Kruger National Park Tours: Start your safari adventure here

When you think of an African safari, chances are that the Kruger comes to mind. It is by far South Africa’s best-known animal reserve. It is also the greatest national park on the planet, based on the wildlife that calls the park home. It gained its magnificent reputation based on the diversity of animal and plant life as well as based on the number of animals currently in the park. There is little surprise then why so many people choose Kruger Park tours as the best way to explore those incredible landscapes.

Kruger National Park safari with Moafrika Tours

A safari in South Africa is high up on the bucket list of pretty much all of those who are holidaying in this part of the world. Visiting the Kruger National Park is an unforgettable experience, in many ways it is exactly what you would expect a wild safari in Africa to be like. Except that when you go on a safari adventure with MoAfrika you will be treated to luxury accommodation. MoAfrika has created the perfect safari packages to help you spend the ideal amount of time in the park. And time spent with a knowledgeable guide is certainly the best way to make sure that you see exactly what you came to see.

The Kruger National Park, found in Mpumalanga and the Limpopo Province of South Africa, is unlike any place you will ever visit. Nature is rich and untouched, the animals are living in a truly natural habitat which is in and of itself incredibly special to see with your own eyes. Of course, most people come to the park with a checklist of animals that they would like to see, but the time you spend in the park is about more than just seeing animals. Time in the park is that welcome break from the real world. Along with it being downtime for most, it is also an enlightening journey when taken with a Kruger National Park tour operator.

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Unwind with the best Kruger National Park safaris

South African National Parks are well known for their conservation efforts. The National Parks have been created to give South Africa’s unique and diverse wildlife a safe habitat while allowing us the opportunity to see African wildlife in its rawest form. The Kruger National Park offers some of the very best safari opportunities for those who are looking for an adventure.

These kinds of safaris are offered by a number of different touring companies but if you want to have the very best experience then you need to make sure that you choose the most reputable touring company. If you are going on safari with a company, your safari can be made or broken depending on the type that you choose. You will be spending most of your time within the park with your guide, so having a knowledgeable person who is a pleasure to be touring with, will make your safari a whole lot more memorable.

MoAfrika not only has some of the best tour guides within the industry but we also have some of the very best touring options. With touring packages offering up to 5 days within the Kruger National Park, you will be staying in some of the finest accommodation facilities while your days will be spent travelling around the park.

Kruger National Park safari with Moafrika Tours

The tour begins when you are collected from Johannesburg, either from the airport or from your accommodation. You are then driven to the park, entering through one of the famous Kruger National Park gates. Once in the park, your adventure begins immediately. Guests are treated to the very best safari experience, ensuring that they get to see as many of the parks animals as possible.

Time spent in the Kruger National Park always ignites that something special. When you are visiting the park, it is like stepping into another world. The rustic appeal of the park helps to transform it into a real safari experience.

A tour into the Kruger will show you just how diverse the landscape is. It is home to 147 species of mammals, 114 species of reptiles, and 507 species of birds. And with 19 633 square kilometers of the conserved park to explore, the more time you spend here, the better your chances of seeing some of the most famous animals. There are many tour options to choose from as well, so you will definitely find that budget option even if finances worry you.
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Travelling with MoAfrika will offer you plenty of peace of mind while you relax and take in the sights. Our guides know the very best places to travel to if you want to see animals. MoAfrika’s safari options are exceptionally affordable and along with the luxury accommodation, you will be utterly spoilt with your time spent in the park. Contact us today or browse through our website to find out more.

If you are planning a Kruger safari, you may need some help. Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and spans an area of just under 20 000 square kilometres (7 500 sq/miles). It is 350 kilometres long and 60 kilometres wide, and comprises a number of diverse biospheres.

The Park is wedged between the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the north-eastern region of South Africa, with Mozambique on its eastern border and Zimbabwe on its northern border. It was first proclaimed a protected “no hunting” reserve in 1898 by the then President of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger. Today it is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations and world-famous for its conservation and educational initiatives.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide that covers everything from places to stay in the Kruger to best game viewing spots. If you are overwhelmed by choice, Moafrika Tours offers Kruger safari tours and has the knowledge and expertise to guarantee your Kruger safari will be a trip to remember forever.



If you are travelling from White River or Hazyview in Mpumalanga, the best entrance into the Kruger National Park for a 1-day Kruger safari is Numbi Gate. Once you have paid your entrance fee, you have two choices; take the direct route via Voortrekker Road (H2-2) to Pretoriouskop Rest Camp or the longer route via Napi Road (H1-1) to the Skukuza Malelane road. Stop off for lunch at the Afsaal picnic site before making your way home via Malelane Gate.

The south-west corner of Kruger National Park is characterised by Pretoriouskop sourveld with large, bare granite domes and leafy woodlands and grasslands favoured more by browsers than grazers; Malelane mountain bushveld with tall granite koppies (small hills) with mixed knobthorn sweetveld; and mixed woodland and thorn thickets found in the catchment areas along the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers. This is an excellent game viewing region because of its close proximity to water.

Voortrekker Road (H2-2) to Pretoriouskop Rest Camp

Pretoriouskop Rest Camp

Voortrekker Road is rich in history as it was the main route for João Albasini’s caravans that transported thousands of kilograms of goods from the coast of Mozambique to the Lowveld trading posts, and returned to the shipping port laden with huge piles of valuable ivory. This journey reportedly took 24 days to travel between Lourenzo Marques (now Maputo) and Pretoriouskop. The caravan expedition usually included 150 Shangaans, 70 porters and 15 or more hunters who shot game for the posse.

The road was named in honour of Carolus Trichardt, son of the Voortrekker Louis Trichardt, who was commissioned by the then Transvaal government to open up a regular route between the northern interior and Delagoa Bay. Voortrekker Road was improved over time and was used extensively to transport supplies to Lydenburg and Mac Mac during the gold rush era.

The massive granite boulder that is a distinctive landmark close to Pretoriouskop Rest Camp was known as Ship Mountain to the transport riders. It is rumoured that a stash of 19th-century gold coins is buried at the foot of the granite outcrop, belonging to Chief Matafini, a former Swazi military commander who took refuge there after he fell out with King Mbandeni in the 1880s. He allegedly buried his life’s fortune to avoid paying taxes to the Transvaal government but he was murdered by bandits and his treasure has never been found.

Ship Mountain, or Shabeni Hill as it is known today, is covered in lichen and is a remnant of a geological upheaval that occurred some 3 500 million years ago during a time when the gabbro and basalts of eastern Kruger spilt out over the Lowveld floor when an ancient volcano erupted.

A little terrier named Jock was born close to Ship Mountain. He was the beloved dog of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, a former transport rider, who immortalised the story of his pet in his famous book, Jock of the Bushveld.

White rhino

The south-west corner of Kruger National Park is a good area to spot rhino. They are attracted to the vegetation around the base of Ship Mountain known as sweetveld (sweet field). The first white rhino reintroduced to Park in the 1960s were taken to a boma close to what was known as Ship Mountain. Their numbers had declined dramatically from unchecked hunting in the late 1800s.

Voortrekker Road crosses the Mitomeni Spruit – the place of the jackal-berry trees. This was a popular outspan area for transport riders and you can still see the bullet holes in the leadwood trees that the riders used for target practice. The small, fleshy berries found on the trees in the area were used to make beer, and traditional healers used the bark of the jackal-berry tree to make smoke that cured a cough.

Voortrekker Road to Afsaal picnic site

Halfway between Ship Mountain and the Afsaal picnic site is Josekhulu Drift, named after Albasini’s induna (headman) – a large Zulu man known as “Big Josef”. Close to Josekhulu Drift is the site of a trading store set up by Thomas Hart during the 1870s to sell supplies to the transporters.

To stave off loneliness in such a remote part of the country, Hart kept an array of unusual pets including a cheetah, honey badgers, jackals, parrots, monkeys and snakes. He was murdered by bandits in 1876 and buried next to the road by sympathetic Swazi warriors.

Napi Road to the Skukuza Malelane road (H1-1)

Napi Road drops down from the granite outcrops of the Pretoriouskop region into rolling plains of mixed bushwillow woodlands south of Skukuza. The bush in this area is quite thick which is not ideal for game viewing but it is an area where you are more likely to see rarer antelope such as sable and eland. This route takes you along the crest of the watershed that divides the two major catchment areas of southern Kruger, the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers.

Your first stop is the Shitlhave water hole where you are guaranteed to see a resident pod of hippo and waterbuck grazing in the tall grass. You may also see southern reedbuck. Your drive continues past Mlaleni Hill to a popular outlook point at Transport Dam. This area marks the start of the sweetveld (sweet field) region which attracts grazers like zebra, buffalo and elephant. The small granite koppies (hills) around Transport Dam are home to small groups of klipspringer (rock hoppers), small antelope that have the uncanny ability to skip up and down the steep rock face.

From Transport Dam, you have the choice of the more direct tar road to Skukuza or the N’waswitshaka dirt road (S65). The dirt road takes you off the busy main road and it’s a good place to look for cheetah.

Afsaal picnic site to Malelane Gate on the tar road (H3)

The tar road from Afsaal picnic site to the Malelane Gate crosses the Matjulu River and passes a historic landmark, Tlhalabye Hill. This road is popular for tourists looking for raptors and rhinos. Another option is to take the dust road via Biyamiti Wier and Renosterkoppies. Both routes have interesting loop roads and the rolling woodland region is popular among birders. White rhino are often spotted in the woodlands along the road.

Where to have lunch on a 1-day Kruger safari

Pretoriouskop Rest Camp

This peaceful rest camp is one of the oldest establishments in the Kruger Park. It was opened in 1928 at a time when early tourists were first allowed into the park for day visits. The British royal family stayed at Pretoriouskop in 1947 during their tour of South Africa.

This popular rest camp is set in mixed terminalia and kiaat woodlands that attract browsers such as kudu and sable antelope. It was a popular outpost for transport riders on their way to Delagoa Bay because it was situated high above the malaria- and tsetse fly-ridden Lowveld. The transport riders used it as a base to prepare for the brutal journey across the plains to Komatipoort and on to the coastal port in Mozambique.

Accommodation at Pretoriouskop Rest Camp offers everything from budget-friendly campsites for tents and caravans and self-catering bungalows to family cottages and luxury guest houses. A recent addition is a luxury tented campsite that is situated on the fence overlooking the surrounding leafy woodlands.

There is a fully-stocked convenience store at Pretoriouskop Rest Camp and the Wimpy restaurant offers tourists simple, affordable meals. There is also a fuel station on the property.

Pool at Pretoriouskop Rest Camp

Pretoriouskop Rest Camp boasts a spectacular swimming pool that was built up against a flat granite boulder. The large pool is hugely popular with families with young children and gets busy during the holiday breaks. The mini forest that surrounds the pool area is excellent for bird watching.

On a walk around the rest camp, look out for the bright bougainvillaea shrubs and red Flamboyant trees that were originally planted by the first ranger in the Park, Harry Wolhuter. He used the camp as his base in the late 1920s and would hold staff meetings under an old Natal mahogany tree that still stands proudly today in the rest camp. These are the only non-indigenous plants that have been left to grow freely in the park as they are a nostalgic tribute to a man that did so much for Kruger National Park.

Skukuza Rest Camp

Sabie River at Skukuza Rest Camp

This well-known rest camp is known as the “administration capital” of Kruger National Park and an excellent place for first-time visitors to visit who are interested in the history of the Park. Skukuza is the biggest and busiest of the main rest camps with a good restaurant overlooking the river, a fast-food outlet and a massive shop where you can buy everything from impala biltong to curios and bush gear.

The Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library is located in Skukuza and houses a wealth of memorabilia used by the early rangers, as well as stone tools from the San people. There is even a small memorial site for the much-loved pets of the old park rangers.

The rest camp was established at what was known as Sabi Crossing where there was a pontoon in operation to cross the dangerous river. The first Kruger Park ranger, Paul Bester, was stationed there in 1898 and built the first rondavel (round hut) as his home base. These rondavels have become a distinctive feature of the main rest camps in Kruger National Park.

During the Anglo-Boer War, Sabi Crossing was occupied by Steinacker’s Horse, a regiment of the British Forces. The rest camp was later named Skukuza when James Stevenson-Hamilton moved there and set up his headquarters. Stevenson-Hamilton was the first official Kruger Park Ranger and his historical notes of what transpired in those early pioneering days of conservation are housed in the museum named in his honour.

James Stevenson-Hamilton, first warden of Kruger National Park

The Shangaan gave Stevenson-Hamilton the nickname Skukuza, meaning “he who turns everything upside down”. However, the name is a bitter reference to the fact that he was responsible for “driving out” inhabitants who had lived in the newly-proclaimed reserve for many years. Stevenson-Hamilton went on to transform Kruger National Park from an over-hunted, disease-ridden outpost into one of Africa’s best game reserves and conservation landmarks.

Skukuza Rest Camp is situated close to the confluence of the Sabie, N’waswitshaka and Sand Rivers. It is an area rich in game but the main attraction is sightings of leopard. The thorn thickets and mixed woodlands around the rest camp aswell as a permanent source of water attract an abundance of game which in turn attracts predators to the area.

A popular drive in the Skukuza area is the loop around the Sabie and Sand Rivers (H1-2, H12 and H4-1). There is a fairly good chance you’ll spot lion, hyena and wild dog on this drive. Other excellent game viewing vantage points include Mathekenyane Koppie on the H1-1 and Shirimantanga Hill on the S112 where Stevenson-Hamilton and his wife Hilda asked for their ashes to be scattered. Shirimantanga Hill is part of a scenic collection of hills collectively known as “Rhino Koppies”.

Skukuza Rest Camp boasts excellent facilities for tourists including a resident doctor and pharmacy, car hire and wash, a vehicle repair workshop, photograph development facilities and banking facilities. You can take an amble down the river-front walkway to the Campbell 1929 Hut Museum, which is the oldest hut in the Park. A well-maintained swimming pool is available for day visitors to use and there is a second pool at the camping site.

The main staff village is located across the river from Skukuza Rest Camp and boasts the only golfing facility in Kruger Park. It is a 72-par, 9-hole, 18-tee course set amongst beautiful bushveld trees with views over Lake Panic. The course is not fenced in and many golfers have had a game interrupted by curious buck and giraffe wondering onto the fairway. Be on the lookout for dangerous animals.

Afsaal picnic site

This is a great spot to stop off for lunch on a 1-day Kruger safari. The well-maintained picnic site is hugely popular with day visitors with a well-stocked shop, a fast-food outlet or braai facilities to choose from when the family gets hungry. The picnic site is surrounded by thick clusters of red ivory and enormous jackal-berry trees. An ancient termite mound near Afsaal is home to a tame colony of dwarf mongooses.

The site was originally used by the old transport riders as half-way camp enroute to Delagoa Bay and was popular as a hunting ground to replenish dwindling food provisions. The sweet grazing in the area attracted a variety of antelope all year round.

The surrounding area around Afsaal sits on a great horn of gabbro which provides nutritious grazing for animals such as zebra, wildebeest and impala. The abundance of grazers in the sweetveld plains attracts predators such as hyena and wild dog to the area. Also be on the lookout for unusual sightings of the Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, the southern reedbuck and caracal.

Afsaal is also well-known for sightings of lions that can be seen standing on the flatter boulders of the Makhoutwanini Koppies just north of the picnic site or resting in the shady, long grass beneath the trees in the leafy woodland areas.

The Biyamiti Basin lies beyond Afsaal. This wooden riverine is situated in the flood plains near Jock’s Camp and comes to life during the rainy season in summer. Gaggling parties of hornbills are a common sight in the mixed bushwillow woodlands.

The Biyamiti valley is also well-known for its rock art sites that are found in ancient hunting camps that were occupied for many years by the San, the last Stone-age people. These small nomadic groups followed the migrating animal herds and their traditional ways remained virtually unchanged for over 10 000 years until the arrival of the Bantu tribes from the north.

Exit at Malelane Gate

Your 1-day Kruger safari ends as you exit the Park at Malelane Gate. However, your journey is not over yet and you have the lush, fertile valley of Malelane and the magnificent Komati Gorge to look forward to on your drive back to Nelspruit.

Malelane is a charming valley situated on the N4 national highway about halfway between the capital city of Mpumalanga, Nelspruit, and the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo. It is also the gateway to Swaziland. The region is home to established farms that produce the country’s supply of sugarcane, subtropical fruit and nuts and winter vegetables.

The town of Malelane has also grown in popularity over the years as a destination for gourmet enthusiasts with establishments like Hamiltons Lodge and Restaurant offering visitors a delicious country meals paired with fine wines.


Lower Sabie Rest Camp

The first day of your 2-day Kruger safari covered the south-west corner of the Kruger National Park. If you stopped at Skukuza for lunch and spent time learning about the history of the Park, we recommend you spend your first night at Lower Sabie Rest Camp in the south-east (travel from Skukuza on the H4-1 tar road). This is a very popular rest camp so you will need to book your accommodation at Lower Sabie well in advance.

Lower Sabie Rest Camp is perfectly positioned overlooking the Sabie River, with views of the Lebombo Mountains in the distance. The modern restaurant has a stunning deck that is ideal for game viewing or just taking in the scenic beauty of the area. The endless procession of animals coming to drink at the Sabie River is a delight for both young and older visitors.

This popular rest camp has recently been refurbished and now offers luxury facilities and accommodation of a world-class standard. Luxury safari tents are a new addition, offering overseas tourists a real African bush experience. Accommodation ranges from self-catering Kruger huts and bungalows to campsites for tents and caravans.

Day visitors have access to a designated picnic area with a swimming pool and braai (barbeque) facilities. There are also picnic spots at Nkuhlu, Mlondozi Dam and Tshokwane. A well-stocked shop, an internet café and filling station are a few of the facilities available at Lower Sabie Rest Camp. The camp also offers guided bush walks and game viewing on an open vehicle for visitors booked into the rest camp but you need to book in advance.

Explore the south-east routes

Up at crack of dawn, you’ll want to get an early start to explore the south-east corner of Kruger National Park. Today you can look forward to sightings of cheetah, wild dog, elephant and rhino.

Your first stop for early morning coffee and rusks is Sunset Dam off the H4-1. This is an excellent waterhole for photography enthusiasts because you can get close to the water’s edge and catch the first rays of a glorious morning. For better game viewing, you can make your way to Duke’s waterhole (S137) where visitors often see territorial cheetah and wild dog.

Duke’s Water Hole was named after the legendary Tom Duke, the head ranger at Lower Sabie for 20 years. Stevenson-Hamilton said in his memoirs that he often felt Duke was “the only friend he had” when he faced an uphill battle to develop the Park. The water hole is full all year round and attracts prides of lion who hang around its edges waiting for animals to come drink.

There is a popular bird hide at Nhlambanyathi (S28) which gives the youngsters in the car a chance to get out and stretch their legs, or you can drive further south to Nhlanganzwane Dam. Both these spots are ideal for early morning visits when the animals and birds are most active. Be on the lookout for white and black rhino, tsessebe and bushbuck and the resident pods of hippo in the dams.

Leaving Lower Sabie, you have a choice of a few scenic routes. Although the distance of the different routes are relatively short, allow yourself a good three hours for a leisurely game drive at the strict speed limit to make it to the gate in time to leave the Park.

Lower Sabie to Skukuza route (H4-1)


You may prefer to head back in the direction of Skukuza (H4-1) along a very scenic route that passes through two distinctive eco-zones. The variety of vegetation attracts an interesting mix of grazers and browsers with spectacular sightings of the magnificent Tamboti and Fig trees hugging the river bank. This is leopard country, as the concentration of these magnificent cats is higher in this part of the Park than anywhere else in the southern region.

The vegetation blanking the Sabie River has changed since the destructive floods in 2000 uprooted trees and swept away reed beds. The river now follows a slightly different course since the raging river burst its banks.

For a leg stretch, snacks and refreshments, there is a picnic spot at Nkuhlu (Swazi name for the Natal Mahogany tree) about halfway between Lower Sabie and Skukuza rest camp.

Lower Sabie to Tshokwane route (H10)

Cape buffalo

This road leads you north of Lower Sabie over the Sabie River and along a very pretty route that gently winds through Knob Thorn, Marula savannah and wide grasslands to Tshokwane (H10). The sweetveld vegetation in this area attracts large herds of antelope, zebra, buffalo and wildebeest which in turn attract the predators. The eastern grasslands north of the Sabie River are home to the highest concentration of giraffe.

A popular spot to break the drive is Mlondozi Dam which offers visitors panoramic views over the plains and the Lebombo Mountains. Muntche Hill is an interesting stop-off as you can see a distinctive change in landscape where the flat basalt plains meet the rocky rhyolite hills. There is a 12km circular road (S122) around Muntche Hill where many visitors have reported sightings of cheetah.

Another excellent viewing point is Nkumbe, at a point where the road ascends into the Lebombo Mountain range before descending toward Tshokwane. You can look out over the Mlondozi River and try to spot game on the endless savannah plains.

Last stop on the H10 route is Orpen Dam where you will find a pleasant thatched shelter positioned close to the edge of the Munywini River, at the base of the Lebombo Mountain. This is an excellent spot for bird watching and of course, sightings of crocodile and pods of hippo.

Berg en Dal Loop (S110)

Entrance to Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp

This is a great drive if you are planning to leave the Park via the Crocodile Bridge or Malelane Gate. It takes you into a region of southern Kruger characterised by majestic granite koppies (small hills) which are some of the oldest rocks in the world. The most impressive is Khandizwe Mountain (839m) which is the highest point in Kruger National Park.

This region is known for experiencing the highest rainfall in the Park which in turn means that it boasts incredible biodiversity. The Zulu milkberry, red ivory, white pear and the Cape chestnut trees in the area are spectacular features and attract an array of birds to the region.

The quirky Klipspringer and Mountain reedbuck is prolific in these parts and only found in the southern region of Kruger National Park. Leopard sightings are common as they tend to favour the granite hills for their lairs. A waterhole situated under Matjulu Hill is popular for sightings of white rhino, kudu and giraffe.


Wild dog and cheetah also favour the densely wooded environment and Berg-en-Dal is the only area where you will find the southern grey Rhebok. For breath-taking views of the western mountain range and the expansive flat savannah plains, stop at a site on the Steilberg Road (S120).

The region was inhabited by the San people and is rich in artefacts from the Late Stone Age and Iron Age. Potsherds and bones dating back hundreds of years where found when Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp was built in the early 1980s. There are approximately 100 rock art sites in the south-western corner of the Park which can only be visited with a guide. The 3-day Bushman Trail is your best option to view these magnificent archaeological sites but the trail is so popular, you have to book a year in advance.

Biyamiti (S114), Bume (S26) and Randspruit (H5) Roads

Greater kudu

This region is defined by low hills with rough and sandy soil and sweet grass that attracts the browsers. The Bume Road (S26) is more scenic alternative to the Crocodile River Road as the drive meanders along streams and riverbeds which is excellent for game viewing. The abundance of Knob thorn acacias, bushwillow and Marula trees in the area provides excellent nutrition for browsers and you’re guaranteed to see large numbers of giraffe, kudu and duiker.

Herds of elephant make their way down to the rivers that are flanked with leadwood, jackal-berry, sycamore figs and sausage trees. Small groupings of black rhino are concentrated in the Nwatimhiri and Gomondwane thickets north of Crocodile Bridge and south of the Sabie River. This is also an area that you will find Sable antelope, the largest and most spectacular of all antelope in the Kruger National Park.

Pick up the Biyamiti Loop (S23) off Bume Road and make your way to Biyamiti Weir. Flocks of European bee-eaters make this region their home in our summer months and birding in general is excellent. Otherwise you can head eastwards along the Randspruit Road (H5) which takes you past the site of Sardelli the Greek’s trading store on the banks of the Vurhami River.

The best drive in the southern part of Kruger National Park is the road (S139) that follows the Biyamiti River past Biyamiti Bush Camp. Only visitors who are booked into this small and intimate camp are allowed access to this part of the Park so it’s well worth booking into the camp for a night to experience the privacy and isolation of the area.

Exit via Crocodile Bridge

Once you have thoroughly explored the Biyamiti Basin, it is time to head home and your nearest exit point is Crocodile Bridge Gate. If you need to fill up your car or your tummies, you can stop off at Crocodile Bridge Camp which is a short drive from the gate.

Be on the lookout for white rhino as they favour the mixed woodland vegetation. The shy black rhino usually stay deep in the thorn thickets. Sightings of lion, spotted hyena, leopard, cheetah and wild dog are also common in this southern-most corner of the Park. The area is dominated by open savannah grassland on basalt which provides sweet, nutritious grazing for common game such as impala.

If you find yourself on the Gomondwane Road (H4-2), stop off either the Gezamtombi or Gomondwane waterholes for excellent game viewing. This historical road was the first road built in the Kruger National Park and was laid out by CR de Laporte in the early 1920s in what was then Sabi Game Reserve.

It follows the route that Chief Magashula used to travel from his kraal (home) in Phabeni to Delagoa Bay and tracks made by the first traders that made up João Albasini’s entourage. Remnants of the San people who once lived and hunted in the area are found on overhanging sandstone rock near the Hippo Pool (S27).

This scenic route out of the Park is known as the ‘Southern Circle’ and boasts high concentrations of hyena, prides of lion and rest of the Big 5. It is rated as one of the best game viewing drives in the Park and can get quite congested. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to explore the area and still make it to the Crocodile Bridge Gate in time.

There are always animals to see as you cross over the Crocodile Bridge on your way out of the Park. If you have a few moments to spare, you can make a quick turn to Gezantfombi Dam which is a short drive away from the bridge. If you time it right, you’re guaranteed to see elephants cooling off in the water.

Once out of Kruger National Park, you have a scenic drive to look forward to through the lush, fertile Malelane valley and the magnificent Komati Gorge. Then it is homewards on a dual-carriageway through the capital of Mpumalanga Province, Nelspruit, to Johannesburg.


Tented accommodation in the Kruger National Park

After a thoroughly enjoyable day exploring the south-west routes, we recommend staying at one of the private satellite camps that are ideally positioned for the next part of your Kruger safari; exploring the central belt of the Park. You have a choice of Talamati Bush Camp, Tamboti Tent Camp or Maroela Private Camp.

These private camps book up a year in advance; if you can’t get a booking, the most accessible option is Satara Rest Camp. The camp environment is child-friendly, with ample space within the camp to roam around safely. It has a rustic feel with most of the self-catering bungalows set out in a series of circles.

Accommodation in Satara comes standard with an evening choral show which includes chirping fruit bats, screaming cicadas, the gentle calls of owls and nightjars, the whoop of hyena, the screech of jackal and the distant roar of lions.

Spotted hyena

Satara Rest Camp is situated on an open plain surrounded by groves of stunted knobthorn and marula trees aswell as a light mix of wooded thickets. If you get to the rest camp with some time to spare, you can stop off at Girivana Water Hole which is a short drive from the camp and excellent for game viewing.

This area boasts the highest concentration of lion and sightings of hyena are also common. The predators are attracted to the open grasslands that are home to large herds of grazers, such as the common impala (affectionately known as the fast-food of the bush). Keep an eye on the sky for circling vultures as that means there has been a lion kill close to the camp.

Explore the central region of Kruger National Park

The central belt of Kruger National Park is dominated by sweetveld (grass) that grows on fertile soils layered on shale and volcanic basalt. The delicious vegetation is a gastronomic delight for grazers and browsers and the area is well known for its abundance of impala, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck and sable antelope. There are also large concentrations of buffalo and giraffe which in turn bring predators to the area.

A belt of granite in the central-west region produces clay soils that are rich in nutrients. Magnificent tree species such as the marula and knobthorn dominate the savanna grasslands. These trees produce delicious fruit and flowering leaves that attract an array of birds, butterflies and browsers such as elephant, kudu and giraffe. Higher concentrations of black rhino are found in the central belt for the same reason.

Most of the land in the central region of the Park originally belonged to the state and had been designated as farming land. These privately- or company-owned farms were expropriated or exchanged for land elsewhere and the negotiated settlement cost the government at the time a fortune. As a result, the uneven western boundary was the result of the government limiting the number of farms it had to purchase.

Five seasonal rivers meander across the central region of the Park and game is abundant in seasons with high rainfall. However, the region is also afflicted by extremely dry spells that have, at different times, depleted animal numbers. In the late 1960s, the Park’s board granted permission for a number of man-made dams to be built in the central region which has resulted in game herds concentrating in areas that were only traditionally visited in summer. This is problematic from a conservation point of view but fantastic for visitors on a Kruger safari.

The abundance of game in the central region means Satara Rest Camp is an extremely popular tourist destination. It is estimated that there are no fewer than 60 lion prides within a 20 kilometre radius of the camp and on average one lion kill every three days. Many smaller camps and tented camps have sprung up to capitalise on the popularity of the central basin and these camps provide visitors with a more private and isolated bush experience.

Cheetah sightings in the central region are rare as the habitat of southern Kruger is more ideal for them. The high density of lion in the central region is problematic for cheetahs and has also had a negative impact on the number of endangered wild dog in the area. Lion account for at least one third of wild dog pup deaths and therefore these quirky painted dogs avoid areas with a higher concentration of lions.

The spotted hyena holds its own against lion and the breed thrives in the central region of the Park. It is estimated that at least 1 200 spotted hyena reside in the central bowl. As both lion and hyena favour impala as a quick and easy meal, there numbers put a strain on the breeding herds of these common grazers.

Game drive routes from Satara

Satara Rest Camp to Olifants Rest Camp (H1-4)

This is the route to take if you are heading north in the direction of Olifants Rest Camp or Letaba Rest Camp. The road takes visitors along a flat and monotonous landscape dominated by knobthorn and marula trees. It is not the most scenic route to Olifants Rest Camp but the abundance of animals in the region makes it ideal for game viewing. There are a number of water pans along the road which is great for birders.

Follow the N’wanetsi River along the S100 and stop off at the Shibotwana and Nsasane waterholes before coming out on the Gudzani Road (S41). The exclusive N’wanetsi Singita Lebombo Lodge is located in this area, a privately-owned lodge that attracts the rich and famous.

N’wanetsi and Sweni outlook points are a good place to stop if you need to stretch your legs or you could pull into the Sonop and Shishangani waterholes which are excellent for game viewing and early evening sundowners.
The Olifants region consists of three ecosystems with savannah grasslands to the south, Mopaneveld to the north and the riverine forest of the Olifants River. Mountainous thornveld with black rocks and mixed woodland form a barrier between the northern mopaneveld and the southern mixed bushwillow woodlands.

The S90 road takes tourists on a Kruger safari that winds through grasslands dominated by knobthorn trees. Large herds of game are found in this area and the road is a lot less congested than the main roads in the southern part of the Park.

Satara Rest Camp to the Timbavati picnic spot (S39)

One of many waterholes at Kruger National Park

The road travelling along the Timbavati River is regarded as one of the best routes in the Kruger National Park. It is also the home of the famous White Lion of Kruger. The S39 follows the Timbavati River for almost 50 kilometres, crosses many geographical zones and is rich in biodiversity. Thornveld and mixed woodland melts into Mopaneveld with granite outcrops, gabbro, ecca shale and basalt dominating the region.

At Waypoint 482, take the S127 to the Timbavati picnic spot which is located at a point where four roads merge together. The Piet Grobler Dam is located at Waypoint 487; it’s a large concrete dam built across the Timbavati River. It was named in honour of Piet Grobler, the grand-nephew of Paul Kruger, who played a significant role in establishing the Kruger National Park.

If you want to push on, make your way to Ratelpan Bird Hide (S39) and the Goedgegun and Roodewal water holes. The S39 route runs along the Timbavati River and is an incredibly scenic drive with great game viewing. Birders should be on the lookout for the kori bustard, which is the heaviest flying bird in the world and known for impressive aerial displays performed in the mating season.

This is a Riverine and Thornveld area, although large stands of the exotic Lala Palm are found at Ratelpan. The bird hide at Ratelpan is one of eleven in the Park and overlooks the river. A delightful sight is watching a herd of elephant wonder down the bank on the other side for a refreshing drink and swim. Birders will be on the lookout for the Comb duck, Pied and Giant kingfishers and the thick-billed Cuckoo.

Photographers flock to Leeubron Water Hole on the S39 as it is regarded as one of the top 10 sites for wildlife photography. Animal numbers in this central region have steadily increased since the fence dividing the western Kruger from the private reserves in the Timbavati was removed.

Satara Rest Camp to Orpen Rest Camp

Ground hornbills

If you are not heading north for a longer stay, your third day of a Kruger safari will see you explore the middle-western belt of the central region before you head towards Orpen Gate, passing the many private and tented camps in the region. You will leave behind sweetveld that makes up the ecology of the eastern plains for the sourveld of the western part of the central region.

The most direct route from Satara Rest Camp to the Orpen Gate is the tarred H7 main road. A short drive from the camp is the gravesite of William Lloyd who was a ranger at Satara in 1920. It’s worth a quick stop, if only to appreciate the hardships rangers and their families endured in those times.

In those early days, the Satara ranger’s camp was so remote that it could only be reached on foot or horse back. Lloyd and his young wife and small children lived in complete isolation. Lloyd succumbed to pneumonia and died, forcing his wife to send a message to Stevenson-Hamilton who immediately travelled to the camp to offer his assistance. By the time he got there, Lloyds’ wife had buried her husband in a shallow grave under a tree close to the house.

There are three small camps in the Orpen area but when it’s time to stop for lunch and to fill up your tank, head to Orpen Rest Camp. Maroela Camp and Tamboti Tented Camp offer basic facilities mainly geared for campers.

The Orpen area is popular among birders as it is well-known as raptor and vulture territory. The most common sightings are the Cape vultures and Bateleurs. You are also guaranteed of seeing large herds of buffalo on the H7 route through the Orpen area. These massive bovines may look like domestic cattle but they are one of the most dangerous animals in the African bush and part of the Big 5.

Large concentrations of wildlife are also found at Nsemani Pan and surrounds which is located a short drive from Satara Rest Camp. The pan is located on a narrow strip of ecca shale that divides the granite woodlands of the west from the basalt plains in the east. The thornveld is broken by rocky granite outcrops, with the most impressive being Mathikithi Koppie. It’s also probably the best place to see white rhino aswell as an impressive concentration of elephant, giraffe and kudu.

Exit via Orpen Gate

Rabelais Hut at Orpen Gate

Just before you leave Kruger National Park through Orpen Gate, you have the opportunity to stop and stretch your legs at an outpost situated close to the gate. Rabelais Hut is the site of the original entrance gate to the central region and is located on the old Orpen road to the east of N’wamatsata Drift, approximately 9 kilometres from Orpen Rest Camp.

The original hut that served as the reception and guard house has been well preserved. The rest camp and gate was named in honour of the Orpen family, the original owners of the farm. Orpen Gate was relocated to its current position in 1954 when the boundary fence was moved further westward as a result of the expropriation of the farm lands.

Rabelais Hut is now used as an information centre and a small living museum. The hut and the nearby waterhole derive their name from the French writer and satirist Francois Rabelais.


Letaba River

With two days left of a 5-day Kruger safari, we recommend you spend your fourth night at Letaba Rest Camp in the north-eastern region of the Park. This rest camp is ideally located to explore an area of the Park that promises spectacular views, prolific birdlife and excellent game viewing. The name Letaba means ‘river of sand’ in Sotho.

Letaba Rest Camp is situated on a sweeping bend of the Letaba River, midway between the southern and northern boundaries of the Kruger National Park. Against the drier, sandy landscape the camp stands out like a green oasis. It is situated in Mopane shrubveld surrounded by mixed grass plains and apple leaf trees. Taller trees like leadwoods, tamboti and nyala are found along the drainage lines and riverine forest.

To get to Letaba Rest Camp from the Olifants area, either take the main Olifants-Letaba tar road (H1-5) or the slightly longer Letaba River dust road (S46/S44). The main tar road takes you through relatively flat Mopane shrubveld while the Letaba River Road ambles along the south bank of Engelhard Dam and the winding route alongside the river.

Olifants River in flood

The Olifants River is known as one of the most spectacular stretches of the Park, where rugged veld meets the lush riverine forest. There are often leopard sightings along this road, although the area is appreciated more for its scenic beauty and birdlife than its abundance of animals. Birders will be on the lookout for the rare saddle-billed and black storks that chose the Olifants River as one of their main breeding grounds.

When you’ve finally settled into your accommodation at Letaba Rest Camp, keep an eye out for a new species of spider that was first discovered in 2003. The baboon spider has, to date, not been recorded anywhere else in the world except in a patch of Mopane trees near the camp.

Explore the Letaba area

The Letaba basin is known as an archaeologists dream destination as it is believed to be the area the first Bantu-speaking tribe moved to when they travelled from the northern regions of Africa to settle on the Letaba River in about 400 AD. Remnants of early human inhabitants make it an extremely interesting part of the Park to explore if you’re not there just for the wildlife.

The northern region of Kruger National Park is dominated by Mopaneveld and alluvial flood plains and has a much lower carrying capacity than the southern region. It is known rather as a rewarding birding destination, with the Shingwedzi flood plains being one of the country’s top summer birding spots. Shingwedzi itself is renowned for its big tuskers as most of the legendary Magnificent Seven made the flood plains their territorial home.

Game drives in the Letaba-Shingwedzi-Punda Maria area (H1-7)

There are not many roads in the northern region of the Park and the only link from the Letaba area to Punda Maria Rest Camp is the H1-7. This is a spectacular route with a number of loops that take you from the drier mopaneveld through a stunning riverine forest.

Mpholongolo Loop (S56)

This 20-kilometre detour takes about 2 hours and offers visitors on a 5-day Kruger safari spectacular bird and game viewing in an isolated part of the Park. Lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard are common sightings on this route.

The area is semi-arid but an ample water supply from the Shingwedzi and Luvuvhu Rivers attracts a decent stock of wildlife. Mopane trees thrive in this sun-baked region, which have the ability to withstand longer periods of dry weather. In areas with poor, shallow soil the trees grow as a multi-stemmed shrub and play an important role in an elephant’s diet. Caterpillars of the emperor moth, known as mopane worms, feed on the leaves and are a delicacy for the local African people.

Letaba River

Sycamore fig tree

This river is one of seven major tributaries in the Park and forms part of a corridor of biodiversity that includes the Olifants, Shingwedzi, Tsendze and Mphongolo Rivers. Imposing trees grow along its bank, including the tall apple-leaf, sycamore fig, nyala, tamboti and jackal-berry trees. Large pools that break up the flow of the river are home to crocodile and pods of hippo.

During a severe drought in the mid-1940s, the Letaba River stopped flowing. This dry spell had a devastating impact on the hippo population and the dry years that followed further decimated their numbers. In 1970 an American industrialist, Charles Engelhard, financed the construction of a large dam on the river downstream from the Letaba Rest Camp. Three other dams and a number of reservoirs (artificial dams) were constructed at later dates, including the Kanniedood (cannot die) Dam.

The construction of artificial water sources created some controversy among conservationists but the decision was finally made to build the dams to safeguard the animals that are highly dependent on a good water source. Wildlife numbers have steadily climbed in recent years through conservation initiatives and the most rewarding result is that the concentration of elephants in the Letaba area has grown significantly.

As mentioned, the northern region of the Park is paradise for avid birders. The Mopane woodlands attract an array of unusual birds that are not found elsewhere in Kruger National Park. Birders should be on the lookout for the mourning dove, the endangered Arnot’s chat, grey-rumped swallow and brown-throated Martin.

Lamont Loop (S55)

This loop is located north of Shingwedzi and takes you on a winding route alongside the wide, sandy river bed. It is an excellent road for sightings of elephant grazing among the mopane shrubs. Nkulumboni South and Nwarihlangari are two water holes that you can visit but don’t expect to see anything too exciting as the concentration of game is very limited in this area.

Babalala to Dzundzwini (H1-7)

Red-billed oxpecker on an impala

This area is a mix of mopane shrubveld and mixed mopane woodlands. The lush wetlands around the Babalala picnic site attract an array of birds, in particular the migratory water birds. The wetlands are part of the Shisha River system that form a series of protected vleis (wetlands) that have been identified by BirdLife SA as an important habitat for some of South Africa’s rarest birds.

The Babalala picnic site offers braai facilities with a good supply of wood, ice and cold drinks on sale. Be on the lookout for cheetah in the area. Birders will be keen to spot the corn crake, African crake and the more common black crake.

Letaba to Mopani Rest Camp (H1-6)

Baobab tree

This is a popular route for sightings of elephant who favour the mopaneveld and wetter floodplains close to the Letaba River. Free-tailed bats come out in large numbers in the evening, setting off from the high-level bridge to gorge on mosquitoes and other pesky critters.

A good place to stop for lunch is the Mopani Rest Camp which is located on the banks of Pioneer Dam. It lies nestled in a Mopani wooded area broken only by a scattering of koppies (small hills). A signature feature of the camp is a huge gnarled baobab tree that stands in the heart of the camp.

Built in 1992, Mopani Rest Camp is the youngest of the main camps in Kruger National Park. It offers visitors spectacular views of Pioneer Dam which is rich in birdlife and a higher concentration of animals than the rest of the stark landscape. For a unique bush experience, visitors can book to spend the night in the Shipandane bird hide.

Guided trails to the Shilowa heritage sites can be booked in advance. The walk takes you to a site that lies to the right of the Tropic of Capricorn and marks the so-called First Site believed to be where the first humans settled in the area in the period 1 200 AD and 1 600 AD. A second site dates back to the late 1700s when the Pedi inhabited the area. They were driven out of the region in the 1800s by the Tsonga chief Gugunyane.

After lunch, take the H1-6 which is a series of loop roads that follow the Tsendzi River south of the camp. Confluence Lookout is a good spot for better game viewing. Thereafter, take the Tropic of Capricorn Loop (S143) where you will cross over the imaginary line at Shilowa Mountain on the edge of Lebombo. Shilbavatsengele is an excellent lookout point.

For a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape dotted with majestic baobab trees, make your way up Bowker’s Kop which is to the north of Mopani Rest Camp. Birders should be on the lookout for the rare knob-billed duck which often makes an appearance at the waterhole opposite the hill.

Engelhard Dam

Scenic drive around Engelhard Dam

The routes around the Engelhard Dam take tourists on a panoramic drive through a magnificent landscape rich in biodiversity. The Matambeni bird hide and the Engelhard view site are two good lookout points which can be reached either via the S62 on the northern side of the Letaba River or from the S46 on the southern side.

The large weir lies to the east of Letaba Rest Camp and is known as a birding paradise with regular sightings of herons, plovers, bee-eaters, storks, crakes and jacanas.

Von Wielligh’s Camp

A magnificent baobab tree stands sentry at the confluence of the Olifants and Letaba Rivers and marks the site where GR Von Wielligh set up camp. He was one of the original surveyors in the area and his name is still etched on the tree which he carved in 1891.

Exit via Phalaborwa Gate

Acacia tree

Take the H14 from Mopani Camp to reach Phalaborwa Gate at the end of your 4-day Kruger National Park safari. Your journey out of the Park will take you through woodlands of Mopane trees, bushwillows and acacias. You might not have seen much game on your last day but you should have enjoyed magnificent bird sightings.

If you have time, you can make a detour to the Sable water hole or the Masorini Cultural Village which is located at the base of the Vudogwa Mountain. Sable water hole is so named as it is known for its larger concentrations of Sable antelope. They are quite difficult to spot as these shy animals tend to blend into the dense thickets.

The Masorini Settlement provides visitors with a glimpse of how the early iron makers and traders lived in the 16th century. The site is located about 11 kilometres from Phalaborwa Gate. The ancient village has been restored and you can see where the smelters lived on the lower terrace of Masorini and where the forgers lived on the higher terraces; the forgers enjoyed a higher status.

The stonewalls, grinding stones, potsherds and the remains of foundries – which includes a well-preserved smelting furnace – date back to the 19th century. There are also implements on exhibit that date back to the Stone Age and Iron Age. There is a spectacular outlook point on the Masorini hilltop overlooking Shikumbu Hill where the Chieftain lived.


Punda Maria Rest Camp

You can’t really do justice to the northern region of the Kruger National Park with only one day to spare but you’ll have enough time to whet your appetite for a return visit. We recommend you spend your last night of a 5-day Kruger safari at the Punda Maria Rest Camp which is located a short 8-kilometre drive from the Punda Maria Gate.

This section of the Park is completely different from the central and southern regions and often described as the ‘botanical garden’ of the Kruger National Park. It boasts a unique biodiversity, has higher concentrations of game than the drier Letaba area and is well-known as a bird paradise. It is also an important archaeology region, being the area that the first inhabitants settled in the Stone and Iron Age.

Punda Maria Rest Camp accommodation

Visitors staying at Punda Maria Rest Camp can stay in luxury safari tents nestled in lush vegetation or pretty white-washed bungalows that have much-needed air-conditioning. For a budget-friendly option, visitors have the choice of 50 camp or caravan sites.

The rest camp was given the name Punda Maria by the first ranger posted to the area, Captain JJ Coetser. He thought Punda Maria was the Swahili name for zebra which is the first large animal he saw on his arrival. The correct spelling is actually ‘punda milia’ meaning ‘striped donkey’ but the name stuck, despite an attempt in 1981 to change it. The name Maria is not a form of ‘milia’ but the name of the captain’s wife who stoically bore him 12 children.

Captain Coetser played a vital role in curbing rampant ivory poaching in the region which had become a haunt of smugglers, poachers and hunters. These roughnecks based themselves at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers at a point where the borders of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) and South Africa meet. This settlement of derelict shacks became known as Crooks’ Corner.

These lawless men made their living illegally trading in ivory, using labour recruited from the Witwatersrand Basin during the gold rush era. Their base at Crooks’ Corner meant they could skip across one of the borders to hide out when authorities came searching for them.

Explore the Far North of Kruger National Park

White-fronted beeater

The northern region of the Park stands out in stark contrast to the southern regions based on its unique ecology. It is situated in the tropics and has a geological base of sandstone rather than granite and basalt that is common throughout the rest of the Park. The landscape is referred to as sandveld and, although stark in parts, has stunning stands of trees where you are guaranteed to see elephants.

If you are this far north, it is worthwhile pushing on to explore the area around Pafuri. The landscape is a spectacular mix of South African Lowveld and African woodlands with various trees including the bushwillow species, silver cluster leaves and white syringe. It is known as the ‘northern biome’ and is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the Park.

Sharpe’s grysbok

Animals in this area are scarcer than the southern region of the Park, although small groupings are found on the banks of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers. You want to visit Pafuri purely for its diverse array of rare plants and birdlife. Unusual sightings of the Sharpe’s grysbok and the Suni antelope are a rare and exciting, hiding out in the thickets along the river. You may also be lucky enough to spot one of the territorial leopards in the area.

Rare birds to lookout for include the Bohms spinetails, the African finfoot and the white crowned plover. Other unusual sightings to tick off your list include the Pel’s fishing owl, thick-billed cuckoo, racket-tailed roller, Arnot’s bush chat, bush shrike, narine trogon and trumpeter hornbill.

Pel’s fishing owl

An unusual feature of the far northern region of the Kruger National Park is the hot springs in the Parfuri area. The region lies on a fault-line known as the Limpopo Mobile Belt, which is the joint between the Kaapvaal Craton (the crust of the earth supporting South Africa) and the Central African Craton to the north. Water heated deep below the earth’s surface makes its way through cracks in the underground sediment.

Luvuvhu River Drive to the Parfuri picnic site

Pafuri picnic site

Make your way along the Luvuvhu River Drive to the Parfuri picnic site (S63) which is the only viewpoint in this part of the Park. This scenic spot is surrounded by luscious Anna trees and thick woodlands. Thereafter, you can make your way to the Thulamela Iron Age site.

Pod of the sausage tree

A loop road takes you to the foot of Dzundzwini Hill where you will find a giant sausage tree. This is the site of the first camp built for Captain JJ Coetser. In the 1830s the area was under the control of chief Matibee and when Louis Trichardt, a well-known Voortrekker, passed through the area, he named the hill ‘Matibeetuijn’ (meaning Matibee’s garden).

Vegetation in the camps in the region is fairly stark but one plant stands out on arrival, the impala lily. This plant produces white flowers with a pretty pink stripe and looks pretty harmless. In fact, the impala lily is deadly poisonous. San Bushmen used the sap from the impala lily as poison on the tips of their arrows that they used to kill small game and fish.

Dzundzwini to Shingwedzi (H1-7)

African goshawk

There are several water holes along this route but game viewing is fairly bleak as the area is dominated by sourveld. You can stop to stretch your legs at the Babalala viewpoint which is a thatched shelter built around an enormous sycamore fig. Be on the lookout for cheetah that are often sighted lazing on anthills jutting out the open grasslands below.

The area is known for its accipiters (birds of prey) with common sightings of the black sparrowhawk and African goshawk.

The Ivory Trail

Shingwedzi River

This interesting trail takes you back in time to when hunting expeditions came to the elephant-hunting grounds during the 19th and early 20th century. The ancient trail left the Great North Road near the present-day town of Polokwane and passed Soekmekaar, descending into the Lowveld near Klein Letaba.

The well-worn path headed east in the direction of Shingwedzi River where there was a solitary store, the last place to stock up on provisions before heading deep into the bush. The hunters set up thornbush-covered camps at nightfall that offered them some protection from the lions in the area.

The area was occupied at the time by a Shangaan-speaking chief called Sikololo who was known for his hospitality and generosity; offering them produce from his protected gardens in exchange for game meat. To ward off wild animals desperate to get into his precious fruit and vegetable gardens, the tribal women had to stay up all night beating drums.

The ancient trail wound through the mopane forests to a camping spot known as Senkhuwa (after the wild fig trees in the area). The site of this more pleasant camp is now known as Klopperfontein, named after an ivory hunter called Hans Klopper.

Baobab Hill marks a point on the Ivory Trail where the road winds down into the Luvuvhu River Valley to Makuleke Drift. This took the hunters deep into elephant territory and the trail from here splinters into numerous bush paths.

Makuleke Wilderness Area

Makuleke Gorge

The Makuleke Conservancy is known as the ‘jewel of northern Kruger’. It is a 24 000-hectare private concession located between the Luvuvhu River to the south and the Limpopo River to the north. The region is dominated by sandveld, easily distinguished by its central African vegetation, large alluvial flood plains and rare plant species.

Luvuvhu River

Extensive anti-poaching measures have seen game numbers flourish, including prides of lion that have returned to the region after almost been wiped out by poachers. Small herds of elephants cross the Limpopo area in winter from Zimbabwe in the south to graze in the thick bush, and large populations of hippo and crocodiles can be seen at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers at Crooks’ Corner. Be on the lookout for eland and the rare Sharpe’s grysbok.

This region is well-known as a birder’s paradise, with the main attractions being the Pel’s fishing owl, black-throated wattle-eye, orange-winged pytilia, African crowned eagle and racket-tailed roller.

Makulele Heritage Site

Crooks’ Corner

The Makuleke area is rich in archaeological finds. One of the earliest Stone Age sites can be found on the northern banks of Luvuvhu River near Crooks’ Corner. Large stone hand axes found at the site have been dated back to approximately 1.5 million years.

Tools found at the site were most likely used by Homo ergaster, one of the earliest members of the genus Homo. At this time, the last of what are known as the ‘ape men’ were still in existence but under pressure from the new, bigger-brained genus Homo; the first of our ancestors to master the art of stone tool-making.

On an exploration dig at Hutwini Hills, one of the world’s oldest board games was found – the maraba. This ancient game was played out on a flat rock which served as a board, with regularly-spaced carved-out holes. The game is similar to what we call Chinese checkers.

Nyala Drive along the Luvuvhu River

This route takes you on a scenic drive alongside the Luvuvhu River that winds its way through the sandveld into the alluvial flood plains before joining the Limpopo at Crooks’ Corner. The route is flanked by forests made up of nyalas, large-leaved fever berries, forest fever and sycamore fig trees. These magnificent trees attract an array of birdlife and the usual sightings of nyala, kudu and impala.

Luvuvhu River Drive to Crooks’ Corner (S63)


This drive is the most spectacular of all the drives in the northern region of the Park. The road follows the Luvuvhu River through tropical woodland to shady viewpoints that overlook the wide river. The vegetation ranges from dry thornveld and baobabs to lush riverine forest dominated by nyala, jackal-berry and fig trees. Probably one of the most popular attractions is the forest of ghostly green fever trees.

Game viewing is somewhat limited except along the banks of the river but, on the alluvial plains, you should see sightings of nyala, kudu and impala. There are leopard in the area but they are hard to spot as they tend to hang out in the thick undergrowth of the Luvuvhu River.

Exit via Pafuri Gate

Pafuri private concession

Your 5-day Kruger safari has come to an end and it is time to return home. Pafuri Gate will be the closest exit point if you have been exploring the Parfuri area. The drive back to Johannesburg from here will take about 6-7 hours so you may need to spend the night someplace outside the Park before making the long journey home.

Mutale Falls offers visitors self-catering accommodation in safari tents set on a high ridge overlooking the Mutale River. There is no electricity in the camp but the paraffin and solar lights add to the overall rustic appeal of a bush experience.

Mutale Falls is located in the Makuya Reserve that offers visitors the opportunity to visit viewing points overlooking the Luvuvhu Gorge. So if you’re not quite ready to end your Kruger safari, this reserve promises sightings of the Big 5 and magnificent viewing.

Kruger National Park (A Guide to the Northern Territories)

On the 26th of March in 1898 President Paul Kruger signed a proclamation establishing a sanctuary for wild life between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers. It was an auspicious day for conservation. The first national park in the world had been created by the Americans at Yellowstone in 1872 – but the Sabie Game Reserve (the original name of the Kruger National Park) was the first of it’s kind in all of Africa.

The park has come a long way since its inception. From humble beginnings it is internationally known as a “must-see” tourist attraction, not only in Africa, but globally.

Whether you are doing a day-trip or making a week of it, you would be spending the majority of your time driving around the park, taking it it’s beauty and natural wonders.
But every now and then it is necessary to take a break from driving, to stretch your legs, make a rest stop and answer the call of nature.

Luckily for visitors there are more than a dozen camps dotted throughout the park, where one can relax, grab a bit to eat and shop for some curious.

Here we will explore the 9 camps in the northern territories of the Kruger Park – starting at the very top, and working our way down to Orpen Gate.

  • Punda Maria

This far northern reach of the Kruger National Park is certainly the wildest and most remote and apart from boasting an incredibly diverse and prolific birdlife, over three-quarters of the Kruger’s wildlife and vegetative biodiversity also occurs in the Punda Maria region of the Park.
The northernmost rest camp is Punda Maria, which is the camp’s original name. For many years, it had been renamed Punda Milia. It was assumed that this is what the local ranger, Captain Coetser, had meant to call it. Coetser had served in East Africa, and had learned Swahili. Punda Milia, meaning “striped donkey”, is the Swahili name for the zebra. Maria was ranger Coetser’s wife. According to T.V Bulpin, Punda Maria means “striped Maria”.
The Punda Maria rest camp is located in the Sandveld region in the north of the Kruger Park. This environment is also described as the botanical garden of the Kruger National Park. There are trees and plants here that are unique and can only be found here in this area. Wildlife that is often spotted here are the impala, the sable antelope, the moose, zebra, buffalo and the elephant. In addition, this fantastic piece of nature is a true bird paradise! Spotted are also the Nyala, the grysbok, wild dogs and the crowned guineafowl, but you have to look for it!

Camping in Punda Maria rest camp

There are 50 tent or caravan sites available. Places with and without electricity and braai sites and suitable for a maximum of 6 people per pitch.

There are shared laundry / shower and cooking facilities. There is 24 hours of hot water, electric hotplates and washing facilities.


-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance

-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.

– Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.

-Paradise Flycatcher camp walk

-Thulamela Archaeological walk (50 km outside the camp) This walk gives a look in history and is related to Zimbabwean culture. You must book this excursion in advance to avoid disappointment.

Things to look out for
1) Nyala
2) Sharpe’s Grysbok
3) Wild Dog
4) Zebra
5) Crested Guineafowl

  • Shingwedzi

The Shingwedzi Rest Camp is located in the northern part of Kruger National Park in the heart of Mopane country. A beautiful route towards the south-east following the road along the Shingwedzi river towards the Kanniedood dam is one of the most rewarding tours. Waterbuck, nyala, kudu and elephants are often spotted in this area and the bird life is exuberant and colorful. An overnight stay in Shindwezi camp is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is a camp that still carries the essence of the bush life and the absence of modern technology only adds to that. Magical evenings in the circle of your accommodation and the glowing warm coals in your braai, make the tongues come loose … In this environment you are mainly looking for the gigantic Eagle owl, elephants, the African rock python, the spotted hyena and the much less dangerous, but very special green pigeon. Camping Shingwedzi Rest CampThere are 50 camping spots with electricity and braai / barbeque facilities at Shingwezi camp.The camping spots are for a maximum of 6 people. The camp is equipped with common shower / toilet and washing rooms and there is a shared kitchen. There is 24 hours hot water supply, electric hotplates, and washing up facilities.

Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking. – Northern Plains 4×4 adventure trail (weather dependent activity)- Kanniedood Bird hide bird spot spot ± 7 km from the camp- Ntishivana Bird hide bird spot spot ± 30 km from the camp- Every night wildlife films with the exception of the Sunday evening

Things to look out for
1) Giant Eagle Owl
2) Elephant
3) African Rock Python
4) Spotted Hyena
5) Green Pigeon

  • Mopani

The Mopani rest camp is located on the banks of the Pioneer Dam and is named after the Mopane fields that surround the camp. A central old Baobab tree is the focal point and heart of this camp. The vegetation of the camp is as it is, wild which adds a unique atmosphere to this beautifully situated rest camp. Animals that you are definitely looking for are: hippos, waterbuck, Tsessebe and the African Eagle. Accommodation Mopani Rest CampBungalows, there are 43 – 4 bed units with 2 single beds and a bunk bed in a niche. They are equipped with a bathroom, a veranda with kitchenette and an outside braai. (2 same types of bungalows are suitable for wheelchair users) Cottages, there are 12 – 4 bed units. 1 bedroom with 2 single beds and 2 sofa beds in the room, these are fully equipped with 2 bathrooms, 1 of which is en-suite. There is a veranda with kitchenette and outside braai. Guest Cottages, there are 45 – 6 bed units. 3 bedrooms with 2 single beds each. There are 2 bathrooms, 1 en-suite, a kitchen, living / dining room, large veranda and an outside braai. Guesthouse, This is a great luxury accommodation situated in a beautiful spot with a view over the dam. Equipped with kitchen (with microwave), 4 bedrooms (1 with a double bed the others with one person beds) these are separate from the living / dining room. There are several bathrooms, DSTV (limited number of channels) and braai facilities. (1 of the bedrooms is suitable for a wheelchair user) Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.

Things to look out for
1) Hippopotamuses
2) Waterbuck
3) Tsessebe
4) African Fish Eagle
5) Mopani Trees

  • Boulders

Situated more or less 25km south of Mopani, is Boulder Bush Lodge. It is embedded in the rocky outcrops found in the north of the Kruger National Park. The magnificent rocks create a backdrop to the units which are built on stilts. Wooden boardwalks connect the bedrooms to the communal area. The rooms are spaced snugly together, without compromising on privacy. This makes it suitable for groups comprised of close families and friends that want to experience nature’s tranquillity together. The viewing deck allows guests an unobstructed view of the mopane veld plains, which enclose a private waterhole.

Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.


Things to look out for
1) Giant Eagle Owl
2) Giraffe
3) Zebra
4) Tawny Eagle
5) Buffalo


  • Shimuwini Bushveld Camp

Shimuwini Camp is located in the Northern section of the Kruger National park, northwest of Letaba Camp. Upon leaving the tar road to drive along the riverfront to Shimuwini, visitors will find themselves in a different world. Shimuwini is exclusively reserved for visitors to the camp. It’s a blissfully peaceful drive, winding along among silver cluster leaf, leadwood, mopane and baobab trees, stopping in a pull-away to look out over the river and watch the wildlife that congregates there and come to drink from the water source. Shimuwini is the Shangaan word for ‘place of the baobab tree’.

There is an abundance of birds from pied, brownhooded and great kingfishers to blackcrowned night heron and greyheaded bushshrike. Yellowbilled hornbill, crested barbet, blackheaded oriole and green pigeon feasted on the jackalberry fruits right in front of our chalet. We saw tree squirrels chasing each other in the trees, watched kurrichane thrushes hopping along the ground in search of food and listened to the insistent ‘three blind mice’ call of the chinspot batis. All of this without leaving camp.

Camping in Shimuwini Bushveld Camp
15 self-catering units that run along a naturally broad section of the Shimuwini River, the camp has an intimate feel, devoid of large crowds and day visitors. The living and eating area of the chalets are outdoors in a deep porch under thatch that was cool even at midday.

Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.
– Two Bomas for braaing- Bird Hide- Private road leading to the camp- Note, there is no restaurant at Shimuwini Bushveld Camp (which only ads to it’s charm)

Things to look out for
1) Caracal
2) Eland
3) Baobab Trees
4) Baboon
5) Waterbuck





  • Letaba

The Letaba rest camp is located in a bend of the Letaba River, halfway between the northern and southern borders of Kruger National Park. The name means “river of sand” and is a beautiful place to watch the elephants. Letaba is a green oasis is the mopane field and favorite with many visitors. Sleep under the starry sky and fall asleep with the nocturnal sounds of the African bush a symphony that stops as soon as it starts …. In this camp you will mainly look for the Bushbok, the elephants, the Lala Palm, the redhead weaver and the osprey.  Camping in Letaba rest camp There are 60 camping and / or caravan pitches with electricity points. Maximum number of people per camping spot is 6. There are shared laundry and cooking occasions. There is 24 hours of hot water, electric hobs and washing up facilities.  Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.  -Letaba Elephant Hall-TV Lounge-Riverside camp walk-Masorini Ruins, located 38 km west of the camp-Matambeni Bird hide, bird watching place 10 km north of the camp-In the season an educational children’s program-Olifant Wilderness trail (bookable overnight activity)-Mananga 4×4 Adventure trail (always weather dependent and to be booked in advance)-Wildlife film is shown every day except Sunday.


Things to look out for
1) Bushbuck
2) Elephant
3) Lala Palm
4) Red Headed Weaver
5) Fish Eagle

  • Olifants

The Olifants restcamp is located on the top of a hill that stretches a few hundred meters above the Olifants River. Viewpoints give you a fantastic view of the river below you with a view like that of an eagle looking for its prey … Go in this part of the park looking for elephants, lions, hippos, Nile crocodiles and the fighting eagle. Accommodation at Olifants Rest CampBungalows (105) In the camp are 2, 3 or 4 bed units all with bathroom (most with shower but one has a bath).-air conditioning-some have kitchenettes while others use the shared kitchens There are 2 – 4 bed units with two single beds in each bedroom, 2 bathrooms of which 1 is en-suite. -Air conditioning,-Eat / living room,-Large veranda with outside braai.-The outdoor kitchen has a hob (no microwave), fridge / freezer, sink and dining and cooking utensils. GuesthousesNshawu is a luxury residence suitable for 8 people located in a beautiful location with spectacular views. There is a well-equipped kitchen with microwave, there are 4 bedrooms (each with 2 single beds) and several bathrooms. DSTV with limited number of channels.Lebombo is a luxury residence suitable for 8 people located in a beautiful location with spectacular views. There is a well-equipped kitchen with microwave, there are 4 bedrooms (1 bedroom with a double bed and the other each with 2 single beds), several bathrooms. DSTV with limited number of channels.

Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.-Olifant Wildernes trail, you must book this trip in advance-Olifants River Back-Pack Hiking trail, a 4 day hiking safari with 3 nights, where you provide your own tents, food and cooking. Where no toilets are available.-Mountain bike trails with a choice of morning (4 hours) or afternoon trip (3 hours), Tour for up to 6 people and persons under 16 years are not allowed on these tours. Mountain bikes, backpack, water bottles, helmets and snacks are provided by the camp. There will be two qualified, armed rangers

Things to look out for
1) Elephant
2) Lion
3) Hippopotamuses
4) Nile Crocodile
5) Martial Eagle

  • Satara

The Satara Rest Camp is located in a beautiful game view area. It is therefore no wonder that this is a busy park. The vegetation here is fairly open and so you have a good view of the exuberant animal life. The camp itself has a rustic look, especially because many accommodation are placed in circles. With the sheet of wood around the camp it is clear that there are many birds to see. At night it is mainly the fruit-bats and the cicadas and the crickets that you hear, although that sound is often interrupted by the call of an owl, the scream of hyena or jackal and the roar of the lions. And you thought it was quiet in Africa! In the camp and surroundings you will especially look for the Red-billed buffalo weaver, lions, giraffes, wild beast and the honey badger Camping in Satara Rest CampIn Satara Rest camp 100 camping spots are equipped with electricity. Maximum number of people per campsite is 6. There are shared shower / toilet and occasions. The shared kitchen is equipped with 24 hours hot water, there are electric cooking plates and washing up facilities. Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.- Bush Breakfast or Bush braai including the game drive (ride of max. 1 hour) to the place of the Bush meal. Meals in a beautiful place near an open fire in the middle of nature are a great experience (Meal is between 90 min and 2 hours). Ask for availability during your booking.- Sweni Bird hide, located 30 km from the camp on the Sweni river- Rattles Pan Bird hide, located 35 km from the camp at the Piet Grobler dam on the Timbavati / Roodewal road.- In the season there is a program for the children- Sweni wilderness trail; to book in advance walking excursion with overnight stay in a camp on the Sweni River- Mananga 4×4 adventure trail; to book on an ad hoc basis in the camp. You go with your own 4×4 (preferably with GPS) with a maximum of 6 cars off the beaten track in the Kruger NP. Trip is about 48 km.-On request, a traditional dance evening with dinner can be arranged-Wildlife films are screened on a big screen every night, with the exception of Sunday evening.

Things to look out for
1) Red-billed Buffalo Weaver
2) Lion
3) Giraffe
4) Blue Wildebeest
5) Honey Badger

  • Orpen

The Orpen rest camp is a small camp and centrally located on the western border of the Kruger Park. The name is derived from the person who donated the land; Eileen Orpen. Trees and large open grass plains attract the countless grazers, who are often watched hungry by cheetah, lion and leopard. Orpen is known for its versatile wildlife and often you will find elephants, rhino, buffalo, wild dog, zebra and giraffe. A true paradise for the animals and for the wildlife enthusiast! Accommodation in Orpen Rest CampBungalows (6), 2 bed units (two single beds) and en-suite bathroom with shower, air conditioning, outside kitchen with stove and fridge / freezer and equipped with cooking and eating utensils.Guest cottages (3), 6 bed units, with 2 bedrooms with 3 single beds and air conditioning. One bedroom is en-suite and there is a second bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. The cottages have fully equipped kitchenettes with fridge / freezer, sink, dining and cooking utensils and an outside veranda that serves as a sitting room.Orpen has 2 satelite camps Maroela and Tamboti, accommodation for nature and camping enthusiast! Activities-Bush walks with a guide, you go a few hours with a trained and armed ranger, the group will not be larger than 8 people. They will read the tracks of elephants, rhinoceros and lion and tell you about the fascinating nature of South Africa. Think of comfortable shoes, easy clothes and do not forget your camera and binoculars! Walks are not allowed for children under the age of 13. You must book this activity in advance-Gamedrives, choice of sunset, night and morning game drives. For these game drives, it makes sense to book these in advance to avoid disappointment on the spot. Upon request (at least 2 months in advance and upon availability) you can book a “Day drive”. You rent a car and driver and then you can visit those places of the park where no tourists come.-Timbavati picnic spot (55 km outside the camp)-Ratel pan Bird spot place (58 km outside the camp)


Things to look out for
1) Lion
2) Black-backed Jackal
3) Blue Wildebeest
4) White-backed vulture
5) Lesser Black-winged Plover

“Kruger National Park Tips and Tricks:


  1. Sleeping quarters, ablution and kitchen facilities are serviced daily by cleaning staff.
  2. Day visitors are no longer allowed to bring or consume alcohol in any public areas eg. parking lots, picnic sites, wildlife viewing areas or roads, gates as well as all other areas designated as public.
  3. Outdoor lighting in the rest camps is limited, therefore a torch/headlamp is necessary when walking outside at night.
  4. Majority of rest-camps have shops and restaurants. Unless stated otherwise, accommodation fees do not include meals.
  5. Don’t try to cover too much distance at one time. The Kruger National Park is a huge tract of land. Plan your trip ahead of time. Slow travel and regular stopping will result in more attractions than covering a lot of ground.
  6. Early morning and evening times, more often than not, result in the most game views.”


The Kruger National Park has a rich history. Read on below to discover it origins and more about its fauna and flora.

In a continent where man and wild animal had been fighting a war of extermination since prehistoric times, the implementation of a national park was man’s first offer of peace between the two.

The Kruger National Park occupies 1 948 528 hectares of the what was formerly known as the Eastern Transvaal, which was renamed Mpumalanga “The Place of the Rising Sun” in 1995, and stretches up the eastern border of the Limpopo province, right up to the Zimbabwean border to the north, and neighbours Mozambique to the East.

The Kruger National Park is home to more than 500 different species of birds, more than half of the birds recorded in South Africa. These include 13 threatened and endangered species such as the Egyptian, white-headed, white-backed, cape and Lappet-faced vulture; bateleur; Crowned, Martial and Steppe Eagle as well as the Pallid, Augur and Long-legged buzzard. Not to mentioned non-endangered species which include various ducks, geese, Guinea fowl, quail, flamingo, cuckoo, cranes, storks, pelicans, heron, egret, ibis, sandpipers, hawks, owls, hornbill, Bee-eaters, kingfisher, falcon, parrots, shrike, crows, flycatchers, weavers, waxbills, starlings, flycatchers, thrush, tits and swallows.

For the arborists and tree lovers, the Kruger park is a mecca; playing home to approximately 404 identified species of trees. The Kruger National park can be divided into 16 macro zones. North of the Olifant River one will find predominantly Mopane Veld, whereas south of the river is classified and thornveld.  It is a little-known fact that, much like their animal counterparts, the Kruger park also has a Big 5 of Trees, namely: Baobab Tree, Fever Tree, Knob Thorn Acaia, Marula Tree and the Mopani Tree. Other iconic trees include: Common Cluster Fig, Delagoa Thorn, Lowveld Fig, Natal Mahogany, Monkey Orange, Mustard Tree, Raisin Bush, Tamboti Tree, Red Bushwillow, Coral Tree, Jackalberry, Leadwood, Lala Palm, Sausage Tree, Umbrella Thorn Acacia, Candelabra Euphorbia and the Round Leafed Teak.
Others species that can be found are: various thorn trees, acacia, ivory, num-nums, bushwillows, corkwood, fig trees, gum and raisin trees.

The number one attraction in the Kruger National Park is, of course, its collection of around 150 species of mammals. From the largest elephant to the tiniest field mouse, there is an abundance of animals to spot.
On every visitor’s check list is the famous Big 5: Elephants, Rhino, Lions, Leopards and Buffalo.  Which shouldn’t be too difficult to find under the right circumstances, or under the guidance of a field guide. But did you know that The Kruger National park also has a Little 5? These are little animals that share parts of their names with the big 5. They’re antlions, eastern rock elephant shrews, leopard tortoises, red-billed buffalo weavers and rhino beetles.

But not to worry, there are hordes more animals to tick off your list, such as: Aardvark, Aardwolf, African civet, African wild cat, dozens of species of bat, Baboon, Bat-eared fox, the endangered Black and white rhinoceros, Black-backed jackal Blue wildebeest, Brown hyaena, Bushbuck, Bushpig, Caracal, Cheetah, Duiker, Eland, Elephant, Giraffe, Greater canerat, Grey rhebok, Hartebeest, Hippopotamus, Honey badger, Impala, Klipspringer, Kudu, Large-spotted genet, Leopard, Bushbaby, Lion, Mongoose (assorted),  Mountain reedbuck, Nyala, Oribi, Otter, Pangolin, Porcupine, Reedbuck, Roan, Rock dassie, Sable, Samango monkey, Serval, Sharpe’s grysbok, Side-striped jackal, Small-spotted genet, South African hedgehog, Steenbok, Striped polecat, Suni, Thick-tailed bushbaby, Tree squirrel, Tsessebe, Vervet monkey, Warthog, Waterbuck, Wild dog, Yellow golden mole, Various species of rodent such as mice, rats, shrews, rabbits and hares.

On top of the mammals there are over 50 varieties of fish, 40 types of frogs, 34 species of snake, as well as many different types of lizards, such as geckos and 5 different types of iguana; also, three species of tortoise, numerous crocodiles and countless different insects.

The park has five main botanical divisions. The environment and natural food of each division determine the variety and density of wild life within its boundaries.

The largest division is also the hottest and most arid. This is the area north of the Olifants River, extending as far as the approaches to the valley of the Luvuvhu River, a tributary of the Limpopo.

The vegetation is dominated by the medium-sized Mopane tree, Colophospermum mopane, which seems to be untroubled by the poor, alkaline soil and erratic rainfall of the region. Nature has ingeniously adapted the mopane tree for such conditions: when the heat becomes unbearable, the leaves fold along the mid-rib. This allows rays of the sun to pass directly to the ground, and moisture inside of the tree is thus conserved. The tree, therefore, casts a poor shadow, but absorbs a minimum of heat.

Its leaves are aromatic, tasting and smelling of turpentine, but they are nutritious and relished by antelope and elephants. A fat, spotted caterpillar, the mopane worm, feeds on the leaves and is itself eaten by local inhabitants. With a high protein content and a piquant, nutty flavour, the worms can be dried and stored, or roasted and eaten immediately. They are considered a delicacy to the rural population.

The second largest division lies south of the Olifants River, on the eastern side of the park as far as the southern boundary on the Crocodile River. This division is dominated by acacia thorn tress. It has a higher rainfall and more fertile soil than the area north of the Olifants River. Its sweet tasting grasses offer excellent grazing and supports a higher population of animals. It is the home of great herds of impala, zebra and wildebeest, as well as buffalo, giraffe and many other species of game.

The acacia trees of this division belong to a family of 700 species, mainly native to Africa and Australia. The name acacia derives from the Greek word, akakia, meaning thorny. All the various species are valuable to both man and animal. They have nutritious leaves and seed pods; the gum of certain species provides gum Arabic, used in the manufacture of adhesives; the wood is excellent for kindling and has a pleasant aroma. Even the thorns have been used – as gramophone needles. They were used as an alternative to steel needles before the diamond stylus was perfected. The thorns caused less wear to the records.

Each spring, the delightfully fragrant white and yellow acacia blossoms provide a superb show. The umbrella-shaped canopies of many acacias offer shady camping sites for man, and cool areas in which wild animals doze away the hottest parts of the day.

The third largest division of the Kruger National Park – between he Olifants and Crocodile rivers, immediately to the west of the acacia division – also has sweet grazing, and is a parkland populated by many antelope. The red bush-willow tree, Combretum apiculatum, flourishes here.

West of this area is the fourth largest division of the park, lying between the Sabie and Crocodile rivers up to the park’s western boundary, this natural parkland is well-watered – about 760 millimetres of rain falls a year – thickly wooded but with sour tasting grass, less favoured by antelope. Here is a vast variety of trees. Acacias do well, and there are many elegantly canopied species. Combretums also grow in large numbers, and there are giant sycamore figs, mkuhlus, marulas, kiaats and spectacular flowering tress such as the white pear and the orange coral tree.

The smallest division lies along the park’s northern boundary, in the valleys of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers. This is an area of tropical, riverine forest – huge wild figs, spectral fever trees, ebony, mahogany, ironwood, wild seringa and many baobabs (especially in the Valley of the Giants, where they grow in an enchanted forest of their own).

A total amount of about 265 500 mammals inhabit the five divisions of the park. The most numerous is the impala, with a population of about 120 000, mostly concentrated in the sweet grazing areas, particularly along the Sabie River. This graceful creature is the record jumper of all the antelope, surpassing even the springbok. Impalas been seen to clear 3 metres in height and 9 metres in length.

The second most common animal special is buffalo. More than 37 500 roam the sweet grass plains along the eastern borders between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers.

Some 26,500 Burchell’s zebra are scattered throughout the park, but they prefer the sweet grazing on the eastern side.

There are 11,500 blue wildebeest spread throughout the park but also concentrated in the sweet grass areas.

Elephants wander all over the park; about 13,500 live here permanently. The park stopped culling elephants around 1994 and implemented a relocation programme, but by 2004 the population had increased to 11,670 elephants, by 2006 to approximately 13,500, by 2009 to 11,672, and by 2012 to 16,900. The park’s habitats can only sustain about 8,000 elephants. The park started using annual contraception in 1995, but has stopped that due to problems with delivering the contraceptives and upsetting the herds.

Few humans have attempted to settle permanently in the area of the Kruger National Park. The conservationists of the past were the mosquito and the tsetse fly. Their presence made vast area of bush unhospitable for man, and thus provided game with sanctuary from their most dangerous enemy.

From paintings on the walls of rock shelters, it is evident that Bushmen hunted in the area of the park. They came from the highveld each winter, when the mosquitos were less active, and retreated to the safety of the heights as soon as summer came. The tsetse fly did not worry the bushmen, as they kept no cattle. Although the fly has a vicious bite, the species in the park did not carry sleeping sickness. But it did spread nagana, which was lethal to horses and draught animals. Even dogs die of nagana.

Most men entering the area found it to be so hostile that they fled almost as soon as they arrived, though a handful from tribal disturbances, who had already lost their livestock, eked out an existence in the bush until they were killed or driven away by malaria.

The first non-indigenous people to explore the area of the park were safari traders and slave traders, who trekked from the coastal trading ports through the bush to reach the tribes settled on the highveld. This trade was handicapped by malaria at the ports. In 1720 the Dutch, the first to settle at the bay of Lourenco Marques, then known as Delagoa Bay, had to abandon the settlement because of fever and attacks by pirates. The Portuguese then established the trading base of Lourenco Marques, and their safari parties blazed well-trodden paths through the bush to the interior of the, then, Transvaal.

The entire period from 1870 to 1890 was a restless, adventurous time, peopled by hunters and prospectors and highlighted by stories of fortunes found and lost by many unusual characters. The Kruger National Park contains many simple piles of stones marking graves of such long forgotten men.

Among these were many of the transport men, who resorted to ingenious schemes to defeat the tsestse fly. The travelled through the worst areas at night, when the flies were less active. The smeared their draught animals with grease and potent mixtures thought to repel the tsetse fly, and used exotic creatures such as camel in the vail hope that would prove resistant to ngana. The modern tourist roads in the park which follow old transport trails have in their foundations the bones of countless oxen which died from the disease.

In 1896 the livestock disease of rinderpest swept down from central Africa and killed great numbers of cloven hooved animals, which were particularly susceptible to it. These animals, such as buffalo were favoured hosts of the tsetse fly, and it died with them, ever to return. B them however, the day of the transport wagons was over – trains of the eastern line had superseded them.

With the fly gone, wild animals were ruthlessly hunted for ivory, skins, horns and biltong. Professional hunters were joined by crowds of construction workers from the eastern and Selati lines, and the contractors who were supplying them with food. The entire game population of the Lowveld might well have been wiped out had it not been for the intervention of several members of the Transvaal cabinet, supported by president Kruger.

The Sabie Game Reserve of 1898 covered only 350 000 hectares but this was the area which was most plagued by the hunters, and therefore an ideal nucleus for the future national park. But there was little opportunity to enforce the ban on hunting. Political problems were mounting, and in October 1899 the Anglo Boer war broke out.

Komatipoort, the railway centre on the southern boundary of the reserve, was occupied by the British. In order to hold with Mozambique, a force of 600 bush ranger and adventurers was raised. It wasnamed Steinacker’s Horse, after it’s flamboyant commanding officer, Lieutenant-colonel Ludwig Steinacker. Steinacker and his men shot game for the pot, but at least their presence, together with the war, kept out the biltong hunters, whose wholesale slaughtering of animals was a major threat to wild life in many wilderness areas of Southern Africa.

At the end of the Anglo-Boer War, in 1902, the British administration set out to restore the processes of government in the shattered Transvaal, and they supported the original conservation ideals of President Kruger. A warden was appointed to care for the Sabie Game Reserve.

It was a most fortunate appointment. The man selected was Major J. Stevenson-Hamilton, short in stature and temper, but packed with resolution, courage, energy and a deep understanding of wild animals.

With severely limited resources, he had to establish control over a wild area, keep out poachers and cope with numerous adventurers and treasure-seekers looking for what was popularly known as the Kruger millions. He also had to fend off so-called land developers, and others who were forever buttonholing him and members of parliament with questions, about when the reserve was to be “thrown open for shooting”.

For the administration centre of the reserve, Stevenson-Hamilton selected the site where the rusty, unused, Selati railway line reached the Sabie River. During the Anglo-Boer War, a small blockhouse had been built there, and this became the warden’s home and office. At first it was known simply as Reserve, but to the African it was the home of the man they knew as siKhukhuza (he who scrapes clean’) because of Stevenson-Hamilton’s bustling reorganization of the area. Today, Skukuza – the European form of the name – is the administrative centre and principal tourist park in the park.

Stevenson-Hamilton recruited his first two rangers from the disbanding ranks of Steinacker’s Horse. Gaza Grey was stationed on the Lower Sabie River, and Harry Wolhuter was stationed in the western section near the old transport trail landmark known as Pretoriuskop. This hillock was named after President Marthinus Pretorius and marked the western end of the tsetse infected areas.

Apart from the old transport trail and the Selati line, there were no other roads in the reserve and no facilities. A ganger’s trolley was the only vehcle on the abandoned railway line.

The game rangers had to patrol on foot or horseback. In 1903the Shingwidzi Game Reserve was proclaimed, covering 500 000 hectares in the north, between the Letaba and the Luvuvhu Rivers. This was separated from the Sabie Game Reserve by a block of privately owned ranches and mining concessions. This wild ranching area was also placed under the control of Stevenson-Hamilton, together with the Shingwidzi Game Reserve. Taken together, these three areas covered substantially the area of the Kruger National Park today. To control them efficiently with his existing means, was impossible for Stevenson-Hamilton. He appointed, as ranger of the Shingwidzi Reserve an equally flamboyant, larger-than-life character named Major A.A. ‘Manjoro’ Fraser, wo made his home in an old shack. Here Fraser was content with his isolated existence; when unwelcome visitors called, Fraser would jump through the back window and hide in the bush until they departed.

The extreme north of the Shingwidzi Reserve, on the banks of the Luvuvhu, adjoined what was known as Crook’s Corner, the haunt of an assortment of ivory hunters, smugglers, illicit labour-recruiters known as blackbirders, and renegades. These men were out of Stevenson-Hamiltons area, and therefore free of his authority.

Controversy developed over the future of the three separate areas. To Stevenson-Hamilton, the protection of wild animals was of prime importance, but he soon realized that the area could never be retained as a pure wilderness. It was threatened by too many private interests, and there was a mounting clamour about good ground going to waste – it was thought that it should all be de-proclaimed and disposed of as farms.

With the revival of the Selati railway and its completion as far as Tzaneen in 1912 there was further controversy, for the line made the area accessible and set many people thinking of ways to make money through commercial activities in the Lowveld.

The First World War broke out with the future of the three areas still undecided. Stevenson-Hamilton and several rangers went off to war, and the animals were left to the care of Major Fraser and a skeleton staff. During the war, however, a commission was appointed by the government to inquire into the whole concept of game reserves, and when Stevenson-Hamilton returned with the rank of Lieutenant-colonel in 1918 he was delighted to find that the commission had been recommended that government policy be directed towards ‘the creation of the area ultimately as a great national park where the natural and prehistoric conditions of our country can be preserved for all time’.

Stevenson-Hamilton busied himself with essential post-war administrative changes. Old hands had retired, and new men had to be found. New posts were established at places such as Punda Milia (‘striped donkey’) – the Swahili name for the zebra, and the Letaba River. The first visitors arrived in 1923, brought in by train on a package tour service organized by the South African railways and known as the ‘round in nine’, because it lasted nine days. The tourists slept on the train, parked at Skukuza, were escorted on a walk through the bush, and had a camp fire party. Clearly, there was little doubt that if the area was opened up by roads there would be a flood of visitors.

The government, public, tourist industry, and bodies such as the wildlife protection society were all increasingly enthusiastic about the concept of a national park. In order to consolidate the area, 70 private owned farms between the Sabie and Letaba Rivers were expropriated. Others, lying between the Sabie and Sand Rivers, were excluded but belonged to people who were sympathetic to conservation, and many of the farms are now included in the Sabie Sands Game Reserve, the largest private game reserve in Africa.

It was Steven-Hamilton and Stratford Caldecott, an artist appointed by the railways to publicize the park, who conceived the name of Kruger National Park. On 31 May 1926 the South African Parliament unanimously passed the second reading of the National Park Act, and the Kruger National Park came into full legal existence. Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed its first warden under a board of control made up of members selected by the government, Transvaal Provincial Council and the Wildlife Protection Society.

The immediate intention was to open the park to the public. It was felt that the best way of winning general support for the concept of conservation was to allow people to see the beauty of the wilderness and its wealth of wildlife. Road building began.

The first road was from Skukuza to the Olifants River, the second from Skukuza to Pretoriuskop, and the third from Skukuza to the Crocodile Bridge. In that year, 1927, the first 3 cars were allowed through the Pretoriuskop Gate, and the Kruger National Park was launched on a career destined to make it one of the greatest tourist attractions of the world.

There was an enormous amount to be done in order to make the park hospitable for visitors. Roads had to be extended and improved, camps had to be built, services had to be provided for food, petrol, breakdown and other emergencies. The park authorities had to learn many things by experience.

The southern area was opened to visitors, and at first, they were free to come at any time of the year. In 1929 a large party of around-the-world American tourists arrived in the midst of the rainy season. Their vehicle became bogged down and they were forced to spend the night perched n thorn trees to avoid lions. In their exposed positions they could not escape the mosquitos and several tourists went down with malaria.

This caused concernably bad publicity. After this incident, he park was closed during the rainy season, except for Pretoriuskop, where a permanent camp was build, with comfortable accommodation for tourists throughout the year. Pretoriuskop has ever since been a favourite camp from which to tour the park.

More and more visitors arrived. In 1931 a road was built providing access to the far northern areas of the park, all the way up to Crook’s Corner, where the last of the renegades and adventurers, including the renowned BveKenya (S.C. Barnard), the ivory poacher, found civilization fast encroaching on their hide-out and began leaving for other parts.

This was a period in the history of the park which is fondly remembered by many of the early visitors. The simplicity of the caps, the rough roads, and the absence of strict regulations made a tour a great adventure.

Charles Astley Maberly, the naturalist and artist, known as the man who could talk to animals, spent months each year travelling around on a bicycle.

Charles Thomas Astley was the eldest of the three children of Charles James Astley and Margaret née Goodman. He developed an interest in natural history at an early age, writing and publishing “Nature Studies of a Boy Naturalist” whilst still at school at Repton.

At the age of 18 he moved to South Africa to live with a farming family near the Kruger National Park in which he spent a lot of time. He then bought his own farm near Duiwelskloof, called “Narina” after a bird of the veldt, which he ran as a wildlife sanctuary.

He wrote a number of books on wild animals (Animals of Rhodesia in 1959, Animals of East Africa in 1966, Game Animals of South Africa in 1967), illustrated a number of books by other writers such as Bulpin and Wolhuter and painted a great deal of the local wildlife.

Whenever he saw a suitable subject to draw he would jump off his cycle without the least fear of danger and set to work.

An African game ranger who also travelled about on a bicycle, perhaps summed up these times when a tourist stopped in to warn that he was peddling straight towards a large pride of lions on a hill next to the road. The ranger simply shrugged. “Eat you”, he said with a smile, “but not me. Me government.”  Unconcerned, he continued on his way.

The Second World War delayed further development in the park. In 1946, Stevenson-Hamilton retired after 42 years of service.

He left with a plea that his beloved park should not be turned into a glorified zoo and botanical garden, dotted wit scientific experimental stations, hotels and recreational facilities.

To him a national park was essentially a wilderness area. Excessive development and over management would only destroy its unique atmosphere. His philosophy was: The game rangers rifle and the veld managers box of matches might be important tools of control, but indiscriminate or careless use of them could have drastic results, and regrets could not revive the corpse of an animal or a tree.

He was succeeded as warden by Colonel J.A.B. Sandenburg, but the days of the paternal game warden figure were over. Vast changes were inevitable during the post-war Kruger National Park. Sandenburg saw the beginning of them when the British Royal Family visited the park in 1947 and brought world-wide publicity. Suddenly, it seemed that everybody wanted to visit the famous park – foreign politicians, business conventions, touring sports teams, celebrities by the score and tourists by the thousand.

Pressures on services and management became immense.

The entire control of the park was substantially changed with the appointment of an overall director of national parks, under whom were specialists in charge of tourism, works and engineering and biological control. The post of warden vanished, and Sandenburg resigned in 1953.

In 1955 more than 100 000 tourists visited the park. Ten years later the number exceeded 200 000, and in 1977 there were more than 400 000.

Human pressure on the wilderness was relentless. The Kruger National Park had become a tourist wonder of the world and its management had to confront the reality that it was going to become more difficult to control people in the park than the wild animals.

Road were extended and the principal routes tarred. New camps were built and old one enlarged, modernized and provided with shops, restaurants and other facilities. Boreholes and dams were built to supply drinking water to man and game.

The park was divided into 400 control blocks, each block with its vegetation and wildlife carefully studied by specialized scientists with computerized aids to assess trend and the maximum carrying capacity of the blocks for particular plants and animals.

Surplus numbers of animals have to be culled and a biproduct factory at Skukuza produced biltong, skins and curios.

The entire area of the park is now open throughout the year. Modern hygiene and medication have reduced the menace of mosquitos, and the lush green growth of the rainy season in the park is revealed to visitors in all its splendour.

A visit during any season is therefor practical.

Each month has its own character, with enumerable fascinating things to do and see, to discuss in the camps at night or to remember long afterwards, perhaps in the setting of some distant city.

The Kruger Park will, for all these reasons, always be regarded as the prototype of wild life sanctuaries in Africa. Comparisons with other reserves are inevitable, and some reserves will be acclaimed bigger, better, wilder, more varied in the animal population, but the Kruger National Park sets a formidable standard. Other parks may, indeed, have natural assets with the Kruger Park lacks; but its scenery, plants and animals, as well as its singularly romantic history, will always ensure that it has a unique place amongst the world’s game reserves.

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