Kruger National Park accommodation
Kruger National Park - A
Guide by Stephanie Bayliss
Kruger National Park is an incredible expanse of wilderness, being home
to a vast array of wildlife; from the big five (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo,
Elephant and Rhino) to the smallest of animals and birds.
A Brief History Of Kruger
Kruger has developed out
of the Sabie Game Reserve; an area between the Crocodile and Sabie rivers,
which was proclaimed to be a Game reserve in 1898, thanks to the tireless
conservation efforts of Paul Kruger, born into a farming family in 1825
and eventually made President in 1883.
In May 1926, with the emergence
of The National Parks Act, both Sabie and Shingwedzi Game Reserves were
merged to become the Kruger National Park that we know today.
About the Kruger National
At 380km long and at an average
60km wide, Kruger National Park presents 20,000km² of rich and diverse
animal, bird and plant life. From open savannahs, to densely wooded areas
and all fed by 6 rivers, Kruger National Park is made up of a huge variety
The best time for game viewing
in Kruger National Park is the winter months of April - September. Vegitation
is less dense allowing good visability and access to water is restricted
to waterholes and rivers, where wildlife can be found congregating.
During Summer time, (October
to March) the rains ensure that the landscape is lush, green and very beautiful.
This is an excellent time for watching birdlife.
Kruger National Park is loosly
split into 4 regions; the Southern Region, Central Region, Northern Region
and Far Northern Region.
The Southern Region
Krugers Southern region is
bordered by the Crocodile River in the south and the Sabie (pronounced
Sar-bee) River to its North.
Khandzalive, at 839 metres
is the highest point of Kruger National Park and lies in the South-western
corner of the Southern Region.
Most of the White Rhino in
Kruger are found in the Southern Region, the majority of sightings around
Pretoriuskop, Mbyamiti River, and south of Lower Sabie. Thanks to abundant
food sources and the protection of the national park, Kruger has the largest
population of White Rhino in Africa, with over 2600 in residence.
Rainfail is high in the Southern
Region, up to around 718m, therefore the area is largely lush woodland.
Although the woodland does not sustain large herds of game, reasonable
numbers of impala, kudu, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, white rhino and elephant
are present in in the area. Numbers of Wildebeest and Zebra are low in
the region, and as they are the preferred prey of Lion, number of Lion
are low in the region compared to the Central Region.
The low numbers of Lion in
the area means that there are reasonable numbers of wild dog and cheetah;
in fact, fugures suggest that half of Kruger's cheetah occur in this region.
The rare Wild Dogs are most
common in the mountainous land near Berg-en-dal, and can often be seen
on the road between Berg-en-dal and Skukuza.
Leopards are also found in
the dense bushwillow woodland, however these cats are rarely seen thanks
to their excellent camoflague. A sighting of one of these wonderful cats
should be treasured!
The Sabie river to the north
of the region is home to around 600 Hippos and a large population of crocodiles,
and is excellent for bird watching.
The Central Region extends
from the Sabie River in the South, to the Olifants River in its north.
This region accounts for
approximately only 30% of Kruger National Park, but supports the largest
populations of impala, buffalo, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck
and sable and also supports almost half of Kruger's Lion population. Leopard,
Hyaena and Cheetah numbers are also substantial in the region.
More than 60 lion prides,
with an average of 12 lions to each pride, ensures that the region is exceptionally
popular with tourists. This number of Lions has caused a negative impact
on Cheetah and wild dog numbers in the region. Lion attacks account for
around a third of wild dog pups deaths.
Marula (Sclerocarya birrea)
and Knobthorn (Acacia nigrescens) trees dominate the savannah in the region.
The leaves and bark of the Marula are eaten by Elephants who are widely
distributed through the area, whilst Giraffe and Kudu are partial to the
leaves of the Knobthorn, though by grazing at different heights, they avoid
competition for their food.
Black Rhino exist in stable
numbers in the region, though they are rarely seen.
The Northern Region
The semi-arid Northern Region
extends north from the Olifants River. The region is blanketed in shrub
mopane which thrives in arid conditions.
Few browsers feed on the
leaves of the mopane, however elephants eat them as an important part of
their diet. The caterpillars of the emporer moth, often known as mopane
worms, also feed on the leaves of the mopane. These mopane worms are considered
a delicacy of the african people.
In the region, the Letaba
and Olifants rivers are home to 60% of the hippos found in Kruger. Half
of the Elephants in Kruger also reside in the region gathering aside the
Letaba, Shingwedzi and Mphongolo rivers.
Waterbuck, bushbuck, impala
and kudu are common in the region. Numbers of lion, leopard and hyaena
are concentrated in the area, where prey is abundant.
This region extends to the
Limpopo River at its northern-most point.
The region is home to a number
of species only found here; including the Kruger knocking sand frog and
13 species of bat.
Five packs of the rare wild
dog have been observed in this region.
Bird enthusiasts consider
this region to be of great importance, with sightings of 29 species of
the birds recorded in the Park only occuring at Pafuri. These rare sightings
include the trumpeter hornbill, Cape parrot, tropical boubou, Mashona hyliota,
broadbilled roller, olive bush shrike, threebanded courser, cinnamon dove,
mottled spinetail and yellow white-eye.
Things you need to know...
Malaria is prevalent in the
area, so precautions must be taken. An effective insect repellent is a
must, as are anti-Malaria tablets - this should be discussed with your
doctor or pharmacist before travelling.
Costs of Visiting Kruger
Visitors to Kruger National
Park are required to pay a daily conservation / entrance fee of 120 ZAR
(South African Rand). (At the time of writing, this calculates to about
£12.) This fee is payable by both day visitors and by those staying
in accomodation in the park. All National Parks throughout South Africa
charge a conservation fee, with the funds raised contributing to the conservation
of the national and cultural heritage of the parks.
Accomodation in Kruger
There are plenty of accomodation
options within Kruger National Park; from tented camps and bungalows, to
National Park accommodation