Why the Kruger Park...

...well in our humble opinion, there's no other national park quite like the Kruger Park.

From the Baobab-dominated north of the park...

Baobab tree between Punda Maria and Pafuri

...to the central Satara plains and the hills of Berg en Dal in the South, no two camps are alike as the geology and vegetation changes as you drive from one end of the park to the other.

In addition, seven major rivers cross the park from West to East making the Kruger National Park a lush, sub-tropical paradise. This picture shows the Shingwedzi River at the low-level bridge near Bateleur Bushcamp...

Shingwedzi River near Bateleur bushcamp

We have visited many African countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania, yet South Africa's Kruger National Park (KNP) is still our number-1 Big-Five self-drive safari destination.

Yes, the Kruger has its critics as you will read on this page, The Kruger National Park – Magnificent or Mediocre? but most of the negativity is totally unfounded!

Many people spend their annual holidays in the park every year and have done so for the last 30 years or more. Why do they keep coming back?

We often get asked “don’t you get tired of the Kruger Park?”, “isn’t it the same thing year after year?”, “once you’ve seen one leopard why do you want to see another one?” and so forth.

Many authors have tried to put their finger on the one thing that makes the Kruger National Park special or magical but we don’t think there is any one thing.

It’s a combination of the many different animals, from the totally different camps...

• Bateleur

• Berg-en-Dal

• Biyamiti

• Boulders

• Crocodile Bridge

• Letaba

• Lower Sabie

• Mopani

• Olifants

• Orpen

• Pretoriuskop

• Punda Maria

• Roodewal

• Satara

• Shimuwini

• Shingwedzi

• Sirheni

• Skukuza

• Talamati

• Tamboti

(To see maps of the various Kruger camps please click here).

...to the amazing flora, the smell of thatch, the sense of wilderness, the clear unpolluted skies, the good network of roads, and the good service from most SANParks staff.

In addition you have the vastly different landscapes:

• from the baobabs, lala palms and fever trees of Pafuri,

• the Phalaborwa koppies,

• the Olifants rugged-veld,

• the Lebombo Mountain foothills near Nwanetsi,

• the wild date palm wetland plains around Satara,

• the serene and perennial Sabie river,

• Ship Mountain near Pretoriuskop,

• the various Granite koppies south of Skukuza

• to the unique Berg-en-Dal mountain setting.

All of the above is what makes the Kruger a magnet that draws visitors back year after year, and if you asked a dozen people what they like most about the Kruger Park, you'll most probably get a dozen different answers!

The Kruger is also one of the best destinations for nature photographers as it provides excellent wildlife, macro, bird and landscape photo opportunities.

Let's have a brief look at what the Kruger is and what it has to offer:

• The KNP was South Africa's first conservation area, with its roots in the establishment of the Sabie Game Reserve in 1898. Then on 31 May 1926 the National Parks Act was proclaimed and the Sabie and Shingwdzi Game Reserves merged to form what we now know as the Kruger National Park, which celebrated its centenary in 1998. (for those of you who have been regular visitors to the Kruger click here to reminisce about the 'good old days' and to share your old Kruger Park photographs and stories with others)

• It covers nearly 20 000 square kilometers and, stretching north to south for 350km and about 60km west to east, it is larger than Israel. The park also straddles two provinces, namely Limpopo Province in the north and Mpumalanga Province in the south

• The Kruger Park has taken down the fences on its western border so that game can move freely between the park and the many private game reserves outside the park. These private reserves, including the famous Sabi Sand Reserve, now make up what is called the 'Greater Kruger National Park'.

• The Kruger Park is also home to the famous white lions, which have been seen within the park but your best chance of seeing them is to visit the Timbavati Game Reserve. We managed to find and photograph these rare white lions when we stayed at Kambaku Lodge

• Then within the Kruger Park itself there are concessions - areas that have been 'loaned' to companies who have built lodges and can stay for a certain time period. In return they pay SANParks a percentage of their profits. Some of the more popular lodges are:

Pafuri Camp

Lukimbi Safari Lodge

Imbali Safari Lodge

Hamiltons Tented Camp

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge

• In the northern Kruger, for people who are more adventurous there is Pafuri River Camp located on the banks of the Mutale River, just before it joins the Luvuvhu River and just a few minutes drive from the Pafuri park gate.

Then there is Singo Safari Lodge that is located in the Makuya Game Reserve, which borders the northern Kruger Park along the Luvuvhu River. In Makuya there is also Mutale Falls Camp or Awelani Lodge that forms part of the African Ivory Route that offers you accommodation in rustic, out-of-the-way places. We have stayed at most of their lodges and safari camps and highly recommend them!

• In the Central Kruger area there are many lodges and guesthouses near the Phalaborwa, Orpen and Giriyondo Gates. We have stayed at the following: Bushveld Terrace Hotel, Cu Guesthouse, Lalamo Guesthouse, Matimba Lodge, Tingala Lodge, MtomeniBuffelshoek, NdzhakaMakalali Lodge and Machampane.  

• In the southern Kruger, if you prefer a hotel-type environment then the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate is ideal - it has superb food, great service and is just 100 meters from the Paul Kruger Gate. If you prefer a guesthouse or would rather stay in Hazyview, White River, Malelane or Komatipoort then you can look at Casa do Sol, Hotel Numbi, Greenway Woods Resort, Bongani Mountain Lodge or the Stoep Cafe Guesthouse.

• In addition, the KNP now forms part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which includes parts of Mocambique and Zimbabwe

• The KNP is arguably Africa's most visited game reserve with nearly 1.4 million visitors per annum

• The diverse geology and landscapes of the KNP are classified in fifteen ecozones

• There is over 850 kilometers of tarred roads in the Park, 1 444 kilometers of good gravel roads and more than 4 200 kilometers of fire break roads

• There is a variety of accommodation from camping in tents and caravans to budget huts through to more expensive family cottages and the private lodges. There are 12 main rest camps, 5 bushveld Camps, 4 satellite camps and 2 bush lodges in the KNP

• Each main camp has a well-stocked shop, restaurant, and petrol station

• It has the Big-five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. It's estimated that the Sabie River in the Kruger Park has the highest density of leopards in Africa

• It has Africa's Super-Seven: the big-five plus cheetah and wild dog - to read an article we wrote for PhotographyBB Magazine on Photographing Africa's Super-Seven in the Kruger Park please click here

• The Kruger Park also has the Elusive-Eleven: the rare, mainly nocturnal, animals such as genets, caracal and civet.

• It has an awesome species diversity; 507 birds, 336 trees, 147 mammals, 114 reptiles, 49 fish, 34 amphibians and 1982 species of plants

• It is one of the few remaining affordable big-five holiday destinations for the average person

• You have a choice between self-drive or being driven around by a tour guide

• There are many activities; such as night drives, bush walks, 4X4 trails, and wilderness trails.

Wildlife Photography can be a challenge as the bush gets very dense but our hints and tips should ensure you are able to return home with some good photographs!

• Yes, the park does get busy, there is petty crime (like most other parks and game reserves), and some people say that the park can feel like a zoo or circus. Well if you do a bit of research and take a few precautions and follow our advice, all these reservations can disappear and you will have a true wilderness experience, with minimal conjestion at sightings and you will return home with all your posessions!

• To see some of our nature photographs taken in the Kruger park, please visit the Kruger Gallery page and also read our interview with Nigel Dennis a professional wildlife photographer who has published at least half a dozen books just on the Kruger Park and its animals.

• To get a feel for the park please check out our Trip Reports

• And don't forget to purchase or renew your Wild Card! You will save a lot of money on conservation fees, especially if your Kruger safari is more than five or six nights...

Kruger Park Maps

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"Having a passion for the region myself and having had to learn about all the dynamics, waterholes and ideal routes to drive over a period of 6 years - I wish I had this guide on my first trip already!" - Morkel Erasmus, Secunda, South Africa

"Mario and Jenny take you to spots that are not always visited, and their descriptions of the more remote camps will allow you to make an informed decision without wasting time and money" - Bob & Sherry Shepardson, DeBary, Florida, USA

"Your time and money are valuable and the information in this book will help you save both." - Don Stilton, Florida, USA

"I highly recommend the book to anyone visiting Etosha National Park to photograph the animals - or anyone considering an African photography safari in the future." - Anne Darling, Cognac, France

"As a photographer and someone who has visited and taken photographs in the Pilanesberg National Park, I can safely say that with the knowledge gained from this eBook, your experiences and photographs will be much more memorable." - Alastair Stewart, B C, Canada

"This work is so much more than an eBook, because it is also a guide, a tutorial, an inspiration and a must-have for anyone interested in wildlife photography" - Findtripinfo.com, USA