Our guide to
Kruger National Park and Surrounds
Welcome to South Africa’s premier wildlife region.
This is not just one park as you may imagine. Instead, you have the government run Kruger National Park and a series of private game reserves and concessions in and around the park. The world famous and our favourite is Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve closely followed by the Timbavati Private Game Reserve. Within the private reserves, you then have smaller parcels of land (still thousands of hectares) owned by safari operators where the experience is immersive, exclusive and hugely rewarding. For example, Dulini Private Reserve, Sabi Sabi, Lion Sands to name a few.
All of this makes up the Greater Kruger Region and the beauty of this is the no fence policy which allows wildlife to wander freely throughout hundreds of thousands of acres.
You have to be awfully unlucky to experience a bad day here. The trouble with the Kruger is its sheer enormity, so it’s important you select the best possible location for your big five game viewing which makes the region so famous. The other half of the fun is in deciding where to stay.
We will share some of our favourites here with you ranging from under canvas to the ultimate luxury safari lodges of the Kruger region.
The region is quite easy to get to with direct flights daily from Johannesburg and Cape Town plus now Livingstone (Victoria Falls) so it makes a great circuit.
It takes a few days to get into the swing of being on safari so we always recommend a minimum of three nights in any given property. We always like to go for a week and experience two different camps or lodges. We can also give you a diverse wilderness and wildlife experience too.
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‘Knowing what I know now, I’d always lean towards private reserves in the Kruger region because we saw no other vehicles except those from our camp and had wildlife sightings to ourselves. You recommended Dulini and the River Lodge certainly didn’t disappoint.’
‘Night game drives became my favourite at Sabi Sabi because the nocturnal wildlife sightings and just sitting still and listening to the sounds was fascinating.’
‘Thank you for the most amazing family holiday. We never imagined we’d have such fun and see so many animals and have a variety of activities to choose from. Chitwa Chitwa did not disappoint.’
Top Tips on a Kruger Safari
- Stay inside Kruger national park or a concession so you are immersed in the bush. Nothing worse than having to commute to the gate, do the paperwork each day then get on safari.
- Always look at people to vehicle ratio as you really don’t want to get stuck in the middle seat if you’re an avid photographer
- Remember Kruger National Park proper has day trippers so it gets busy with mini buses, paved roads, no off road policy and set opening and closing times
- Private reserves allow less people per night so you see less vehicles whilst on safari. Dirt roads and tracks and ability to off road morning, afternoon and evening
- Accommodation varies hugely so ensure you work with a specialist to get it exactly right for you
- There are a number of airports in the region so make sure you know the closest to your accommodation
- Inclusions vary per property too, so if you want fully inclusive (that means drinks and meals and activities) please do ensure you let us know
- Malaria region so take the necessary precautions. Having said that, we’ve never had a case of malaria amongst our guests visiting the Kruger region.
- Beyond the safari the region has a stunning Panorama Route, wildlife conservation projects, hikes, river activities and more
- Early mornings are essential on safari so you get to see wildlife waking. Remember to rest in the day time to catch up before your afternoon safari activity
Big Five Safari
Kruger National Park, and private concessions surrounding it, are home to the Big Five which makes for a thrilling safari holiday in South Africa. You can try your luck at spotting the leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and elephant.
Sabi Sand is best known for its concentration of leopard whilst all of the concessions and reserves boast strong numbers of elephant and buffalo thanks to great habitat and water access even though drought often plagues the country.
There are some impressive lion prides in the region too and rhino are here, both black and white.
Kruger is a brilliant destination in Africa for family safaris for a number of reasons.
- The focus is on game drives with some camps offering walking (keep in mind age restrictions apply). It means your kids are safe and the experience is shared and exciting
- It is easy to get to either driving distance from Johannesburg (albeit a good 4 -5 hours or more depending on your chosen property or flying on a regional flight so you don’t have light aircraft and luggage restrictions
- Guides are well versed at keeping children captivated whilst on safari and many of the properties have a kids club style program to occupy the young ones
- A huge diversity of wildlife exist here in the Kruger and surrounding reserves and concessions so sightings are phenomenal including the big five of course
- Beyond the safari and so much available in the area like endangered species centre, hiking, adventure activities, helicopter flights and more
Safari for the Soul
This region, perhaps more than any other offers some outstanding properties that focus not just on the safari. Here you can delve deep into spirituality and mindfulness with yoga and meditation or simply relax and spoil yourself with a spa treatment. You will find yourself enveloped by the wilderness, wildlife, and warm African hospitality.
This type of safari gives you the chance to observe wildlife in its natural habitat and for your body to reconnect with nature’s gentle rhythm.
This is not a structured ‘tour’ or ‘class’ experience. It’s about your own practise and getting out there to enjoy mix of yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation as close to nature as possible. We ensure you stay at properties that offer wonderful settings to enjoy sunrise yoga to sunset meditation, nature walks, and sleep outs under the African sky.
We also know first hand the best safari spas so for those not well versed in yoga there’s still the opportunity to escape from the chaos of daily living to a tranquil sanctuary!
Immerse deep in Africa’s wilderness and breathe it in, relax and find balance in your mind, heart and emotions whilst personal reward will come through close interactions with wildlife.
Africa helps to fulfil the deep yearning for life enriching experiences and adding in time to yourself will only heighten the experience.
Best time to visit Kruger
High season in the Kruger is December to January and July to August, coinciding with the primary school holiday periods. Great mild weather conditions with little rain is April to May and September to October. Low season runs April to mid June and September to November when rates are lower, availability a little easier to get and yet the experience equally rewarding. Best time for wildlife is dry winter season when the bush is more open for better visibility.Let’s Chat