Kruger National Park
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The Kruger National Park - where nearly 2 million hectares of unrivalled diversity of life forms fuses with historical and archaeological sights - this is real Africa.
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
Truly the flagship of the South African National Parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Man's interaction with the lowveld environment over many centuries - from bushman rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela - is very evident in the Kruger National Park. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and are conserved along with the park's natural assets.
5 Things To Seek:
The Big Five – Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino.
The Little Five – Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle.
Birding Big Six– Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet- faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Saddle-bill Stork.
Five Trees – Baobab, Fever Tree, Knob Thorn, Marula, Mopane.
Natural/Cultural Features – Letaba Elephant Museum, Jock of the Bushveld Route, Albasini Ruins, Masorini Ruins, Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library, Thulamela.
Numerous visitors to the Kruger National Park (KNP) has called this park the focal point of South African National Parks. Being the biggest national park in South Africa, visitors can expect an abundance of wildlife sightings and a pure African bushveld setting as the backdrop.
Visitors need not to worry about how to fill their free time - KNP offers an exciting assortment of activities, each one bent on bringing the guest closer to nature and making them feel at home.
Whether it is eco trails, back packing, day walks... participants can rest assured that experienced, professional and armed guides will act as trail leaders and interpret the stunning environment at regular intervals. This allows the participants to get close to nature and experience its wonders like never before.
Activities Available Include:
Wilderness Trails, Game Drives, Guided Walks, 4x4Mountain Biking, Backpacking Trails, Eco-Trails, Golf & Birding
Main Rest Camps
All the major Rest Camps have electricity, a first-aid centre, a shop, braai and communal kitchen facilities, a laundromat/laundry tubs, a restaurant and/or self-service cafeteria, public telephones and a petrol station. Information centres manned eby information staff are at Letaba, Skukuza and Berg-en-Dal. Holiday programmes and evening film shows of wildlife and conservation are arranged in many of the restcamps. Please enquire at reception.
Berg-en-Dal (with satellite Malelane)
Orpen (with satellites Maroela and Tamboti)
Satara (with satellite Balule)
All of the park's main rest camps have retail facilities for both curios and basic provisions (the Bushveld and Satellite Camps have no restaurant or shop facilities). The larger camps have a better selection of stock. These shops used to be run internally by SANParks, but in 2001 it was decided to outsource the function to an organisation specializing in the retail industry. After a thorough tendering process, the contract was awarded to Tiger's Eye.
There are swimming pools at the following camps: Berg-en-Dal, Letaba, Lower Sabie, Mopani, Olifants, Orpen, Pretoriuskop, Punda Maria, Satara, Shingwedzi and Skukuza (2 pools). These pools are for camp residents only. There are additional pools for day visitors at the Skukuza and Letaba Day Visitor Areas.
Besides a bank (only open Monday to Friday and Saturday morning) at Skukuza and an ATM at Skukuza and Letaba, no cash withdrawal facilities are available in the Park.
Wi-Fi internet reception/internet café facility
A visit to Letaba Camp’s Elephant Hall is a must.
The museum houses the enormous tusks of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ – the seven greatest elephants ever to roam the Kruger National Park. A number of bird and animal hides, particularly the Matambeni hide on the northern bank of the Engelhardt dam, offer excellent vantage points for birding. The spectacular landscape is a treasure trove of sights, smells and textures to delight the senses of any keen traveler
The Kruger National Park is home to over 12,000 elephants, 27,000 African Buffalo, 1,000 leopards and lots of other wonderful wildlife.
The Kruger Park has a hot, sub-tropical climate and most of the year it is hot during the day (above 25 degrees). It's an all year round destination, game viewing can be at its best during the winter months however the wet summer season brings full water holes, lots of newborn wildlife, and the summer migrant birds arrive.
The park has 13 rest camps, 11 bushveld camps, and 11 lodges.
Its borders are marked by two rivers; the Crocodile River creates a border in the South of the Park, and the Limpopo River creates a border in the north. The Lebombo Mountains border the Park on its Western side, dividing the Park from its eastern neighbour, Mozambique.
The Park falls within a malaria zone and visitors are advised to take anti-malaria tablets. The southern regions are not a high risk malaria area but tourists visiting the Park in the wet summer months and those travelling to the northern parts of the Park are advised to be vigilant and take precautions against this life-threatening disease.
There is ample evidence that prehistoric man – Homo erectus – roamed the area between 500 000 and 100 000 years ago. There are almost 254 known cultural heritage sites in the Kruger Park, including nearly 130 recorded rock art sites.
More than 300 archaeological sites of Stone Age man have been found from the period dating back 100 000 to 30 000 years ago. Evidence of Bushman tribes (San people) and Iron Age inhabitants dating back to 1 500 years ago have been found, aswell as the presence of Nguni people and European explorers.
Thulamela and Masorini are two areas where significant archaeological ruins are found, and there are numerous examples of San art scattered throughout the reserve.
The Kruger National Park lies in a subtropical zone where summer days are hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching the 40°C (100°F) mark.
It is a summer rainfall area and the rainy season lasts from September until May. The driest period in the Park is September and October, and is regarded as the best game viewing time as the grass is thin and short which is excellent for seeing animals.
The winter months from May to end of August are popular because the mosquitos are less active in the cold months and there is less chance of contracting malaria if you are not taking prophylactics. The game stay close to the waterholes in the drier winter months and this attracts the predators which makes it an ideal time of the year for game viewing.
Birds of the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is a birder’s paradise boasting 517 species of birds; 253 are residents, 117 non-breeding migrants and 147 nomads.
Affectionately known as the Big 6, there are six large species that are by and large restricted to the Park’s conservation areas. They are the lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, saddle-billed stork, kori bustard, ground hornbill and the reclusive Pel’s fishing owl, which is localized and seldom seen.
There are between 25 and 30 breeding pairs of saddle-billed storks in the Park, besides a handful of non-breeding individuals. In 2012 178 family groups of ground hornbills roamed the Park and 78 nests were known, of which 50% were active.
Pafuri and Punda Maria in the far north of the Park are regarded as one of the birding hotspots of the world. There are a number of species in the Kruger National Park that are not found anywhere else in the world.
The rest camps in the Park are where birds often see some of the best birds, particularly those bushveld camps that are situated on one of the main rivers. The comical hornbills and glossy starlings have made the rest camps their home, with easy pickings from picnic scraps and family barbeques.
The many dams scattered around the Kruger National Park are excellent birding spots, with the African Fish Eagle being a prize sighting. Its signature call is an absolute delight.
The Kruger National Park can only sustain a population of 8 000 elephants but by last count in 2012 had close to 17 000 elephants. The Park stopped culling elephants in 1994 but the significant increase in numbers has put severe strain on the Park’s habitat.
The Park suffered from extensive elephant poaching in the 1980s which has since abated. It holds over 48 tons of ivory in storage and, according to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), has been allowed to sell 30 tons to raise much-needed revenue for anti-poaching measures.
Rhino and anti-poaching measures
The total population of white and black rhino in South Africa is in the region of 22 000, which represents about 93% of the world’s population of this vulnerable species. Kruger is home to at least 12 000 rhinos.
Endangered species of the Kruger National Park
The heavily-poached rhino population receives the most attention as a highly-threatened species in the Kruger National Park, but there are many Red Data (severely endangered) species in the Park – including a number of bird species.
The status of the African wild dog, affectionately known as the painted wild dog, is actually far more perilous. The Kruger National Park is home to the only viable pack of wild dogs in South Africa and without protection, their future looks bleak. There are about 400 wild dogs left in the whole of South Africa.
The wild dog has been brought to the brink of extinction due to persecution by humans (they were viewed as pests), genetic inbreeding and diseases like rabies and distemper that they contract from domesticated dogs in the rural areas.
A continent-wide programme has been established by the The Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society in London, and the group is rolling out plans to save this precious species.
On the birding list, there are a number of species that are endangered and being monitored by conservation groups. These include the Baleleur and southern-ground hornbill, aswell as the lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, kori bustard and grey-headed parrot. These bird species are relatively well-protected in the Park but they are under threat from poaching and poisoning in areas outside of the Kruger National Park.
The Kruger National Park offers nine different wilderness trails; some of them are in the deep bush and virtually untouched by humans. Game rangers take groups on trails made by the animals, and armed with a rifle in case they run into something wild and hungry.
Almost half the surface area of the Park’s 2 million hectares is zoned as wilderness and these are the areas that various operators conduct wilderness trails. Groups stay in rustic, fairly primitive accommodation and the aim is for guest to experience an authentic wilderness experience with game viewing being a secondary attraction. Trails offer the more adventurous tourists complete isolation, tranquillity and peace.
A walking trail generally lasts between three and four days, and you are accompanied by a highly-experienced armed ranger. Guides who take walking safaris in the Kruger National Park have to complete a series of rigorous assessments and must renew their advanced rifle-handling certificate every two years.
There are walking trails designed for an extreme wilderness experience and others that cater for those who want a less rustic experience.
The Mphongolo Trail in an area that is completely remote, no tourist roads currently run through this area of the park, and tourists are equipped with the bare essentials. Everything you need is carried on your back.
The Lonely Bull Trail takes you along the Letaba River or you can opt for the Olifants Backpack Trail; both are for the more adventurous and fit tourist, with the Olifants trail being probably the toughest.
There are seven trails that are run by the Kruger National Park that provided catered meals, and sleeping quarters that are simple but comfortable. Wilderness Safaris run the Pafuri Walking Trail, which is located in the far north of Kruger in the private Makuleke concession.
For a five-star option, Tanda Tula has a field camp that is immersed in the bush but offers tourists delicious meals, all your home comforts and comfortable accommodation in luxury tents.
The Kruger National Park is located in a malaria area, although the risk of malaria is greater in the northern regions. Only the female mosquito is responsible for infecting humans and is most active in the rainy season that lasts from November to April.
Symptoms of malaria include an aching body, headaches, fever and sore stomach. In severe cases, symptoms include seizures and hallucinations. Cerebral malaria is an extreme case of malaria and people die from it.
Consult your doctor before you travel to a malaria area and he/she will recommend a course of anti-malaria prophylactics. If you choose not to take them, watch out for any of the above symptoms that will occur 10 days after you first enter a malaria area. Go to your doctor immediately and ask for a blood test. The symptoms are similar to a bad cold or flu but rather be safe than sorry.
As an added precaution, use insect repellents to spray rooms, cars and clothes. Mosquitos are most active in the early morning and at sunset. Most malaria-savvy tourists change into long pants and long-sleeved shirts just before the sun goes down.