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What to Expect When Visiting the Kruger National Park

Taking up more land than some European countries, the Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s most popular tourism attractions. Welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors each and every year, the Kruger Park is well known for luxury safari drives, world-class African lodge accommodation, and the iconic Big Five. Wondering what to expect should you decide to visit the Kruger National Park on your next visit to the African continent? You’re right where you need to be!

Southern Circle: Kruger National Park Tours - Elephants

Where is the Kruger National Park?

In an informative blog article titled A Brief History of the Kruger National Park, we explore the park’s rich heritage – looking at how it came about and a few key moments in its history as an African wilderness conservation initiative.

The Kruger National Park is situated on the north-eastern border of South Africa, where the rainbow nation joins to neighbouring Mozambique. Covering a total of 19,485 square kilometres, the Kruger Park lies over the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

The nearest towns to the Kruger National Park are Mbombela (Nelspruit) in Mpumalanga and Phalaborwa in the Limpopo province. Visitors travelling from Johannesburg can expect a road trip of just over four hours – depending on the time of year and if roadworks are taking place or not.

*click here to download a map of the Kruger National Park

Southern Circle: Kruger National Park - Zebras

Kruger National Park Attractions

There’s so much to do en-route to and while inside the Kruger National Park that you’ll need three holidays to experience it all! There are two main reasons why people visit the Kruger Park – the wildlife and the uniquely African accommodation. Below are a few key attractions you and your vacation party can enjoy at the Kruger National Park:

Animals in the Kruger Park

One thing all visitors to the Kruger Park do at least once or twice is venturing into the raw African wilderness on driven or walking safaris. While on safari, you can expect to see a true plethora of mammals, reptiles and insects. The main attraction, however, has to be the opportunity to see all five members of the Big Five in their natural habitat.

The Big Five are:

  • Lions
  • Rhinoceros
  • Elephants
  • Leopards
  • Buffalo

*find out more about Africa’s Big Five here

While the Big Five get most of the attention, the Kruger National Park is also home to Africa’s Little Five!

The Little Five are:

  • Antlions
  • Leopard Tortoises
  • Rhino Beetles
  • Buffalo Weavers
  • Elephant Shrews

*find out more about Africa’s Little Five here

If you’re a birding enthusiast visiting South Africa to tick a few African birds off of your ‘birds seen’ list, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised! The Kruger National Park is home to six iconic bird species, commonly known as Africa’s Birding Big Six.

The Birding Big Six are:

  • Martial Eagle
  • Pel’s Fishing Owl
  • Saddle-Bill Stork
  • Kori Bustard
  • Lappet-Faced Vulture
  • Ground Hornbill

*find out more about Africa’s Birding Big Six here

Coming to the Kruger Park in a large group of friends and family? Download this Kruger Park animal checklist PDF and turn your wildlife viewing safaris into a competition! The winning team is the one that can tick off all of the animals on the list first.

Southern Circle: Kruger National Park - Lion

South African National Parks Lodges

The South African government has invested much time and resources into developing the Kruger National Park into the tourist hotspot it is today. There are many SAN Parks lodges situated within the Kruger Park. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Shingwedzi Rest Camp
    Situated in the north-eastern section of the Kruger Park, Shingwedzi Rest Camp is predominantly untouched by technology. A truly rustic African stayover venue where visitors can see elephant, giant eagle owls, African rock pythons, spotted hyena and the illusive green pigeon.
  • Olifants Rest Camp
    Close to the eastern border of the central Kruger Park, Olifants Rest Camp is situated atop a hill that overlooks the vibrant Olifants river (where the camp gets its name). Attractions at Olifants Rest Camp include sightings of elephant, lion, Nile crocodile, Martial eagle and hippopotamus.
  • Satara Rest Camp
    This Kruger National Park camp can be found smack bang in the central region of the park, surrounded by trees that attract much birdlife and the odd fruit bat. Satara Rest Camp is one of the better leopard viewing destinations, with wildlife attractions that include lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest and the cute yet ferocious honey badger.
  • Skukuza Rest Camp
    Found on the banks of the Sabi river, the Skukuza Rest Camp is a birding enthusiast’s dream destination. The lofty trees that surround the camp are home to fruit bats, purple-crested lourie, and the odd thick-tailed bush baby. Other highlights include sightings of spotted hyena and warthog.

Private Kruger Park Lodges

Other than the South African National Parks rest camps, there are a collection of less rustic, luxury private safari lodges situated throughout the Kruger National Park. Some of the more popular private Kruger Park lodges include:

  • Imbali Safari Lodge
    This Kruger Park safari lodge is found in the centre of the 10,000 hectare private Imbali Safari concession. The Imbali Safari Lodge is made up of 12 private suites complete with fine furniture, imported linen, jacuzzis, plunge pools and decks to view the surrounding fauna and flora.
  • Lion Sands Lodge
    Found on the banks of the Sabie river, the Lion Sands Lodge is one of the best spots to view leopards in Africa! The 5,000 hectare concession hosts game drives and walking safaris, and is conveniently situated to allow easy access to most of the Kruger National Park’s historical landmarks.
  • Singita Lebombo Lodge
    If viewing African wildlife in natural habitats is why you’re coming to the Kruger National Park, but you don’t necessarily want to leave the comfort of your room, the Singita Lebombo Lodge is for you! It boasts 13 glass-walled suites suspended over the N-Wanetsi river, with private pools and decks allowing visitors a panoramic view of the best Kruger Park has to offer!

 Southern Circle: Kruger National Park - Buffalo

Kruger National Park Tented Camps

The Kruger Park tented camps offer a more rustic way to experience the Kruger National Park, with communal cooking and ablution facilities. They offer a break from the larger camps that can sometimes be quite busy and loud. It is a more authentic and introspective visit to Kruger. Some tented camps at Kruger Park include:

  • Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
    Scenic panoramic mountain views can be enjoyed from the decks of the Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp’s semi-permanent safari tents. This Kruger Park glamping camp is situated in the deep south of the park, and viewing attractions include wild dog, leopard, scarlet-chested sunbird and Heuglin’s Robin.
  • Tamboti Satellite Camp
    Found on the western edge of the Kruger National Park’s central region, Tamboti Satellite Camp is one of the bigger glamping venues in the Kruger Park. Tamboti trees are scattered throughout the campsite, there’s a bird hide for the avian enthusiasts, and viewing attractions include baboon, black-backed jackal and blue wildebeest.
  • Bateleur Bushveld Camp
    Always wanted to see a bustling African waterhole in the height of summer? Bateleur Bushveld Camp, the oldest and smallest of the Kruger Park camp sites, is found in the north-western section of the park. It boasts a nearby waterhole with a game-viewing hide where you can sit for hours watching the bustling African bushveld close-up.

 

Other Attractions in the Kruger Park Area

While most of the breath-taking activities take place within the borders of the Kruger National Park, there’s a wealth of intriguing things to do and see in the area surrounding the park! Some nearby Kruger Park attractions include:

  • Blyde River Canyon
    Photography nuts will absolutely LOVE the Blyde River Canyon! This stretch of truly breath-taking African landscape is home to God’s Window, possibly the most beautiful place in the world. You can also tour the canyon on foot at the Bourkes Luck Potholes, where swirling pebbles carved holes into the red rock over centuries – leaving natural wonders you’ll want to point your camera at!
  • Hazyview
    Into your extreme sports? Nearby the Kruger Park lies a town where visitors to the area can enjoy quad bikes, river rafting, ziplines, mountain biking, river tubing, and horse riding through Induna Adventures. Take it easy in Hazyview by visiting Sabie Valley Coffee, that has been producing Arabica coffee for over 25 years, or mingle with the locals at the Perrys Bridge Brewery.
  • Phalaborwa
    As one of the nearest towns to the Kruger Park, Phalaborwa offers a few attractions you’ll want to see before bringing your African holiday to a conclusion. Visit the Amarula Lapa, where Africa’s most-loved liqueur is produced, or experience stone-age Africa at the Masorini Village Museum.

Southern Circle: Kruger National Park - Cheetah

Kruger National Park Guided Tours

Southern Circle is a South African booking agent specialising in facilitating truly memorable guided tours of South Africa and many other African nations. Below are a few of our guided Kruger Park tours visitors to the Rainbow Nation can enjoy:

  • THE KRUGER PARK EXPLORER TOUR
    Duration:  4 days
    Starts in:  Johannesburg
    Ends in:  Johannesburg
    Highlights:  Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, Panorama Route, Big Five

*follow this link to find out more about this Kruger Park tour

 

  • KRUGER PARK SAFARIS & VISTAS EXPLORER TOUR
    Duration:  5 days
    Starts in:  Johannesburg
    Ends in:  Johannesburg
    Highlights:  Kruger National Park, Waterberg Mountains, Big Five

*follow this link to find out more about this Kruger Park tour

 

  • THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK EXPLORER TOUR
    Duration:  3 days
    Starts in:  Johannesburg
    Ends in:  Johannesburg
    Highlights:  Kruger National Park, Panorama Route, Big Five

*follow this link to find out more about this Kruger Park tour

 

  • A TASTE OF SOUTH AFRICA TOUR
    Duration:  10 days
    Starts in:  Johannesburg
    Ends in:  Cape Town
    Highlights:  Kruger National Park, Panorama Route, Zululand, Swaziland, Lake St Lucia, Garden Route, Cango Caves, Big Five

*follow this link to find out more about this Kruger Park tour