Why you should visit Kruger National Park in South Africa

Aimee Spicer / 24 June 2015 ( 24 October 2016 )

Kruger National Park is an enormous game reserve that hugs the western border of South Africa



If you have never experienced a guided game drive this vast South African wilderness is a global hotspot. Travellers often visit Kruger for game viewing on foot too, luxury safari lodge holidays and fascinating heritage tours. 

It is difficult to express the boundless appeal of Kruger’s vast open spaces and captivating biodiversity. Imagine a grand theatre where each day lucky visitors are treated to the performance of a lifetime. Enter the players.

The headline acts at Kruger: the African lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros – otherwise known as ‘the Big Five’ – all thrive in this habitat. The bit-part actors, vying for attention are: hundreds of species of birds, mammals, fish and amphibians. 

The stage: thousands of square kilometres of lush grassland, tropical forestry and Kruger wetland. To travel to Kruger National Park is truly an incredible privilege and for many it is a once in a lifetime adventure.

Discover more about South Africa, a whole world in one country Find out more here.

Weather in Kruger National Park

It’s nice to know that you can travel to Kruger National Park all year round, with daytime temperatures remaining hot most of the year. 

Game viewing is said to be at its best during the dry winter months (May to September) when animals actively search for watering holes. However, the wet summer months bring migrating birds and newborn wildlife, which is always a moving sight on safari.

Travelling to any national park in Africa opens up a world of exciting opportunities for travellers. Whether you want to relax or go wild, tailor your holiday to include your perfect Africa Experiences.

Essential things to do in South Africa

Explore Kruger National Park

Led by experienced guides in sturdy 4×4 vehicles, Kruger Park game drives and bush walks offer travellers a classic safari experience. Search for the Big Five by day and fall asleep at night to the tranquil sounds of the African wilderness. 

Ideal for solo travellers, couples or larger groups, your Kruger park safari experience can be personalised to suit your holiday requirements. It is even possible to organise a dramatic hot air balloon ride across this wild and untamed area.

With many thousands of square kilometres to explore, it’s a good idea to think about exactly where you want to go in this subtropical landscape. Do you want to stay in the most secluded and sought after lodges or relax on a luxury cruise ship and stop off for a day’s safari?

In terms of cost, it really depends on how long you plan to stay in Kruger. As a Saga customer you can purchase anything from a whirlwind day trip to a 17 night sightseeing trip. 

Prices for these longer excursions start at around £2599 per person. Looking for an endless dreamy travel odyssey? Saga offer cruises that last for several months and take in many destinations including Kruger. 

Travelling to South Africa: visas, vaccines and essential travel tips

The Big Five in South Africa

It’s not a bad idea to do some research before your visit to Kruger, especially if you only plan on going for a short time. 

There’s no guarantee that you will see the Big Five on your Kruger safari; your best bet is to travel with an experienced ranger who knows the animals’ behaviour patterns.

Kruger lions are commonly seen in the grasslands of Tshokwane and this is usually in the daytime, offering a breath-taking sight. Despite being the biggest of the Big Five, elephants tend to be surprisingly quiet and elusive creatures. 

Tshokwane is a good place to spot these magnificent creatures. Search for the elusive leopard by night – when they hunt – around Sabi Sands, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park.

Black and white rhinos are often seen in the south of Kruger. The latter are more social creatures and easier to spot. Look out for immense herds of buffalo, one of Kruger’s most memorable scenes – many sightings take place around the Shingwedzi River near Skukuza.

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see absolutely everything, a whole range of wildlife awaits you in South Africa. Kruger National Park is an immersive experience and you’ll find that small things will capture your imagination along with the must-see big five.

Where to see wildlife in South Africa

Booked your holiday? Protect it from the moment you buy Saga's Travel Insurance.

Step back in time in South Africa

If you have time to spare between exploring the landscape and looking out for the Big Five on safaris, Kruger National Park is bursting with fascinating historical sites. 

From reminders of humankind’s ancient origins at archaeological sites in the Limpopo/Luvuvhu floodplains to dazzling prehistoric art in rock shelters towards the southwest of the park, it’s all waiting to be discovered.

Parts of Kruger National Park were occupied by African kings and queens from 1250 to 1700 AD. The area is also famed for its history of mineral mining and trade in gold, ivory, glass beads and bronze jewellery.

Learn about the modern history of Kruger National Park, which was considered a hunter’s paradise by colonial settlers for centuries. 

Hunting devastated animal populations in the region, until the pioneering leader Paul Kruger declared large sections of the land game reserves. These areas form the core of Kruger Park today.

By now your safari adventure will be building up your appetite. In the evenings, as you rejuvenate in your rest camp or lodge, combine history and gastronomy as you experience the distinctive flavours of South African cuisine. 

Many guided tours stop in the evenings for meals cooked over an open fire.

Five foods to try in South Africa

Experience true serenity in South Africa

Some visitors will be so transfixed by the landscape in Kruger Park that they will choose to extend their visit, or at the very least plan a speedy return. Consider organising a Wild Card membership. 

Offering special access to almost all of South Africa’s premier national conservation areas, including Kruger Park, these handy cards are a clever option for the safari fanatic!

Enjoy the comforts of a spa retreat with all the fascinating sights that Kruger National Park has in store and visit globally renowned locations like Singita Lebombo. 

Wild card or no wild card, discerning travellers in search of South African splendour should look into Kruger Park.

Trips like Saga's ‘A World In One Country’ are a special way to celebrate a romantic relationship. Could this in fact be the perfect gift for a cherished loved one? 

During the balmy South African days enjoy Kruger safaris and couples spa treatments – in the evenings indulge with candlelit dinners as you receive world-class personalised service.

Kruger National Park is the king of South African National Parks, and a visit here will leave you with some special memories. 

South Africa's remarkable canvases will unfold before you on a holiday that you will never forget Find out more here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.