A First Time Traveller’s Guide to Kruger National Park Safaris
For the traveller heading to South Africa, time spent enjoying one of the many Kruger National Park safaris available to guests of our country is an absolute must.
This destination has everything you could possibly dream of, if dreaming of an African wildlife adventure is something that you simply cannot get out of your mind.
A place filled with one of the most diverse ranges of wildlife, birds and plants, and the most unbelievably beautiful landscapes that seem to stretch on forever, the Kruger National Park is just one of those places that you will have a hard time not falling in love with.
First time visitors have so much to look forward to when heading to the Kruger. Not only will the wildlife and all the scenic beauty be absolutely enchanting, but the hospitality of the people and the gorgeous year round weather will make any time spent here well worth the trip.
But in order to make the most of your trip, and to ensure that you come at right time of year, and tour with the right type of company, then it is important to not only have the necessary information but to also make sure that your planning is done down to a tee.
Where to go?
The answer to this will generally be answered by the company you intend to tour with, that is if you are not going on a self-drive adventure.
The tour company will normally state where in the Kruger the tour will take you and from there you can do your planning to determine what it is that you hope to see and what you should take with you. Keep in mind, however, that no Kruger National Park safari is so complicated that you need to do an overload of planning. Just making sure that you are packing the right stuff for the region and time of year should be more than enough.
If you don’t know by now, the Kruger National Park covers a massive area. A quick look at the map will tell you that it is about the size of a small European country, in fact it is often compared to Wales in size.
Although the park is in South Africa, parts of it stretch into Mozambique and Zimbabwe, giving the animals the opportunity to follow their ancient migration patterns. This also means that there is even more areas for you to cover.
So where will you be going, or rather where should you ideally be travelling to?
The most popular and often the best place to spend your Kruger National Park safari is in the south of the park. It is here where you are most likely to see just about every type of Kruger animal you have hoped to see.
The southern Kruger is a fairly hot place to visit if you are travelling during the summer months, but it is not as hot as the northern regions.
The south of the Kruger is such a popular place because it is without a doubt the most accessible part of the park and also because it is closer to the park’s capital village, Skukuza.
When to go?
Although the Kruger is well known for having year round warm days and sunny blue skies, there is actually a best time of the year to travel there.
The general consensus is to go on a Kruger National Park safari between the months of May and August. These are winter months here in South Africa and as such they are cool and dry, but never all that cold, at least not like the cold you’d experience during the European or North American winter months.
It never snows in the Kruger and frost is also unheard of. And because the months are dry, the park is not overgrown with vegetation which means you will have more opportunity to spot wildlife that would normally be hidden away behind lush bush during the rainy summers.
The cooler weather during the winters will also be pleasant when you are out on the road. When on a Kruger National Park safari in the middle of summer, even in an open air vehicle, you could find that the heat is just overwhelming.
Out of all of the wildlife parks in South Africa, why go to the Kruger?
It’s a fair question to ask when planning your African safari trip because South Africa is home to countless beautiful parks full of all sorts of wildlife.
But the Kruger National Park offers travellers a number of things that other parks don’t.
To start with, it is just about the only place with such a diverse wildlife population. While other parks certainly have their share of beautiful indigenous wildlife, they often don’t have certain animals, such as predators, or their predator populations are limited. The Kruger, however, has it all.
The Kruger is the only place you can go on a self-drive. While the guided Kruger safaris are a treat and will certainly have you experiencing the best the park has to offer, sometimes what guests really want is to drive themselves. The Kruger is really easy to navigate and it doesn’t require a 4×4 vehicle to get around.
Finally, when you travel to the Kruger National Park, you will be visiting one of the oldest parks in Africa. There is so much history to explore and so many historical sites to visit, that time in the park becomes so much more than a wildlife viewing excursion.
What is the best way to see the Kruger?
The very best way to see the Kruger, if you are visiting from outside of South Africa, is to sign up for a Kruger National Park guided safari.
By going on such a trip, you will be in the company of an experienced guide. The Kruger guides are generally highly experienced and they are incredibly knowledgeable. Often they will spot wildlife long before you realise something is nearby. The guide will also become a bit of an educational resource, informing guests about the various interesting things that the particular animal, bird or plant is known for.
Unlike the popular opinion that guided tours are rushed, you will find that such a safari will be incredibly laid back. Generally, a guided tour will be a full day adventure, with a lunch break in between to give you time to stretch your legs.
The other Kruger safari option is the self-drive. If this is what you are keen on doing, then you will need to rent a vehicle, buy a map and then head out into the park on your own. It is very difficult to get lost in the Kruger because the roads are well marked. If you stick to the park’s tarred roads, you shouldn’t have any problems at all, but gravel roads can be a bit rough especially after a bit of rain.
What to bring along for your Kruger National Park safari?
Like we said, there is not all that much that you have to bring along in order to have a memorable trip. But there are a few basic musts and a few extras that you should bring if you intend to travel in the winter months.
You should include the following in your luggage:
Comfortable shoes. They don’t have to be hiking boots, but a pair of comfortable shoes can make a big difference to your trip. But definitely don’t bring new shoes.
Comfortable clothing. You don’t need full on safari gear, but you do need some comfortable clothing that will not look dirty in a hurry. Try to avoid light coloured clothing.
A camera. It doesn’t have to be the best camera but it is a good idea to bring along something that is a little more powerful, and which has a little more reach, than a cell phone.
Bug spray. Even in the winter months, the bugs, especially mosquitoes, can be a little more than annoying. A spray will keep them away.
Again, even in the middle of winter, you should wear a good quality sunscreen as the sun can be harsh.
What shouldn’t you miss?
There is no doubt that there is plenty to see when you are visiting the Kruger National Park, but did you know that there are also plenty of things that you can do?
If you are spending loads of time in the park, think about signing up for a night drive and a bush walk, both of which will give you an extraordinarily unique perspective on the park. These activities are available from a number of the park’s camps.
If you are staying outside of the park, there are still things you can do, especially once you’ve had your fill of the safari experience. One of the most popular things to do is to embark on a Panorama Route tour which will show you a different side of the Lowveld. The Panorama Route will take you to places like the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and more waterfalls than you could imagine.
For that once in a lifetime Kruger National Park safari, you can book your tour with Kurt Safari. We offer a range of the best Kruger tours at the best prices and we can’t wait to welcome you to our favourite place in the world.