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Kruger National Park

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Editorial Note: The vast Kruger National Park stretches across two of South Africa’s Provinces: Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

An Overview of the Kruger Park

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Choice of Accommodation
Choosing the Season
Making Your Booking
Getting There
Getting In
What to See and Do
Safari Dining
Keeping You Safe


Map of Kruger NP © 2011 and All Rights Reserved
See larger version of Kruger NP map.


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Choosing the Season

Summer (December – Feb) Mornings are cool but getting very hot by 09h00 and sweltering by 13h00 then cooling down a little at night.

Autumn / Fall (March – May) In March the days tend to still be hot but by April the days are getting cooler with cool evenings – very pleasant time of the year but the grass is still high in most areas.

Winter (June – August) during the day it warms up but night time and early mornings can get very cold.

Spring (September – November) Days can be warm to hot with cool evenings – the best time for us to be in the bush as the grass is the shortest!

But again this is just a rough guide because we have had unusually cold weather in the Kruger over December which is South Africa's hot month.

Once you know which season you will be travelling in you can decide what clothing to pack. We do suggest that you pack light as you can always wash some cloths when you are there.

Making Your Booking

Bookings are essential as the camps get extremely busy, especially over the key holiday periods such as Easter, the summer holidays and Christmas. You will need to book your accommodation 11 months in advance, especially if you want to reserve specific bungalows in the camps.

Generally you make your booking by phoning central reservations to find out what accommodation is available and the prices, but you can also check online before you phone. You are able to search up to eleven months ahead and you can see what types of units are available at each camp.

Now that you have decided on your accommodation and chosen your camps and bungalows , go to SANParks reservations to start the booking process. You can make an online booking – which is a nice service for after-hours but we prefer phoning because you are able to change your booking within the next 30 days with no penalties payable. After you have paid your deposit you can still make changes at no extra cost, providing you are adding to the booking.

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Getting There

There are three airports with commercial scheduled flights near Kruger National Park:

 or you can fly to Johannesburg, hire a car and then drive to the Kruger

Traveling by Road
The distance from Johannesburg to the 9 different gates of the KNP are as follows:

The southern Section of Kruger…
• Crocodile Bridge Gate is 463 km
• Malelane Gate is 426 km
• Numbi Gate 411 km
• Phabeni Gate 430 km
• Kruger Gate 470 km

Malelane Gate, Kruger National Park

Malelane gate, Kruger National Park

Central Section…
• Orpen Gate is 490 km
• Phalaborwa Gate is 490 km

Northern Section…
• Punda Maria Gate is 550 km
• Pafuri Gate is 600 km

 If you are an international visitor you will then need to hire a vehicle, if doing a self-drive safari, and there are many care hire companies to choose from.

Getting In

There is a daily entrance/conservation fee payable. This charge is per person and per vehicle. The prices vary between locals and foreign visitors and the fees go up every year like the accommodation costs that increase once a year.

To save money on these daily conservation fees buy a Wild Card. This card can be used in the Kruger and Kgalagadi plus a number of other parks in South Africa that are part of or affiliated to SANParks.  Your Wild Card is valid for a year and is excellent value for money if you are spending more than 5 or 6 days in the park.
To find out more and get the latest pricing please visit either the WildCard or SANParks websites.

 Check in times
The Kruger Park camp check-in time is 14h00 and the check-out time is 10h00. Please make sure you have all your booking forms and payment confirmation papers with you when checking in, in case of computer problems.

 Gate opening and closing times

The Kruger Park entry and camp gates are open from sunrise to sunset. The entry gate and camp gates opening and closing times are as follows:
Kruger Gate Owls

November to January - Open 4h30 (camp gate) and 5h30 (park entry gate), both close 18h30

February - Open 5h30, close 18h30

March - Open 5h30, close 18h00

April - Open 6h00, close 18h00

May - July - Open 6h00, close 17h30

August - September - Open 6h00, close 18h00

October - Open 5h30, close 18h00

November to January is the Kruger's busiest period hence the camp gates open an hour before the park gates to give residents time to get to their destinations without having to contend with day visitors on the roads. Each camp has a set of wooden owls that will show these times

Left: Gate Owls, Kruger Park

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What to See and Do

Nature Photography

If you are a Wildlife Photographer what can you expect to photograph in the Kruger...

Because the Kruger National Park has dense vegetation you may not find animals as quickly as you will in the more open parks of Etosha, Serengeti and Kgalagadi. For this reason we suggest you stay for a longer period.

The Kruger is over 350 kilometers (220 miles) long from north to south and the diverse geology and landscapes of the park make up fifteen different ecozones! The main camps and bushveld camps are situated in these different ecozones so some camps will be more suited to certain animals than others.

Leopard photographed within the Game ReserveIf you are looking for the Big-5 animals or Super-seven, your best chance of finding and photographing them all will be in the south of the park. If you are looking for the rare roan or eland then the north will be the best.

Some people say that the winter months are the best time for wildlife photography but we have had good sightings all through the year! There are so many animals in the Kruger, of which the majority are habituated to vehicles, that any month can be a good month for game viewing. The big plus for winter is that the grass will be shorter and the bush a bit thinner.

The south can get very busy so it may be better for you to drive along the dirt roads and if you do see a subject you will be able to spend more time photographing it before 'the mob' arrives.

And of course don't forget you can get some great photographs from within the camps! We have photographed vervet monkeys, baboons, squirrels, mongoose, genet, civet, bush babies and many of the Elusive-eleven animals from the comfort of our bungalows.

Right: A leopard photographed within Kruger Park

In addition we have photographed the big-five from inside the camps - camps like Olifants, Lower Sabie and Skukuza provide good vantage points to see the animals coming down to the rivers to drink and hunt.

If you are a Macro Photographer what can you expect to photograph in the Kruger...

In summer (December - April) the Kruger is a macro photographer's paradise!

There are millions of insects, many of which come to your bungalow at night because they are attracted to the lights. In addition some camps, like Punda Maria, Berg en Dal, Mopani and Pretoriuskop have walks that you can go on inside the camp perimeter to look for insects.

Alternatively just walk slowly around any camp or picnic site examining the trees, bushes and bungalows - you will find hundreds of wild flowers and insects to photograph!

Impala Lily at Shingwedzi Camp

Impala Lily, Shingwedzi Camp

If you are a Bird Photographer what can you expect to photograph in the Kruger...

Birding is good throughout the Kruger but the south and far north tend to be the most productive bird photography areas. One of the best-known birding spots in the north is the Pafuri picnic site where you could find a whole lot of 'specials'.

These specials should be looked for all along the Levhuvhu river and not just at the picnic site. This Pafuri area has such good bird specials because it is close to the Mozambique coast and the Limpopo River, which acts as a migration corridor for birds that are normally found further north and east.

The bridge over the Levhuvhu River can be particularly rewarding with sightings of the rare Pel's Fishing Owl. You are allowed to get out your vehicle on the Levhuvhu, Letaba and Olifants bridges.

Olifants River Bridge, Kruger Park

Olifants River Bridge

There are eleven bird hides located throughout the park of which we have found Lake Panic hide near Skukuza and Sweni hide near Satara to provide the best bird photography opportunities.

Sweni Hide

Sweni Hide near Satara, Kruger National Park

All the main camps and bushveld camps are excellent for birding - some cottages have bird baths in front of them that attract many different birds, while at night you should look for the resident owls and nightjars!

Martial Eagle photographed at Olifants Camp, Kruger NP

A Martial Eagle photographed at the Park's Olifants Camp

If you are a Landscape Photographer what can you expect to photograph in the Kruger...

There are many high view-points such as Nkumbe, Tshanga, Grano Kop, Bobbejaan Krans and some picnic sites. Some camps provide excellent scenery potential as they are situated high on a hill, like Olifants or because they are next to a river such as camps like Skukuza, Shimuwini and Lower Sabie.

In addition you should look out for trees that you can photograph against the rising or setting sun while out on your game drive and for the wild flowers that carpet some waterholes after good summer rains.

Some camps provide better star trail photography opportunities than others. Crocodile Bridge and Berg en Dal are too close to civilization so you have lights from Komatiepoort and Malelane as well as pollution from the sugar factory spoiling the photographs.

Dead Tree at Sunset - photographed at Kruger National Park

Dead Tree at Sunset, Kruger Park

Wilderness trails

If you are going on a walking trail and you want to take photos then you need to consider what camera equipment to take with you. You don't want to carry a very heavy camera so I would suggest a set up like I use in the field: I have a Nikon D300 with a 80 to 400mm lens which is easy for me to hand hold when taking photos and easy to carry. I don't need a tripod because it has VR.

The trail camps are rustic and accommodation consists of A-frame huts or tents. There are four units that sleep two each and there is no electricity. Ablution facilities are communal except the Napi tents.

Ablutions consist out of flush toilets and gas geyser showers. There is a communal social area (lapa) with thatched roof or open campfire area. All linen and towels are provided. Cooling facilities consists  of a fridge but it has limited space. The cook prepares all meals in a very basic kitchen with washing up basins and storing facilities. A fence surrounds the camp but it is basically only to tell animals and people where the camp boundary is. Water for washing gets pumped from boreholes close to camp.

Other Activities

Elephant Museum at Letaba

Kruger's Elephant Museum at Letaba Camp

Kruger Park Honary Rangers display at Mopani Camp

Mopani Honary Rangers Display

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The Kruger shops are all very well stocked! You can buy anything from food and drinks, clothing, toiletries, to first aid items and toys. If you are wanting to take home a gift for your family and friends, then you can buy lovely curios from the Kruger shops - they are packed with wonderful gifts for everyone. Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Berg-En-Dal, Pretoriuskop, Satara, Olifants, Letaba and Mopani have the bigger shops.

National Park's Skukuza Shop

Kruger Park's Skukuza Camp Shop

National Park's Olifants Camp Shop

Kruger Park's Olifants Camp Shop

Even though Crocodile Bridge, Orpen, Shingwedzi and Punda Maria are smaller shops, they have a wide variety of items.

National Parks Punda Maria Shop

Kruger Park's Punda Maria Shop

They all have credit/debit card facilities, but please take cash with you because sometimes their machines are off line and that is when you will need to pay with cash.

There are three Picnic spots in the south of the park that have small shops that sell curios and food - they are Afsaal, Nkuhlu and Tshokwane. If you are wanting to try something different, Nkuhlu picnic site sell the most divine Buffalo pies, but you have to get there early. 

Petrol Stations and breakdown stations
All the Kruger main camps have petrol stations that sell leaded, unleaded and diesel fuel. Fill up at the camp you are staying in because sometimes there is a shortage of fuel or there could be a problem at one of the pumps. You do not want to run out of fuel in the park. There are no petrol stations at any of the bush camps, so please fill up at one of the main camps before setting off to the next camp.

Mopani Camp petrol (gas) station

Petrol Station at Mopani Camp

There is a breakdown or service yard at Skukuza, for the Southern area and Letaba for the northern area. Please contact your camp reception if you have a problem with your car as these breakdown yards do change location.

Always carry cash with you in case their credit card machines are not working.

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Safari Dining within Kruger Park

Restaurant at Punda Maria Camp

Punda Maria Camp Restaurant

All Kruger's main camps and bush camps have braai facilities and most of the main camps have restaurants.

Kruger Park's Mopani Camp Restaurant

Mopani Camp Restaurant

Some of the restaurants have great views overlooking rivers like Lower Sabie, Skukuza, Olifants and Letaba.

Kruger Letaba Restaurant

Letaba Camp Restaurant

Quality of food and service tends to fluctuate - sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad so we stopped eating at the restaurants.

Berg-en-Dal Camp Restaurant

Berg-en-Dal Camp Restaurant

Satara Camp Restaurant

Satara Camp Restaurant

Skukuza camp has the unique Selati Train restaurant.

Selati Train Restaurant at Skukuza Camp

Selati Train Restaurant at Skukuza Camp

This is the original steam train with coach bar

Selati Train Bar at Skukuza Camp

Selati Train Bar, Skukuza Camp

We prefer braaing and sitting under the stars at our bungalow at night because you can watch and photograph the night life that comes to you at your fire. We have been visited by Bush babies, Civets and Genets. In summer we have hundreds of insects coming to the bungalow which is great if you are into macro photography.

Lower Sabi - Braai (barbecue) at tented accommodation

Enjoying a Braai at Lower Sabi Tent

Most main camps have a Wooden Banana take away deli where you can buy sandwiches, cool drinks and other small items.

Take-Away (Take-Out) Deli at Satara Camp

Take-Away Deli at Kruger Park's Satara Camp

There are 15 picnic sites in the Kruger where you can have breakfast or lunch.

Kruger National Park - picnic site

A Picnic Site within the Kruger Park

Our favorite picnic sites are Pafuri in the north and Mlondozi in the south as we have always enjoyed the view and animal sightings from these sites.

Kruger Park's Mlondozi Picnic Site

Mlondozi Picnic Site

All picnic sites in the Kruger have gas skottel braais (mobile frying pans on gas bottle stands) which can be hired for a nominal fee. They also sell cool drinks and have boiling water for your coffee or tea.

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Keeping You Safe

Olifant Camp - bungalow destroyed by fire

Bungalow Destroyed by Fire, Olifants Camp

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Link to Kruger 2 Kalahari Website
Everything you need to know, from Wildlife Photography techniques to the best Southern African safari destinations of Kruger Park, Kgalagadi, Pilanesberg & Etosha.

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