Planning a Trip to the Kruger National Park

In this post we cover all of the most asked questions when planning a visit to the Kruger National Park.

When is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park?

There is never a wrong time to visit Kruger but there are different things to expect in each season.
Winter – Dry Season
Winter is considered the better season to go for a couple of reasons, it is our favorite time to visit the park because the park is very dry, the grass is low and dry making it easier to spot animals.
The weather is also very nice and it’s not very sunny making your photos look much better because the clouds act as a soft box. It is cold in the early morning and late at night but it is warm during the day.
Summer – Wet Season
It is a harder to spot animals when the landscape is so lush and full. During the wet season you have a better chance of spotting newborns, you might also spot animals at the now fuller waterholes.
The weather will be much hotter with temperatures reaching 40 on some days.
Planning a Trip to the Kruger National Park
Source – Kruger National Park Guide

How many days should you spend at Kruger?

We recommend at least 5 days if you are self- driving. This should give you enough time to spot the big 5 on more than one occasion, you want enough time to really explore and give yourself a chance to see as many animals as possible.

How to get to Kruger?

There are a couple of different options when it comes to getting to the park. They range from cheap to very expensive.
Cheapest: Fly into Johannesburg (JNB) and rent a car. The drive from the airport to the southern part of Kruger takes around 4 hours. Plan to leave JHB early in the morning so you arrive at Kruger before gate closing times (keep gate times in mind)
More Convenient: You can fly into a big airport like Cape Town or Johannesburg and then take a smaller plane to a regional airport closer to Kruger like Nelspruit or Hendrik Van Eck. Rent a car from there
Most Expensive: From any major airport in Africa you can charter a private plane to take you to one of the private airstrips, like Skukuza Airport, near Kruger.

Which area of Kruger should you visit?

Kruger is huge, if you are there for only a couple of days don’t expect to see the whole park. Plan your trip around one region of the park.
Because Kruger is so big different regions of Kruger will be vastly different from each other. That doesn’t only mean landscape, but plant and wildlife as well.
Southern part of the Kruger
If you are planning to stay in the Kruger only for a couple of days we recommend staying in the southern region of the park, you will have a bigger chance of spotting the big 5 because there is more roads and it is busier compared to the northern section.
Northern part of the Kruger
We suggest staying in the north part of the park if you are visiting for a long period only because it can be harder to spot the big 5 because the road tend to be quieter, if you are a birder we recommend staying in the north.

Kruger Park entrance times

Here is a full list of entrance times for each gate and camp to Kruger.
Planning a Trip to the Kruger National Park
Source – SANParks
Be aware that the guards take the gate opening and closing time very seriously.
They won’t open the gates earlier than they are supposed to and while they won’t lock you inside the park overnight if you get to a gate late you will be fined.

Kruger Park entrance fees

There are two different ways to pay for entrance to Kruger National Park, you can choose to pay per day or you can buy a wild card.
There are different rates for South African citizens and for foreigners. We have listed the prices below.
Planning a Trip to the Kruger National Park
Source – SANParks
A wild card does work out more expensive once off, but after the once off payment you will not have too pay conservation fees for a whole year and still have access to over 21 South African national parks.
The fees for a wildcard work out as follows:
  • R540 per individual
  • R880 per couple
  • R1055 per family (up to 7 people)

What to expect while driving inside Kruger

Driving inside of Kruger park is relatively easy. The main road running through the park is tarred. Sprouting off the main road are various smaller, well-maintained gravel roads.
The main tarred road has a speed limit of 50km/h and the dirt roads a speed limit of 40km/h. We recommend driving at 20km/h for your best chance to spot animals.

What do I need to bring to the Kruger?

You can read our detailed packing list here.
Once you are inside the park there are shops for everything you could need or you might have forgotten.
  • Petrol: There are petrol stations available at every rest camps.
  • Food: You can find food/snacks and drinks to buy at the park shops.
  • ATM/Banks: These are only found at the larger rest camps
  • Picnic sites: There are a couple of picnic sites around the park that you can stop to eat your already prepared meal, while others like Tshokwane and Afsaal also have restaurant available.
  • Restaurants: There are pretty nice restaurants in many of the camps that offer sit down or takeaway meals.

Best car for driving through Kruger

You don’t really need a 4×4 to drive through the park. So you would be able to rent a small car.
Just be careful with those cars on gravel roads like the S100 or the S21 where the roads are corregated.

Where to stay in or around Kruger

While visiting Kruger National Park you have three different types of accommodation to choose from:
  1. Rest camps inside the park ran by Sanparks
  2. Private, and expensive, lodges inside the park
  3. Hotels near the gates or outside the park
The first two let you have the unique experience of sleeping in Kruger park.
You can read our top 5 camps in the Kruger National Park here.
Hope you enjoyed this post and picked up a few tips to make your planning to the Kruger easier.

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