Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most famous and most profitable national park. Situated on an area of almost 2 million hectares (nothing less, but the whole of Israel could easily fit here), Kruger Park is divided into 14 eco-zones, each of which boasts completely different representatives of flora and fauna. However, Kruger owes its wild popularity among tourists primarily to the presence of the “big five”: lion, rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo and leopard.
Despite the fact that the north of the park is much more spectacular and original, it is the southern part that is more popular and mastered by tourists.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of South Africa is 60.04 million (2021).
History and modernity
The park was founded in 1898 by ex-president Paul Krueger with the aim of protecting the environment and the priceless endangered species of animals. However, the park opened its doors to tourists only in 1927. In April 2002, the Great Limpopo Transnational Park began operation, uniting Kruger Park in South Africa, Gonareju, Mangini Pan and Malipati parks in Zimbabwe and Limpopo in Mozambique. Today it is the largest national park in the world. In addition, state borders are abolished on the territory of the “Greater Limpopo” and tourists can visit it with a visa of one of the three countries.
How to get to Kruger
There are three airports near the park:
Phalaborwa Airport (Phalaborwa), which is 2 km from the entrance gate and the town of Phalaborwa. It is convenient to fly here for those who have booked lodges in the north (Letaba, Olifants, Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, etc.) The airport has good communication with Johanburg, as a rule, two flights a day on weekdays, and one on weekends. There is a rent-a-car office at the airport.
Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport has flights from Johannesburg (1 hour), Durban (1.5 hours), Cape Town (2.5 hours) and Vilanculos. Car rental offices galore: Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Imperial Car Rental and National. From here to the entrance to the park through the gate to them. Paul Kruger 82 km, Malelane 63 km, Numbi 40 km and Phabeni Gate 76 km.
There is also a small airport Malelane for private and business flights (Malelane Regional Airport), located at the entrance to Malelane.
When renting a car, it is worth remembering that the N4 highway is a toll road, all entrances to the park are closed after dark, and gas stations do not accept plastic cards. In itself, driving in the dark here is a small pleasure. The roads are of poor quality, there is either no or sparse lighting, the locals calmly walk along the edge of the road, and in some sections wild animals can be encountered along the way. But all these troubles end with the entrance to the park.
The Kruger National Park is open from dawn to dusk, in simple words, with the onset of darkness, entry into the reserve stops.
The Kruger National Park is open from dawn to dusk, in simple words, with the onset of darkness, entry into the reserve stops. As a rule, the gates operate in the following mode: November-February from 5:30 to 18:30, March – 5:30-18:00, April from 6:00 to 18:00, May-July 6:00-17:30, August-September from 6:00 to 18:00, October 5:30-18:00. Moving by car after sunset is fraught with high fines.
The maximum speed is 50 km/h on ordinary roads, 40 km/h on gravel roads and 20 km/h on the territory of the lodge. Subject to these speeds, a trip from south to north of Kruger will not take more than 10 hours.
On the territory of the reserve there is only one rental-a-car office Avis, which is located in the lodge Skukuza.
It is necessary to be extremely attentive to the behavior of animals, especially elephants and rhinos, which can be very dangerous even for a car! The roads in the park are of very good quality.
Safety in Kruger
For your own safety, you must not:
- get out of the car outside the lodge
- feed animals
- bring pets with you
- ride in the dark
There are many camps and lodges in the park, on the territory of which, in addition to direct accommodation facilities, there are supermarkets, restaurants, tourist offices, picnic and barbecue places, laundries, public kitchens and swimming pools. Almost all places of this kind accept plastic cards. In addition, you can find a haven outside the park (where, by the way, you can shamelessly leave your car without fear that something will happen to it).
There are many camps and lodges in the park, on the territory of which, in addition to direct accommodation facilities, there are supermarkets, restaurants, tourist offices, picnic areas and barbecues.
The comfort and service of lodges depends on the size: from a simple tent to mini-cities with swimming pools, libraries, restaurants and golf courses. On average, the concentration of lodges in the park is so great that the distance between them is no more than two hours by car.
Entertainment and attractions of Kruger
The park is divided into 16 separate sections with different “sets” of plants and animals. In total, about 250,000 animals (147 species), about 50 species of fish, 33 species of amphibians, more than a hundred species of reptiles and 500 species of birds live in it. Ethnographic villages and several small private reserves are located in the park area. In addition, there are more than 250 archaeological sites in the park, including artifacts from the Stone and Iron Ages.
Arriving in Kruger Park for the first time, it is advisable to take a group tour with a guide who will tell you about the rules of conduct, main attractions and other important little things. The tour can be booked at the lodges Berg en dal, Letaba and Skukuza, the cost is from 190 ZAR. The cost of staying in the park for foreigners is 331-166 ZAR (adult / child) per day.