The best time to visit South Africa’s largest wildlife park and what to expect

A safari through the largest game park in South Africa gives visitors the chance to see native animals that they have only dreamed of.

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest national game reserves in all of Africa and is located in South Africa on the border with Mozambique. It is also one of the largest national parks in the world. Today it is part of the vast Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which includes Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

It is home to many of Africa’s most famous wildlife and is one of South Africa’s major international attractions. This is ground zero for a safari in South Africa. On a note, South Africa (and all of Africa) is much more than just safaris and wildlife parks. You can also visit the other end of the country and see the breathtaking Cape Town and its penguins.

Over the park

  • Size: 7,576 square miles or 19,623 km (almost four times the size of Delaware)
  • Dimensions: 220 miles long and 40 miles wide
  • Protected date: 1898 (The first protected by South Africa and the first national park in 1926)

The weather in Kruger National Park is subtropical to tropical while it is hot semi-arid. The driest times are September and October, with the rainy season starting in late October. The best time to visit Kruger is generally April and September, when the temperatures are more pleasant. But you can visit all year round.

Wildlife in the Kruger National Park

The national park is full of wild African animals. In fact, it is home to more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve. The park includes the big five wildlife. The Big Five are not the largest animals, but historically the most difficult and dangerous to hunt. These are the lion, the elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros. Of course, they are not (legally) hunted now, but they are the animals that are often the most sought after by tourists.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About African Safari

Kruger is also home to the critically endangered African wild dog, of which only about 400 remain in all of South Africa.

  • 147 species: Number of large mammal species in Kruger National Park

Some of the animal numbers in the park according to a 2011 census are:

  • Plains zebra: 23.700-35.300
  • African buffalo: 37.130
  • African bush elephant: 13,750 (note this is considered vastly overpopulated with elephants for the park)
  • Giraffe: 6,800-10,300
  • Hippo: 3,100
  • Black rhinos: 590-660
  • White rhinos: 10,500
  • African wild dog: 120
  • Nile crocodile: 4,420
  • Lion: 1.620-1720
  • Cheetah: 120

But of course there are many other animals besides these iconic mammals that you will see on a safari to the Kruger. There are lesser-known animals that you may never have known existed. Bird life is also abundant. There are an estimated 517 different species of birds in this park (around half of which are residents).

There are a number of threats to the park, including the ongoing problem of poaching across Africa. Paradoxically, this also includes overpopulation (including elephants). Others are urban development, global warming, and droughts. South Africa has many fully armed ranks to protect the park from poachers, and skirmishes and full-blown fighting often occur. In 2012, for example, around 30 poachers were killed in the fighting.

Related: You want to visit South Africa for both the food and the experience

Safaris in the Kruger

Kruger is one of the best places in the world to enjoy a safari. You can stay in a selection of stunning lodges and other types of accommodation in the national park. You can choose between private safaris and cheaper group safaris.

Here is an example of one of the most popular and typical safari tour packages:

  • Duration: 3-day relaxing Kruger safari
  • Transport: 4X4 game drives through the national park
  • See: The Big 5 game and much more (visit a watering hole and watch the animals drink)
  • Flexible: Customizable and expandable
  • Included: Transfer back from Nelspruit to your Kruger Park Safari Lodge
  • Accommodation: 2 nights in a lodge in the park
  • Meal: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Fees: Park and nature conservation fees included
  • Price: From $ 810

Of course, there are many options to choose from with a choice of 3, 4, 5, and 6 day safaris and fully customizable safaris. There are many options and you can choose the one that works best for you or your group.

Related: This is what Kenya has to offer tourists, as seen in these beautiful pictures

In short, when you travel to South Africa you should definitely visit the largest wildlife park in the country. But don’t make your South Africa adventure entirely out of safaris. The whole country is breathtaking and diverse, it is not called the rainbow nation for nothing. Cape Town on the other end of the country is a must see and feels very different from any other city in Africa (and there are penguins).

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About the author

Aaron Spray
(87 published articles)

Aaron is a firsthand traveler who has visited more than 70 countries around the world. He loves to travel and open the world to other intrepid explorers.

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