The Kruger National Park, which measures a whopping two million hectares, is approximately the size of the whole of Wales. Although there are still fences between parts of the Kruger National Park and Mozambique and Zimbabwe, so the planned Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is not quite yet a reality. When it is, it will be spectacular. Actually, Kruger already is.
Most of the park is situated in the Lowveld. Restricted to broad valleys below 1000m above sea level, the Lowveld is what many people consider to be the 'real' Africa. In this low-lying subtropical climate, broad-leaved trees and thorn trees co-exist happily in relatively open woodland, interspersed with long grass – and, of course, game. Wildlife abounds.
In the far north, it gets hotter and the vegetation changes to mopane woodland and, right in the northern part of the country, huge baobab trees dominate the landscape. The rivers here tend to be broad and slow moving and may consist of no more than a few unconnected pools at the end of the dry season but that's when the game congregates around the few known water sources – so it all evens out.
You may have heard the cynical remark that Kruger is 'too developed' with loads of town-like camps and other infrastructure. Well, yes. The park does have a number of good accommodation options – more than 20 SANParks camps and a few private luxury lodges as well. That may sound like a lot – but remember that Kruger is the size of Wales – and in all that space there is one town – the main camp, Skukuza, is virtually a small town – about a dozen tiny hamlets with less than a hundred families and a few out of the way camps that would probably relate to a small farmstead. That leaves an awful lot of real wilderness.
You can do Kruger as a self-drive or as a guided tour. Other exciting options include walking safaris, mountain bike trails and a self-drive 4x4 trail. The nearest airport to the park is the Kruger-Mpumalanga International Airport, just outside Nelspruit.
The southern, more popular, part of Kruger is about four hour's drive from Johannesburg, and a little less from Pretoria. The drive to the more remote, far less utilised, northern part, takes a few hours longer, but it's not on the same route. You could do a great circular tour if you had ten days or so to spare. Fly in to KMIA and enter the park in the south, drive very slowly to the north, spending a day or two at different camps en route, and then drive back to Johannesburg. (Or the other way round, of course.)
Kruger National Park Entrance Gates Opening & Closing Times:
January to February 05:30 – 18:30
February 05:30 – 18:30
March 05:30 – 18:00
April 06:00 – 18:00
May to July 06:00 – 17:30
June 06:00 – 17:30
July 06:00 – 17:30
August to September 06:00 – 18:00
October 05:30 – 18:00
November to December 05:30 – 18:30
Dec 05:30 – 18:30
Kruger National Park Camp Gates Opening Times:
February to March 05:30
April to September 06:00
November to December 04:30
Kruger National Park Entrance Gates Telephone Numbers:
Crocodile Bridge Gate +27 (0)13 735 6012
Kruger Gate +27 (0)13 735 5107
Malelane Gate +27 (0)13 735 6152
Numbi Gate +27 (0)13 735 5133
Orpen Gate +27 (0)13 735 0237/0238
Pafuri Gate +27 (0)13 735 5574
Phabeni Gate +27 (0)13 735 5890
Phalaborwa Gate +27 (0)13 735 3547
Punda Maria Gate +27 (0)13 735 6870
If you are planning to travel to the Kruger National Park or Lowveld please be aware that this is a malaria region. Consult your doctor or travel clinic for advice and refer to our article on malaria.
Battle in Kruger National Park:
Check out this amazing video of a battle between buffalo, lions and another predator: