The Kruger National Park has long been one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in South Africa with close to a million visitors a year. And with something for everyone, from luxury lodges, well-appointed camps, excellent restaurants, well-laid out campsites and superb game viewing, it’s easy to understand why.
So whether you want a relaxing holiday in beautiful surroundings or an exciting wildlife safari, the Kruger National Park is sure to deliver! And there are lots of other activities to enjoy in the Kruger as well! Here are nine of the best for you to consider:
#1: Game drives
Game drives are the time-honoured way to see animals and experience their amazing natural environment without tiring your feet! You to learn about the Park’s diverse fauna and flora from an experienced, knowledgeable game ranger. You get incredibly close to the magnificent Big Five and a myriad of other creatures as your guide shares fascinating insights with you. Game drives take place in the morning, latish afternoon (to include those stunning African sunsets!) and on occasion at night as well. Children under six are generally not allowed on game drives.
#2: Mountain biking
If mountain biking is your passion, you can even do that in the Kruger! The trails all start from Olifants Camp where bikes, backpacks, water bottles, compulsory helmets and snacks are provided. Nobody under the age of 12 will be accepted, and if you use your own bike, you’ll need to provide proof that it was recently serviced. The trails are led by trained and experienced guides who’ll also point out interesting aspects of nature and the wildlife during the ride.
There are currently three trails available:
● Hardekool Draai Trail, which is the recommended trail for beginners
● Olifants and the Letaba River Confluence Trail, which is a taxing trail only for experienced riders.
● Klipkoppies/Mozambique Border, the longest trail (22km), should only be tackled by fit, experienced riders.
Bookings must be made through Central Reservations in Pretoria. Your departure times must be confirmed with reception at Olifants Camp.
#3: Eco Trails
The eco trails in the Kruger National Park are dubbed ‘wilderness experiences on wheels’ that enable 4X4 owners to experience the outstanding scenery and wildlife in the Kruger’s diverse biomes. The trails are led by experienced trail leaders. They are self-catering, and quests have to carry all their food, supplies and equipment.
The Lebombo Eco-Trail is a 5-day/4-night outdoor adventure that goes from the south of the Park to the far north along the stunning Lebombo hills. Only five vehicles and a maximum of
four occupants per vehicle are permitted. The Malopeni Overnight Eco-Trail is a guided one-night trail which travels from Phalaborwa Gate up to the Letaba River and back to Phalaborwa the next day. The Mafunyane Eco-Trail is a 4-day/3-night trail in the north-western Kruger between the Olifants and Luvuvhu Rivers. The shorter and unguided Mananga Eco-Trail is a circular trail that starts and ends at Satara. A maximum of six vehicles is allowed per day.
The Kruger is a bird-watchers paradise! More than 500 species have been recorded. Hornbills, starlings, gorgeous lilac-breasted rollers, bee-eaters, doves, weavers, sparrows, pigeons, shrikes and oxpeckers proliferate, to mention but a very few. Eagles and other raptors are common. The Kruger is also home to the ‘Big Six’ of the South African bird-world. The Park’s many water points offer excellent birding spots, as do the rest camps and picnic sites.
#5: Guided walks
At several of the Kruger’s camps daily early morning and afternoon guided walks are available. Experienced and armed guides will typically lead groups of about eight visitors out into the surrounding wilderness area to explore the bush. It is a unique sensory adventure to experience the Park’s diverse and fascinating plant and animal life this way. You may get very close to the Kruger’s magnificent elephants! Children younger than 12 aren’t allowed on these guided walks.
Golf your game? For that ultimate ‘close-to-nature’ golfing experience, Skukuza Rest Camp is the place for you! The unique 9-hole golf course is unfenced, so golfers might have some unexpected spectators – impalas, warthogs, baboons and even hippo have been known to wander in. Skukuza is situated in an area of the Park known for an enormous variety of wildlife, including a great many bird species and the famous Big Five.
Visitors should book in advance to avoid disappointment. The course has a bar, and light refreshments are on offer.
#7: Wilderness trails
If you are reasonably fit, love walking and are of an adventurous bent, you will revel in doing a guided wilderness trail in the Kruger. You’ll explore an authentic wilderness area on foot with an experienced trail ranger, and stay in rustic camps with basic huts or tents. So no luxury, but, oh, so much more – the tranquillity and soul-restoring peace of a remote wilderness without vehicles and people.
You’ll be able to touch, smell, hear, feel, and even taste, the minute details of the African bush. You’ll experience the magnificent wildlife in an up-close and very personal way. The seven trails to choose from are Berg-en-Dal, Crocodile Bridge, Letaba, Lower Sabie, Mopani, Olifants, Orpen and Pretoriuskop. Problem is, this immersive wilderness experience may well make you reluctant to return to everyday life!
#8: 4×4 trails
You really must try this thrilling new activity while you’re on your safari in the Kruger National Park as it enables you to explore less accessible areas of the Park that visitors don’t normally see. But, these 4X4 trails are self-drive, so you undertake this adventurous activity at your own risk, and you’ll be required to provide your own GPS. You must be extremely
careful during these 4X4 excursions, particularly if you leave your vehicle. Wild creatures really are all around you!
#9: Backpacking trails
For a true backpacking adventure, providing a unique wildlife experience, there are three primitive backpacking trails currently on offer in the Kruger. These are the Lonely Bull Trail, setting off from Mopani Rest Camp, the Olifants Trail from Olifants Camp, and Mphongolo starting at Shingwedzi Camp. You’ll need to bring a tent, a cooking stove, and all your supplies for the four days/three nights excursions. You’ll do all your own cooking, and set up your own tent. You’ll need to be pretty fit to manage these trails whilst carrying a heavy backpack!
The trails are all led by two armed and experienced trail rangers. A strict ‘no trace camping’ ethic pertains – if you take it in, you also have to take it out. Biodegradable soaps and detergents are required. Fires are made each night for the lovely atmosphere and safety, but not for cooking. The rangers carry a first-aid kit, but hikers are responsible for their own medicines and water purification tablets.
Iconic Kruger is a wildlife destination bar none! Many people see visiting it as a spiritual pilgrimage to recharge their batteries and restore their souls. But it is also a fantastic holiday destination with lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy, of which the ones listed above are just some.
But if you just want to relax and let the ancient rhythms and cycles of the African bush and its wildlife quieten your mind and let your spirit breathe more easily, that’s absolutely fine, too! Kruger is there no matter what.