Is it worth visiting the Kruger National Park?

Table of Contents

Interesting facts about Kruger

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 famous wildlife species you ever dreamed of encountering on a game drive. Approximately 147 mammal species occur in the park, from colossal herds of elephants and buffaloes to giraffes, zebras, lions, leopard cheetah, and the very endangered rhinos (black and white). 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 the Park Bird 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 and is planning another trip in November.

Kruger is synonymous with crackling campfires, scenic gravel roads, and substantial breeding herds of buffalo and elephants that are often too close for comfort. 

For us, it’s the greatest game reserve in Africa.

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

Related articles about Kruger

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

However, you need to read our follow-up article “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 not possible to discuss everything about Kruger in one article, including the many reasons why you must visit Kruger. 

Therefore, we have written a series of articles to help you plan your next trip and answer this critical questions below.


In the follow-up articles we go into much more detail about the various camps, the best roads to take for game viewing, our favourite hides and picnic spots. We also tell you more about the best times of the day to do game viewing. 

Travel buddies in Kruger
Sunset in Kruger - near the Skukuza main gate
Kruger National Park
Impalas in Kruger National Park

History of the 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 camps. In the early 1930s, significant progress was made to construct additional camps and tourist amenities. 

Read more about the history of the park here

Travelbuddies at Kruiger
The statue of Paul Kruger at the main Skukuza gate

How big is Kruger?

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?

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

Which camps are in the central region? 

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

Which camps are in the north?

Shinghwedzi and Punda Maria

Are there any bush camps?

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.

Are there overnight hides? 

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

How many private bush lodges are there in Kruger?

There are three exclusive and private bush lodges: Boulders, Pafuri and Roodewal. These lodges offer complete privacy as only residents are allowed entrance into the camp. There are no reception offices at the camp gates, and check-in is completed at the nearest main rest camp. Bush lodges are reserved in their entirety.

Is there a place to camp right in the middle of the bush?

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 any facility. This is the best experience to enjoy the true African bushveld.

Are there any private luxury safari lodges in the park?

The private luxury lodges are, as the name suggests, extremely luxurious and come with a hefty price tag. The following luxury private lodges are located within the parameters of the Kruger National Park: Imbali Safari Lodge, Hamiltons Tented Camp, Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge, Jock Safari Lodge, Lukimbi Safari Lodge, Rhino Walking Safaris, Shishangeni Private Lodge, Camp Shawu, Camp Shonga, Singita Sweni, Lion Sands Kruger, and Pafuri Camp.  
Go2Africa wrote an article about “The best luxury lodges in Kruger: Our top 10 picks”. You can access the article by clicking here. 
Travelbuddies in Kruger
Spectacular sunsets in Kruger
Travelbuddies in Kruger
The reception area at Skukuza camp
Travelbuddies in Kruger
The entrance gate to Shingwedzi Rest camp
Travelbuddies in Kruger
The restaurant at Lower Sabie rest camp
Kruger Park
Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger Park
Olifants Rest Camp
Olifants Rest Camp, Kruger Park
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park Founders
TRavelbuddies at Kruger
The reception area at Skukuza rest camp where night and morning game drives (with rangers) can be booked

How long is the ideal trip?

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 has a tremendous botanic diversity . 

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

In our article, “Where to stay in the Kruger National Park”? we discuss the southern region in much more detail.  

We love this area the most because there are much higher animal densities there. 


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

PRO TIPS for booking accommodation at Kruger!

The best way to make a booking is to go onto the Sanparks.org website. 

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

There are many website posing to be agents of the park. There is only ONE, DIRECT and original website on which you should make your booking. 

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

Wildcard can be bought at the entrance gate or online from the Sanparks website

click here to buy a Wildcard from the Sanparks website.

READ more about this in our next article to SAVE 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? In this article we explain 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, please leave a comment in the section below.

“Tot volgende keer” (until next time), Your Travel buddies Bernie and Petra xx

There are twelve main camps, of which four have satellite camps.
An example of the Kruger Wildcard
Travelbuddies at Kruger Park
Signposts in the park indicating the camps
Signpost in Kruger Park

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