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Africa’s all about who you know and being in the know, and luckily you know us so we can give you all the inside info! Going on safari is bound to be one of the greatest adventures of your life – especially if you’re visiting South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park.
Image credit: andBeyond Kirkman’s Camp
But, like every intrepid explorer, you need to be prepared and in order to be prepared, you need to ask questions. We compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions about Kruger and answered them for you before you even had to ask! Take a look:
Image credit: Singita
Lucky for you, Kruger is a year-round destination and deciding what time of year to visit depends entirely on what you want to see. The summer months are warm and rainy, washing the bushveld in colour and making it a superb time to enjoy bird-spotting. Animals may be a little trickier to see around this time because of denser foliage, but many of the lodges have a tracker who can do the job for you. A lot of animals are born in summer, too, which means you’ll get to see adorable newborn critters tottering around the veld.
In winter, the temperatures drop in the morning and evening, but the days remain temperate. This is also the dry season, which means the foliage has thinned and water is more scarce, encouraging Kruger’s wildlife population to clamour around water sources, making for superb game viewing opportunities.
The changing seasons also make for great sightings. Autumn sees the green vegetation thinning slightly, while the rutting season begins and thunder storms become frequent – an electrifying experience to be sure. Spring is often the height of the dry season, ensuring excellent visibility whilst on safari.
Technically? Yes, you can. Kruger has public areas which allow guests to pay a park entrance fee and drive around on safari by themselves but given the park’s immense size (almost 19,500 km²), we wouldn’t recommend it.
Travellers will have a far more rewarding experience if they safari in a private area of the park, where vehicle numbers are limited (the public areas can get very crowded at sightings) and with a ranger who knows the lay of the land and the wildlife, too. Some of our favourite reserves and concessions include Sabi Sand, Timbavati, and Lion Sands.
Image credit: Londolozi
It’s not recommended that very young children, such as infants and toddlers, go on safari but there are numerous child-friendly lodges in Kruger with entertainment and safari programs geared for older kids. In some instances, it is recommended that families with children book a private game drive vehicle for themselves. Some of our favourite child-friendly safari lodges include Londolozi, Singita Castleton Camp, Honeyguide Khoka Moya Camp, and Ulusaba Rock Lodge to name a few.
Image credit: Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps
It’s important to note that the overall price of your accommodation not only includes all your meals and beverages but your twice-daily game drives with an expert ranger and other indulgent add-ons such as high teas and sundowners. More importantly, many of the lodges are found in private concessions where vehicle numbers are low and inaccessible to the wider public who are not staying at a lodge in that private concession or reserve.
Image credit: Lion Sands
The Kruger National Park is a park that is open to the public, for a fee, and allows wildlife seekers to self-drive their way through the park. It also has set opening and closing times and certain restrictions that aren’t found in the neighbouring reserves and private concessions. The reserves and concessions are exclusive and not open to everyone – only those staying within its boundaries.
Unfenced and sharing all of Kruger’s wildlife, they’re without the pesky tourist throngs that flock to the public parts of the park. Only a certain number of vehicles are allowed per sighting and travellers can enjoy additional activities such as night game drives and bush walks. Safaris in the reserves are led by highly skilled rangers and guides who know precisely where the animals are and are more than happy to impart all their knowledge on eager ears.
Image credit: Kapama Private Game Reserve
Kruger is found in a malaria risk area but if travellers are prepared, they can easily avoid it. The summer months see mosquitos become more active, but all lodges in the park and neighbouring reserves have fitted mosquito nets and screens in all rooms along with other deterrents.
Image credit: Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
Travellers should also take the necessary precautions such as antimalarial medication. If avoiding malaria areas is a primary concern for your trip, we’d suggest safaris in non-malaria areas such as the Garden Route and Madikwe Game Reserve.
With so many options to choose from, this is a pretty tough question to ask, and while people tell you it’s wrong to have favourites – how can we not? Our favourite picks for lodges in Kruger (rated because of luxury, service, food, and the overall experience ) are Londolozi, Chitwa Chitwa, Lion Sands, and Singita.
Grab your binoculars and put on those walking boots, explorers. Kruger’s activities revolve around the wildlife, the wild setting, and enjoying every ounce of it. Depending on where you stay, you can expect to go on game drives and bush walks and to dine beneath the night sky and sleep in luxury tree top retreats.
Image credit: Lion Sands River Lodge
Bright colours are a definite no. Try to keep it casual, comfortable, and neutral with khaki pants and light cotton tops. For definitive safari dress code, check out our What to Pack for Safari guide.
Balancing time in Kruger can be tricky, which is where we come in! On average, we’d recommend no less than three nights per lodge and lodges found in different parts of the Kruger area. If you’re staying for six nights then it’s wise to split your time between two different lodges. This ensures that your wildlife sightings are as varied as the landscape and your odds of spotting all members of the Big 5 are high.
What is a safari without a bit of the city? Or a natural wonder of the world, perhaps? Our two favourite (and conveniently easy) add-ons to a Kruger holiday are Cape Town and Victoria Falls. Resting between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town has been bewitching locals and foreigners alike for decades. Meanwhile, Victoria Falls allows visitors to get close to ‘the smoke that thunders’ – the largest waterfall in the world – and perhaps even allows for a dip in the infamous Devil’s Pool.
Ready to go? Contact one of our expert consultants today to start planning your Kruger adventure.
Jozi-born, Knysna local, and recovering yachtie, Melanie decided that she missed being land-based after 18 months sailing the seas. Now that she lives in the most beautiful city in Africa (she is adamant about this fact), you will find her trying out new things around Cape Town, dreaming about her next holiday, and using Wikipedia to enhance her skills as an encyclopaedia of useless information.
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