The Kruger National Park. Hyena


The Kruger National Park is situated in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces of South Africa. It is truly the flagship national park of South Africa. Its sheer size, more than 2 million hectares, plus its unrivalled diversity of game and ecozones, from open savanna to bushveld to sandveld, make it a sought-after destination for South Africans and overseas visitors alike.


The Kruger National Park was established in 1898 through the efforts of Paul Kruger, president of the Transvaal, who was concerned about the dwindling game in the Lowveld area, mostly due to poaching. It was called the Sabie Game Reserve at the time. In July 1902 James Stevenson Hamilton was appointed the first official game warden.  He had been successful in eliminating poaching in the area. His nickname was Skukuza, which means he who sweeps clean. Skukuza is the name of the largest camp in the park. In May 1926, Parliament passed an act and the Sabie Game Reserve and a neighbouring reserve called Shingwedzi Game Reserve became known as the Kruger National Park after Kruger. The following year, the Kruger National Park was open to the public.


The Kruger National Park has accommodation to suit all kinds of budgets. There are exclusive private lodges, which are fully catered and provide guided game drives. There are 12 rest camps offering accommodation for couples and families, and they have campsites as well. They have shops, restaurants and swimming pools. The rest camps also provide guided walks and game drives at extra cost. There are five bushveld camps, which offer a quieter game experience as they only have a reception. There are no shops or restaurants. They are a personal favourite of mine. There are also satellite camps in the bush from where guided walks are conducted. You can spend a couple of days in the camps experiencing the bush first hand, absorbing the sights and smells of it. The guide takes one out on early morning and late afternoon bush walks. There are also two sleepover hides, Shipandani and Sable Dam hide, which overlook waterholes. One can stay up all night photographing the animals that come to drink.


The Kruger National Park has a huge diversity of game, and one can expect to see the big five of the animal kingdom.  There are numerous antelope too. According to the Kruger National Park website, there are 147 mammal species, 49 fish species, 507 bird species and 114 reptile species. There are also so many different ecozones, so there are many different trees too, including the iconic baobab, found mostly in the north of the park, and the beautiful jackalberry trees found along the banks of the Shingwedzi River. There are also smaller critters to enjoy too, like the feisty honey badger, the cute tree squirrels and the water and rock monitors.

In conclusion, the Kruger National Park has something for everyone, from animal lovers to bird enthusiasts, to botanists. There are even archaeological sites and bushman paintings too. The best time to visit is in the drier months from April to October as animals gather at the watering holes. Summers can be wet, humid and extremely hot, plus there is the malaria risk. Whichever time you decide to visit, take time to take in the sights, the smells, the sounds and the wonderment of it all.

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