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Kruger National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrNamed after South African President Paul Kruger (1825-1906), the Kruger Park is one of the largest reserves in Africa, covering over 19,633 square kilometers in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Extending 360 km from North to South, and 65 km from East to West, it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
HistoryFormerly known as the Sabie Game Reserve, it was renamed to the Kruger National Park in 1926 and combined with the Shingwedzi Reserve in the same year. Its creation was first aimed at controlling hunting and protecting the diminished number of animals in the park. The first tourists started arriving 3 years before the two parks were combined to make Kruger Park. The first three tourists’ cars entered the park in 1927, and soon evolved to 180 cars in 1928 and 850 in 1929. In 1959, the first fences to mark the park boundaries were installed, along the Crocodile River, and in 1960 the northern boundaries were fenced; followed by the eastern boundary in Mozambique. The fences were mainly installed to prevent the spread of diseases and facilitate border patrolling and lastly, to track the movements of poachers.
Kruger ParkKruger Park is commonly known as a wildlife sanctuary, notably because it has the widest variety of animals in the African continent, but also because of the majestic yet threatened co-existence of its wildlife. Its home to the Big Five; the lion, rhinoceros, leopard, buffalo and elephant, the Big Six; the ground hornbill, the kori bustard, the lappet-faced vulture, the martial eagle, the fishing owl and the saddle-bill stork, and a distinguished number of trees like the baobab, fever trees, knob thorns, marula, and mopane trees.
Some animals are permanently hunted by poachers because of their horns and are on the verge of extinction, namely the black and white rhinoceros. The white rhinoceros is normally the largest and most numerous of all rhino species. The black rhinoceros, on the other hand, is critically endangered; it’s a subspecies of the western black rhinoceros (was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011).
Anti-poaching measures are being taken. There are currently 650 SANParks game rangers, assisted by SAPS and the SANDF. Since 2013, the park is equipped with 2 drones borrowed from Denel, Aerospatiale, and Gazelle helicopters, a donation by the RAF and also has a dog specialist unit. Since the poachers are believed to have infiltrated themselves in the park from Mozambique, a buffer zone is established on that border. It is estimated that 949 rhinos have been killed in 12 years, with 520 killed in 2013 alone. A memorandum of agreement between South Africa, Vietnam and China was made, in order to reduce the killing of the rhinoceros (black and white) for its horn.
Sightseeing at Kruger ParkThere’s an abundance of wildlife in the park to be seen. With over 140 animal species, you are guaranteed to see a lot of animals and enjoy a great biodiversity at any time throughout year, especially in the winter season (from April to September), where the park is dotted with warm days and colder nights and the water, restricted to rivers and water holes. You will most definitely meet the Big Five (the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard). The Berg en Dal reserve is said to be the most exciting place to spot animals. The Sabie reserve has one of the most spectacular gaming view, it includes every animal within the Big Five, particularly the leopard. Lastly, the Timbavati Private Game reserve, which is home to all members of the Big Five, is mostly famous for its white lions. These are not the only reserves in the park but are amongst the most reputed ones. The lodges also offer safari drives around the parks where tourists can roam around for up to two or four hours through these reserves for sightseeing. These tours take place in the morning and also during afternoons and evenings, with stops in the bush for a hot drink (during winter) and snacks in the morning, as well as cocktails in the evenings.
AccommodationKruger Park has 21 rest camps, 2 private lodge concessions and 15 private safari lodges. They are normally serviced by a cleaning staff on a daily basis. Bedding is normally supplied in all accommodation, except for camping sites. Cooking utensils and refrigeration is also provided, exceptions are supposed to be indicated when you book for your accommodation. Pricing is made according to age status meaning that adult pricing which is from 12 years old and older, is different from the children pricing (from 2 to 11 years old). The basic accommodation types are the following: camping sites, huts, safari tents, bungalows, guest cottages, cottages, guest houses, and luxury lodges. Accommodation at Kruger Park is normally affordable with prices ranging from $30 to $400 per person, depending on the accommodation type.
How to get there?Three local airports serve Kruger Park. The Northern Kruger Park is served by the Phalaborwa airport, the central Kruger Park by the Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport, and the Southern Kruger Park by the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. Luggage restriction is 20 kg per person. For those who are more interested in self driving, they can collect their cars from the airports near Kruger Park at Nelspruit, Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa.
Some important facts to know about Kruger ParkKruger Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of people. Many people become so fascinated by the sightings of legendary animals such as lions or elephants, that they tend to get carried away, and forget that they are dealing with wild animals. This, unfortunately, has caused a lot of incidents leading to deaths. So, be cautious when you decide to drive on your own through the park with your family, keep your windows up, and don’t approach the animals.
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Author: Comasco. Last updated: Aug 26, 2014