There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of boarding a safari vehicle and setting out in the African pre-dawn to search for the Big Five: lions, elephants, leopards, African buffalo, and rhinos. One of the best places to do that is at the 7,563-square-mile Kruger National Park in South Africa.
For travelers Jillian and Sarah, the game drive was what they anticipated most. “We were like kids the night before Christmas—and we were wide awake well before our 4am wake-up call,” they said. “When our group gathered in the open-air hotel lobby for coffee, tea, and biscuits, you could sense the anticipation in the air.” Along with that excitement, here are seven great reasons to look forward to a Kruger National Park safari on our tours of South Africa.
Why you’ll have an unparalleled safari experience at Kruger
1. It’s one of the best places in the world to see the Big Five
“The game drive at Kruger National Park blew my mind,” said traveler Alexander, who traveled on our South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park tour. “I didn’t expect to get so close to such big animals! The lions, elephants, giraffes, and monkeys were just a few of my favorites.” Get your camera ready as you head out on a full day of game drives searching for the Big Five.
For all the thrills you’ll experience on safari, there’s no adrenaline rush quite like encountering these magnificent animals in the wild. “Seeing the animals in their natural habitat was amazing,” said traveler Christine about her South Africa tour. “It takes your breath away when a bull elephant suddenly appears beside your vehicle!” said traveler Mary about her trip to Kruger National Park. And the Big Five are just a handful of the Kruger National Park animals you’ll encounter there. The park boasts over 145 mammal species, 500 bird species, and more reptiles and amphibians than you can count.
2. Spectacular scenery awaits, along with amazing sunrises and sunsets
Where is Kruger National Park located in South Africa? It’s in the northeast, bordering Zimbabwe to the north and Mozambique to the east. The location of this magnificent park really showcases the breathtaking landscapes and scenic vistas of South Africa. From sweeping grasslands and dense forests to meandering rivers and rocky outcrops, the park offers stunning backdrops for wildlife viewing and photography. The sunrises and sunsets in the park are awe-inspiring, adding to the overall beauty of the experience.
As the night sky begins to give way to the first light of dawn, the atmosphere is filled with anticipation. When the sun starts to peek over the horizon, the eastern sky welcomes a new day in a palette of warm colors. And as the day draws to a close, the sky transforms into a breathtaking canvas, ablaze with vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple. “It is one of the most beautiful places I have visited,” said traveler Marguerite, who visited Kruger National Park on our South Africa: Cultural Cities & Wildlife Safaris tour.
3. With over 500 bird species, this is a birdwatching paradise
You don’t need to be a bird enthusiast to get excited about the fantastic variety of raptors, waterbirds, and colorful songbirds in Kruger National Park’s vast range of habitats. Rare species, such as the African fish eagle, lappet-faced vulture, and lilac-breasted roller, number among the astonishing variety of birds showcased here.
Wondering when to visit Kruger National Park for the best bird viewing? Thousands of migratory birds make their way to the park from as far away as Europe and Asia between September and April, creating an unrivaled birding spectacle. Whether you’re an avid birder or a casual nature lover, Kruger National Park in South Africa offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of birdlife in a breathtaking African setting. Best of all on our tours, you don’t need to wonder where to go in Kruger National Park to see the birds and animals. Our guides are with you each step of the way to get you to the best viewing spots.
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4. The rich diversity of plants sustains the park’s wildlife
You may come in search of wildlife, but you’ll leave awed by the flora, too. The immense baobab tree, striking impala lily, bird-filled fever tree, and thorny sicklebush are just a few of over 2,000 recorded species in the park’s vast acreage. All of the plants play a critical role in supporting the famous wildlife of the park.
Herbivores, including elephants, giraffes, zebras, and antelope, feed on the vegetation, which also provides food and shelter for birds, reptiles, and insects. The savannah, woodland, and riverine forests you’ll travel through on safari make the wide range of plant life possible. “Truly magical experience,” said traveler Jamie about our South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park tour. “This Go Ahead tour will stay with me for life. Sights and sounds like never before.”
5. Tourism helps deter poaching and supports the park’s conservation efforts
Going on a Kruger National Park safari is about more than just seeing exotic animals and awe-inspiring landscapes. By engaging in responsible wildlife experiences, supporting local communities, and contributing to the park’s financial resources, travelers on our tours to Kruger National Park in South Africa play a role in its conservation efforts.
Your participation and awareness help ensure the long-term preservation of the park’s ecosystems, wildlife, and cultural heritage for future generations. The increased vigilance and surveillance associated with tourism also helps protect wildlife from poachers and contributes to the overall security and well-being of the park’s animal populations.
6. Lodging with spectacular views and wildlife, too
“We had unforgettable moments at meals and excursions, including watching the sunrise on the safari and a picnic in Kruger National Park,” said traveler Carissa of our South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park tour. “And surprises we called ‘only in Africa,’ such as hippos at our resort!” When you travel on safari with Go Ahead Tours, you’ll enjoy unique, handpicked accommodations with an authentic savanna ambiance. These one-of-kind lodges on the outskirts of Kruger National Park in South Africa allow you to immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty and wildlife experiences.
Hotels that we commonly stay at on our South Africa tours, like Hippo Hollow Country Estate, are nestled amongst lush indigenous gardens and are home to a resident hippo population that grazes on the grounds. The rooms at the peaceful Sabi River Sun Resort look out over lush, wildlife-filled gardens. Antelope, monkeys, and mongooses are known to stop by both resorts.
7. Come home with a deeper understanding of South Africa’s history and culture
As one of the oldest national parks on the continent, Kruger National Park in Africa holds significant cultural and historical importance. It is an indispensable hub for ecotourism and environmental education. The land that now makes up the park has a long history of habitation by indigenous communities with deep connections to the land. Inside the park, you can explore archaeological sites, ancient rock art, and cultural heritage sites highlighting the region’s rich history.
“Not only was this a bucket list dream, but also an eye-opening experience into life in that part of the world,” said traveler Elizabeth, who joined us on our South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park tour. “That is what I love about Go Ahead. You come back from each trip with amazing memories, and more importantly, a better understanding of the world, its people, and cultures.”