Those who are fond of wildlife must know about this beautiful place that we call Kruger National Park. This enormous Park is one of the most popular public-entry game parks in the world. It has not only preserved species of different animals, but it has also increased the human interaction with wildlife. Due to places like this, our children get to see the wild animals outside the books.
Its density of permanent game is unrivaled with hundreds of different species. The total land occupied by this Park is about 19,485 km2. This area is also designated as the biosphere reserve by UNESCO. And on a rough scale, it is the home for 507 birds, 336 trees, 147 mammals, 114 reptiles, 49 fish and 34 amphibians—no wonder this Park is famous all over the world for its diverse collection of species.
A signature of Kruger Park is that it has a group of animals, usually known as the big five. These animals include the lion, buffalo, leopards, rhino, and elephant. They became the ‘Big Five’ because they are the five most dangerous animals to hunt – when injured, they attack!
Sighting this group has become something of a quest for many people when on safari, and this majestic National Park has more than its fair share of these animals because this Park has approximately 1,800 lion, 9,125 elephants, 25,000 buffalo, an unknown number of leopards, and 2,300 black and white rhinos.
While sighting the big five can be considered as a lucky incident, it should certainly not be a pre-requisite of a safari to see these or even a priority. Since this Park has a lot of rare species, one should not spend all of his time over a small group of animals. Investing the whole trip on them is something to avoid, as there are plenty of other fascinating animals and birds in the African bush.
It is easy to say that all the animals are nearly similar. But those who have a keen interest in zoology understand the uniqueness of different species. With approximately 500 bird species, some of them unique to this area, there is enough on the ground and in the air to keep anybody’s binoculars busy. Once you start looking for them, there is no stop to it.
From small chirping birds to huge ones, you can appreciate a wide variety of Aves here. Some of the biggest and most impressive birds to be seen here are the ground hornbill, martial eagle, lappet-faced vulture, Kori bustard, and saddle-billed stork. Unless, of course, you have ornithophobia, these birds can truly elevate your mood.
Usually, we’ve seen all types of disgrace to wildlife. But luckily for this Park, neighboring countries have decided to put their differences aside in order to prosper. With greater ecological co-operation across African borders, several countries bordering South Africa have agreed to take down some fences, and those between Kruger and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou, have been demolished to create the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. This unique political innovation has created a large wilderness area extending 15,000 miles (24,000km).
While this change has increased the flow of visitors, it has also provided the animals to follow their natural pattern of translocation, as before the agreement of the Transfrontier Park in 2000, many species used to live in their unnatural habitat. But now, they can migrate as they like without the hindrance that was formerly created by political borders. Until now, many of the elephants have translocated from the oversaturated Kruger Park towards the great Limpopo. Even though this project has a long way to go, it is still a start towards a better future.
Along Kruger National Park’s western border are numerous small private game reserves, all containing safari lodges whose styles range from ethnic rustic to exquisite luxury, with a variety of chalets, cottages, suites and top-class tented accommodation sometimes on raised stilts. This wide range of living arrangements gives the visitors a chance to choose what kind of stay they want. Whether they enjoy a luxurious visit in a top-class chalet or stay in a more environmentally suited arrangement, they can decide on their priorities.
In total, there are twelve rest camps in the Park. These include both reserved and open ones. Each of them includes different services like the cafeteria, petrol stations, restaurants, and rest houses. The biggest rest camp, Skukuza, is also the headquarters of the entire Park. Due to a spread-out system, these camps provide easy access for visitors to emergency services like first aid or fuel pumps.
While it is easy to think that services can vary from package to package, the one thing they have in common is that your game drives are guided by a trained ranger. They work closely with a local tracker to find you the animals you want to see. All you have to do is sit back and be amazed! This service is especially beneficial for those who are not much familiar with wild animals. Even if you have minimal knowledge of the subject, the guide will help you in recognizing different species. You can tell your preferences and expectations beforehand so that they can tailor your visit accordingly.
Once you sign up for the trip, the tariffs are normally fully inclusive of all the services. Meaning, you just have to pay once, and all your expenses, including meals, game drives, walks, laundry, and sometimes wine and beer, will be covered in the given price.
To appreciate wildlife, you must plan your trip during the best seasons because these animals are free to live on their own. Hence, you need to compromise according to their habits. You cannot visit the safari anytime you want; in fact, you have to ensure that the weather of the park is optimum so that you can see as many species as you can.
Following mentioned are the seasons that are usually seen in the National Park. The importance of them on wildlife is also discussed below:
1. Rainy Season
The subtropical climate has hot, rainy summers starting in October and ending around March. This season brings out the most beautiful scenery. The summer rains transform the arid park into a lush flowering paradise. It washes everything and makes it spotless.
While this season is perfect to appreciate the beauty of the flora, the increased foliage does make animals harder to see. So, if the only goal of your visit is to see animals, then you may want to avoid this season.
2. Dry Season
The winter months from April to September are delightful with warm, dry days and cold nights. Traditionally, the best game viewing is in winter as the vegetation becomes sparse, and water is restricted to rivers and artificial waterholes. This creates the perfect environment for visitors to enjoy the view.
Not only you get the chance to spot animals easily, but you also get to enjoy pretty pleasant weather even if you are sitting around in your chalet.