One of South Africa’s premier attractions, Kruger National Park is famous for the extent and diversity of its wildlife. The “Big Five” of game are all there—lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard—and a world-class conservation program means you’ll also encounter wildebeest, giraffes, zebra, big cats of all stripes, and diverse bird species.
South Africa’s largest game reserve, Kruger National Park covers 7,700 square miles (19,485 square km). Many lodges within the park offer safari packages that include morning and afternoon game drives. If you are staying outside Kruger Park in Hazyview, Nelspruit, or White River, you can book a tour that includes an early morning, evening, or day-long game drive. From the full experience from Johannesburg, book a full-day group or private tour that runs up to 16 hours and includes about three hours of game viewing.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A Kruger safari is a bucket-list trip for any wildlife lover.
- Game drives take place in open safari vehicles and are led by experienced guides who are passionate about wildlife and the bush.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera, as well as binoculars for game viewing at a distance.
- To make the most of your safari experience, follow your guide’s instructions carefully, especially when it comes to safety around the animals.
- You can choose between a guided tour and a self-drive excursion.
How to Get There
From Johannesburg, Kruger National Park is about a five-hour drive or a short flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. Buses are also available from Johannesburg to Nelspruit, from where you can also book a tour into the park.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Kruger National Park is during the dry season, between April and September. Temperatures are pleasant, vegetation is sparse, and water levels are low, which makes for the best game viewing. In the rainy season, October to March, thick foliage can make it harder to spot animals.
Spotting the Big Five in Kruger National Park
Catching sight of the Big Five is the highlight of any African safari. Lions tend to roam the open savannah and travel in prides of five to 15. They spend much of the day sleeping and get active in the later afternoon. Elephants are highly social and you can spot herds as large as 100 in Kruger, most often gathered around a watering hole. Buffalo may be the most dangerous of the Big Five and are also quite social, moving in herds of several hundred that often give rise to large dust clouds as they move in the dry season. Both white and black rhinos are endangered, so seeing them in Kruger is a rare treat. Leopards are the most elusive of the Big Five; you’re most likely to spot one perched on a large tree branch or preparing to stalk prey at night.