Kruger Park Budget Travel Guide

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Kruger National Park Wildlife

South Africa's flagship national park, Kruger Park is world-renowned for its superb game viewing and is one of Africa's largest and best game reserves. Kruger Park is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa and for good reason as this vast wilderness expanse teeming with wildlife offers an unparalleled African Safari experience. 

The Kruger National Park plays host to a dizzying array of flora and fauna species:

  • 336 Trees
  • 49 fish
  • 34 Amphibians
  • 114 reptiles
  • 507 birds
  • 147 mammals

South Africa’s premier national park, Kruger Park is home to a massive population of Africa's "Big 5" (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, and Leopard) along with an abundance of other African wildlife.

Kruger Park has long been a sanctuary for several of Southern Africa’s endangered species, including the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, and Spotted Hyena. Within the fences of this immense park approximately the size of Wales, lies a huge ecosystem that sustains a rich diversity of plants, birds, and animals. This protected area shelters nearly 2 million hectares of the African bush and vast numbers of wild animals in the midst of a chaotic continent where warfare, social instability, and poaching have often decimated the fauna and flora over the generations.

Kruger Park is home to an unrivaled diversity of African wildlife and is considered a world leader in advanced environmental policies and management practices. Rare species such as the African Elephant, Black and White Rhino, Cheetah and Lion have perpetuated their bloodlines safely within the park's perimeter. Other wildlife species found in Kruger Park include hippopotamus, giraffe, zebra, warthog and a variety of antelope species, such as Kudu, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Sable, Reedbuck, Eland, and Tsessebe. The game park is also home to diverse bird species, including some birds that cannot be found anywhere else in South Africa.

Kruger Park Geography

The Kruger Park can be divided into Southern Kruger Park, Central Kruger, and Northern Kruger. Southern Kruger Park generally speaking is the best part of the national park for game viewing. This is as a result of its savannah-like vegetation. This area is the most popular part of the Park with the largest concentration of accommodation options on offer, ranging from 5-star lodges to National Park Rest Camps. Kruger’s biggest and most popular rest camp, Skukuza camp, is located in Southern Kruger along the banks of the Sabie River.

The Central and Northern Kruger Park areas are more hilly and tropical, and as a result sighting game is not as easy and the wildlife numbers not as high. The Central and Northern Kruger areas are more remote and ideal for those travelers wishing to get off the beaten path. The Kruger Park has been a protected area since 1898, when it was started as the Sabie Game Reserve, making it one of the oldest game parks in South Africa. The size of the park is roughly the size of Wales in the United Kingdom. From North to South the Park is approximately 500km long. Kruger Park is situated in north-east Africa straddling the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces. North of Kruger Park lies Zimbabwe and bordering the park on the east is Mozambique

The "Greater Kruger National Park" and Private Game Reserves

Adjacent to the Kruger on the Western side is several Private Reserves which are collectively known as "The Greater Kruger National Park".( These include, Klaserie Nature Reserve, Timbavati Nature Reserve, Balule Nature Reserve, Thornybush Nature Reserve, Manyeleti Nature Reserve and Sabi Sand Nature Reserve amongst others). Over the last few years through mutual agreement fences between the Kruger Park and the majority of these parks have been removed which has significantly increased the roaming area of the Kruger Wildlife. It is in these Private Nature Reserves that you will find a concentration of smaller, more exclusive Game Lodges that cater for small groups of tourists. These private lodges are generally more upmarket and cater for visitors looking for a more intimate experience in the African Bush.

Kruger Park Rest Camps

The Kruger is home to several South African National Parks Board managed camps. These offer various levels of accommodation, most of which will suit the budget-conscious traveler. This ranges from campgrounds to self-catering chalets and bungalows.

These Kruger rest camps provide a safe haven for visitors to shelter for the night and are securely fenced off to keep predators out. It is, however, possible to view game from the perimeter of the camps, particularly at night when hyenas, monkeys, crocodiles hippo and more can be spotted, depending of course on which camp you are visiting.

Kruger rest camps range in size from basic campgrounds to small towns with supermarkets, restaurants, swimming pools, petrol stations, and even golf courses if that is your thing.

The main Kruger Park rest camps

  • Berg en Dal
  • Balule (Check in at Olifants camp)
  • Crocodile Bridge
  • Letaba
  • Lower Sabie
  • Malelane (Administrated by Berg en Dal)
  • Maroela (A satellite camp of Orpen) This is the only camp where caravans and camper vans are permitted.
  • Mopani
  • Olifants
  • Orpen
  • Pionier (A satellite camp run from Letaba)
  • Pretoriuskop
  • Punda Maria
  • Satara
  • Shingwedzi
  • Skukuza
  • Tamboti (A satellite camp of Orpen)
  • Tsendze

Zoom in on the Kruger Park map below to see where these rest camps are situated.

Kruger National Park Safari Activities

Kruger National Park safaris are all about game viewing in this vast game reserve. Kruger Park safaris are normally conducted in open 4x4 safari vehicles adapted for optimal game viewing, although closed safari vehicles can also be used if visitors prefer. A visit to Kruger usually includes morning, afternoon and evening game drives, depending on the duration of your safari, in search of the park’s abundant wildlife. On Kruger Park safaris trained and experienced safari guides conduct the game viewing drives. These professional field guides are knowledgeable about Kruger’s wildlife and ecosystems and readily share information with visitors. The guides know where to look for specific animals and choose game viewing routes that increase the likelihood of successfully spotting Kruger’s diverse wildlife species.

In Kruger Park, walking safaris are also popular as visitors get a closer look at the fascinating flora and fauna of the area. The walking safaris are lead by armed game rangers with a wealth of knowledge to share. The safari guides decipher animal tracks and other signs of wildlife activity on the hikes and walks in Kruger, making for an intimate and unforgettable bush experience. Kruger Park has several animal hides from which to enjoy the wildlife and bird activity enhancing its position as an excellent safari destination for bird watching and wildlife photography.

Types of Kruger Park Safaris

On Kruger Safaris you can choose from a variety of accommodation options, ranging from budget camping to luxury lodge or hotel accommodation inside or close to Kruger National Park. On safari in Kruger Park you could stay in a treehouse or family bungalow, camp under the stars, or get pampered in an exclusive safari lodge, the choice is yours. Many Kruger Safaris cater for budget conscious travelers, as well as families and couples on romantic getaways. If driving is not your thing there are also Kruger fly-in safaris that reduce your travel time to and from Kruger Park, situated about five hours drive from Johannesburg in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. If on the other hand driving is your thing there is the Kruger self-drive safari option, which enables you to take in the spectacular scenery of the Panorama Route as you travel between Kruger National and Johannesburg at your own pace.

The Kruger Park safaris generally include park entrance fees, airport transfers and transport to and from the national park in air-conditioned mini buses. Some Kruger Safaris also visit the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and a traditional Shangaan Cultural Village or combine Kruger Park with some pampering in a world-class Health Spa close by.

Several of the Kruger Safaris packages combine South Africa’s top tourist destination, Kruger Park, with the surrounding private game reserves (like Sabi Sand Game Reserve) that form part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Many of the safaris to Kruger also visit other travel highlights in South Africa, such as Cape Town, the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, as well as nearby Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique. Your African Safari can last from three days, taking you to Kruger National Park exclusively, up to over 50 days, traveling throughout East and Southern Africa in an epic overland journey that includes a Kruger Park safari experience.

What's in store for the Kruger

There are plans to combine Kruger National Park with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe into a new transfrontier park to be called The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, this will result in the biggest National Park in Africa.

The Kruger Park has for decades been at the forefront of animal and plant research, many eminent scientists and researchers have made important discoveries in this area.

When to visit the Kruger National Park

September - April in the Kruger Park is hot and sunny with occasional showers with temperatures in the shade ranging from 18°-30°C.

May-August is the winter period with warm and dry temperatures ranging from 8°-22°C. Winter time is traditionally the best time to view game in the Kruger Park as the vegetation is sparse and the animals tend to congregate around the watering holes.

Kruger Park and Malaria

The Kruger Park does fall within a malaria risk area and although the risk is low, anti-malaria medication or prophylactics are recommended for visitors to the area.

Malaria Prevention in the Kruger Park

In terms of which medication to take, combining Chloroquine - taken weekly beginning one week prior to visiting the risk area - & Paludrine - every day beginning two days prior to the visit - is widely believed to be the most effective course of action. Mefloquine is also an option and can be taken on its own with no other medications.

Before taking Malaria prevention medication, be sure to consult your doctor or a recognized travel clinic as there are side effects that may occur. Proguanil (Paludrine) has been known to cause mouth ulcers and/or nausea. Chloroquine (Nivaquine or Avloclor) may bring on temporary blurred vision, rashes, and nausea. Patients with a history of psychiatric complaints, particularly depression, must avoid mefloquine as it can aggravate or bring on depressive episodes.

It is because of the above side-effects that many people have come to believe that the best way to deal with the Malaria risk is with insect repellants. Certainly, in the Kruger Park, where the risk is usually fairly low, this is a popular approach to the problem.

This popular alternative to taking anti-malaria medication essentially involves avoiding being bitten. There are various external applications and insect repellants which can ward off mosquitoes, as well as the good old traditional mosquito net for sleeping under. Burning mosquito coils and other ambient preventative aids also help. These days there are even iPhone applications which will deter mosquitoes by emitting an inaudible sonic repellant whilst you sleep.

If you choose to take anti-malaria medication it's best to stock up before arriving at the risk area and perhaps even before arriving in Africa. If you do get caught short though, these prophylactics can be bought from chemists in Gauteng and most towns on the way to the Kruger National Park, as well as at some of the bigger Kruger Park camps.

When to be most vigilant

The time when you need to be on your toes is early in the morning and at sunset when mosquito activity is at its peak. During these hours it's best to cover up the legs, ankles, and arms with light clothing and apply some insect repellant.

If you do happen to sustain a bite or two, there is no need to dash off to the nearest doctor. The majority of mosquitoes are malaria-free.

When is the Malaria Risk Season?

During the dry season (most of the year) the malaria risk in the Kruger Park is minimal and there are far fewer mosquitoes around. This can also be a good time to visit as sparser vegetation makes it much easier to spot game from your vehicle.

When to worry about Malaria

If you develop flu-like symptoms within one to three weeks of visiting the Kruger (or any malaria-risk area) go directly to a medical doctor for proper diagnosis. Be sure to mention that you have been to the area in question.

The South African National Parks Malaria Hotline

You can call this 24-hour number any time of the day or night if you are concerned about Malaria:
g(+27) 082 234 1800

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Tours Focused on Kruger Park

Kruger & Sabi Sands Tented Camp Package - 7 Day

Duration 07 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R24545 $1701 £1278 €1501 A$2399 C$2263 NZ$2481 Full pricing info
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Sabi steenbok Affordable Kruger Park & Sabi Sands Exclusive Camping Safari to a unique luxury Tented Camp bordering Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Game drives and bush walk in Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Explore Big 5 Kruger Park, South Africa..

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

7 Day Kruger Park Bungalow Safari

Duration 07 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R22370 $1550 £1165 €1368 A$2186 C$2062 NZ$2261 Full pricing info
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Kruger buffalo This comprehensive 7-day budget Kruger Park Safari stays inside Kruger National Park, in Pretoriuskop rest camp bungalows. Explore Kruger on thrilling game drives in open safari vehicles to see Africa's Big Five and other wildlife.

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

6 Day Kruger Park Backpackers Lodge Safari

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R14195 $984 £739 €868 A$1387 C$1309 NZ$1435 Full pricing info
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Black-backed jackal An excellent combination of Big Five game viewing in the private Balule Game Reserve of Greater Kruger, Tshukudu Game Reserve & Kruger National Park proper, including game drives, a bush walk and visit to Moholoholo Wildlife Centre.

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

6 Day Tented Camp Adventure in Kruger National Park

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Exclusive Small Group Camping Safaris
Priced from pps R18980 $1315 £988 €1161 A$1855 C$1750 NZ$1918 Full pricing info
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Side-striped Jackal Spend six days inside Kruger National Park, staying at an authentic tented safari camp in Pretoriuskop Rest Camp and game viewing in open 4x4 safari vehicles with expert guides.

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

6 Day Kruger & Private Game Reserves Lodge Safari

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R19095 $1323 £994 €1168 A$1866 C$1760 NZ$1930 Full pricing info
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Leopard in tree Get more than Kruger Park on this diverse wildlife safari while staying at private lodges - experience Balule, Tshukudu and Motlala Game Reserves on game drives and bush walks.

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

6 Day Kruger & Private Reserves Camping Safari

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Camping Safaris
Priced from pps R10895 $755 £567 €666 A$1065 C$1004 NZ$1101 Full pricing info
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Rhinos in Kruger A Kruger National Park & Private Big Five Game Reserves Safari in Greater Kruger. Experience Africa's bush and wildlife on game drives in Kruger Park & explore Private Game Parks on this camping safari getaway!

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

6 Day Kruger Park Treehouse & Private Game Lodge Safari

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R12295 $852 £640 €752 A$1201 C$1133 NZ$1243 Full pricing info
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Eagle An awesome Big Five Safari to Kruger Park and Private Game Reserves in Greater Kruger Park. Includes unique and comfortable treehouse accommodation and overnight at a private game lodge. A superb 6-day wildlife and bush experience!

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages

Kruger & Sabi Sands Tented Camp Package - 6 Day

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R21945 $1521 £1142 €1342 A$2144 C$2023 NZ$2218 Full pricing info
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Sabi hippo yawning Budget Kruger Park & Sabi Sands Exclusive Camping Safari. Unique luxury Tented Camp bordering Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Game drives and bush walk in Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Explore Big 5 Kruger Park, South Africa..

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6 Day Kruger Private River Lodge Safari

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R22350 $1549 £1164 €1367 A$2184 C$2060 NZ$2259 Full pricing info
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Lodge sighting Stay in comfortable, riverside chalets at a Private River Lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park area, game viewing in the famous Kruger Park and Private Game Reserves.

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6 Day Kruger Park Bungalow Safari

Duration 06 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R19420 $1346 £1011 €1188 A$1898 C$1790 NZ$1963 Full pricing info
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Impalas An unforgettable 6-day budget Kruger Park Bungalow Safari staying inside Kruger Park at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp. Encounter Kruger Park's Big Five and other African wildlife on thrilling game drives in open safari vehicles.

Trip Style Kruger Park Budget Safari Packages