Kruger: The Ultimate Wildlife Destination

Friday, June 10, 2016

A safari through Kruger National Park in South Africa is seen by many as the ultimate destination for spotting animals in the wild. And with good reason. Herds of wildebeest migrate across plains, hippos cool off in watering holes, and lions are often caught hanging out right by the roadside. Best of all, Kruger is not reserved for the super rich who travel on all-inclusive safaris. Anyone can simply rent a car and drive through the park, spotting a myriad of wildlife as they go.

A rare sighting of a cheetah

How To Go

Walking in the park is strictly off limits, for obvious reasons, so a vehicle in Kruger is a must. A wide selection of guided tours are on offer, ranging from several hours to several days, and from bare bones budget to plush luxury.

The cheapest way to explore the park is by hiring your own car and simply driving to one of the entrance gates. On arrival, you'll pay a daily entrance fee of R132/ US$9. From here, you can simply drive around the park at your leisure!

A baby elephant huddling underneath its mama
A network of roads wind through the park, and there is no set route to follow. Bear in mind that while distances may seem short, you will be driving slowly, so give yourself plenty of time to get to your accommodation by nightfall.

Kruger is far to big to cover in a day, so staying overnight in the park lets you cover more ground during your trip. There are a few accommodation options in the park itself, ranging from pricey luxury chalets to cheap campsites for those who have their own tent.

When To Go

One of the things that makes Kruger so popular is that there is no bad time to visit! You can see more wildlife in the drier winter months, which in South Africa means June to August, as animals gather around waterholes. But during the wetter summer months of October to February the surroundings become lush and green, and you can see many newborn animals. Malaria exists in the park during summer, so antimalarials are advised if you’re visiting during this time.

What To See

The range of wildlife in Kruger is staggering. Most visitors are keen to tick off the Big Five: Lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino. The list is not based on the best animals to see, rather, it's a hunting relic based on which animals will attack you if injured. Nonetheless, these are many people’s favourite sightings in Kruger. While elephants and buffalo can easily be spotted, rhinos are rarer. You'll have to get up early for your best chance of spotting lions, and you'll have to have a good dose of luck to see the notoriously elusive leopard.

A lioness
Of course, the Big Five aren't the only animals to see inside the park. Other incredible sightings include cheetahs, African wild dogs, and hyenas. The park abounds with giraffes, wildebeest, a variety of antelope, and the rivers are filled with lazy hippos. Bird watchers can tick off a multitude of creatures here, from ugly vultures to beautiful raptors.

Tips for Spotting Animals

Animals that hunt mainly at night, such as big cats, are most likely to be spotted lingering just after the sun comes up. So start early for your best chance of sightings!

A baby hyena licking water from the road
Each rest camp has a map where visitors can indicate where they have seen certain animals. So check these maps to see where the animals are likely to be. And don't forget to add your mark to the map if you spot a rare animal!

Talk to others along the road, at rest camps and at designated alighting points. They may be able to point you in the direction of some animals they've seen.

Drive slowly and keep your eyes peeled. Don't make noise or try to get too close to an animal, as this will scare them off (or make them angry- buffalo and elephants have been known to ram cars).

Bring a good zoom lens, as some animals may be far from the road, and off-road driving is strictly forbidden.

Sleeping African wild dogs

Remember that a lot of animal sightings come down to luck. One visitor may not see a single lion, another may see a whole pride lying right in the road. So keep your fingers crossed, and remember, even if you don't see the animal that you have your heart set on, you'll see plenty of others!

All Image Credits : ailishinwonderland

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  1. Awesome article Ailish! A must read before visiting Kruger National Park.


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