The Kruger National Park in South Africa is well known to be one of the best places in the world to visit for safari goers. Its incredible size can offer weeks of exploration, its incredible views can offer moments of immense awe and its incredible wildlife can offer thousands upon thousands of beautiful photographs. There is however, far more to this region than just the national park.
Enter the Greater Kruger National Park! An inspiring connection between national park and privately owned properties where conservation and passion rule the day. A lot of people seem to struggle in understanding exactly what is Kruger and what is Greater Kruger, so let me begin by explaining this. The Kruger National Park is exactly that, a national park. It is managed by SANParks and is a parastatal and it is public. Here, you can drive around in your own car, making use of the well-maintained road network and viewpoints and at the end of the day you find rest and relaxation at the many rest camps and camp sites. The Kruger is for those that have time. Time to enjoy the view, smell the roses and all those cliché things. The Kruger measures over 300km from north to south, around 65km from west to east and is about 19500 square kilometers. In short it is incredible.
The Greater Kruger is a broad name that encompasses all the private properties that sit adjacent to the national park. Reserves like Sabi Sands, Mala Mala, Timbavati, Klaserie and Balule to name a few. This region is found on the western boundary with the national park and adds an extra 350 000 hectares or so to the system. It is within these reserves that we find some of the best game viewing in the world as well as some of the best lodging in the world.
The magic of these areas is that they are private, this leads to them being incredibly exclusive. Allowing travelers, the chance to see big game up close and personal without the traffic that can sometimes pile up within national parks all over Africa. These are areas where ethics rule the day when it comes to sightings and while off roading is very much allowed in most places, it is held to a strict set of rules and conditions. In the Greater Kruger it is only in very special situations that you might encounter more than three vehicles at a sighting at any given time, with the usual limit being capped at just two. This leads to some very personal time spent with some of Africa’s most impressive fauna. And at the end of the day, you get to return to a comfortable lodge where just about all your needs are seen to, all your meals are cooked and all your drinks are served cold.
Now some of these lodges are incredibly elaborate, where every luxury has been thought of, where the wine cellars are as big as an apartment, where the architecture has been mulled over for years before implementation and where some of the best food in the world can be found. The exclusivity coupled with the luxury can lead to some fairly high prices, of course these experiences are often worth every penny though. However, there really is a lodge to suit every budget of safari goer, from authentic and warm yet basic camps to mid-level air-conditioned offerings and even tented camps where the sounds of Africa sing you to sleep every single night.
It really doesn’t matter what price you pay, you can rest assured that just about everyone of these places offers two safari drives a day, all meals and probably some or all drinks, let’s not forget about the opportunity to go on bush walks or full trails out in the wilderness either! They also come with the expertise of local guides and trackers and make no mistake; in South Africa you will encounter some of the most experienced and knowledgeable guides and trackers throughout all of Africa.
Throughout your Greater Kruger safari you will encounter little sprinklings of magic that aren’t always of the wildlife kind. Think a long the lines of stopping to enjoy a cold gin and tonic after a hot afternoon, overlooking a watering hold as the elephants come down to drink. Or how about a sudden surprise bush breakfast out in the wilderness. Chats around the bar before dinner often lead to lifelong relationships being formed before heading through for a traditional boma dinner. Private dinners for you and your loved ones can happen at any time and even without request. Sharing a coffee with your vehicle buddies in a dry riverbed on your morning safari can happen as quickly as your guide can set up the table that’s built into your safari vehicles bulbar.
There really are only things to love about this experience. So, when you book your safari to South Africa and to the Greater Kruger get ready for some seriously warm hospitality, some incredible wildlife viewing and the chance to interact with some of the people that live this life day in and day out from all walks of life in South Africa.
Stay tuned for new scheduled safaris to the Greater Kruger in future and please feel free to contact us should you want to experience this for yourself.
Until next time, happy snapping!