Is the Kruger Park worth visiting?

is the kruger park worth visiting
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Emphatically yes! This is the place that I have spent the most hours photographing birds and wildlife. Spectacular scenery coupled with simply incredible photo opportunities make the Kruger Park one of the African Safari destinations I would most recommend you visit if you are a wildlife photographer.

How Big is the Kruger National Park?

The Kruger National Park in South Africa is almost 2 million hectares in size. This is an area of 7,500 square miles (19,500 square km), is about 200 miles (320 km) long and 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) wide.

This makes it the same size as Wales in the UK, the same size as Israel and just smaller than El Salvador.

In terms of the US states by comparison, the Kruger National Park is slightly smaller than South Dakota and slightly larger than Washington State.

Accommodation  options here include self drive with accommodation at any of the 24 park owned camps scattered throughout the park or guided drives from the comfort of one of the 15 private lodges to be found here. 


Where to stay in the Kruger Park

Park owned camps in the Kruger

Here is a list of 24 camps owned and managed by South African National Parks (SANParks) in the Kruger National Park grouped by region.

SANParks camps

Southern region

Central region

Northern region

Far north region


Lower Sabie

Berg en Dal


Crocodile Bridge














Punda Maria 






Luxury lodges in the Kruger

Here is a selection of privately owned and operated luxury lodges in the Kruger National Park.

Luxury lodges
Hamiltons, Kruger

How much does it cost to stay in the Kruger Park?

If you will be self driving it is likely that you have chosen to stay at the public camps and self cater. Accommodation in the national park camps ranges from USD 75 per night upwards depending on the season and size of the accommodation that you require. 

Private lodges start at about USD 300 per person per night all inclusive including two game drives per day. Some of these have their own concessions within the park where off road traversing is allowed under certain circumstances.

The Kruger Park and wildlife photography

is the kruger park worth visiting

When you visit the Kruger National park as a photographer you will be amazed at the diversity of wildlife to be found there.  

The Kruger Park is home to 150 mammal species, 115 reptile species, 50 snake species, 47 fish species and over 500 different species of birds.

Even if you are visiting on a brief self drive Safari you will get many incredible opportunities to capture images of wildlife if you drive slowly and keep your eyes open.

Here is a summary of wildlife photographers’ favourite subjects that you will find when visiting the Kruger National Park:

  • Lion

  • Leopard

  • Elephant

  • Rhino (both black and white)

  • Buffalo

  • Cheetah

  • Wild Dog (Painted Wolf)

  • Kudu

  • Roan Antelope

  • Martial Eagle

How do I get to the Kruger Park?

Fly in visitors to the Kruger National Park

Connect from OR Tambo International Airport to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport also referred to as KMI Airport. The flight from Johannesburg to KMI airport takes 45 minutes.

The closest Kruger Park gate to KMI Airport is Malelane, approximately 1 hour travelling on the N4 which is a good tarred road all the way. The N4 is the road to Mozambique and can become very busy during holiday periods.

Self drive visitors to the Kruger National Park

From Johannesburg to Malelane gate is approximately 4 1/2 hours via the N4. This is a toll road and international debit cards are not accepted. Make sure you have cash ready if you are an international visitor.

You do not need a 4×4 vehicle to visit the Kruger National Park as the roads are traversable in a normal sedan. Certain roads are closed during periods of heavy rain and flooding but these are closed to all vehicles when that happens so driving a 4×4 gives you no advantage in terms of access to roads. 

If you are renting a vehicle then I would recommend that you should choose a vehicle that gives you as much height as possible. This is so you can see more over the vegetation from a taller vehicle than you can say from a small hatchback sedan.

Is there Malaria in the Kruger National Park?

is there malaria in the kruger national park

Yes, the greater Kruger National Park area is a low risk malaria zone.

The highest risk period is between November and March, which are the summer and spring months in the southern hemisphere.

Malaria is mosquito borne disease caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. The common symptoms of malaria include:

Body aches
Stomach problems
Skin that looks yellow.

In severe cases symptoms may include:


The vast majority of mosquitos will not infect you with malaria as they do not carry the parasite. This means that being bitten does not automatically result in infection with malaria.

It is recommended that you avoid as far as is practical being bitten by mosquitos when visiting the Kruger Park. Although the risk of contracting malaria in the park is very low, it is of course wise to protect yourself as much as possible. Mosquitoes most often bite between dusk and dawn. 

You are advised to keep your skin covered during the hours just before dawn and around sunset by wearing a long sleeved shirt. If you are able to stay indoors at this time then do so. Remember to take insect repelling cream with you when you visit the Kruger Park and light citronella candles if you are sitting outside after dark.

Closing mosquito netting around your bed will also assist in keeping mosquitos at bay. The lodges in the park seldom have mosquito nets in good condition so it is recommended that you bring your own with you, particularly if you are camping.

You will be supplied with mosquito protection creams, repellents and nets if you stay in one of the private lodges.

It is also highly advisable to consult your Doctor about the use of malaria prophylactic drugs before you visit the Kruger National Park.

Personally I have never taken any form of ant-malaria tablet when visiting the park as the side effects don’t agree me but please take professional advice.

If you exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above within a month of your stay in the Kruger Park then go for a blood test. A blood test remains the most accurate method of confirming the presence of malaria.


Malaria Risk Map - South Africa

malaria risk in kruger national park
South African Malaria Risk map 2018

For malaria – free destination options read Ultimate Malaria Free Safaris – South Africa

Which is the best area to visit in the Kruger Park?

is the kruger park worth visiting

What you want to see dictates where you stay in the Kruger National Park. This article goes into some detail on the four main areas of the park however here are some pointers:

  • If you dislike crowds, don’t mind driving and are an avid birder or twitcher then the far north part of the park is for you. Enter via Pafuri Gate or Punda Maria Gate.
  • If you love buffalo and elephant, prefer your own company and don’t mind the heat then head for the northern region of the Kruger Park. Enter via the Phalaborwa Gate.
  • If you want to see wild dog, cheetah and large numbers of zebra, kudu and giraffe then head for the central region of the Kruger Park. Enter via Orpen Gate near Hoedspruit.
  • If you don’t mind crowds, want the best chance of ticking off the Big Five and have limited time, then the southern Kruger Park is where you need to be. Enter via Malelane Gate or Crocodile Bridge Gate.

Kruger National Park - Far North Region

The far north region of the Kruger is my favourite part of the Kruger National Park. This part of the Park borders Zimbabwe at the Limpopo River to the north and Mocambique to the east. Inside the park it is generally defined as running south from the Limpopo River to the tropic of Capricorn. 

The northernmost entry gate is Pafuri Gate which is approximately 6 1/2 hours drive from Johannesburg via the N1.

If you are flying in to stay at a private lodge in the north then you would fly to Phalaborwa Airport which is a 55 minute flight from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.

Snapshot of the Far North Region – Kruger Park

  • Sandstone

  • Very hot

  • Fever tree forest

  • Baobabs

  • Elephants

  • Birds of prey

  • Not crowded

  • Remote

  • Beautiful

animals of the kruger national park blue wildebeest

Kruger National Park - Northern Region

The northern region of the Kruger national park extends from around the Tropic of Capricorn down to Letaba Camp which is the biggest camp in the region.

Enter via the Phalaborwa gate for access to this region. It takes about 6 hours to drive to Phalaborwa from Johannesburg and the distance is about 500 km.

Snapshot of the Northern Region – Kruger Park

  • Basalt and granite

  • Hot

  • Mopani scrub

  • Baobabs

  • Elephants

  • Buffalo

  • Leopard

  • Good camps

  • Beautiful

animals of the kruger national perk white rhino

Kruger National Park - Central Region

The central region of the Kruger National Park has Satara Camp at its epicenter and is reached by entering via Orpen Gate on the west side of the Park. The closest town to the Orpen Gate is Hoedspruit in Limpopo Province, South Africa.

It is about 500 km from Johannesburg to Orpen Gate. There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and this flight takes 1 hour.

Snapshot of the Central Region – Kruger Park

  • Basalt and Granite

  • Hot

  • Grassland

  • Mopani scrub

  • Elephants 

  • Buffalo

  • Cheetah

  • Lion

  • Wild dog

  • Good camps

  • Beautiful

animals of the kruger national park crocodile

Kruger National Park - Southern Region

The southern region covers the biggest area of the park and is the base of the triangle with the Malelane Gate in the south west of the Park and the Crocodile River Gate in the south east of the park. The southernmost border of the Park is the Crocodile river. 

As this is the area closest to an international airport and the closest distance by road to Johannesburg, this area of the Kruger Park is always the busiest.

Malelane Gate is 400 km from Johannesburg on good tarred toll roads.

Camps in this region include Biyamiti, Crocodile Bridge, Lower Sabie and Skukuza.

Snapshot of the Southern Region – Kruger Park

  • Basalt and granite

  • Temperate

  • Thorn bush, hills, rivers.

  • Elephant

  • Buffalo

  • Lion

  • Rhino

  • Wild Dog

  • Leopard

  • Good camps

  • Crowded

  • Beautiful

animals that mate for life wild dog
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