylactics.

Getting to Kruger National Park

The Park is easily accessible and has a good network of well-maintained roads. Consequently; it is ideal for self-drive safaris. Else; you can either connect to a road transfer or it is a short flight from Johannesburg. If you are traveling to Kruger National Park from Cape Town; there are scheduled flights to Nelspruit, Hoedspruit, or Skukuza; depending on where you are staying. From there; transfers to your lodges are arranged, or you can collect your rental car.

Where to stay in the Kruger National Park

Accommodation in the Greater Kruger National Park area varies substantially, but here is a very broad and basic explanation:
There are very basic fenced camps; inside the reserve; with accommodation ranging from camping with shared facilities; to guest houses. Prices are more reasonable than the ‘Private Camps’; but then you usually have to add on the costs of game drives, meals, etc. These are really only suitable for self-drive guests.
Entry-level game lodges provide accommodation and usually most of your meals, but your activities are extra. These are not as personalized as the luxury game lodges and are often not inside the park.
The luxury private game lodges are usually inclusive of meals, drinks and game drives so, therefore; are more costly; but you get the best experience as far as game viewing, staff and service, and a much more personalized safari vacation.

Packages on offer vary; not only in the experience provided by each camp; but also in the activities available and what is included.

Kruger National Park walking safari at Pafuri
Kruger National Park walking safari at Pafuri

Walking safaris are also offered at some of the lodges. This is great to see big and small animals that you can’t see on game drives.

Private Game Reserves and Concessions

The Greater Kruger National Park area includes several private game reserves/concessions. The most popular are:

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

The Sabi Sand region offers some of the finest game viewings; with excellent lodges. We have a page dedicated to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve as it is so popular and exclusive.

Timbavati Game Reserve

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is another one of South Africa’s prime safari destinations. It comprises 53 392 hectares of private land; adjoining the Kruger National Park (unfenced). Consequently; this allows the animals free-roaming between each park, and ensures guests to the area the opportunity to view the greatest diversity of wildlife; including the “Big Five” that South Africa has to offer.

The Timbavati comprises various smaller private game reserves; including Motswari Game Reserve, Ngala Game Reserve (Ngala Safari Lodge and Ngala Tented Camp), Tanda Tula Game Reserve, and Umlani Game Reserve.

The Famous Timbavati White Lions

When the White Lions of the Timbavati were discovered; they became the subject of much interest and debate. Many people were and still are; of the opinion that the lions are a different species; or albino. The truth is that this is a natural phenomenon. It occurs due to a recessive gene for white lions. It only expresses itself if this gene is inherited from both parents; hence why white lions are so rare.

Other private reserves in the Greater Kruger National Park include Manyeleti Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Kapama Private Game Reserve, Balule, and Klaserie.

Hyena with a kill on Skukuza Golf Course
Hyena with a kill on Skukuza Golf Course

Also in this area is the Panorama Route; known for its quaint towns, waterfalls, and stunning vistas. There are also golf courses in and around the park; including Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane and Skukuza Golf Course. Wildlife frequently visits these courses.