As you may have read on my blog, I’m no stranger to South Africa thanks to my Dad, and back in 2012 when he got married it was a great excuse to have a family trip and show everyone what South Africa has to offer.
The Kruger National Park is one of the most well known wildlife parks in the world and with it being the size of Wales back in the UK, you know that there is going to be plenty to see and create a trip around!
With my Dad and Irma living in Stellenbosch, right down by Cape Town, we had to take a 2 hour domestic flight up to Johannesburg to get within a reasonable driving distance to the Kruger. Of course you can drive up through the country if you have more time on your hands and take the Garden Route like a lot of backpackers and travellers will do but we had a shorter schedule to stick by!
We rented a people carrier/camper van type vehicle from the airport and drove the 4 hours to the park. En-route we stopped off to visit my Dad’s friend Ben.
Ben owns a Game Reserve that has been run by his family throughout generations and he kindly offered to put us up all for the night in his guesthouse.
After settling in after our travelling Ben and his son took us all out in one of their trucks to check out the wildlife in the reserve. There were plenty of giraffe’s posing away for photos, wild dogs & even lions!
I remember my Dad telling my a story a few years back of when he’d last visited Ben’s Game Reserve and about how much of a problem poaching was becoming. He’d gone out with some of the workers to help tranquillise some of the rhinos in order to remove their horns without any harm coming to them – how sad is that?! But when we came across some rhinos, it made complete sense to me how they could do this to save and preserve these wonderful creatures and that spoke for a lot of the animals that were in his reserve and how something like Ben’s Game Reserve can benefit all these animals.
After going back to camp, meeting some friendly animals, having some lovely food and some sleep we set off again in the morning to make way to the Kruger.
So what is actually in the Kruger?
There are various gates to access the Kruger and also various camps throughout the park that you can stay at in and rent a hut that sleeps plenty of people. Each camp is similar but different, some have swimming pools and are either bigger or smaller but they generally consist of restaurants, gift shops and reception areas that are packed with information about the Kruger and take bookings for day and night tours – you can even go and camp out with the animals!
What’s the best way to explore the park?
It’s worth finding temporary self driving transport whilst visiting the Kruger, as I mentioned earlier it’s huge and you can stay out in the park throughout the day until the gates close for as long as you like, as opposed to sticking to booked, scheduled tours.
Our visit consisted of two nights spent in different camps and two full (and wonderful!) days spent driving through the park trying to spot “The Big 5”.
(And throughout the 2 days we did actually spot all 5!) We also had time to explore a little, my Auntie and I went for a little drive and were pleasantly surprised when an elephant decided to take it’s right of way I
in front of our vehicle on a gravel road and we also found the Tropic of Capricorn too!
You’ll come across certain animals quite often such as giraffe and elephants, and for any of you that know me, know that I am absolutely besotted with elephants – especially African elephants! So as you can imagine I was in heaven being so close to these beauties!
So what should I expect from the Kruger National Park?
I’m going to be completely honest with you and say; if you go and expect to see the “Big 5” then there’s a big chance you’ll be disappointed. There’s no right or wrong day on when to spot certain animals it just comes down to luck. We were so close to not seeing all of the “Big 5” and we managed to spot a leopard chilling in the grass out of pure chance!
It’s definitely worth taking a pair of binoculars with you as you may not get as close to some animals as you’d like and a lot of them tend to graze in the grass away from the tracks, but spotting them is a moment of pure bliss so enjoy that moment with your binocs!
Expect creepy crawlies! – I’m not talking massive, humongous spiders everywhere you go but you are in the bush after all! I came across a couple of wriggles in my bed, so check your sheets before you hop in but don’t let this put you off – it’s all apart of the fun right!? & it’s just a small price to pay for everything else that the Kruger will give you :)
Prepare to amazed! Whatever you see whether it’s animals or the beautiful landscapes, you’ll forever be turning around and feeling blessed and amazed with what’s in front of your eyes.
If you’re planning a trip to South Africa then the Kruger National Park should be really high up, if not the top of you’re bucket list. It’s such a beautiful way to interact with the South African nature & wildlife, however you chose to explore it!