Best African Safaris: Kruger Park
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best African safaris. Established in 1898, the 2 million hectare Kruger Park is unrivalled in its diversity of species and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
From the Crocodile River in the south, the park stretches northwards for 350kms to the Limpopo River, and ranges from 23km wide in the far north, to 85km wide in the south. The unspoilt wilderness of bushveld, woodland and thornveld is home to a rich diversity of species - 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
In addition to the Big Five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), the park is home to a wide variety of antelope such as sable, roan, impala, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, waterbuck, tsessebe, kudu and nyala as well as hippo, giraffe, and Burchell's zebra. It also provides protection to the only viable wild dog population in South Africa.
The park is truly a birder's paradise. More than 50 raptor species have been recorded, and many species found in the north of the park have limited distribution elsewhere in South Africa.
As well as its magnificent wildlife, the park is also an archaeological treasure chest, with over 250 cultural heritage sites - from bushman rock paintings to majestic archeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela, and Late Iron Age settlements. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and are conserved along with the park's natural assets.
Access to the park is via eight gates and accommodation ranges from rest camps with all necessary facilities - petrol station, shop, restaurant, café - to smaller bush camps without facilities. The vast network of roads traversing the park provide access to waterholes, dams, viewpoints and rivers, and there are picnic sites strategically located throughout the park.
Activities offered in the park include self-drive safaris and guided game drives (both day and night), There are guided nature walks and longer hikes including several guided wilderness trails lasting 3 or more days. Recent innovations include guided mountain bike trails and astronomy evenings
The private reserves lying along the western border of the Kruger Park are the best destination in South Africa for anyone seeking an exceptional wildlife safari. Having unfenced boundaries with the National Park, the private reserves such as Sabi Sands, Thornybush, Balule, Manyaleti, Mala Mala, Timbavati and Klaserie offer some of the best game viewing in one of Africa's most spectacular animal kingdoms.
A selection of luxury safari camps and lodges located within the private reserves offer the discerning visitor a fully inclusive luxury safari experience.
Your stay at a private lodge includes luxury accommodation, three meals each day and two game drive activities daily. Usually your daily itinerary will entail an early morning game drive (for about 3 hours) followed by a relaxed brunch back at the lodge. Relax at the lodge during the heat of the day before afternoon tea and your second game drive. This usually lasts about 3 hours, but may be longer if you have good game sightings. Sundowners in the bush are a highlight of the evening game drive. Dinner is served upon your return to the lodge - either in the lodge's restaurant, or open boma.
Essentially, the difference to your safari experience between private reserves and the National Park include:
- In the Kruger National Park, game driving is only permitted in closed vehicles and you are not permitted to drive off-road. Night drives are only conducted by park rangers in large park vehicles (minimum 10 seater).
- In the private reserves game drives are conducted in open 4x4 vehicles, and your trackers and rangers will follow game deep into the bush. You are in the open air, at one with the bush and its inhabitants.
- In the private reserves you are accompanied on your game drives by experienced trackers and rangers, many of whom are local to the area. They are your eyes and ears, and will share many secrets of the bush with you, enhancing your safari experience immeasurably.
- Game drives in the private reserves are not restricted. You will frequently leave the gravel road to follow animals into the bush, and have plenty of time to study animal behaviour and interactions.
- Night drives in private reserves are conducted in open 4x4 vehicles (you should take warm jerseys, hats and gloves!). Equipped with large spotlights, the trackers will reveal to you many of the nocturnal inhabitants of the bush which you simply would not see during daylight hours.
Private lodges are not renowned for being cheap. However, we recommend that if at all possible, this experience should not be missed. The repertoire of lodges and camps in the private reserves is extensive, and we will work with you to find the right style of lodge to suit you, whilst keeping within your holiday budget.
Please contact the Fish Eagle Safaris team to discuss your personalized tour and one of the best safaris in Africa at the world-renowned Kruger National Park.