Kruger National Park travel guide


Stretching almost 20,000km2 at times Kruger National Park seems like not one park, but many. It would take a full ten hours to drive from north to south and youd pass through vast ecosystems of thorny acacia, dense woodland, open grassland and tropical riverine forest. In fact, it might take even longer; in Kruger, animals have right of way. Its 147 mammal species include the Big Five, of course which can be encountered during game drives as well as on foot and during nighttime safaris. Giraffe, ostrich, crocodile and the rare African wild dog are amongst the many other animals that call the park home along with over 500 birds.
Krugers diversity doesnt stop at its nature; there are accommodations, tours and safaris to suit all tastes and budgets from self-drive campers to indulgent honeymooners, first-time-in-Africa families, or wannabe park rangers. In short, deciding to go on vacation to Kruger is just the starting point this Kruger National Park Travel guide will help you decide when, where and how.

Kruger National Park map & highlights


Gazetted in 1898, Kruger National Park is larger than neighbouring Swaziland. The more south is the most popular region with plenty of lodges, restaurants and campsites; its well suited to families and first time safari-goers. It is a 5-hour drive from Johannesburg, but there are numerous small airports dotted around the parks borders. The remote north offers a greater sense of wilderness; wildlife is more dispersed but youll enjoy fewer visitors and unspoiled landscapes. Krugers accommodation includes everything from DIY self-drive and camping, to comfortable lodges though for a more luxurious vacation, we recommend spending time in a private reserve. Youll share it with few other guests, and be driven around in private vehicles.
Big cats Birds Elephants Private reserves Rhinos Wilderness trails

Big cats

Lions are the stars of many a thrilling safari story regularly bringing down prey just metres from stunned onlookers. The most elusive cat, the leopard is a master of camouflage. It makes it all the more rewarding though when you are able to glimpse one. Cheetahs are common in the park; join a predator conservation programme to learn more about big cats.


Kruger National Parks diverse habitats shelter over 500 species of birds. Around 200 of these are migrants which can be seen here between October and March. Characteristic and charismatic species include the colourful saddle-billed stork, the enormous secretary bird (1.3m tall), kori bustards, Pels fishing owl and a whole rainbow of bee-eaters and sunbirds.


The worlds largest land mammals roam across Kruger in their thousands. Theyre a magnificent sight, from enormous males, weighing over three tons, to playful calves learning how to use their trunks. Be careful when driving near them they are the only animal that can attack while youre in a vehicle. Never separate a herd and keep your engine on for a fast getaway if needed.

Private reserves

Private reserves offer exclusivity and comfort, with lodging, meals and activities all included. You cant self-drive, and you wont get the variety of landscapes but wildlife is free to roam in from the park and you wont be competing with other vehicles for a glimpse. Theyre also better for bush walks and nighttime game drives both are restricted in Kruger.


Kruger is the best place in South Africa to see rhino. The white rhino is surprisingly huge yet docile, while the black rhino is smaller and foul-tempered; making it one of the Big Five due to the difficulty of hunting it. Track them of foot with a qualified guide for an incredible close encounter with some of the worlds most endangered species.

Wilderness trails

Nine specialist multi-day treks have been developed in the park, each with a unique focus such as birds, lions, rhinos or San rock art. The 3-night, 2-day trails are accompanied by expert, licenced guides, and involve sleeping in rustic huts this is a real wilderness experience. Understandably, they are in great demand so book well in advance.

Photo credits: [Top box: Adam Dimmick] [Map intro box: South African Tourism] [Big cats: Stuart Bassil] [Rhinos: Chris Eason] [Elephants: Chris Eason] [Birds: Abspires40] [Private reserves: Chris Eason] [Wilderness trails: Chris Eason]
Written by Vicki Brown
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