The north of the Kruger is known for a few reasons. Firstly, the north is known for its incredible heat! There is no place like it in South Africa, and when that Limpopo heat takes hold, it is quite unforgiving. Secondly, the north is known for its distance away from everything. It can take hours to drive from the South all the way to the top, and for this reason it is an area that is quite often left to those who have more time to spend in the park. And finally, the third thing that the north is quite well-known for, is the lack of massive wildlife populations.
The fact that not all that many animals can be seen here is the primary reason why so many people choose to give the north a skip altogether, because why bother if you are not going to see much? The reason why the south has bigger wildlife populations is because there is more food and water in the south.
But there are some upsides to visiting the higher up parts of the Kruger. For starters, while you won’t see the huge herds, there is still quite a few interesting animals you can see up north that you will have a hard time spotting down south, like cheetah.
Another positive about making the north your holiday destination is that you will encounter very few guests, which can make your trip more secluded and more memorable.
And if you are planning a northern excursion, these are the “loops” that you should visit.
S56 MPHONGOLO LOOP
Just north of Shingwedzi, the Mpongolo Loop is a scenic route that will take you on a journey along the Mpongolo River and through its riverine forest which stands out against the mostly uninteresting mopane shrubveld that surrounds it. When on this route, keep an eye out for the rare Sharpe’s grysbok that has made its home here. It is often confused with steenbok, but steenbok don’t live in this area.
In this area you can also spot Tsessebe close to the river, coming for a drink of water.
Other animals you will see in the area include giraffe, buffalo, and elephant, as well as lion and leopard.
S63 PAFURI LOOP TO CROOK’S CORNER
If you are in the park hoping to spot birds, this is the route to take. This route puts the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers in the best light and it is at the very top of the Kruger, bordering on Zimbabwe. Crook’s Corner has historical significance as fugitives of all kinds would hide here when being chased by the law.
The area is actually quite tropical and as such has become the perfect habitat for Sykes’ monkey. In fact, it is the only place in the park where you can see this monkey. But since the area is more for the bird watchers, you should keep a look out for Pel’s fishing owl, Meve’s starling, crested guineafowl, and racket-tailed roller.