The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience second to none. At nearly 2 million hectares, it is the largest game reserve in South Africa, stretching 350km along the Mozambican border and is, on average, 60km wide. It is unrivalled in its diversity of species and is a recognised leader in environmental management techniques and policies.
The Limpopo is the park’s northern-most river and the Crocodile forms it southern boundary, while the Sabie, Letaba, Olifants and Luvuvhu rivers provide the park’s interior with water. There are some seasonal rivers like the Shisa and Timbavati, which are usually dry during winter.
The park tends to be mostly grasslands, known in South Africa as bushveld, and woodlands (savannah), with occasional rocky outcrops. The Kruger National Park falls within a malaria area and all necessary precautions should be taken. Consult your general practitioner on medication before planning a visit.
Access to the Kruger National Park is easy by road or air. The Kruger Mpumlanga International Airport at Nelspruit has daily flights from Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
- In 1869, a ‘gold rush’ exploded in the region causing the number of game to decrease dramatically due to hunting and trading of animal horns and skins.
- In 1884, President Paul Kruger proposed that boundaries in the region be defined as game reserves to protect the flora and fauna, but his revolutionary vision was met with much resistance.
- The park was first proclaimed in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve and the area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers was set aside as official reserves.
- The Scottish-born James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed the park’s first warden in 1902. Many accounts of the park’s early days can be found in the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library.
- In 1926 the National Parks Act was proclaimed and with it the merging of the Sabie and Shingwedzi Games Reserves into the Kruger National Park.
Kruger is one of the premier game-watching destinations in the world. Approximately 145 mammal species occur in the park. It is possible to see all the classical African big game, including elephant, black and white rhino, hippopotamus, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, warthog and many antelope species. Large carnivores include lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and spotted hyena.
The rainy season of the park starts approximately September and lasts until March or April followed by a period of little or no rainfall. About 80% of the precipitation occurs in the form of quick thundershowers and is very erratic.
The annual rainfall around Pretoriuskop in the south is about 760 mm and in the central area the rainfall is considerably lower reaching roughly 540 mm per year. At Punda Maria in the North it rises again to 640 mm per annum whilst in the Pafuri in the north east it can be as low as 210 mm per year.
The average daily maximum temperature during the month of January is 30° C and 23°C during July. Extreme maximum temperatures can be 47°C for January and 35°C for July.
The average night temperature during January is 18° C and 8°. Extreme minimum temperatures can fall to 7°C in January and -4°C in July. Occasional low frost may occur in low-lying areas.