Travelbuddies in Kruger
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Interesting facts about the Kruger National Park

Kruger is one of the prime game-watching destinations in the world. It is home to the Big Five and many other of Africa’s most elusive wildlife species you ever dreamed of encountering on a game drive.

The park has approximately 147 mammal species, from massive elephant and buffalo herds to journeys of giraffes, zebras, lions, leopard cheetahs, and the very endangered rhinos (black and white species). And don’t forget Bernie’s favourite carnivores, the wild dogs and hyenas.

According to the latest reports, Kruger has an elephant population of just under 20 000. There is an estimated 1,500 lion, 48 000 buffalo and 1000 leopards. If you are a serious bird watcher, you may wish to download Kruger Park’s Bird list. You can also download a free Kruger Park bird tick list here.  

Since age five, Bernie has been going on holiday to the Kruger National Park with her parents. For the last couple of years, she has visited Kruger at least twice a year with her family and friends.

Kruger is synonymous with crackling campfires, scenic gravel roads, and substantial breeding herds of buffalo and elephants that are often too close for comfort. Are you still wondering if it’s worth visiting Kruger? Continue reading…

For us, the Kruger National park is the greatest game reserve in Africa, after reading this article, you will definitely agree with us!

Travelbuddies at the Kruger Park
A pack of wild dogs making a kill early morning near Kruger gate

Related articles about the Kruger National Park

This article is a basic introduction to Kruger. At the end of this article, we briefly discuss how to book a trip to Kruger. 

However, you need to read our many related Kruger articles “What to know before planning a trip to Kruger?” to understand the difference between paying daily conservation fees or buying a Wildcard before planning your trip. This aspect is key to planning your Kruger trip and can SAVE you a lot of money!

It is impossible to discuss everything about Kruger in one article, including why you must visit Kruger. 

Therefore, we have written several specialised articles about Kruger to help you plan your next trip and answer the critical questions below.

In the related Kruger articles, we go into detail about the best aspects of the various camps, the best roads for game viewing, and our favourite hides and picnic spots. We will also tell you more about the best times of the day to do game viewing. 

History of the Kruger National Park

In 1898, the Kruger National Park was proclaimed the Sabie Game Reserve by the then South African President, Paul Kruger, who had the vision to establish a protected wilderness reserve in the Lowveld. Kruger’s dream materialised several years later when the first park warden, James Stevenson-Hamilton, was appointed in 1902. In 1927, the Pretoriuskop area was opened to tourists shortly after the National Parks Act was declared in South Africa.

In 1928, the first three overnight accommodation facilities, called rest huts, were built at Satara, Pretoriuskop, and Skukuza. In the early 1930s, significant progress was made to construct additional camps and tourist facilities. 

Read more about the history of the park here

Paul Kruger Statue at the Kruger Gate in South Africa
The statue of Paul Kruger at the main Skukuza gate

How big is the Kruger National Park?

The park has a surface area of 7.580 miles2 which is about 19,633 km2. Considering this mighty landscape, it answers the question we often get: “Can we drive from the South to the North in one day?”. The answer is absolutely not! Not only due to the vast distances but also the low-speed limits in the park (50 on tar and 40 on gravel roads).

The park is divided into three regions: the northern, the central and the southern region.

There are twelve main camps, of which four have satellite camps.

Which camps are in the South of the Kruger National Park

Berg-en-Dal (with satellite Malelane), Crocodile Bridge, Lower Sabie, Pretoriuskop and Skukuza. 

TRavelbuddies in Kruger
A bungalow in Skukuza rest camp with open patio

Which camps are in the central region of the Kruger National Park? 

Letaba, Mopani, Olifants, Orpen (with satellites Maroela and Tamboti), and Satara (with satellite Balule).

Which camps are in the north of the Kruger National Park?

Shinghwedzi and Punda Maria

Are there any authentic bush camps in the Kruger National Park?

Bateleur, Biyamiti (super choice), Shimuwini (no electricity, cellphones can be charged at reception), Shireni (no electricity, cellphones can be charged at reception) and Tamalati (our favourite). Bush camps provide accommodation in smaller, more remote rest camps without facilities such as shops or restaurants.

Where are the overnight hides in the Kruger National Park? 

Sable and Shipandani must be booked months (read almost a year, if possible) in advance!

How many private bush lodges are there in the Kruger National Park?

There are three exclusive and private bush lodges: Boulders, Pafuri and Roodewal. These lodges offer complete privacy as only residents are allowed into the camps. There are no reception offices at the camps, and check-in is completed at the nearest main rest camp. Bush lodges are reserved in their entirety (ideal for families or group of friends).

Is there a place to camp in the middle of the bush in the Kruger National Park?

There is only one secluded camping site called Tzendze. It is near the main rest camp Mopani and check is completed there. Note there is no electricity or facilities at Tzendze. This is the best way to enjoy the African bushveld.

Shingwedzi entrance gate in Kruger
The entrance gate to Shingwedzi Rest camp

Are there any private luxury safari lodges in the Kruger National Park?

As the name suggests, private luxury lodges are luxurious and come with a hefty price tag.
 
The following luxury private lodges are located within the parameters of the Kruger National Park:
 
  • Nkuhlu Tented Camp
  • Hamiltons Tented Camp
  • Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge
  • Jock Safari Lodge
  • Kruger Shalati Lodge
  • Lukimbi Safari Lodge
  • Rhino Walking Safaris
  • Shishangeni Private Lodge with Camp Shawu and Camp Shonga
  • Singita Sweni
  • Lion Sands Kruger  with Tinga and Narina Lodges
Read our related article that features each of the private lodges in Kruger listed above titled: “Top 10 private lodges in the Kruger National Park”
 
Bath tub on an open deck in the Kruger National park - Private lodge exterior bathtub
Bath time at Jock safari Lodge Kruger National Park

How long is the ideal trip to the Kruger National Park?

We recommend spending at least 5 to 7 days in Kruger to experience the northern half of the park (predominantly mopane veld) and the southern parts (more thornveld) because the park is vast and known for its unique botanic diversity . 

There is a big difference between the vegetation and the types and quantities of animals you will encounter in different parts of the park. 

In our article, “Where to stay in the Kruger National Park”? we discuss the southern region in much more detail.  We love the southern part because the animal density is higher there. 

 

Travelbuddies in Kruger
River views from the Nkhulu picnic site between Lower Sabie and Skukuza

PRO TIPS for booking accommodation at the Kruger National Park

There are twelve main camps, of which four have satellite camps.
An example of the Kruger Wildcard

How to book accommodation for the Kruger National Park?

The best way is to make a booking directly on the Sanparks.org website. 

Ensure you use the official Sanparks.org website (The link we provide is the only official one). 

Many websites are posing to be agents for the park. There is only ONE DIRECT and original website (Sanparks.org) on which you should make your booking. 

The latest (31/07/2022) booking system is easy to access and navigate. The system shows real-time availability and informs you exactly how many units are available at that exact time.

NOTE: You don’t have to pay the conservation fees (or buy a wildcard) when making your booking. This can be paid the day you enter a Kruger park gate.  

Wildcards can be bought at the entrance gate or online from the official Sanparks website.

View the Sanparks website to buy a Wildcard.

READ more about Wildcards and conservation fees in our related article. It is guaranteed to SAVE you a lot of money!!

Changing or cancelling a booking can be quite a challenge. Therefore, ensure that you are confident with the days you are about to book.

Refer to our article “What to know before planning a trip to Kruger? This article explains everything you need to know about conservation fees and the benefits of having a Wildcard.

Happy daydreaming about your first trip to Kruger! If you have any questions about how to make a booking, please leave a comment in the section below.

“Tot volgende keer” (until next time)

Your Travel buddies Bernie and Petra xx

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Article Last Updated: 07/05/2023

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About Author

As a freelance travel journalist and seasoned business professional, Bernie van der Linde has made it her mission to explore the world's most unique and luxurious destinations. With a PhD in business studies from the University of South Africa, Bernie has channeled her passion for travel, web design, and writing into founding the travel blog Travel Buddies Lifestyle. Here, she shares her adventures alongside her best friend and travel business partner, Petra, who seamlessly translate and compile articles relevant to their German and European audience.

Bernie's love for exploring new places has taken her to some of the world's most exotic locations. Whether gazing out at the glittering skyline of Dubai or enjoying the tranquillity of a private beach in Mauritius, Bernie is always looking for unique experiences that will inspire and entice her readers to travel.

Through her thoughtful writing and unparalleled passion for travel, Bernie van der Linde has made a name for herself in the world of travel writing. Her knack for uncovering hidden gems and sharing her experiences with her readers has made her a trusted source of inspiration for those looking to explore the world in style.

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