Guide to Kruger National Park

stdClass Object ( [id] => 1061247 [short_blurb] =>

One of South Africa’s largest and most loved game park.

[short_overview] => The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest protected area and home not only to the Big Five, but also to a host of other mammals, birds, reptiles and antelope. The park is adored by tourists and locals alike, both as a place to visit for a day and as a place to spend a few night or weeks. [gps_lat] => -23.99629 [gps_long] => 31.557312 [full_description] =>

The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest protected area and home not only to the Big Five, but also to a host of other mammals, birds, reptiles and antelope. The park is adored by tourists and locals alike, both as a place to visit for a day and as a place to spend a few night or weeks.

The park encloses nearly two million hectares of primal Africa. It sits in the northeastern corner of South Africa and skirts the border of Mozambique for 500 kilometres. It’s one of Africa’s top destinations, and although you can choose to stay in luxury lodges in the private concessions around the park, a holiday to Kruger need not be an overpriced affair.

The park’s official rest camps offer simple, affordable accommodation without fancy frills and tourist traps. You can bring your own food and drive yourself around looking for animals. In fact, there’s no other place in South Africa where you can manage your own safari drives within a park that teems with so much big game. Simply drive out onto any tarred or gravel road close to the camp where you stay and start exploring. There are waterholes, pans, dams and rivers where the animals go to drink and massive open plains and bushy forested areas where they congregate to eat. All you need to do is keep your eyes open.

You could, of course, opt for restaurant meals and guided game drives, all of which are available at most of the camps inside the park. Otherwise you can stay outside the park and drive in for day visits. Your trip to the Kruger National Park can truly be as affordable or as expensive as you want.

This guide will focus on the official rest camps inside the Kruger National Park and not the luxury lodges and private concessions around it. Here you will find detailed information about the accommodation and facilities of each camp, which animals you’ll find in the area and where to drive to find them.

[lay_of_the_land] =>

The Kruger is divided into three geographical and conservation areas – south, central, and north. It also encompasses two climatic zones and 14 distinct eco-zone.

[operating_times] =>

The gate opening and closing times change according to the seasons and coincide more or less with sunrise and sunset. Unguided driving is not allowed after dark. Keep an eye out for the large 'owl clocks' at each rest camp’s gate. These show the camp’s opening and closing times for that day. While the rest camp gates and the park gates generally have the same opening and closing times, the camp gates open as early as 04:30 in the summer months while the park gates never open before 05:30 in the mornings.

[summer_opening_time] => 05:30:00 [summer_closing_time] => 18:30:00 [autumn_opening_time] => 06:00:00 [autumn_closing_time] => 18:00:00 [winter_opening_time] => 06:00:00 [winter_closing_time] => 17:30:00 [spring_opening_time] => 05:30:00 [spring_closing_time] => 18:00:00 [day_visitors] =>

You don’t have to spend your nights inside the park in order to make the most of your visit to the Kruger. Day visitors are welcome during its official opening times and can access almost all of the roads that overnight visitors can. Most of the rest camps have a day visitor’s picnic area either inside the camp or within two kilometres of it. Camp shops and restaurants are open to day visitors as well, and so are the public picnic areas found throughout the park.

In high season there are quotas on how many day visitors are allowed inside the park each day. If you’re planning to visit during this time, make sure you arrive at the park early in order to gain access. Once you’re inside, you can stay until the gates close again in the late afternoon. To secure your booking for a day visit, you can contact SANParks and make a day booking, but seeing as the mornings are the best times to spot animals, you might as well just get there early.

Day visitor’s tip: Make a stop at one of the sighting boards at the rest camps or public picnic areas to see which animals were spotted that morning and where they were spotted. This will help you on your way, especially if your time in the park is limited.

[park_rules] =>
  1. Visitors must remain in their vehicles unless in a designated area. Remember that no part of the body may protrude from a window or sunroof or any other part of the vehicle. Vehicle doors should be closed at all times.
  2. Stick to the speed limit. All general rules of the road apply within the Kruger National Park. The speed limit is 50 km/h on tar roads and 40 km/h on gravel roads. Please note that not all roads are accessible to caravans.
  3. Look at the gate times in your green gate permit. You must be inside the camp or out of the gate before these times. No travelling before or after these times is allowed. Gate times must be strictly adhered to and latecomers may be subject to a fine.
  4. You are not allowed to drive “off-road” or on roads with a “no entry” sign.
  5. The feeding or disturbing of animals is a serious offence. Remember, animals see litter as food.
  6. Overnight visitors are only allowed to stay at a booked and recognised overnight facility and must report to reception before occupying accommodation or camping.
  7. All accommodation and camping sites may be occupied from 14:00 on the day of arrival and must be vacated by 10:00 on the day of departure.
  8. Vehicles of a carrying capacity exceeding 4 000kg, buses or any vehicles with more than 25 seats, are restricted to the tar roads.
  9. A stringent noise restriction is enforced between 21:30 and 06:00. The use of cell phones is permitted only in camps, gates and in cases of emergency.
  10. The use of roller skates, skateboards, bicycles and motorbikes is prohibited.
  11. The Kruger National Park is a malaria zone - we advise that all visitors adhere to their doctor’s instructions.
  12. Roadside assistance, toll free number 0800 030 666 (Vuswa).
  13. Rules and regulations are enforced under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act no. 57 of 2003) and transgression can result in a fine.
  14. No live animal (domestic or wild) may be brought into, or removed from the Kruger National Park. That is why NO PETS ARE ALLOWED here.
  15. No raw, wild-animal derived products such as meat, bones, organs and hides may be brought into or removed from the Kruger National Park.
  16. Raw meat and dairy products may be brought into the Kruger National Park for your own consumption. However, no raw products from cloven-hoofed animals (milk or meat) will be allowed to leave the Kruger National Park through any of the official South African entrance gates unless it is still packaged in a sealed container identifiably marked to confirm its South African origin, source or distributor.
  17. Commercially packaged fish and poultry are exempt from these restrictions.
  18. Fully processed curios are exempt from these restrictions.
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The single most important reason why people visit the Kruger National Park is its animals and their natural habitat. The park hosts some impressive predators, massive herds of herbivores, reptiles and more than 500 different bird species.

[mammals] =>

Almost 150 different mammal species call the Kruger their home. This is over 65 percent of the mammals found in South Africa. But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. The easiest way to get to grips with of all the mammals found in the park is to divide them into their feeding categories, namely carnivores, herbivores (grazers and browsers) and scavengers, such as primates. You’ll also hear the guides on the walks and drives talk of the animals in these terms.

Carnivores

The term ‘carnivore’ implies predators, and these animals are the reason why most people visit the Kruger National Park. All the park’s dominant predators are carnivores. You can look forward to seeing big cats like lion, leopard and cheetah, small cats like caracal, serval and African wildcat and other predators like hyena, wild dog and jackal. Spotting any of these creatures – even for a second – will make your trip to the park entirely worth it.

Herbivores

Encompassing a very large portion of the park’s mammals, herbivores are divided up into grazers and browsers. These terms refer to the different vegetation types they feed on and, consequently, where you’ll find them. While grazers enjoy grass and low shrubs, browsers will often eat grasses, but prefer the higher foliage of bushes and trees.

Kruger’s most common grazers are buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. Also look out for waterbuck and blue wildebeest. The most sought-after grazer to spot nowadays is probably the white rhino. Hippos are also considered grazers, although, as they are nocturnal, you won’t normally see them grazing out of the water unless they happen to be very close to camp. Other, more rare, grazers include the roan antelope, sable antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and tsessebe. Although grazers are found throughout the park, they occur in their greatest numbers in the central region where large herds of buffalo migrate across the open plains and mixed herds of wildebeest and zebra can often be see grazing together.

There is much more to consider when it comes to browsers, like the height of the vegetation and the exac

[birds] =>

Although predator sightings can be infrequent and unpredictable, you can always rely on the birds in the park to brighten a slow game-viewing day. Over 500 different birds call the park their home and avid bird-watchers will find no better place in the entire country to spot their favourite bird species.

If you’d rather skip the crowds and focus your attention on the birds alone, get yourself a bird guide at one of the shops and head to the north of the park. There are fewer mammals here (which means fewer people) and the bird life in this area is prolific.

[reptiles] =>

You might cringe at the idea of seeing snakes and lizards, but these species are just as fascinating as any of the mammals in the Kruger. Crocodiles, for example, are always a treat to watch and so are tortoises and terrapins. There are also about 60 different species of lizards and 50 snakes.

Although snakebites are few and far between, you might want to familiarize yourself with how puffadders and African rock pythons look. These are the most common and quite venomous. If you or someone you’re travelling with is bitten by any snake, try to take a picture of it with your camera or phone. This will help with quick identification and anti-venom administration when you’re being treated.

[vegetation] => [conservation_projects] => [history] =>


[tips_overview] =>

Certain areas of the Kruger are much richer in wildlife than others, and it’s important that you’re clear on the area you’re looking to visit. This uneven distribution of animals in the park means that some regions are also much busier than others. For example, the northern area tends to be quieter than the centre and south.

If you’re looking for large herds and big cats then the centre and south are a better bet, but for a quieter bush experience – or if you’re specifically looking for birds – then the north is generally a better option. After you’ve decided on which region you would like to visit, you should also be sure to plan your game drives according to the times that the animals are at their most active. Early mornings and late afternoons are best. Don't forget your binoculars.

[tip_1] =>

Have a look at the sightings board at the camp where you stay to see which animals have been spotted in the area that morning and the day before, and where they were spotted. This will help plan your day.

[tip_2] =>

Set out to search for animals early in the morning and in the late afternoon.

[tip_3] =>

Keep your engine running, just in case an elephant decides to charge in your direction.

[tip_4] =>

Although four-wheel drive cars elevate you above the grass and make the gravel roads seem smoother, it’s not essential for your trip. You can get around just fine in a normal car.

[tip_5] =>

If you’re a day visitor and you visit in the peak winter months, try and get there early in the morning as there’s a quota for the amount of people allowed in the park per day.

[introduction] =>
Malaria

The Kruger National Park is situated in a malaria zone, but the risk is not as great as it is in a lot of other African countries. The mosquitos are dormant between June and August, and you can get by with mosquito repellent and by covering your skin at dawn and dusk. You aren’t guaranteed safety against malaria though, so to be safe, consult your doctor on malaria prophylaxis at least two weeks before your trip.

Elephants

Although thousands of cars enter the park every year, it is still considered a wild area and buffalo and elephant do sometimes take exception to vehicles that get too close. Elephants can be particularly dangerous, especially when there are young in the herd, or when a young male is in musth. When an elephant flaps its ears and turns its head sideways, it’s agitated. The best thing to do is to back off as quickly and quietly as you can, without excessive engine revving and certainly no hooting or shouting. If an elephant looks like it wants to cross the road ahead, be sure to stop and wait for it to pass. Most of the time they will do so quite unconcernedly and without fuss.

Snakes and scorpions

Scorpions and snakes are sometimes seen in the camps at night, but they are not a common sight. Keep an eye out on windy evenings when scorpions are more prevalent and always wear closed shoes at night, especially around campfires where they like to congregate.

24-hour Emergency Call Centre 013-735-4325

[hospitals_and_clinics] =>

There is only one doctor inside the Kruger National Park itself and you’ll find the office at Skukuza Rest Camp, the administrative headquarters of the park. The closest clinics and hospitals are at one of the surrounding towns (depending where you are).

[dangers_and_annoyances] =>

The vervet monkeys, baboons and other occasional scavengers can be an annoyance inside the rest camps and at the public picnic areas, and are always out to steal any available food they can find. Many of the rest camps have adapted by placing their fridges either inside the bungalows or, if the kitchens are on the porch, inside a lockable cage. Wherever you are, make sure you are always on the lookout for these mischievous thieves, and store your food securely at all times. They will easily open cupboard doors, cooler boxes and the like so bring locks or keep your food packed away safely in your locked vehicle. Whatever you do, don’t leave anything edible lying around.

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[link_1] => www.sanparks.co.za [link_2] => sanparks.org.za/parks [link_3] => www.sanparks.co.za/parks/kruger [link_4] => [link_5] => [title] => Kruger National Park [getting_to_from_location] =>

The Kruger National Park sits in the far northeastern corner of South Africa and is accessible from all over the country as well as from Mozambique. You can fly in and rent a car or, if you live nearby it’s definitely best to drive to the park. If you’re planning to stay in one of the private lodges they’ll be able to organize transport from the airport to the lodge.

[driving] =>

For many, this is the most preferred method to get to the Kruger National Park as you’ll need a car once you get there in order to get from camp to camp and to go out on game drives. The park has nine gates, spread out from the very south to the very north, so you can choose your route accordingly. At each gate you’ll be able to purchase a map of the park.

[bus] =>

Although there aren’t any public buses making their way into the park, you can organise coaches for groups through a travel agent. The private concessions and luxury lodges inside them will also organize shuttles to and from the closest airport.

Private Connections is a private company that book bus shuttles between Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and the park. Visit www.pctours.co.za for more information.

[train] => [boat] => [by_air] =>

There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa Airport, Hoedspruit Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. From Cape Town, you can fly into Hoedspruit Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and from Durban you can fly daily to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

[flying_from_europe] => [flying_from_america] => [flying_from_asia] => [flying_from_australasia] => [flying_from_other_african_countries] => [getting_around_this_location] =>

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

[public_transport] =>

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

[bicycle] => [roads_and_driving_general_state_of_roads] =>

The Kruger National Park has both tarred and gravel roads. The main roads that run from the gates and from the south to the north of the park are tarred, while the gravel roads take you to the rivers, viewing points and other good places to see animals. The tarred roads are all in good condition and most of the gravel roads as well. There are times (especially in the wet summer season) where some rivers flood over the road, but unless the flooding is extreme, you can avoid these crossings if need be. Most of the gravel roads are wide and smooth, but some are narrower and rocky and sometimes have potholes. If the roads are flooded or inaccessible, they’ll be closed at the start, so you’ll never find yourself stuck in a pickle.

[four_by_four_recommended] =>

Although you don’t need a 4x4 to get around the park, there are moments and certain roads that can be handled much more smoothly in a 4x4. The nice thing about them is that they’re generally a little higher than sedan cars, so you’ll be able to spot the animals much easier.

[car_rentals] =>

Car hire companies can be found at Hoedspruit, Phalaborwa and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport as well as inside the park at Skukuza Rest Camp. It is best to book your car before arriving.

[self_drive] =>

Self-drive is the economical way to get around the Kruger National Park. This way, you can move between the camps and choose your own routes to explore. Guided game drives are expensive and can be saved for a treat. The maps that are available at the shops are very comprehensive and so are the signs found along the road. All intersections and roads are clearly marked with kilometre readings, so you’ll know exactly where you are all the time.

[fuel] =>

Most of the rest camps have fuel stations where both overnight visitors and day visitors can fill up with fuel.

[insurance] => [driving_permits] =>


[when_to_go_overview] =>

The Kruger National Park is beautiful at any type of year. While the winter months are famously popular as the best time to view game, the summer months bring with them rain, full waterholes and thick, green vegetation in every direction. Spring and summer also bring newborns and summer migratory birds.

Still, most prefer the dry winter season, when the vegetation is less thick and game viewing is easier. With less water to drink, the animals tend to converge on the available water sources – rivers, dams and waterholes and it’s easier to find them here especially in the late afternoons and early evenings.

Winter is the busiest time in the Kruger and the winter school holidays are the most crowded weeks in the park. If you’re planning to visit during these times, plan far in advance and be prepared to have lots of other cars on the road with you and sharing the sightings with you. (More on South African school holiday times here.)

If you want to avoid the crowds and still see a good number of animals, visit from the end of April to late May. By this time the rain has usually stopped and the vegetation is already starting to thin, but you’ll still find a few snatches of green here and there.

[school_holidays] =>

If you can, try and avoid the park during the winter and Easter school holidays. These differ from year to year, but usually fall in March or April and June or July.

See when the school holidays fall here.

[festivals_and_events] => [weather_overview] =>

The summer months tend to be very hot (over 35 degrees Celsius) with heavy rainfall and thunderstorms in the afternoons and early evenings. Winter, from May to September, is the driest period in the park, with daytime temperatures in the mid and high twenties and rapidly cooling nights, which can drop below zero degrees.

Click here for a seven-day forecast from the SANParks website.

[what_to_take] =>
  • Binoculars
  • Warm clothing for night drives
  • Camera
  • Extra memory cards
  • Comfortable shoes if you’re planning on joining a morning bush walk
  • Light clothing that covers your arms and ankles to protect you against mosquitos and other insects.
  • Sunscreen
  • Cooler boxes – to transport your perishables from one camp to the next
  • Games for the kids
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Guidebooks for birds and animals
[visa_requirements] => [how_to_get_visas] => [local_high_commissions_embassies_in_country] => [foreign_high_commissions_embassies_in_country] => [money_introduction] =>

It’s best to carry some cash with you on your trip to the Kruger, but seeing as most camps accept credit cards, you’ll be able to pay for the big things, like accommodation and game drives, with your card.

[currency_name] => South African Rands [currency_symbol] => R [changing_money_include_where] => [credit_cards] =>

Credit cards are accepted at all of the official rest camps’ shops, petrol stations and restaurants as well as at all of the gates. Some of the bushveld camps don’t have signal and this may mean that you can only pay by credit card and not debit card. Ensure that you also have some cash with you, because the Internet cafes at the camps, for example, only take cash.

[atms] =>

You'll find an ATM and full bank facilities at Skukuza Rest Camp and another mini ATM at Letaba Rest Camp. Other than that, you’ll have to drive out of the park to the nearest town in order to draw cash.

[travellers_cheques] => [banks_open] => 00:00:00 [banks_close] => 00:00:00 [wiring_money] => [budgeting_and_average_cost_of_goods] => [exchange_rate_link] => Rates for ZAR [plugs] => [voltage] => [people_with_disabilities] =>

The Kruger National Park caters well for people with disabilities and most of the rest camps offer specially adapted accommodation and facilities for people with disabilities.

See SANPark’s in-depth accessibility profile of the park and the individual camps here.

[communication_overview] =>

Things have changed in the last few years and, for better or worse, you won’t find yourself entirely closed off from the world when you visit the Kruger these days. In some cases, at smaller bushveld camps and campsites, there is still no cellphone reception, but there’s always a spot a few kilometres away where you can get signal. All the major camps now have cellphone reception and many have Internet cafes and post offices for those who still like to send postcards.

[public_telephones] =>

All the rest camps have at least one public phone. Sometimes they’re card phones and sometimes coin phones. Sometimes you’ll find both. In certain cases, with the card phones, the shops don’t sell the cards, so you’ll need to get them at one of the larger camps like Skukuza.

[phone_cards] => [calling_within_country] => [making_international_calls] => [international_code_incoming_calls] => 27 [mobile_desc] =>

Mobile reception inside the major camps is generally good while the bushveld camps tend to have more sporadic reception and in some cases none at all. You might not have reception while you’re on the road and in between camps, especially in the more remote areas of the park.

[internet_and_email] =>

Some of the larger rest camps have Internet cafes. The standard rate is R30 for 30 minutes.

The following camps have Internet: Skukuza Rest Camp, Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp, Lower Sabie Rest Camp, Satara Rest Camp.

[postal_service] =>

All the large rest camps (excluding bushveld camps) have a postal service that gets collected twice a week. The respective shops also sell postcards and stamps.

[language_overview] =>

The staff and officials at the gates and reception areas are fluent in English, although this is often not their mother tongue. In general you will get by easily with English or Afrikaans, but European languages are unlikely to be understood. The most common local languages include Afrikaans, Sotho, Swazi and Tsonga.

[main_language_name] => English [hello] => [good_bye] => [thank_you] => [what_is_your_name] => [what_time_is_it] => [where_is_the] => [airport] => [taxi] => taxi [road] => road [shop] => shop [beach] => beachfiller [police_station] => [hospital] => [petrol_station] => [accommodation_overview] =>

When it comes to accommodation in the Kruger National Park, SANParks’ official rest camps are your main option. There are 24 of these camps spread out across the park providing simple but neat self-catering ‘rondavels’ (round huts) and plenty of campsites. All the official rest camps have bungalows and camping areas and some of them have safari tents offering a comfortable midway point. Most of the camps have restaurants, bars and a shop to stock up on supplies. Every single campsite or bungalow has an outside braai which is how most people choose to spend their evenings – gathering around the fireplace, sizzling some chops and sharing stories about the day’s sightings.

The smaller bush camps provide a more private and often quieter experience, but are usually no less rustic than the main camps. If you prefer a more luxurious stay, you’ll most likely have to stay in one of the private concessions outside the park.

[camping_and_caravanning] =>

Almost every official rest camp has a camping site. All campsites and caravan sites are combined. This excludes the bushveld camps where you’ll find only self-catering bungalows. In most cases, the campsite is within the borders of the rest camp, but sometimes, at the smaller rest camps, the campsite will be on its own a few kilometers away from the rest camp and reception area. In this case, you’ll have to check in at reception before heading out to set up your camp.

All camping facilities have communal bathrooms with basins, baths and showers as well as disabled bathroom facilities. There are also communal kitchens with two-plate stoves, washing-up basins and water boiling facilities. Most of the campsites have electricity, but you’ll always find a few spots that aren’t electrified. You can specify which you’d like when booking. There are a few smaller, rustic camping areas where there is no electricity whatsoever.

All the campsites have awnings, mostly under trees but sometimes under manmade shade. Bring along a ground sheet, as the stands can be dry and dusty.

Generally speaking, you can choose your spot upon arrival, but at a few rest camps they allocate your spot to you. Ask how it works in your particular camp when you book.

[self_catering] =>

Kruger’s older rest camps (such as Skukuza) still make use of the traditional ‘rondavel’ – a round, thatch-roofed bungalow with the kitchen area outside along the porch. Some of the other camps are a little more modern and have gone for a more standard square building, but retain the thatched roofs for the most part. These newer designs also tend to have a more sheltered kitchen area, sometimes located inside the bungalow.

With the exception of the smaller, bushveld camps, you’ll normally have a choice between bungalows with their own kitchen facilities and ones without. All kitchens have two-plate stoves, kettles, fridges, crockery and cutlery. In some cases, especially at the more modern camps, you might have a microwave as well.

Bungalows without kitchen facilities all still have a fridge and some have a kettle. If there’s no kettle, there’ll be boiling water facilities at the communal kitchen. The communal kitchens also have two plate stoves and washing up basins. Be sure to check what facilities your bungalow or ‘rondavel’ has when you book.

All self-catering bungalows come with towels and soap and are serviced each morning.

[luxury] =>

For luxury accommodation it's best to look outside the park in one of the many surrounding concessions and private reserves. In most cases there are no fences between these reserves and the main park and the animals can roam freely between.

[mid_range] => [budget] => [accommodation_widget] => [activities_overview] =>

You never have to endure a dull moment in the Kruger National Park. Rest camps around the park offer a range of activities, from swimming pools and movies in the evenings to guided game drives and bush walks departing from the camp.

Although most of the rest camps have a swimming pool, not all of them do. Visit the individual rest camp’s pages to see a breakdown of the activities on offer. You’ll definitely be able to book a game drive (morning or afternoon) and bush walk at every rest camp in the park. Most camps also offer bush braais and late night drives and there are certain camps that offer more specialised activities like river walks and mountain biking.

[activities_for_kids] =>

The kids can enjoy frolicking in swimming pools and, in some cases, there are jungle gyms inside the rest camp where they can play. Most of the camps also have an open-air cinema where animal films are shown every weeknight.

Tip: Letaba Rest Camp is perhaps the best camp when it comes to entertainment for the kids. Satara Rest Camp is also well equipped with two kids’ play areas inside the camp itself.

Only children above 12 years of age are allowed to join the guided game drives and bush walks.

[archaelogical_sites] => [beaches] => [cinema] => [day_walks] =>


[diving] => [festivals] => [hiking] => [live_music_venues] => [mountain_biking] => [night_life] => [parks] => [restaurants] => [shopping] =>

Every rest camp (excluding the bushveld camps) has a shop. They’re all named The Park’s Shop and they vary in size, but you’ll be able to buy essential food items like milk, bread, ice, wood and meat at all of them. All of these shops also have a range of alcoholic beverages for sale as well as lots of curios, clothing items and souvenirs. These shops tend to be a little overpriced, so if possible, try and bring as much as you can along with you.

[surfing] => [theatre] => [view_points] =>

There are many spots around the park where you can get out within the designated area and enjoy a spectacular view. Sometimes you’ll be high up on a hill, overlooking an incredible expanse of bush and other times you’ll be just above a river or a dam with elephants and hippos wallowing below.

Refer to the individual camps for all the lookout points in the immediate area.

Here are 10 top lookout points in the Kruger.

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The general notion in the Kruger National Park is to slap a few chops and steaks on the fire in the evenings, bond with your friends and family while the children run around on the grass; or get to know your neighbours, sharing stories of the day’s sightings. This is part of the Kruger’s charm. You could, however, enjoy your meals at the restaurants as well.

[dining_out] =>

The restaurants at the rest camps aren’t the most popular places to socialise, but mostly they have nice views and decent enough meals. All the rest camps (excluding the bushveld camps, Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp and Orpen Rest Camp with its satellite camps) have restaurants on site, and all share the same menu of basic breakfasts, sandwiches, burgers, grills and pizzas. There’s also a kids menu and a full bar. The only exceptions to this rule are Skukuza Rest Camp, where you’ll find two extra restaurants, and Mopani Rest Camp, where there’s a completely different menu from all the other camps.

You’ll definitely be able to survive on the food at the restaurants, but it might add up to quite a large bill at the end of your trip. With such great meat available at the camp shops it’s much nicer to sit around the fire and prepare your own food.

[food_shopping] =>

The rest camps in the Kruger are built for the self-caterer. If you don’t have a kitchen at your bungalow or you’re camping, then there will be a communal kitchen only a few meters away. There kitchens are very basic, with a two-plate stove, boiling water and washing up basins, but you’ll definitely be able to get by. If you don’t have cutlery and crockery, you’ll be able to rent these at reception. Every campsite and bungalow has its own braai area.

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Everywhere where there’s a restaurant, there’s a bar as well. Not a separate bar, but you can order almost any drink from the waiters. There are also cans of beer and bottles of cider that you can buy and enjoy on a bench at the camp. For a much cheaper option, you can buy your beer at the rest camp shop, or bring it in from outside.

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Most of the rest camps have a public picnic area where anyone can come in and enjoy a picnic. There are also quite a few picnic sites spread out throughout the park, removed from the rest camps. You can rent a gas braai and there are communal kitchen facilities for everything else. At some of the larger picnic areas like Afsaal, Tshokwane and Nkuhlu you can order coffee and simple meals.

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Although they’re not entirely local, the waffles and pancakes at Afsaal and Tshokwane Picnic Sites are delicious and very popular, especially in the late mornings, after an early morning game drive.

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Most of the restaurants in the Kruger share the same, average menu. When there’s an exception, the restaurant in question is usually worth checking out.

[fav_restaurant_1_name] => Selati Grillhouse, Skukuza Rest Camp [fav_restaurant_1_description] =>

Situated in the old train station that used to operate between the Kruger, Zimbabwe and the rest of South Africa, the restaurant is spread out across the old platform with a bar inside one of the old train wagons. The food is of high standard – a real treat.

[fav_restaurant_2_name] => Tindlovo Restaurant, Mopani Rest Camp [fav_restaurant_2_description] =>

Being the only place in the Kruger which seems to serve something other than the standard Kruger Menu, Tindlovo offers a pleasant change. Although you’ll also find bistro-styled meals, there are a lot more healthy options as well and the food is beautifully presented.

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[authority] => SANParks [contact_person] => [booking_email] => reservations@sanparks.org [information_email] => [information_telephone] => [booking_telephone] => 0124289111 [alternate_telephone] => 0312434233 [mobile] => 0822339111 [dialing_code] => 27 [address_line_1] => South African National Parks [address_line_2] => PO Box 787 [address_line_3] => Pretoria [address_line_4] => South Africa [postal_code] => 0001 [website] => www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ [facebook] => www.facebook.com/South.African.National.Parks [twitter] => @SANParksKNP [linkedin] => www.linkedin.com/company/sanparks [pinterest] => www.pinterest.com/SANationalParks/ [social_media_1] => www.youtube.com/sanparks [social_media_2] => [social_media_3] => [police_telephone] => 0137354325 [fire_telephone] => 0137354325 [ambulance_telephone] => 0137354325 [mountain_rescue_telephone] => [parksboard_telephone] => [roadside_assistance_telephone] => 0137354325 [locationID] => 1103 [columnName] => link_3 [value] => 1103 [editor] => admin [time] => 3/19/14 2:15:24 PM [name] => admin [key] => id )

The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest protected area and home not only to the Big Five, but also to a host of other mammals, birds, reptiles and antelope. The park is adored by tourists and locals alike, both as a place to visit for a day and as a place to spend a few night or weeks.

The park encloses nearly two million hectares of primal Africa. It sits in the northeastern corner of South Africa and skirts the border of Mozambique for 500 kilometres. It’s one of Africa’s top destinations, and although you can choose to stay in luxury lodges in the private concessions around the park, a holiday to Kruger need not be an overpriced affair.

The park’s official rest camps offer simple, affordable accommodation without fancy frills and tourist traps. You can bring your own food and drive yourself around looking for animals. In fact, there’s no other place in South Africa where you can manage your own safari drives within a park that teems with so much big game. Simply drive out onto any tarred or gravel road close to the camp where you stay and start exploring. There are waterholes, pans, dams and rivers where the animals go to drink and massive open plains and bushy forested areas where they congregate to eat. All you need to do is keep your eyes open.

You could, of course, opt for restaurant meals and guided game drives, all of which are available at most of the camps inside the park. Otherwise you can stay outside the park and drive in for day visits. Your trip to the Kruger National Park can truly be as affordable or as expensive as you want.

This guide will focus on the official rest camps inside the Kruger National Park and not the luxury lodges and private concessions around it. Here you will find detailed information about the accommodation and facilities of each camp, which animals you’ll find in the area and where to drive to find them.

The Kruger is divided into three geographical and conservation areas – south, central, and north. It also encompasses two climatic zones and 14 distinct eco-zone.

The gate opening and closing times change according to the seasons and coincide more or less with sunrise and sunset. Unguided driving is not allowed after dark. Keep an eye out for the large 'owl clocks' at each rest camp’s gate. These show the camp’s opening and closing times for that day. While the rest camp gates and the park gates generally have the same opening and closing times, the camp gates open as early as 04:30 in the summer months while the park gates never open before 05:30 in the mornings.

Opening Time Closing Time
Summer05:3018:30
Autumn06:0018:00
Winter06:0017:30
Spring05:3018:00

Certain areas of the Kruger are much richer in wildlife than others, and it’s important that you’re clear on the area you’re looking to visit. This uneven distribution of animals in the park means that some regions are also much busier than others. For example, the northern area tends to be quieter than the centre and south.

If you’re looking for large herds and big cats then the centre and south are a better bet, but for a quieter bush experience – or if you’re specifically looking for birds – then the north is generally a better option. After you’ve decided on which region you would like to visit, you should also be sure to plan your game drives according to the times that the animals are at their most active. Early mornings and late afternoons are best. Don't forget your binoculars.

Locals' tips

  1. Have a look at the sightings board at the camp where you stay to see which animals have been spotted in the area that morning and the day before, and where they were spotted. This will help plan your day.

  2. Set out to search for animals early in the morning and in the late afternoon.

  3. Keep your engine running, just in case an elephant decides to charge in your direction.

  4. Although four-wheel drive cars elevate you above the grass and make the gravel roads seem smoother, it’s not essential for your trip. You can get around just fine in a normal car.

  5. If you’re a day visitor and you visit in the peak winter months, try and get there early in the morning as there’s a quota for the amount of people allowed in the park per day.

Highlights

You don’t have to spend your nights inside the park in order to make the most of your visit to the Kruger. Day visitors are welcome during its official opening times and can access almost all of the roads that overnight visitors can. Most of the rest camps have a day visitor’s picnic area either inside the camp or within two kilometres of it. Camp shops and restaurants are open to day visitors as well, and so are the public picnic areas found throughout the park.

In high season there are quotas on how many day visitors are allowed inside the park each day. If you’re planning to visit during this time, make sure you arrive at the park early in order to gain access. Once you’re inside, you can stay until the gates close again in the late afternoon. To secure your booking for a day visit, you can contact SANParks and make a day booking, but seeing as the mornings are the best times to spot animals, you might as well just get there early.

Day visitor’s tip: Make a stop at one of the sighting boards at the rest camps or public picnic areas to see which animals were spotted that morning and where they were spotted. This will help you on your way, especially if your time in the park is limited.

The single most important reason why people visit the Kruger National Park is its animals and their natural habitat. The park hosts some impressive predators, massive herds of herbivores, reptiles and more than 500 different bird species.

Mammals

Almost 150 different mammal species call the Kruger their home. This is over 65 percent of the mammals found in South Africa. But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. The easiest way to get to grips with of all the mammals found in the park is to divide them into their feeding categories, namely carnivores, herbivores (grazers and browsers) and scavengers, such as primates. You’ll also hear the guides on the walks and drives talk of the animals in these terms.

Carnivores

The term ‘carnivore’ implies predators, and these animals are the reason why most people visit the Kruger National Park. All the park’s dominant predators are carnivores. You can look forward to seeing big cats like lion, leopard and cheetah, small cats like caracal, serval and African wildcat and other predators like hyena, wild dog and jackal. Spotting any of these creatures – even for a second – will make your trip to the park entirely worth it.

Herbivores

Encompassing a very large portion of the park’s mammals, herbivores are divided up into grazers and browsers. These terms refer to the different vegetation types they feed on and, consequently, where you’ll find them. While grazers enjoy grass and low shrubs, browsers will often eat grasses, but prefer the higher foliage of bushes and trees.

Kruger’s most common grazers are buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. Also look out for waterbuck and blue wildebeest. The most sought-after grazer to spot nowadays is probably the white rhino. Hippos are also considered grazers, although, as they are nocturnal, you won’t normally see them grazing out of the water unless they happen to be very close to camp. Other, more rare, grazers include the roan antelope, sable antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and tsessebe. Although grazers are found throughout the park, they occur in their greatest numbers in the central region where large herds of buffalo migrate across the open plains and mixed herds of wildebeest and zebra can often be see grazing together.

There is much more to consider when it comes to browsers, like the height of the vegetation and the exac

Birds

Although predator sightings can be infrequent and unpredictable, you can always rely on the birds in the park to brighten a slow game-viewing day. Over 500 different birds call the park their home and avid bird-watchers will find no better place in the entire country to spot their favourite bird species.

If you’d rather skip the crowds and focus your attention on the birds alone, get yourself a bird guide at one of the shops and head to the north of the park. There are fewer mammals here (which means fewer people) and the bird life in this area is prolific.

Reptiles

You might cringe at the idea of seeing snakes and lizards, but these species are just as fascinating as any of the mammals in the Kruger. Crocodiles, for example, are always a treat to watch and so are tortoises and terrapins. There are also about 60 different species of lizards and 50 snakes.

Although snakebites are few and far between, you might want to familiarize yourself with how puffadders and African rock pythons look. These are the most common and quite venomous. If you or someone you’re travelling with is bitten by any snake, try to take a picture of it with your camera or phone. This will help with quick identification and anti-venom administration when you’re being treated.

Malaria

The Kruger National Park is situated in a malaria zone, but the risk is not as great as it is in a lot of other African countries. The mosquitos are dormant between June and August, and you can get by with mosquito repellent and by covering your skin at dawn and dusk. You aren’t guaranteed safety against malaria though, so to be safe, consult your doctor on malaria prophylaxis at least two weeks before your trip.

Elephants

Although thousands of cars enter the park every year, it is still considered a wild area and buffalo and elephant do sometimes take exception to vehicles that get too close. Elephants can be particularly dangerous, especially when there are young in the herd, or when a young male is in musth. When an elephant flaps its ears and turns its head sideways, it’s agitated. The best thing to do is to back off as quickly and quietly as you can, without excessive engine revving and certainly no hooting or shouting. If an elephant looks like it wants to cross the road ahead, be sure to stop and wait for it to pass. Most of the time they will do so quite unconcernedly and without fuss.

Snakes and scorpions

Scorpions and snakes are sometimes seen in the camps at night, but they are not a common sight. Keep an eye out on windy evenings when scorpions are more prevalent and always wear closed shoes at night, especially around campfires where they like to congregate.

24-hour Emergency Call Centre 013-735-4325

Hospitals and clinics

There is only one doctor inside the Kruger National Park itself and you’ll find the office at Skukuza Rest Camp, the administrative headquarters of the park. The closest clinics and hospitals are at one of the surrounding towns (depending where you are).

Dangers and annoyances

The vervet monkeys, baboons and other occasional scavengers can be an annoyance inside the rest camps and at the public picnic areas, and are always out to steal any available food they can find. Many of the rest camps have adapted by placing their fridges either inside the bungalows or, if the kitchens are on the porch, inside a lockable cage. Wherever you are, make sure you are always on the lookout for these mischievous thieves, and store your food securely at all times. They will easily open cupboard doors, cooler boxes and the like so bring locks or keep your food packed away safely in your locked vehicle. Whatever you do, don’t leave anything edible lying around.

  1. Visitors must remain in their vehicles unless in a designated area. Remember that no part of the body may protrude from a window or sunroof or any other part of the vehicle. Vehicle doors should be closed at all times.
  2. Stick to the speed limit. All general rules of the road apply within the Kruger National Park. The speed limit is 50 km/h on tar roads and 40 km/h on gravel roads. Please note that not all roads are accessible to caravans.
  3. Look at the gate times in your green gate permit. You must be inside the camp or out of the gate before these times. No travelling before or after these times is allowed. Gate times must be strictly adhered to and latecomers may be subject to a fine.
  4. You are not allowed to drive “off-road” or on roads with a “no entry” sign.
  5. The feeding or disturbing of animals is a serious offence. Remember, animals see litter as food.
  6. Overnight visitors are only allowed to stay at a booked and recognised overnight facility and must report to reception before occupying accommodation or camping.
  7. All accommodation and camping sites may be occupied from 14:00 on the day of arrival and must be vacated by 10:00 on the day of departure.
  8. Vehicles of a carrying capacity exceeding 4 000kg, buses or any vehicles with more than 25 seats, are restricted to the tar roads.
  9. A stringent noise restriction is enforced between 21:30 and 06:00. The use of cell phones is permitted only in camps, gates and in cases of emergency.
  10. The use of roller skates, skateboards, bicycles and motorbikes is prohibited.
  11. The Kruger National Park is a malaria zone - we advise that all visitors adhere to their doctor’s instructions.
  12. Roadside assistance, toll free number 0800 030 666 (Vuswa).
  13. Rules and regulations are enforced under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act no. 57 of 2003) and transgression can result in a fine.
  14. No live animal (domestic or wild) may be brought into, or removed from the Kruger National Park. That is why NO PETS ARE ALLOWED here.
  15. No raw, wild-animal derived products such as meat, bones, organs and hides may be brought into or removed from the Kruger National Park.
  16. Raw meat and dairy products may be brought into the Kruger National Park for your own consumption. However, no raw products from cloven-hoofed animals (milk or meat) will be allowed to leave the Kruger National Park through any of the official South African entrance gates unless it is still packaged in a sealed container identifiably marked to confirm its South African origin, source or distributor.
  17. Commercially packaged fish and poultry are exempt from these restrictions.
  18. Fully processed curios are exempt from these restrictions.

The Kruger National Park sits in the far northeastern corner of South Africa and is accessible from all over the country as well as from Mozambique. You can fly in and rent a car or, if you live nearby it’s definitely best to drive to the park. If you’re planning to stay in one of the private lodges they’ll be able to organize transport from the airport to the lodge.

Driving

For many, this is the most preferred method to get to the Kruger National Park as you’ll need a car once you get there in order to get from camp to camp and to go out on game drives. The park has nine gates, spread out from the very south to the very north, so you can choose your route accordingly. At each gate you’ll be able to purchase a map of the park.

By bus

Although there aren’t any public buses making their way into the park, you can organise coaches for groups through a travel agent. The private concessions and luxury lodges inside them will also organize shuttles to and from the closest airport.

Private Connections is a private company that book bus shuttles between Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and the park. Visit www.pctours.co.za for more information.

By air

There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa Airport, Hoedspruit Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. From Cape Town, you can fly into Hoedspruit Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and from Durban you can fly daily to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

Public transport

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

The Kruger National Park is accessed mostly through self-drive and is very well adapted to this purpose. The roads are mostly very good (considering that the majority of them are gravel) and the signage along the way is clear. If you can’t come with your own car, there are many car rental companies just beyond the park’s gates and one right inside the park. Fuel is readily available and you don’t need a 4x4 in order to explore the beauty of the park.

Roads and driving

The Kruger National Park has both tarred and gravel roads. The main roads that run from the gates and from the south to the north of the park are tarred, while the gravel roads take you to the rivers, viewing points and other good places to see animals. The tarred roads are all in good condition and most of the gravel roads as well. There are times (especially in the wet summer season) where some rivers flood over the road, but unless the flooding is extreme, you can avoid these crossings if need be. Most of the gravel roads are wide and smooth, but some are narrower and rocky and sometimes have potholes. If the roads are flooded or inaccessible, they’ll be closed at the start, so you’ll never find yourself stuck in a pickle.

Car hire companies can be found at Hoedspruit, Phalaborwa and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport as well as inside the park at Skukuza Rest Camp. It is best to book your car before arriving.

Car rentals

Car hire companies can be found at Hoedspruit, Phalaborwa and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport as well as inside the park at Skukuza Rest Camp. It is best to book your car before arriving.

Self-drive

Self-drive is the economical way to get around the Kruger National Park. This way, you can move between the camps and choose your own routes to explore. Guided game drives are expensive and can be saved for a treat. The maps that are available at the shops are very comprehensive and so are the signs found along the road. All intersections and roads are clearly marked with kilometre readings, so you’ll know exactly where you are all the time.

4x4 recommended

Although you don’t need a 4x4 to get around the park, there are moments and certain roads that can be handled much more smoothly in a 4x4. The nice thing about them is that they’re generally a little higher than sedan cars, so you’ll be able to spot the animals much easier.

Fuel

Most of the rest camps have fuel stations where both overnight visitors and day visitors can fill up with fuel.

People with disabilities

The Kruger National Park caters well for people with disabilities and most of the rest camps offer specially adapted accommodation and facilities for people with disabilities.

See SANPark’s in-depth accessibility profile of the park and the individual camps here.

  • Binoculars
  • Warm clothing for night drives
  • Camera
  • Extra memory cards
  • Comfortable shoes if you’re planning on joining a morning bush walk
  • Light clothing that covers your arms and ankles to protect you against mosquitos and other insects.
  • Sunscreen
  • Cooler boxes – to transport your perishables from one camp to the next
  • Games for the kids
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Guidebooks for birds and animals

It’s best to carry some cash with you on your trip to the Kruger, but seeing as most camps accept credit cards, you’ll be able to pay for the big things, like accommodation and game drives, with your card.

Currency nameSouth African Rands
Exchange rate linkRates for ZAR

Credit cards

Credit cards are accepted at all of the official rest camps’ shops, petrol stations and restaurants as well as at all of the gates. Some of the bushveld camps don’t have signal and this may mean that you can only pay by credit card and not debit card. Ensure that you also have some cash with you, because the Internet cafes at the camps, for example, only take cash.

ATMs

You'll find an ATM and full bank facilities at Skukuza Rest Camp and another mini ATM at Letaba Rest Camp. Other than that, you’ll have to drive out of the park to the nearest town in order to draw cash.

Things have changed in the last few years and, for better or worse, you won’t find yourself entirely closed off from the world when you visit the Kruger these days. In some cases, at smaller bushveld camps and campsites, there is still no cellphone reception, but there’s always a spot a few kilometres away where you can get signal. All the major camps now have cellphone reception and many have Internet cafes and post offices for those who still like to send postcards.

International dialing code:+27

Mobile services

Mobile reception inside the major camps is generally good while the bushveld camps tend to have more sporadic reception and in some cases none at all. You might not have reception while you’re on the road and in between camps, especially in the more remote areas of the park.

Public telephones

All the rest camps have at least one public phone. Sometimes they’re card phones and sometimes coin phones. Sometimes you’ll find both. In certain cases, with the card phones, the shops don’t sell the cards, so you’ll need to get them at one of the larger camps like Skukuza.

Internet and email

Some of the larger rest camps have Internet cafes. The standard rate is R30 for 30 minutes.

The following camps have Internet: Skukuza Rest Camp, Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp, Lower Sabie Rest Camp, Satara Rest Camp.

Postal Service

All the large rest camps (excluding bushveld camps) have a postal service that gets collected twice a week. The respective shops also sell postcards and stamps.

Main Language(s)English

The staff and officials at the gates and reception areas are fluent in English, although this is often not their mother tongue. In general you will get by easily with English or Afrikaans, but European languages are unlikely to be understood. The most common local languages include Afrikaans, Sotho, Swazi and Tsonga.

Useful words and phrases

Taxitaxi
Roadroad
Shopshop
beachbeachfiller

When it comes to accommodation in the Kruger National Park, SANParks’ official rest camps are your main option. There are 24 of these camps spread out across the park providing simple but neat self-catering ‘rondavels’ (round huts) and plenty of campsites. All the official rest camps have bungalows and camping areas and some of them have safari tents offering a comfortable midway point. Most of the camps have restaurants, bars and a shop to stock up on supplies. Every single campsite or bungalow has an outside braai which is how most people choose to spend their evenings – gathering around the fireplace, sizzling some chops and sharing stories about the day’s sightings.

The smaller bush camps provide a more private and often quieter experience, but are usually no less rustic than the main camps. If you prefer a more luxurious stay, you’ll most likely have to stay in one of the private concessions outside the park.

Almost every official rest camp has a camping site. All campsites and caravan sites are combined. This excludes the bushveld camps where you’ll find only self-catering bungalows. In most cases, the campsite is within the borders of the rest camp, but sometimes, at the smaller rest camps, the campsite will be on its own a few kilometers away from the rest camp and reception area. In this case, you’ll have to check in at reception before heading out to set up your camp.

All camping facilities have communal bathrooms with basins, baths and showers as well as disabled bathroom facilities. There are also communal kitchens with two-plate stoves, washing-up basins and water boiling facilities. Most of the campsites have electricity, but you’ll always find a few spots that aren’t electrified. You can specify which you’d like when booking. There are a few smaller, rustic camping areas where there is no electricity whatsoever.

All the campsites have awnings, mostly under trees but sometimes under manmade shade. Bring along a ground sheet, as the stands can be dry and dusty.

Generally speaking, you can choose your spot upon arrival, but at a few rest camps they allocate your spot to you. Ask how it works in your particular camp when you book.

Kruger’s older rest camps (such as Skukuza) still make use of the traditional ‘rondavel’ – a round, thatch-roofed bungalow with the kitchen area outside along the porch. Some of the other camps are a little more modern and have gone for a more standard square building, but retain the thatched roofs for the most part. These newer designs also tend to have a more sheltered kitchen area, sometimes located inside the bungalow.

With the exception of the smaller, bushveld camps, you’ll normally have a choice between bungalows with their own kitchen facilities and ones without. All kitchens have two-plate stoves, kettles, fridges, crockery and cutlery. In some cases, especially at the more modern camps, you might have a microwave as well.

Bungalows without kitchen facilities all still have a fridge and some have a kettle. If there’s no kettle, there’ll be boiling water facilities at the communal kitchen. The communal kitchens also have two plate stoves and washing up basins. Be sure to check what facilities your bungalow or ‘rondavel’ has when you book.

All self-catering bungalows come with towels and soap and are serviced each morning.

For luxury accommodation it's best to look outside the park in one of the many surrounding concessions and private reserves. In most cases there are no fences between these reserves and the main park and the animals can roam freely between.

You never have to endure a dull moment in the Kruger National Park. Rest camps around the park offer a range of activities, from swimming pools and movies in the evenings to guided game drives and bush walks departing from the camp.

Although most of the rest camps have a swimming pool, not all of them do. Visit the individual rest camp’s pages to see a breakdown of the activities on offer. You’ll definitely be able to book a game drive (morning or afternoon) and bush walk at every rest camp in the park. Most camps also offer bush braais and late night drives and there are certain camps that offer more specialised activities like river walks and mountain biking.

Activities for kids

The kids can enjoy frolicking in swimming pools and, in some cases, there are jungle gyms inside the rest camp where they can play. Most of the camps also have an open-air cinema where animal films are shown every weeknight.

Tip: Letaba Rest Camp is perhaps the best camp when it comes to entertainment for the kids. Satara Rest Camp is also well equipped with two kids’ play areas inside the camp itself.

Only children above 12 years of age are allowed to join the guided game drives and bush walks.

Shopping

Every rest camp (excluding the bushveld camps) has a shop. They’re all named The Park’s Shop and they vary in size, but you’ll be able to buy essential food items like milk, bread, ice, wood and meat at all of them. All of these shops also have a range of alcoholic beverages for sale as well as lots of curios, clothing items and souvenirs. These shops tend to be a little overpriced, so if possible, try and bring as much as you can along with you.

Viewpoints

There are many spots around the park where you can get out within the designated area and enjoy a spectacular view. Sometimes you’ll be high up on a hill, overlooking an incredible expanse of bush and other times you’ll be just above a river or a dam with elephants and hippos wallowing below.

Refer to the individual camps for all the lookout points in the immediate area.

Here are 10 top lookout points in the Kruger.

The general notion in the Kruger National Park is to slap a few chops and steaks on the fire in the evenings, bond with your friends and family while the children run around on the grass; or get to know your neighbours, sharing stories of the day’s sightings. This is part of the Kruger’s charm. You could, however, enjoy your meals at the restaurants as well.


The restaurants at the rest camps aren’t the most popular places to socialise, but mostly they have nice views and decent enough meals. All the rest camps (excluding the bushveld camps, Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp and Orpen Rest Camp with its satellite camps) have restaurants on site, and all share the same menu of basic breakfasts, sandwiches, burgers, grills and pizzas. There’s also a kids menu and a full bar. The only exceptions to this rule are Skukuza Rest Camp, where you’ll find two extra restaurants, and Mopani Rest Camp, where there’s a completely different menu from all the other camps.

You’ll definitely be able to survive on the food at the restaurants, but it might add up to quite a large bill at the end of your trip. With such great meat available at the camp shops it’s much nicer to sit around the fire and prepare your own food.

Best restaurant in Kruger National Park

Most of the restaurants in the Kruger share the same, average menu. When there’s an exception, the restaurant in question is usually worth checking out.

Getaway’s favourite restaurants

Selati Grillhouse, Skukuza Rest Camp

Situated in the old train station that used to operate between the Kruger, Zimbabwe and the rest of South Africa, the restaurant is spread out across the old platform with a bar inside one of the old train wagons. The food is of high standard – a real treat.

Tindlovo Restaurant, Mopani Rest Camp

Being the only place in the Kruger which seems to serve something other than the standard Kruger Menu, Tindlovo offers a pleasant change. Although you’ll also find bistro-styled meals, there are a lot more healthy options as well and the food is beautifully presented.

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Everywhere where there’s a restaurant, there’s a bar as well. Not a separate bar, but you can order almost any drink from the waiters. There are also cans of beer and bottles of cider that you can buy and enjoy on a bench at the camp. For a much cheaper option, you can buy your beer at the rest camp shop, or bring it in from outside.

Although they’re not entirely local, the waffles and pancakes at Afsaal and Tshokwane Picnic Sites are delicious and very popular, especially in the late mornings, after an early morning game drive.

The rest camps in the Kruger are built for the self-caterer. If you don’t have a kitchen at your bungalow or you’re camping, then there will be a communal kitchen only a few meters away. There kitchens are very basic, with a two-plate stove, boiling water and washing up basins, but you’ll definitely be able to get by. If you don’t have cutlery and crockery, you’ll be able to rent these at reception. Every campsite and bungalow has its own braai area.

Most of the rest camps have a public picnic area where anyone can come in and enjoy a picnic. There are also quite a few picnic sites spread out throughout the park, removed from the rest camps. You can rent a gas braai and there are communal kitchen facilities for everything else. At some of the larger picnic areas like Afsaal, Tshokwane and Nkuhlu you can order coffee and simple meals.

SANParks

reservations@sanparks.org

South African National Parks

PO Box 787

South Africa

www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/

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