The Kruger National Park, rich in biodiversity, was established in 1898 and stretches for 350 km from south to north along the Mozambican border before meeting up with the Zimbabwean border. A paradise for the wildlife enthusiast, with close to 150 mammals to be on the look-out for, amongst them six cat species, the park also has more than 500 species of birds and over 300 species of trees for the visitor to identify.
With its subtropical climate, the large habitat variety and a surface area of 19 633 km2, the park is home to a spectacular array of fauna and flora and is undoubtedly the world leader in dynamic environmental management techniques and policies based on experience gained over more than a century.
At the ranger’s signal, everybody freezes. What has he seen? As he points, all heads slowly turn. A stone throw away, expertly camouflaged by a thick stand of lala palms, is a huge elephant bull. As the magnificent animal peacefully feeds, everybody holds their breath. After what seems like ages, the massive head lifts and gently flapping its ears, the bull slowly lumbers away into the dense bush. Such an exceptional encounter can befall those who make a booking to venture forth on one of the Kruger National Park’s wilderness trails.
Seven trails, chosen for their unique scenic beauty and diverse fauna and flora and each with its own special features, provide an unforgettable experience for the more adventurous traveller.
Armed trail rangers accompany groups of no more than eight on an exploration of the African bush lasting three nights and two days. Set out daily from your trail’s base camp and return at night to a crackling campfire and a wholesome meal. Wash off the dust and fatigue in a reed-walled shower and fall asleep in a rustic hut to the sounds of the bush. This is Africa at her best.
In the Kruger National Park alone, there are a large number of known cultural heritage sites, including several recorded rock art sites. In the northernmost part of this park, at Thulamela, archaeologists have uncovered a prehistoric site, inhabited from the 15th to mid-17th century.
Gold beads, clay spindle whorls, ostrich shell-beads and other artefacts as well as stone ruins were discovered and are probably the remains of a Late Iron Age settlement. The stone-walled settlement has been reconstructed and was officially declared a cultural site museum on 24 September 1996.
The picturesque Masorini Hill site, near the Phalaborwa entrance gate, tells the story of a society that produced and traded iron artefacts during the Late Iron Age era. Although not as old as Thulamela, the site museum offers a glimpse of a unique metalworking and farming culture and the close relationship which once existed between man and nature.
Learn about the secrets of the African bush during a three hour leisurely day walk in the Kruger National Park. Accompanied by two armed guides, who will happily unveil its wonders, you can experience this flagship park’s wonderfully diverse fauna and flora at first hand.
Accommodation and activities
Ten fenced main rest camps provide anything from merely affordable to luxury accommodation. The wide range of available accommodation, which also includes caravan and camping sites with shared communal facilities to luxurious and more intimate bushveld camps and bush lodges, enables the park to cater successfully to the needs of the full spectrum of the tourist market. Electricity, a shop and firstaid centre, and either a restaurant or self-service cafeteria, communal kitchen facilities, public telephones and a filling station can be found at all the major rest camps. All accommodation units are self-catering and serviced daily. Bedding, towels and soap are provided.
Several of the camps have conference facilities. Skukuza and Letaba have information centres and visitors are accompanied by rangers on pre-booked bush drives or bush walks off the beaten track.
Those staying at Berg-en-Dal, Pretoriuskop, Mopani and Shingwedzi can brave the heat of the day in a swimming pool while golfing enthusiasts will find the unfenced nine-hole course at Skukuza, with its wildlife spectators and sometimes participants, both unique and thrilling!
For the less daring, explore the Park in your own time and vehicle and discover the ancient archaeological sites and the cultures they represent at Masorini and Thulamela.
The Kruger National Park has several venues to choose from, depending on the number of delegates and the type of venue required. Jakkalsbessie and Mopani can cater for groups of up to 32 and 60 respectively, while Berg-en- Dal can accommodate groups of up to 200. Skukuza has an auditorium, which can seat 158 people.
Have you ever secretly admired Tarzan and Mowgli, but lacked their prowess? Now, you can compete on your own terms. Instead of swinging through the tree-tops, you can show off your golf swing to the likes of warthogs, impalas, giraffe and possibly even the occasional lion or hyena! The Skukuza golf course in the Kruger National Park is, to our knowledge, the only course in the world that lies within the boundaries of a national park.
Presidents, politicians, captains of industry and wellknown golfers have walked its unfenced fairways, for the most part unfazed by the unusual spectators. This unique course is a Par 72. The 9-hole course is played as 18 and runs to 5950m (6450 yards) for men and 5059m (5840 yards) for ladies. It has been designed for all levels of golfers and the course record of 66 is held jointly by Wayne Westner and Phil Simmons. The course requires a bold and a brave heart. Lake Panic has been most aptly named and its spectacular view should not invite complacency, especially at the 9th hole. It must also be taken into account that shots played into the rough could lead to close encounters with some of the park’s four-legged inhabitants.
Prospective visitors should take note that it is advisable to use malaria prophylactics and mosquito repellents due to the prevalence of malaria in the park. Night drives and wilderness trails are very popular and the latter should be booked well in advance; the same applies to reservations for accommodation. Some accommodation units have no cooking facilities and visitors have to provide their own cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery.
As there are no floodlights in the rest camps, a flashlight may come in handy when using the communal facilities at night or when having a barbecue. The roads in the Park are either well- maintained tar or gravel roads and carry a speed restriction to ensure the safety of both visitors and wildlife.
How to get there
There are daily flights from Johannesburg International Airport to Skukuza (main restcamp) and the town of Phalaborwa, which is close to the Kruger National Park. Car rentals can be arranged at all these venues or visitors can join a luxury coach tour, arranged by accredited tour operators and travel agents.
Kruger Gate is about 500 km or a five-hour drive from Johannesburg while the gates at Phalaborwa and Punda Maria are approximately 550 km from Johannesburg.