Kruger National Park: the complete safari guide

Lion couple walking away on a dirt road, Kruger park

Kruger National Park is one of the top safari destinations in Africa. Safaris in the Kruger offer a chance to immerse oneself in the vibrant soul of the continent.

Surround yourself in untamed beauty. Peek into the lives of South Africa’s wildlife. And learn about your favorite animals. This national park is among the most famous in the world, and by the end of the article you will know how best to enjoy it.

For adventure lovers and nature fanatics, there is nothing better than a safari in Kruger National Park. You are guaranteed an unmatched, intimate experience, full of wonder and excitement.

This guide covers everything you can look forward to, including accommodation and tour options in a world-class, internationally acclaimed sanctuary.

4 Reasons to Go on a SANParks Kruger National Park Safari

Herd of elephants under a tree, Kruger National Park

“In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks” – John Muir

1. Untouched wilderness

Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most unforgettable wildlife preserve. There’s minimal evidence of human life in the park, and visitors adapt to nature, rather than the other way round. With over 2-million hectares of unique wild habitats, there is an abundance of architectural wonders and historical sites.

The land is filled with legend and history. it emanates an ancient and tranquil atmosphere that gives visitors an authentic feeling of being in the African bush.

2. Visit the largest National Park in South Africa

The park reaches over into the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, and in total it is a massive 19 633 km².

Not only is the Kruger Park the biggest national park in South Africa, but it also offers a sanctuary for wildlife.

Many of the private reserves have removed all boundaries. This means that African animals are free to roam and live out their lives in a natural way. You will enjoy a safari that captures the essence of what daily life is like for the wild animals of Africa

3. A unique experience

Lone giraffe at dusk, Kruger National Park

A safari in Kruger invites you to step into the captivating lives of its wild animals. Kruger’s authentic safari encounters will keep you in awe of the beauty these animals possess. There are plenty of opportunities to see them in their natural habitats.

Kruger Safaris include encounters with many mammals, reptiles, and birds. As well as indigenous trees and diverse amphibians.

Highlights include:

  • A diverse range of accommodation options – from camping to 5-star treatment
  • Plenty of exhilarating activities
  • A safari for every type of budget
  • Professional FGASA-registered field guides
  • Remarkable catering facilities
  • Family retreats and tours
  • Encounters with some of Africa’s most revered animals

With so much to love about a visit to this spectacular destination, it’s no wonder that Kruger National Park has become a must-visit on everyone’s safari bucket list. The remarkable Kruger Park gives visitors a chance to enjoy one of the most fascinating, diverse and genuine safaris.

4. See the famous Big Five

You cannot go on a safari in Africa without knowing about the magnificent Big Five. This is the name given to a special group of animals. It comprises the Cape buffalo, African elephant, lion, leopard, and rhino.

The Kruger National Park offers a rare chance to view all of these powerful animals throughout the large open spaces. A Kruger safari includes drives in areas where you are most likely to see each of them in their natural habitats.

What to Expect on a Kruger Safari

Goliath heron at sunrise, Kruger park

With so much on offer in the Kruger, it can be hard to know exactly what a safari entails and what it doesn’t. This guide covers some basic aspects of your safari, so you can be best prepared for this enthralling South African safari experience.

Budget-friendly options available

The SANParks Kruger National Park offers safaris that can match any type of budget. This means you won’t need to pay an arm and a leg.

Are you looking for a luxury experience instead? You can choose that as well. Treat yourself to 5-star lodges with lavish amenities.

However, there is also a lowkey, camping safari if you’re looking for a more affordable option. Or even the cheaper, self-catering options. We expand on this further on in our guide.

Go on guided tours

Zebra crossing in front of tourist vehicles, Kruger

There are plenty of tour options available, and many types of safaris for you to go on. Plan ahead and choose the kind of safari that suits your needs. Before you book, decide whether you want a big group, small group, a family tour or a romantic escapade for two.

Enjoy all-day adventure

Expect to start your days at the crack of dawn and wake up in the early mornings. Safari drives usually start at around 6 am. You need to be out of bed by 5 am, to make it for breakfast at 5:30 am.

Get comfy in the car

Dirt road in Afsaal area, Kruger park

Expect to drive… a lot. After all, a safari is all about taking you through the wilderness (safely).

On safari, you spend countless hours in your safari vehicle, venturing through the stunning lands of Kruger and keeping your eyes peeled for the animals. As the park is so large, you will be captivated by the neverending beauty of untouched wilderness.

Spot diverse wildlife

Two white rhinos on a Kruger park road at sunset

Some of the animals you can look forward to seeing are:

Things to Know Before You Book a Kruger Safari

Cape house snake photographed in Kruger National Park

Here are some things to remember when planning your ultimate safari experience in SANParks Kruger National Park.

Be prepared for the African wilderness

Africa is as beautiful as it is wild, and this is something to keep in mind when booking your safari.

It’s important to take safety procedures into account. You aren’t in any real danger of being eaten (if that’s what you were thinking). Yet the harsh terrains of mother nature often have many surprises in store.

So be aware of scorpions, spiders, and snakes when camping or lodging in Kruger Park.

Medical advice and concerns

Bed and mosquito net overlooking the river - one of the best ways to sleep in the African bush

Kruger National Park is one of two parks in South Africa situated in a malaria-risk area. You need to take malaria precautions before entering the park. Your chances of catching malaria during the summer season (between October to May) are much higher than the rest of the year. If you visit during this time, it is especially a must.

But, no matter the season, you are advised to keep mosquito repellant with you and perhaps use a mosquito net when you sleep.

You can also learn all about mosquito bite prevention here.

Keeping safe on your safari

You are not allowed to leave the 4×4 open-top game vehicle on the drive. This is for your own safety as you explore wild animal territory.

A breakdown of important rules is given before your safari by the guides. So you can relax, knowing you are in good hands and that your guides are carefully looking after you.

Other helpful guidelines

Welcome to the Kruger National Park - Crocodile Bridge Gate sign

The tap water is clean and completely safe to drink. No need to load up on bottled water for your safari trip.

Keep in mind that the monkeys can be feisty, and are known to steal anything lying around.

Also note that skateboards, roller skates or quad bikes are not allowed.

On the park’s website, you will find Maps of Kruger Park and guides about the animals and their habitats.

Wildlife sightings board at the Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp, Kruger

Check with the South African Consulate or Embassy to know whether or not you will need your visa onhand. This is necessary when staying longer than 30 days.

To avoid any mishaps during your safari, be sure to get travel insurance.

Business hours of Kruger National Park:

Entrance gates open

From 05:30 (06:00 latest).

All gates close

From 17:30 (18:30 latest).

Best Time to Go on Kruger Park Safaris

Choosing the best time for your safari depends on your personal preferences and how long you want to stay. You need to plan based on what aspects of the safari are most important to you.

Do you want a week-long visit, as opposed to a weekend? Then you may want to go during a season when the malaria risk is lower.

Do you want to see the indigenous flowers in bloom, or are you more focused on spotting the Big 5? These considerations will guide which season is best for your sightseeing preference.

Overall best time to visit

Sunrise over Kruger's central savanna grasslands, during the dry season

South Africa’s winter season is from June to August, providing a cool and dry climate. This is the ideal time to go on your safari. The dryness of the area allows much better chances to spot the wild animals of Kruger. Wildlife is not able to hide as easily and is more active in the search for food (and water).

Best time to see lush vegetation

The summer months of October to May provide jaw-dropping scenery. The thriving landscapes and blooming plants are a sight to behold, making every nature lover feel as if they’re in paradise. Some of the most beautiful plants to see during this time are:

  • Thunderbolt flower
  • Russet bushwillow pod
  • Sausage tree flower
  • Impala lily ( Also known as the Swazi Lily)

What to Pack for a Kruger National Park Safari

Packing for a safari in Africa can be tricky, but this list will help to make it much easier. Some essentials simply cannot be left behind. These include:

  • High SPF sunscreen
  • Durable hiking shoes
  • Warm jacket for chilly mornings
  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera with a long lens
  • Good pair of safari binoculars
  • Cotton clothing
  • Swimming costume
  • Mosquito repellent
  • First-aid kit

Pack everything on this list and you are good to go. However, if you visit during winter, include a decent amount of warm clothing. The extra layers will be a huge asset, keeping you warm during the chilly mornings and evenings.

The Difference Between Guided Safaris and Self-Drive Safaris

Typical road signs in Kruger National Park - this one showing distances between the Skukuza and Satara rest camps

The biggest difference between the two is that with a guided safari, you explore the area with a private guide who shares his knowledge of the bush.

In comparison, on a self-drive safari you drive your own car through the routes.

Kruger National Park offers both of these options, so you can go wild and choose a safari that is perfect for you!

Some Kruger Park Safari Packages

River view from a local camp in the Kruger

There is a huge range of safaris available, but these are some of the most popular. You are likely to find the perfect fit for your safari in the Kruger National Park. These tour packages are flexible to availability, with choices between 2-day to 7-day safaris.

These options all include accommodation combos.

The budget safari

The budget safari adventure includes accommodation in a 2 bedroom chalet, with communal ablutions. This safari option is 3 days long. However, you can always request a different length of stay to suit your needs. Expect to enjoy delicious meals, all served al fresco style.

Added perks include game drives, a boma braai, and even an early morning bush walk along the Klaserie River.

Classic safari options

Another beautiful day comes to an end in the Kruger - Yawning hippo

When it comes to having the traditional experience of Kruger’s authentic African wildlife safaris, the classic safari is the best option. Here are three major safari tour packages to choose from.

  1. 5 Day Classic Wildlife & Culture Safari
  2. 6 Day Classic Panorama & Kruger Safari
  3. 4 Day Kruger Park Walking Safari

Each of these packages offers a stylish getaway into nature. They combine elegance and wilderness, so you can travel in comfort. Classic safaris are all about capturing the true meaning behind the journey into Kruger’s wildlands. These tour packages focus on a non-commercial experience.

You learn about and discover the untouched magic of Africa’s wild habitats during a classic safari.

Family holiday safaris

Get your loved ones together for a truly incredible wildlife experience. Bond over campfires at night, or the shared experience of an elephant encounter. Family safari packages are diverse, with four suggested options to choose from.

These are:

  1. Luxury Family Safari
  2. South-eastern Family Getaway
  3. Family Elephant Encounter
  4. Deluxe Family Safari

Family holiday safaris also cater for small children and make sure that you get quality time with your loved ones. Special dinners, family picnics, bush walks, and exciting activities are all part of the packages.

These tour options have an itinerary built around giving you and your family the ultimate wildlife experience. There is an emphasis on spoiling the little ones, so you can have lots of fun with the kids on your safari.

Romantic safaris

Two little bee-eaters having a chat, Kruger, South Africa

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your partner, fiancé, or spouse then you’ll love these tranquil and intimate honeymoon safaris.

Immerse yourself into wild Africa and have the chance to join one of the five romantic safaris. You can choose between:

  1. Classic Kruger Honeymoon
  2. Classic Self-Drive Honeymoon
  3. Premier Kruger Honeymoon
  4. Take a Moment Getaway

If you want to tie the knot with your partner, then also take a look at a Deluxe Kruger Wedding safari.

Kruger Park will turn into the romantic sanctuary of your dreams. With private game drives, beautiful lodging options, and dinner under the stars.

Kruger Accommodation

When it comes to accommodation in Kruger, you have a large variety to choose from. There are three main options to book. Opt for the one that best suits your budget and style of travel. Make the most of your safari with the perfect accommodation.

Private lodges and resorts

Romantic bedroom at the Ngala Safari Lodge, Kruger

Private lodges can be found near the park and offer guests the chance for self-drive safaris. The accommodation options range from luxury to mid-range. They also include guided daytime safaris.

This option is perfect for those wanting a stay that offers more flexibility and freedom.

Safari lodges

Find yourself in the heart of the African bush with a stay at a safari lodge.

There are safari lodges throughout Kruger, ranging from extravagant, self-catering tents to 5-star lodges with indoor pools.

Safari lodges are perfect for those who want all the perks of a stylish stay. Enjoy culinary masterpieces, beautiful rooms with incredible views and luxury safari outings.

Rest camps

Stunning views of the Olifants river, Olifants Rest Camp, Kruger

Rest camps are perfect for the low-key adventurer. You can find cheap chalets, bungalows and cottages within Kruger.

These all contain basic amenities and appliances to make your stay comfortable and affordable.

There are also communal campsites available. These have electricity, so you can still charge your phone or laptop. They provide a fantastic opportunity to meet other travelers and share a traditional South African braai with friends.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Kruger Park Safari

You may still have questions about planning an African safari to the Kruger Park. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions (and answers).

What are the conservation fees for? How much are they?

The Malelane entrance gate, Kruger National Park

The Kruger Park charges daily conservation fees. These fees fund projects and efforts made by the park to preserve the area’s pristine habitat, as well as its cultural heritage.

They also go towards the general upkeep of boreholes, viewing hides and water supplies. There is a fee for each day you spend in the park, and it varies between international and local guests. On average, you are looking at daily costs of:

  • R100 for locals (USD $7)
  • R400 for international guests (USD $28).

Here are SANParks’ full details about daily conservation and entry fees in the Kruger.

Are pets allowed to come with on your safari?

This is a solid no. Pets are not allowed in Kruger park.

Your pet could potentially spread diseases to wild animals. It’s also not safe for a cat or dog to roam around in wild habitat. You do not want to risk their safety with so many potential predators. You will have to leave your four-legged companion behind for this adventure.

Additional Activities in Kruger Park

Walking through the bush on a walk, Kruger area, Limpopo

The incredible variety of safaris available at Kruger means that you have many ways to enjoy Africa’s wildlife right at your fingertips. And, during your safari, you can enjoy a host of activities.

The activities offered during your safari are as follows.


There are many bushwalks to choose from. Each of them take you to some of the most scenic parts of the park. You will be lead by an armed, knowledgable guide who will share insights along the way. Track animals like rhinos, elephants and lions on foot. Unfortunately, no children under the age of 13 are allowed to join.

These exciting bush walks are available on mornings and afternoons.

Mountain biking

Kruger National Park has incredible biking trails for adventurers at heart. However, it is exclusive to people staying at the Olifants camp.

Drive with the game vehicle to the starting point of the trail, with your bike carefully mounted on a bike trailer. You will receive complimentary helmets, backpacks, water bottles, snacks, and juice.

Depending on which route you choose, bike rides take 3-4 hours. This option is only available to fit and experienced cyclists and no children under the age of 16 may join.

Bird watching

Magnificent saddle-billed stork in Kruger National Park

The Kruger is home to some of the most remarkable birding spots. Each route includes a drive through the diverse and magnificent wilderness. The best routes for bird sightings are those that travel along riverine forest habitats. You can choose between a variety of locations, such as:

  • Satara to Lebombo
  • Napi and Doispane Roads
  • Malelane to Berg-en-Dal
  • Mahonie Loop
  • Luvuvhu River Drive
  • Lower Sabie to Tshokwane
  • Lower Sabie Road
  • Kanniedood Dam
  • Engelhard Dam
  • Crocodile Bridge to Lower Sabie

There are no guarantees, but your chances are much higher of spotting majestic birdlife while on a bird-watching route. The Kruger even has its own Big 6, the bird-version of the notorious Big 5. These six birds are the lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, kori bustard, saddle-billed stork, pel’s fishing owl, and southern ground hornbill.

Tick off each of these stunning birds from your list as you cruise the optimal bird watching routes.


Skukuza golf course with hippos in the background, near a putting green

The Skukuza Golf Course is Kruger’s only golf course. Found on the road to Paul Kruger Gate, it is a complete nine-hole, 72 par, 18-tee course. This is the perfect place to relax when you’re not in the safari vehicle.

Located in the majestic bushveld, the golf course offers views over Lake Panic. You may even spot a lion as you’re lining up for your next swing.

Kruger National Park Safaris

This article should give you a better idea of what to expect on your Kruger safari. From accommodation to tour packages, and anything else you were unsure of. You can now finish your planning with confidence, knowing what waits for you in sunny South Africa’s largest national park.

Kruger safaris are a must for anyone fascinated by the raw power of African wildlife. See the Big 5, spend nights in the wilderness and learn from certified professionals. Kruger Park prides itself on providing authentic bush getaways that are both safe and engaging.

Whether you are a solo traveler, with your family or planning your honeymoon – this diverse national park offers safari treats for everyone. You can go wild during the safari of a lifetime, with plenty of activities available and many options to choose from.

It’s time to ignite the wilderness within you and plan your ultimate safari, handcrafted to suit your every desire.

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