It is not surprising that the Kruger is South Africa’s prime tourist destination. It is larger than the state of Israel and offers a rare glimpse into what Africa used to be. It is one of the world’s fourteen most important national parks and is regarded as a model for conservation and as a natural laboratory.
The park is named in honour of President Paul Kruger, former president of the Transvaal Republic. An avid hunter himself, Kruger was a remarkable man with exceptional vision. He was the first politician to recognise the need for conservation in Africa and in 1889 he proposed the establishment of the first two areas for game preservation. The Pongola Reserve was the first to be proclaimed in 1894. In 1898 the Sabie Game Reserve was proclaimed with a notice in the government gazette. In 1926 the Kruger National Park was created and included the Sabie Game Reserve. More land was added in the years to follow.
The park is about 20 000 km2, almost 400 km long and on average about 60km wide making it one of the ten largest wildlife reserves in the world. It encompasses more than thirty different botanical areas, with the vegetation of each influenced by a wide variety of soil types and topographical features, and providing a home for 520 bird, 114 reptile and 146 mammal species.
We know the park quite well and know where the best game viewing areas are and which camps to book. A privately guided safari has the additional advantage that the visitor has a guide at his disposal that understands the ecosystems and can explain the inter-relationships of soil, vegetation, herbivores and predators.
There are more than 3000 kilometres of game viewing roads from which the park can be explored. Some of the game drive routes are regarded by many as the most rewarding in Africa, offering the opportunity for close encounters with an impressive variety of wildlife. The camps have a range of accommodation options with modern facilities, including electricity and air conditioning, ensuring the safari of a lifetime is also comfortable.
West of the Kruger the great Drakensberg escarpment rises abruptly from the Lowveld, offering incredible views across the endless rolling bush country to the east. The famous Panorama Route runs along the most spectacular section of the escarpment. It is a world of phenomenal mountain scenery, waterfalls, forests and the awesome Blyde River Canyon. It is almost a sin to drive down to the Kruger and not spend a day or two exploring the escarpment.