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If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending some time in Kruger. As one of the most popular safari destinations in South Africa, I’ll admit I thought it might be overrated. For all the amazing Kruger stories I’d heard, I’d also been told it was busy and impossible to ever have a sighting to yourself.
Spoiler: That wasn’t true at all.
What I found instead was possibly my favourite safari destination to date. Don’t skip Kruger. In fact, spend as much time there as you can. As you’re about to learn, it’s the kind of place you’ll never truly finish exploring…
Here are 30 helpful Kruger National Park facts to make your visit as amazing as can be. Some of them are practical, some of them are essential and others are simply awe-inspiring.
Kruger wildlife facts
It’s what you’re visiting Kruger for, so I’m sure you want to know a little about what wildlife to expect, right? Well, you’re in for a treat…
#1 There are over 3,414 species of flora and fauna in Kruger. That includes around 147 mammal species, 114 reptiles, over 507 bird species and more than 2000 plant species. Searching for them is like a endless game of natural bingo – and incredibly rewarding when you spot them for the first time! One of my favourite things about safari is that you always see something you’ve never seen before, and that’s especially true in Kruger.
#2 You can spot the big 5 in one day. Kruger National Park is home to all of the ‘big 5’: rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants and cape buffalo. And with Kruger being home to over 12,000 elephants and 1,000 leopards, it’s not uncommon to see all five of them in one day.
#3 The big 5 isn’t the only ‘five’ to look for. If you’re lucky, you can also see the little 5 (elephant shrew, buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise, antlion and rhino beetle), the 5 trees (baobab, fever tree, knob thorn, marula and mopane) or the big 6 birds (kori bustard, martial eagle, lappetfaced vulture, Pel’s fishing owl, saddle-billed stork and southern ground hornbill).
#4 Kruger National Park is popular with bird watchers. And with over 507 birds to find, it’s no surprise! The best areas for bird life are the camp sites and picnic areas.
#5 The southern part of the park is the best for viewing game. This is thanks to the higher rainfall, but it also means it’s busier with tourists. If you want to avoid the crowds, head north.
#6 Wildlife can move into and out of neighbouring game reserves. This wasn’t always the case – the fences were only removed in the last few years – but means there is more movement now.
Facts about Kruger National Park camps
#7 There are 17 rest camps in Kruger National Park. Each camp is unique and some have more facilities than others, such as camping, laundry rooms and swimming pools. Check the Kruger website for full information on each.
#8 The camps are all about an hour apart. If you drive at 25km/h and don’t stop for wildlife viewing, it should take you around an hour to get from one camp to the nearest. For that reason, it’s worth planning ahead for any toilet or coffee breaks you may wish to take during the drive.
#9 Check the sightings boards. Every camp has its own sightings board where you can check for the latest sightings. These usually include leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants, wild dogs and hyenas. Rhinos aren’t listed any more because of poaching. If you’re stopping by a camp, make sure you check the board to see where the most activity has been that day.
#10 Many of the camps have shops on-site. These shops are usually well-equipped with everything from souvenirs to braai meat and cooking equipment. Shops usually close 30 minute after the gates so it’s worth stocking up earlier in the day.
#11 The longest drive between any two camps is just under 17 hours. It will take you 16 hours and 55 minutes to drive between Berg-en-Dal and Punda Maria if you take the shortest route. Kruger is huge!
#12 Accommodation and camp occupation is from 12pm to 9am. It’s worth packing up before your final game drive if you don’t want to get charged extra!
#13 Kruger National Park has 5 bush camps. They are all complete with ablutions, kitchens, crockery and cutlery but don’t have any shops or restaurants. Camping is not permitted at these camps.
Driving in Kruger
#14 The speed limit in Kruger National Park is 50km/h. On dirt roads, the limit drops down to 40km/h.
#15 There are 11 gates to enter and exit the park. You can drive in and out of any of them.
#16 You can’t get out of your car while driving. Kruger has three picnic sites where you can get out, walk around and be at one with nature. The picnic sites are equipped with barbecues, toilets and seating areas, but they are fenced so be aware of wildlife. Leaving your vehicle anywhere else will get you banned from all the National Parks in South Africa for life!
#17 Fuel is only available at the larger rest camps. Kruger is huge and so are the driving distances. Make sure you always have enough fuel to get around.
#18 Car hire is available at Skukuza. There’s also a garage that can help if you’re unlucky enough to experience a break down in the park.
#19 Off-road driving is not allowed. You certainly don’t need a 4×4 to self drive Kruger. All of the roads are marked and you cannot go off-road at any time.
#20 Motorbikes aren’t allowed inside Kruger National Park. You’ll need a car if you want to self drive Kruger.
Health & safety when visiting Kruger
#21 Kruger is a malaria area. I chose not to take any anti-malarial because we visited in the dry season, but you might want to take them. It’s best to speak to your doctor about it before you go.
#22 Pets aren’t allowed. although you’ll see loads of wildlife in Kruger National Park, there’s zero chance of seeing any cute puppies. Dogs and other pets aren’t allowed inside the gates.
#23 It can get HOT. The average daily maximum temperature in summer is 32.3 degrees and the winter average low is 9.1 degrees. Make sure you’re equipped for all weather. Check out my post on what to wear on an African safari if it’s your first time.
Other Kruger National Park facts
#24 Kruger has six walking trails. Driving isn’t the only way to get close to the wildlife, but you’ll need a guide if you want to see them by foot!
#25 There’s loads to do beyond safari. Other activities available in Kruger National Park range from an (unfenced!) golf course and mountain bike trails to bush braai and sleepover hides.
#26 There are over 250 cultural heritage sites inside Kruger. They include 130 sites with prehistoric rock art, but only three of them are open to the public.
#27 Kruger’s history goes way back. Even though the park opened to the public in 1927, man explored the area long before. There’s substantial evidence that Prehistoric man roamed the region between 100000-500000 years ago!
#28 There’s an airport. Many tourists fly into Johannesburg but, if you’re short on time, you can fly straight into Kruger Mpumalanga airport. The airport is to the south west of the park, about halfway between the Malelane and Numbi entrance gates.
#29 The app is the best way to find wildlife. The Latest Sightings app is more up to date than any of the sightings boards or the Twitter feed. It includes details on the sighting such as visibility and exact location, as well as photos taken by other visitors.
#30 Kruger is HUGE! I know you already know this, but you might not know just how massive Kruger National Park is. In case you were wondering, it’s approximately 350km long and 60km wide.
Visiting Kruger soon? Pin the image below to save this list of tips for later: