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The Kruger National Park

A beautiful male lion in the Kruger National Park, MpumalangaThe Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most iconic and renowned national park. Stretching over two-million hectares of true African bushveld, the Kruger is the flagship park of South Africa’s national parks.

Established in 1898 to protect to the wildlife of the Mpumalanga Lowveld, the park now spans across into Limpopo province, and transfrontier boundaries have been established into parts of Zimbabwe and Mozambique as well. The park itself is larger than several countries of the world.

Unrivaled in its diversity of life, the park offers a wildlife experience that is among the best in Africa and is also a world leader in its environmental management techniques and policies. The park is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts from around the world, and offers South Africa’s greatest opportunity for viewing the famous big-five.

Being the sheer wilderness expanse that it is, the Kruger is geographically divided into three separate regions, each offering a unique and special African wildlife experience:

Southern Kruger National Park:

The southern Kruger is iconic for it’s abundance of wildlife and diversity of landscapes and vegetation. Two of the parks’ five perennial rivers, the Sabie and the Crocodile, run through this section of the park, ensuring a high density of vegetation and subsequently high populations of wildlife. This is what makes this section one of the most popular in the park. This also owes to the fact that the rest camps in this area of the park are some of the most popularly visited. Berg-en-Dal, Lower Sabie, Pretoriuskop and Skukuza are some of the parks most renowned rest camp. Skukuza is also the largest rest camp in the park, and is home to the park’s administrative headquarters.

Getting there: Nelspruit is conveniently close to this section of the park. From here, there are four gates from which to access the southern Kruger. Malelane gate: follow the N4 towards Komatipoort for 62km from Nelspruit, and take the turn-off to your left to Malelane gate. Crocodile Bridge: follow the N4 from Nelspruit to Komatipoort. Here, follow the signs to Crocodile Bridge gate, 12km from Komatipoort. Numbi gate: from Nelspruit, take the R538 going to Hazyview. Turn off at the R569 going to Numbi gate, 8km off the R538. Paul Kruger gate: from Nelspruit, take the R538 to Hazyview. Here, take the R536 and follow to the Paul Kruger gate.

Central Kruger National Park:

The plains of the central Kruger are renowned for breeding herds of elephant, as well as plains animals such as blue wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra. And, where there are grazers and browsers, there are predators…which is why the plains of the central Kruger are also renowned for lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog sightings. Rest camps in the central Kruger include Satara, the second-largest in the park, Letaba and Olifants, the camp with the most celebrated view in all of the park.

Getting there: Orpen gate: take the R40 going North from Nelspruit to Klaserie. Here, take the R351 for 52km to Orpen gate. Phalaborwa gate: take the R40 from Nelspruit to Phalaborwa. Here, follow the signs to the gate, just outside of Phalaborwa. This section of the park can also be accessed from the southern section along the park’s main north-south road.

Northern Kruger National Park:

The vegetation in the northern section of the park differs markedly from the southern and central sections. Here, the landscape is dominated by mopane shrubveld. The area is popular for its breeding herds of elephant and is also the favourite habitat for many of the rarest animals in the park, such as wild dog. The prolific birdlife makes this section of the park a mecca for birding enthusiasts. The iconic baobab trees are also a prominent feature of the landscape of the northern Kruger. Punda Maria rest camp is popular in the Kruger for offering a different and unique wildlife experience.

Getting there: There are a number of gates accessing the Kruger National Park in Mpmulalanga and the Limpopo Province. See the link below for the many options on how to get there.

More info on the area of Lowveld More info on the Mpumalanga area