A safari in Kruger National Park is the highlight of almost every traveler’s journey through South Africa. Kruger National Park is known for its diverse wildlife. You are likely to see more animals here than anywhere else in South Africa. In this article, we will share everything you need to know for a visit to Kruger National Park because there are many different options and choices to make.
- The Difference Between Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger
- Self-Drive or Guided Safari in Kruger National Park?
- How Many Days Do You Need in Kruger National Park?
- Different Routes and Entrances
- Buying Tickets Online for Kruger National Park
- Food and Toilets in Kruger National Park
- Our Favorite Places to Stay in Kruger National Park or Greater Kruger
The Difference Between Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger
Kruger National Park consists of two parts. The largest part of the park is government-owned, and there are also several private reserves. The collection of private reserves is known as Greater Kruger. These reserves are directly connected to Kruger National Park, and the animals can freely move between Kruger and Greater Kruger. In the reserves, you will usually find luxury lodges, but there are also some affordable accommodations available. At the government-owned Kruger National Park, you will find camps that offer a more basic experience. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Combining both experiences is often the most enjoyable.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Kruger National Park
- The accommodations are relatively basic
- It can be crowded
- Accessible without staying overnight
- Off-road driving is prohibited for both jeeps and self-drive visitors
- Accommodations are usually cheaper than in private game reserves
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Private Game Reserve
- Only accessible when staying at a lodge
- Private vehicles are usually not allowed for self-drives
- Accommodations are often luxurious
- Game drive vehicles are allowed to go off-road
Self-Drive or Guided Safari in Kruger National Park?
There are three main types of safaris you can experience in Kruger National Park. For adventurous individuals, there is the Bush Walk, where you can go on a guided walk through the park. Yes, there is a chance of encountering lions or other dangerous animals. However, the guides are well-trained and know what they can and cannot do. For most people, the choice is between a self-drive or a guided safari. We have done both options and can highly recommend them. It is truly special to drive around in your own car on the first day. The animals are unfazed by the vehicles, allowing you to come face to face with lions, elephants, or giraffes. With a guided safari, you have the advantage of being higher up in a jeep, and the guide can provide you with detailed information about the animals. Both experiences are incredible! You can book a guided safari online on the Sanparks website or through the lodge if you are staying in a private reserve.
Tip: A pair of binoculars is essential when visiting South Africa. Even though you can see many animals up close, binoculars allow for even better viewing. One of the more affordable yet good-quality binoculars is the National Geographic 10×50 binoculars. It’s a great tool that you’ll surely enjoy.
How Many Days Do You Need in Kruger National Park?
We allocated two full days and three nights for our visit to Kruger National Park. This gave us the opportunity to go on a self-drive and a guided safari. Since you can easily spend 10 hours on the road each day and everything is incredibly impressive, it can be quite tiring. Two full days and three nights were perfect for us. If you want to add a relaxing day and avoid rushing, it’s also nice to stay an extra night at a lodge. Many lodges have swimming pools where you might even spot some wildlife.
Different Routes and Entrances
Given the size of Kruger National Park, you have a wide range of choices when it comes to routes, areas, and base camps. It’s important to consider what makes sense on your travel route. We chose to stay in Graskop after Johannesburg, which was ideal because it allowed us to visit the Panorama Route and be very close to Kruger National Park. After checking out of our accommodation in Graskop, we embarked on a self-drive and later spent a few nights in lodges in the Greater Kruger area. We entered the park through the Phabeni Gate and drove to Lower Sabie Rest Camp. Here, you can enjoy a nice lunch at Mugg & Bean before heading back. Along the way, you will come across various loops, and taking these small detours is quite enjoyable. We initially planned a larger loop, but due to the numerous stops and photo opportunities, we ended up spending 10 hours on the drive. While we cannot speak for other areas and routes, it’s likely that they are all incredibly beautiful. During our self-drive, we encountered the entire cast of The Lion King. That evening, we drove to a lodge, and the next day, we went on a safari in the lodge’s reserve.
Tip: Instead of focusing too much on specific routes and entrances, consider which lodge you want to stay at and determine the nearest entrance from there.
Buying Tickets Online for Kruger National Park
It is advisable to purchase your Kruger National Park tickets in advance. Tickets cost approximately $28 per person per day and can be ordered on Sanparks’ official website using your credit card. When ordering tickets, you will need to indicate the time of entry. It is recommended to go as early as possible to avoid crowds and because animals are often more active during that time. Additionally, if it fits your schedule, try to avoid weekends as they tend to be slightly busier than weekdays.
Food and Toilets in Kruger National Park
Inside Kruger National Park, there are several public camps surrounded by fences. Here, you will find toilets, shops selling snacks and drinks, and usually a restaurant. It’s also a good idea to bring your own snacks and drinks as it can sometimes take a while before you reach the next camp.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Kruger National Park or Greater Kruger
Depending on your preferences, you can choose to stay at one of the government-managed camps inside Kruger National Park or at a lodge in the Greater Kruger area. Accommodations within Kruger National Park can be booked on the Sanparks website. If you prefer to stay at a lodge, we can recommend some beautiful places. These lodges allow you to stay in the heart of the bush and provide great value for your money. Each of them is a unique destination where you can have a wonderful time. Check out the most beautiful (affordable) lodges in Kruger National Park.