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The Kruger National Park is one of the most popular attractions in the world, with over a million visitors per year.
Although it is a year-round destination, it has peak seasons which mostly coincide with the South African public school holidays which are between June and July and December.
Easter is the buzziest (and most unpleasant) time to be in Kruger. Massive car pile-ups often occur at sightings causing road obstructions for long periods.
What is the weather like in the Kruger National Park?
The Kruger Park is an all-year-round destination, each season presenting its fascination. It has a hot-subtropical climate with an average year-round temperature of around 25 degrees.
The weather in winter in Kruger
The dry winter months, June to August, are particularly popular with local visitors because of the local school holidays. During the winter, the bush veld is ‘flatter’ and more open, which increases visibility, particularly in the extended grassy areas of the south. The waterholes, dams and riverbeds become the wildlife’s meeting points, making it more likely for you to spot game early morning or late afternoon. The average temperatures in winter range from a minimum of 9 degrees to a maximum of 28 degrees in August.
The weather in summer in Kruger
Even though the summer (December to February) is rainy, it brings along an abundance of newborn wildlife, waterholes filled to the brim and lush bushveld scenery. The birdlife is also more spectacular as many migrant birds arrive during summer.
It must be noted that the summer gets extremely hot, particularly in the north of the park. January and February can easily reach maximum temperatures of 34 degrees or higher.
Key points to consider when visiting the Kruger National Park:
- There is no need to have an SUV (sports utility vehicle) or 4X4 to drive on any of Kruger’s roads.
- The S44 is the most popular gravel road in Kruger.
- Remember, there is limited to no signal on the roads between camps. However, most camps have cell phone reception.
- It is vital to buy a map at an entrance gates which indicates all the gravel and tar roads, the camps, viewpoints, and picnic sites.
- The speed limit is 50 km on tar roads and 40 km on gravel roads. There is strict law enforcement (with hefty fines) in the park through temporary speed cameras.
- Park and camp gates open and close at specific times depending on the time of the year (see table below).
- There are gas stations in all the rest camps (Lower Sabie’s is temporarily out of service after lightning caused a fire).
- Driving in South Africa, the park is on the left side of the road.
- All the main rest camps have convenience stores and toilets.
- Picnic spots don’t sell barbeque meat (“braaivleis”) or only limited fresh produce.
- All picnic spots have toilets.
- Pack suitable clothes for the prevailing temperatures during your trip. Remember, in winter, the morning and evening can get chilly.
- When consulting your Kruger map or route indications, remember H is the abbreviation for the main tar roads, and S is the abbreviation for the gravel roads.
- We don’t take Malaria medication in the south of the park or in winter. We recommend it for the north.
- Internet speed is extremely slow in the park. Only Skukuza and Pretoriuskop restaurants have free Wi-Fi.
What to be careful of when visiting the Kruger National Park?
Picnic spots are unfenced but very safe if you don’t wander off into the bush. Be highly cautious of the monkeys and baboons at the picnic spots and rest camps. Never feed them! They can get extremely aggressive when they want your food. Hide your food from them. The Punda Maria rest camp has a big problem with the monkeys.
Don’t leave anything (not just food) unattended on your veranda.
Monkeys and baboons are curious and will destroy your belongings. Ensure your windows are closed when approaching them on the road, as they can (and will) attempt to jump into the car.
What are the most important rules of the Kruger National Park?
- You may not leave your vehicle unless indicated at certain picnic spots and a few selected viewpoints.
- There are strict gate and camp opening and closing times (hefty fines are imposed for reaching camp gates after closing).
- There are no pets allowed in the park.
- Children under 12 are not allowed on game drives.
- Day visitors may not bring in or buy alcohol in the park (overnight visitors must produce their permit in camp shops to buy alcohol).
What are the gate opening and closing times of the Kruger National Park?
Unless otherwise indicated, gate times are for both entry and camp gates. The best time to spot animals is two hours after camp opening and two hours before closing. This is when the animals are most active, and you are more likely to spot animals near the road. Many animals, like baboons, play on the roads during this time. Animals sleep under the trees during the day, particularly in the hot summer months, making your game-viewing experience more difficult. Strictly adhere to the below times. There is no tolerance for non-compliance!
Source: Sanparks (2023) Last updated 07/05/2023
How much does it cost to enter the Kruger National Park?
The daily conservation fees are as follows (last updated 07/05/2023):
Foreigners: R460 per adult and R230 per child (under 12 years of age) per day.
South Africans: R230 per adult and R115 per child per day.
There are two ways to pay the entry fees (conservation fees).
You can either pay daily conservation fees or buy a Wildcard.
NOTE, the conservation fees are in addition to the accommodation costs for the camps.
What are the benefits of a wildcard?
Wildcard membership gives you one year’s unlimited access to the partner parks, reserves and resorts, depending on the type of cluster you choose.
Membership is available for single couples or families.
Foreign visitors can buy an International Wildcard membership. The WILDCARD often works out the cheapest compared to conservation fees! Internationals may only buy the ALL PARKS cluster, while South African residents can buy in the SANParks cluster. Let’s look at some practical examples:
Case 1: * Based on 2023 Fees
If you’re a foreigner visiting the park for seven days with a partner, daily conservation fees will cost you R 6 440 (315€) for seven days. Whereas if you buy a Wildcard for ALL Parks Cluster, it will give you access to 80+ parks and reserves around Southern Africa, including Kruger and other South African parks, for a year from the day of purchase. The Wildcard will cost you R 5585 (273€).
Case 2 *
If you’re a foreigner visiting the park for five days with your family (2 adults and two kids), daily conservation fees will cost you R 6 900 (338 €) for five days. Whereas, buying a Wildcard for the SANParks Cluster that will give you access to 21 National Parks for a year from the day of purchase will cost you R 6 685.00 (327€).
Case 3 *
If you’re a local visiting the park for four days with your partner, daily conservation fees will cost you R 920 for four days. If you buy a Wildcard for the SANParks Cluster that will give you access to 21 National Parks for a year from the day of purchase, this will cost you R 1 230.
Case 4 *
If you’re a local visiting the park for four days with your family (2 adults and two kids), daily conservation fees will cost you R 1374 for four days. Whereas if you buy a Wildcard for the SANParks Cluster that will give you access to 21 National Parks for a year from the day of purchase, this will cost you R 1 475.
Cases based on 2023 fees.
Where can I buy a Wildcard?
You can buy a wildcard directly from the SANParks website.
Can you leave your car in the Kruger National Park?
No, you cannot leave your car while driving inside the park. However, there are a few marked viewpoints on the Kruger map where you may leave your vehicle. This is at spots where it is deemed relatively safe for you to do so.
You can leave your car at picnic spots even though they are not fenced in. Most of the picnic spots have magnificent views over the bush or rivers.
If you’re lucky, you can do game viewing while sipping a refreshing drink and enjoying the hot African sun. You can hire a ‘skottle’ gas braai at the picnic spots for as little as R 26. BONUS! You don’t need to wash it when you return it.
Do you have any other questions? Please comment in the section below, and we will gladly answer them.