The Kruger National Park is the best place in the world.
There is honestly no place like the Kruger National Park. We visit every year without fail and each year is always better than the previous. We see more spectacular sightings, we make more magical memories and we fall more in love with the best place on earth.
I am going to share with you some simple tips for visiting and self driving the Kruger National Park that we have gathered over time. Surely visiting every year for the past 10 years warrants some amazing tips! These tips are aimed at any one visiting the park be it for the first time or if you’re a regular like us.
TIPS FOR VISITING KRUGER …
Make sure you are excited!
The excitement is real! As soon as you drive through a main gate and into the park you don’t know what animal will welcome you. This is our favourite part because it is just so exciting! As we drive in we all start guessing what will appear first from the bush or is waiting for us on the road. Be it in an elephant or even a lion. We’ve once driven in and not even a kilometre of driving we saw cheetah. So this is why you have to make sure you are extra excited!
Be prepared to sit for hours in the car
You are going to be driving for hours at a time so be prepared to sit for hours in the car. You’ll wake up to be the first out the gate in the morning as this is the best time for sightings, then you’ll drive and drive and drive. I do recommend going back to your camp for a midday nap and lunch because firstly, the animals are normally less active at this time, and secondly, to freshen up before your afternoon drive.
Wear comfortable clothes
Tracksuits, leggings and hoodies are your best choices. It is not a fashion show in the Park and because you’re mostly in your car, no one will see you wearing tracksuit pants that you also wear as pyjamas. Don’t even think about taking high heels, a dress or anything uncomfortable. I don’t even wear jeans for that matter.
Take weather appropriate clothes
I know this is an obvious one but I have to still mention it. Summer in Kruger is not your normal South African summer – it gets HOT! Scorching hot. 42 degrees hot! So if you’re going in summer, take the lightest clothing you have. A light t-shirt and shorts. Even a few swimming costumes. And come winter, take a thick jacket. The early mornings and late evenings can get rather icy.
Keep snacks and refreshments in your car
Because you will be driving for hours at a time, you will get peckish along the way. There aren’t shops on every corner, as they are a number of kilometres away from each other. So you need to make sure you have everything you need in the car. We keep a cooler bag in the car and we fill it with sandwiches, fresh fruit and yoghurt. We try snack on the healthier options because sitting in a car all day can make you feel quite sluggish and junk food will only make that feeling worse.
Keep your eyes on the road
When driving through the park you have to look left then right and in the bushes and up the trees but don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road. We have had a few encounters where we’ve had to slam on brakes because there was something in the road. And by something I don’t mean something big. I’m talking about a chameleon, a snake and even a tortoise. These little creatures make it so much more exciting!
Look up in the trees
Because we are so focused on looking in the bushes we forget to look up in the trees for the elusive leopard. I have a very funny story that goes with this tip. We went to the Kruger Park one year with friends so there were six of us in the vehicle. We were driving from Olifants all the way down to Satara and that road can be quite boring as it is quite a long stretch. So after some time went by where we didn’t see a thing, we started getting quite bored. Then someone in the car said “guys don’t forget to look up in the trees”. I kid you not, as we looked up into the tree there was a mother and baby leopard. It was by chance he said that and luck was definitely on our side. We had this sighting all to ourselves and watched the baby leopard jump from tree to tree playing.
Carry your binocular and camera with you at all times
You never know what will pop out from the bush so you have to be ready at any given time. We were once driving and after not seeing anything for a while as we turned the corner there were two leopards sitting on the side of the road. We approached as slowly as we could so they wouldn’t run off. But as we got there they got up and walked off. I still managed to take a perfect photo, because thankfully my camera was on my lap. I don’t know if its about luck or being at the right place at the right time.
You can go for hours without seeing anything
Now this is no ones fault, not the drivers nor the passengers, but hours can go by and you won’t see a thing! It is all about being in the right place at the right time. You just have to be patient, relax and enjoy the peace of the bush. But don’t get despondent though. Keep your eyes peeled at all times because you never know what can appear!
Make sure you go on a night drive
Night drives are the best because this is when all the nocturnal animals come out. Lions also prefer hunting at night! So make sure to go on at least one night drive while you are in the Kruger Park. Luck may be on your side and you will see everything or you won’t but that is the bush for you. My favourite thing to see on a night drive is the hippo’s out of the water grazing. You only ever see them in the water or on the river bank in the day so it is a real treat to see them out the water at night.
Even if you don’t see much on the night drive, just that feeling of driving in the bush under the clean African night sky is breathtakingly beautiful and magical!
Watch the sunrise and sunset
There is so sunrise like an African sunrise nor is there a sunset like an African sunset. Watching the sunrise and the sunset in the Kruger Park is definitely one of my absolute favourite things! Make sure, wherever you are, you stop and savour these moments. I promise you it will be worth it! I mean look at this …
Have you visited the Kruger Park before?