South Africa’s has evolved to become one of the world’s hottest travel destinations. And the epic Kruger National Park is at the heart of this. No disrespect to the picturesque views of Cape Town’s majestic mountains and beautiful beaches, or Johannesburg’s intoxicating cultural mix. But when it boils down to the best attraction in the land of Springboks, the iconic Kruger National Park is second to none.
Often ranked as one of Africa’s and the world’s best game reserves, this Nat Geo approved park promises a stunning safari experience like no other. For those of you keen to wake up to the roars of a lion, read on to find out more on South Africa’s worst kept secret.
Arriving in Kruger National Park
This massive park is situated four hours from Joburg, and a whopping 18 hours from the ever popular Cape Town. Depending on your preference, there are two main options to reach Kruger. A lengthy road trip allows you to take in gorgeous views while jamming to the tunes of Sweet Home Alabama. Alternatively, just hop on a flight, especially if you’re pressed for time. Upon arriving, the park may seem like any other game reserve. However, don’t be fooled. Kruger’s sprawling land makes it bigger than the likes of Wales and Israel!
The massive Kruger accommodates various housing options. Form luxurious lodges to basic backpackers hostels, there is something for every wallet. A stay in Kruger itself may be brilliant, but it’ll cause a dent in your bank account. Although, it does come with a pretty good chance to sip some Old Fashioned while laying by the infinity pool which overlooks the family of zebras at the watering hole. In short, its a bang for your buck indeed.
For budget conscious travelers, Marloth Park would be a fantastic alternative. Situated just a short drive away from the gates of Kruger, and separated by the Crocodile River, a stay here promises to keep your bank account happy, without having to miss out on the safari experience. Therefore, don’t be surprised to be awakened from the roar of the lions. Also, brace yourself for a visit by a kudu or impala at dawn, in front of your hostel’s porch.
Uncovering Kruger with a 4×4
Africa is home to an abundance of game watching opportunities. From the plains of Kenya and Botswana to Namibia and Tanzania, there is no shortage of living life on the wild side in this part of the world. What sets Kruger in a league of its own is the accessibility. The combination of grasslands and openings allows for visitors to rent a 4×4 and uncover this vast land. Therefore, Kruger is renowned for as one of the best spots to get up close and personal with Africa’s epic wilderness.
The best of the bunch is Africa’s exclusive Big Five. The Crocodile Bridge gate offers one of the most direct routes into the park and the chance to catch the first member of the famed Big Five, the massive white and black rhino. This section of the park also accommodates large populations of the namesake of the entrance, crocodiles, and hyenas. As you make your way deeper into the park, do keep an eye out for zebras and giraffes. Furthermore, just a short 8km drive from the entrance takes you to Hippo Pools. These beats are known to share the waters with the stealthy crocs. Due to the richness of game watching over here, it is best to explore these parts early or late in the day to avoid traffic.
Exploring Kruger’s Wild Side
Next, Kruger’s central grasslands are the best to spot the second member of the Big Five, the majestic lions. The dense vegetation makes this a favorite hangout spot for zebras, impalas, giraffes and wildebeests, much to the delight of the hungry lions. In addition, the nutritious grass also sees the third member of the Big Five, the buffalo, calling this home. Unfortunately, these heavy hitters are usually on the menu cards for lions during drier months, due to their health deterioration. Meanwhile, rain saturated months sees the zebras being the favorite prey for Kruger’s kings.
Kruger National Park’s Timbavati Road is one of the game reserves’ best drives. Following the Timbavati river for a good 50km, this route passes through a series of fascinating geological zones. The removal of fences which divides western parts of the park and the Timbavati area has also contributed to the diverse wildlife on offering. Here, the Leeubron water hole is the prized location. Whispers of the legendary white lions running the show in Timbavati are often heard. Therefore, don’t pass the chance of encountering the ‘Kings of Kings’ and ‘Africa’s Most Sacred Animal’. Meanwhile, the most elusive member of the Big Five, leopards, can be spotted in the lush riverine bushes. If that does not do it, then a chance to witness the majestic elephants, the largest of the Big Five, must entice any wildlife enthusiast to embark on this trail.
Image courtesy of utopia88@123RF.
For The Ultimate Luxury Safari Experience
Sharing the border with Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve perfectly embodies the heart and soul of a wildlife paradise. Sabi Sands’ best allure is its leopards. The most difficult to spot of the Big Five, the leopard has often left visitors in despair despite spending 2-3 full days in Kruger. However, Sabi Sands offers one of, if not the best chance to get up close and personal with this elusive species. In addition, Sabi Sands is also home to the Secret Seven. These mysterious nocturnal creatures are just as exclusive as the well documented Big Five. Made up of creatures including the serval, African wildcat, pangolin, civet, porcupine, aardvark, and genet, the Secret Seven is yet another feature in the ever-expanding hat of Sabi Sands.
Furthermore, the game walk activity only serves to emphasize the allure of Sabi Sands. Just as the game drive, visitors are accompanied with a ranger as they make their way out in the midst of epic flora and fauna. However, observing wildlife without the protection of a car is an experience like never before. For the ultimate luxury safari getaway, be sure to end your day with a stay in one of the lavish lodges. Be it a hilltop splendor or a serene riverside getaway, Sabi Sands promises a tailored experience for every family, couple and solo wanderer.
Furthermore, if this wildlife image series has piqued your interest, read up on our ravishing reptiles collection and join us as we explore the unknown in our unique underwater world library. Finally, do check out this likebox for one of the world’s best safari parks and fuel your travel features for your websites and magazines with amazing photography, right in the comfort of your home or office!