The Kruger National Park was established by its namesake, Paul Kruger, the South African President of the day in 1898. It is one of the largest nature conservation areas in the world. Not only is it home to the Big 5 but it is found in two of our provinces, Mupumulanga and Limpopo. The park also borders two countries, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park was proclaimed on the 9 December 2002, this 35,000km2 peace park links some of the best and most established wildlife areas in Southern Africa.

Crocodile River at the Kruger Park

I set out for a self – drive day trip, eager to see how many animals I would encounter. A day trip to the Kruger Park is ideal for the entire family, children are always eager to see the animals up close in their natural habitat.

After driving for some time I decided to stretch my legs on the giant rock at Mathekenyane Lookout on my way to Skukuza camp, I realised with deep appreciation for our country that we often overlook the dramatic landscapes that are on our doorstep. From my vantage point, no matter where I looked there was untamed natural wilderness. Time seems to stand still as one acquires a deep sense of connection to the nature surrounding us, I felt both excited and calm.

The three founders of the National Park where President Paul Kruger who through his farsighted statesmanship was largely instrumental in fostering an awareness of nature conservation in the old Boer Republic, Piet Grobler – Minister of Lands, who piloted the National Parks bill through Parliament on 31 May 1926. This simultaneously led to the proclamation of the Kruger National Park and Lt Col. James Stevenson Hamilton who became warden of the Sabie Reserve on 1 July 1902. He remained warden of the Kruger Park until his retirement on 30 April 1946.

Kruger Park founders

The Kruger Park opened its gates to the public in 1927 for the hefty price of 1 Pound per vehicle. The long park has nine entrances that generally open at 5h30 during the summer months and close at 18h30. Skukuza airport that is found inside the park not only operates for charted flights but also daily scheduled flights from JHB, CT and Durban.

Skukuza camp at Kruger Park

There is always the big question : When is it best to visit the Kruger Park ? In my opinion it has always been in the winter months, June to August. I visited now at the end of June as a day visitor, due to COVID regulations no camping or staying over is allowed. The dry bush and dwindling water holes make it easy to spot the wildlife, the animals have become braver due to the lack of tourists and herds of elephants, rhino, buck, zebra and giraffes are easy to spot along the road. A day spent traveling around ends with the African sunset, the perfect canvas silhouetting the wildlife going home after a memorable day in the Park.

Giraffe at the Kruger Park

I was ecstatic to see not one, but two herds of rhino, the Park’s anti-poaching unit consists of 650 specially trained anti-poaching game rangers who are assisted by the South African Police and the SANDF. The majority of the poachers enter from the Mozambique side, with the aid of a specialist dog unit, drones and two Gazelle helicopters the unthinkable task of ending poaching is making progress together with education in local communities.

Rhino at The Kruger Park

Sanparks announced on 6 June 2020 that self- drive excursions for day visitors would be permitted from 8 June 2020 in all parks country wide that cater for self-drives. Guests are asked wear masks, maintain social distance, follow transport capacity directives and dispose of rubbish in the brown paper bag issued on arrival. Provincial border crossing is not permitted without a travel permit.

Crocodile at Kruger Park

The crown jewel of Southern Africa this unspoiled African bushveld made me realise why my roots are deep in Africa. It’s an experience that connects you with the wild side and can only be fully understood once you have breathed the African wilderness and witnessed the charismatic animals up close , wandering freely in their homeland.

Ground Hornbill at Kruger Park