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Kruger National Park Trave Guide

INTRODUCTION:

Kruger National Park is situated in South Africa and is one of the largest nature reserves in the African content. It covers an area of nearly 20,000 km2 and stretches throughout a large area sharing borders with Zimbabwe in the north, Mozambique in the east and the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo towards south and west respectively.  

Kruger National Park attracts tourists from around the globe who admire nature, wildlife and adventures. Each year, thousands of tourists get on board South Africa flights in order to visit this mind blowing national park.

Kruger National Park has nine gates, important to be known by every traveler, in order to avoid loosing way in wilderness. These gates are; Phabeni Gate, Malelane Gate, Punda Maria Gate, Pafuri Gate, Orpen Gate, Numbi Gate, Paul Kruger Gate, Crocodile Bridge Gate and Phalaborwa Gate.  

GET IN:

Flying:

Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport:

This airport is situated around 23 km from the city of Nelspruit and serves Kruger National Park. It receives flights from Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Vilanculos. It is not difficult to get to these cities as cheap flights to South Africa are widely available around the world. Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport is 40km away from Numbi Gate, 82km from Kruger Gate, 76 k from Phabeni Gate and 63km from Malelane Gate.

Car rental companies such as Hertz, Imperial Car Rental, National, Budget and Europcar have their offices at the airport.

Phalaborwa Airport:

As clear from its name, the airport is closest to the Phalaborwa Gate at a distance of 2km. From the OR Tambo International Airport of Johannesburg, it receives two flights from Monday to Friday and one flight each day on Saturdays and Sundays. Car hiring facility is available at the airport.

Malelane Regional Airport:   

Malelane Regional Airport serves the Malelane Gate of Kruger National Park and is used for personal chartered planes and business flights.

Car:

Gates of Kruger National Park are closed after sunset and it is not allowed to drive in the park after darkness falls. Hence it is advised to keep complete information of the distance from the point of destination till Kruger National Park to avoid reaching there late. From Nelspruit, N4 highway has to be used and toll is paid. From this route, Malelane Gate would be found southeast and Numbi and Kruger gates at southwest with Kruger Gate north of Numbi Gate. Even outside the park, driving at night is not recommended.

From Johannesburg, the distances to the gates of Kruger National Park are as follows;

 

Gate

Distance/km

Numbi Gate

411

Madelane Gate

428

Phabeni Gate

430-440

Crocodile Bridge Gate

475

Paul Kruger Gate

460-470

Orpen Gate

490

Phalaborwa Gate

490

Punda Maria Gate

550

Parfuri Gate

600

GET AROUND:

Tours:

Tours to Kruger National Park can be guided or personal. Tourists can select their type of tour to the park as per their need and level of comfort. However, to get the best of the park and for the safest journey, guided tours are preferred. There are a number of travel companies that offer guided tours to Kruger National Park taking in its best sights and sounds. Camps inside the park offer a variety of trails which are also very exciting. Sufficient food and drinks, cameras, binoculars, litter bags, maps and reference books should be kept handy. 

Walking:

Walking safaris are not only fun but a dream of all adventurous travelers. In a wildlife reserve like Kruger National Park, this can be enjoyed to the fullest but only through guided tours. Note that walking without a guide in the park is not only unauthorized but of course, extremely unwise.

Car:

Roads inside Kruger National Park are well maintained by African standards but not by international standards. However, they suffice for the comfortable plying to visitors and are can be termed as fairly good.

Sedans or hatchbacks can be used in the national park for a safe and comfortable time while saloons are of course, not a good choice for such an expedition. A 4X4 would, indeed, be the best choice as terrain of the park varies. Thus for a very smooth drive in Kruger National Park, it remains the best option.    

Since the weather of the region is generally hot, the hired car should be air-conditioned. It is important to maintain a speed between 20km/h and 50km/h as wildlife movement is common. Animals cross roads without any signals thus to avoid any accidents or mishap, over speeding should be avoided. However, if at any point, an animal looks angry, simply move away.

FLORA AND FAUNA:

Plants:

Kruger National Park is home to around 1,982 species of plants where the landscaping of the park is divided into six parts. These parts comprise the baobab plantations, riverine forest, acacia plantations, Mopane scrub and knobthorn-marula bushveld. Hence Kruger National Park is home to endless scenic views and is a wonderful resort for photography and sightseeing.

Birds:

Kruger National Park is home to around 517 species of birds which include residents, immigrants as well as nomads. The widespread vibrancy of beautifully colored birds makes Kruger National Park, a heaven for bird watchers. White Fronted Plover, Green Pigeon, Lilac Breasted Roller and Purple Roller form the small species along with many others. There are a number of owl species at the park which include; Scops Owl, Eagle Owl and Pearl Spotted Owl. Cormorants, Crested Barbet, Bat Hawk, Black Headed Oriole, Bateleur Eagle, Kingfisher and Spoonbill are some of the most beautiful birds found at the park.

Reptiles:

There are 114 species in Kruger National Park under this heading. The park boasts a large population of crocodiles which has been estimated up to 3000. Crocodile River View Point is a mind blowing spot inside the vicinity of Kruger National Park where tourists can get out of their car and watch hippos and crocodiles. Variable Skink, Vine Snake, Leopard Tortoise, Spekes Hinged Tortoise and Serrated Hinged Terrapin are amongst the variety.

Mammals:

Kruger National Park houses more mammals than any other African national park. Thus it is not possible to list all of them down here; however, there are some points to be noted about the park. Kruger National Park is a primary reason of tourism in South Africa and draws many researchers, adventurer and explorers to cash flights to South Africa and get here. It houses the African Big Five which include; Lion, Leopard, Cape buffalo, Black Rhinoceros and African Elephant. Authorities have set up webcams in different part of the park to observe the animals. The endangered African Wild Dog, Vervet Monkey, Slender Mongoose and Giraffe and Hippo can be easily spotted. Sable, Porcupine and Honey Badger, along with innumerable other species of wildlife, are found at Kruger National Park.          

WEATHER

1ST Quarter:

Temperature for the month of January ranges from 18oC-34oC while that in February and March remain 18oC-33oC. The month of January experiences the height of rainy season with thunderstorms. Although the quarter remains hot and humid, conditions get slightly better by March while the vibrancy of vegetation touches its peak. The rare eagles can be easily spotted in January while February and March bring breeding seasons for waterbuck and buffalo respectively.   

2nd Quarter:

The second quarter sees a considerable change in weather when April dominates autumn, May stays mid-way between autumn and winter and June dominates the winter season. The temperature range for the first two months of this quarter remains 13oC-28oC which drops to a range of 9oC-26oC until June. April brings in wildebeest and May invites migratory elephants from Zimbabwe and Mozambique while in June, animals gather near waterholes, hence are most visible in this month. For travelers, concerned only with wildlife and not with the climatic conditions, June is the best time to grab a flight to South Africa while for others April might be a good time.    

3rd Quarter:

A temperature range of 9oC-26oC maintains until the end of July but rise to 12oC-28oC for August and September. Nights can be very cold but some flora becomes worth watching and wildlife is easily viewed. Winter birds migrate in large number to make Kruger National Park, a heaven for bird watchers. By August, humidity and temperatures increase during the day while mornings and evenings remain cool. Thorny flowering become visible. In September, little showers are experienced while game remains concentrated around waterholes in August and September.  

4th Quarter:

October and November maintain a temperature range of 16oC-32oC and while that of December rises to 18oC-34oC. October is usually hot and experiences a lot of rainfall. Grass turns green in this month and steppe eagles arrive. By November, rainfall doubles that of October and kingfishers make their way to Kruger National Park. December sees the height of summers and rainy season with much vegetation and increasing numbers or impalas.