I really appreciate seeing wild animals in their natural habit because it’s the best way to show the animals respect and to observe their untamed behaviour. Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the best places to do this. I spent the 2017 festive season at the Southern Region of Kruger National Park which is the best region for spotting game (The central region is good for seeing cats and the northern region is good for bird watching). 1.4 million people visit Kruger National Park every year.
Will you be one of these people this year? If so, here are 10 points to take note of for your trip to Kruger:
1) Protect yourself from malaria
Ok, health first. Kruger National Park is situated in a malaria endemic area so it is important that you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from infection. Ways of minimising the risk of infection include applying insect repellent to your skin, covering your skin with clothing, staying indoors during dusk and dawn and taking malaria prophylactic medication (consult a medical doctor).
2) Road trip or fly
We drove to Southern Kruger National Park from Johannesburg which is a 450km journey. The second half of the journey is so beautifully green as you take in the views of the lush terrain of Mpumalanga Province. Alternatively, you can fly to Kruger Park as there are 3 airports located on the north, centre and south regions of Kruger National Park. These are Phalaborwa Airport, Hoedspruit Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
3) Self drive, group drive or guided walk
We opted for a self drive through the park. This option allows you the flexibility of exploring the park at your own pace and in the comfort of your own vehicle. This is also the most affordable option. Alternatively you can go on a group drive with a guide or do a guided walk through the park.
4) Stay safe
Remember that you are in the wild! The animals are not domesticated. While on a game drive you are not allowed to step out of your vehicle. Follow this rule even if you can not see any animals around you.
5) Practice sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism entails showing nature the respect that is required to maintain and protect it. This includes keeping the area clean and following all instructions and rules given by the park.
6) Checkout the surrounding attractions
The Panorama Route is a region of scenic views, waterfalls and outdoor activities in Mpumalanga. It is en route as you travel to Kruger National Park and very much worth a visit. My family and I spent an afternoon along the Panorama Route and checked out God’s Window and then Mac Mac Falls. For more tips on the Panorama Route, read my blog post on exploring the Panorama Route in one day.
7) Increase your chance of spotting game
Because Kruger National Park is so big and because we are not all experts in spotting game, using sighting Apps is a helpful way of locating animals more easily. Visitors to Kruger National Park share locations of game they have spotted in real time. There are also sightings boards at the park entrances which show the areas in which game was recently sighted.
8) Be patient
This is one of the best pieces of advice for a drive through Kruger. Though the big five can be spotted there (lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino and elephants), you may not end up seeing them all but be patient with the process. There are other things about nature to appreciate on a game drive such as the vegetation, Doing so will allow you to not get frustrated from seeing a million impala instead of lions.
9) Don’t get lost
Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and the second largest in Africa. In fact, it is larger than Israel. I know I am not good with keeping track of every turn I make on the road so a map is a helpful tool for navigation through the park. You can buy one at the entrances.
10) Visit during winter
The winter season is the best time to spot game. This is because the grass lies lower making it literally easier to see into the bush. And it helps that you won’t be in the scorching summer heat.