The Kruger National Park, a name instantly recognised by anyone vaguely familiar with South Africa. Established in 1926, it is one of South Africa’s premier game reserves as well as one of its largest. The park, not too surprisingly, is home to an enormous diversity of plants and animals – 507 bird species, 336 tree species, 147 mammal species (to name a few) – which in turn draw throngs of visitors every year.
If you are planning a visit to the Kruger Park, staying within the park is ideal, but the options can be overwhelming. Here we give you an introduction to help you along with your planning.
The Vegetation Regions – North vs South
The park itself is a long narrow tract of land in the north eastern corner of South Africa. It is in fact a trans-frontier park which stretches into Zimbabwe to the north and Mozambique to the east. Owing to its size, the park encompasses a variety of biomes which in turn affect the wildlife populations and number of tourists coming to see them.
As with anywhere in the world, the types of vegetation found in different parts of the park are largely determined by the soil quality and rainfall. Generally speaking, the southern section of the park is the most fertile – the nutritious soil and sufficient rainfall support the sweet grasslands favoured by grazers. This leads to a concentration of buck and other prey species, and where there are prey species, there are predators!
In the northern section of the park (north of the Olifants River, which divides the park in roughly equal parts), the geography changes, becoming more rocky. The vegetation, as a result, is characterised by small shrubs and mopane trees. This means that wildlife is less concentrated – which is not to say absent – but the scenery is arresting.
The Pros and Cons and How to Decide
So, perhaps it goes without saying that a trip to Kruger where the aim is to see as many animals as possible warrants that you spend the majority of your time in the South. However, the more isolated sense one gets from the northern region allows you to feel like you have vast wilderness areas to yourself and the lack of wildlife ‘celebrities’ means you start noticing the smaller, but just as fascinating inhabitants.
The Kruger Park has 12 rest camps within its borders as well as a number of privately-run safari camps. The 12 SAN Parks camps have an array of Kruger Park accommodation types from camping options to family suites. Overall the accommodation is quite basic and facilities like a restaurant or swimming pool vary from camp to camp.
For more details about Kruger Park accommodation, check out this post.