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Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks. Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape.
The Kruger National Park is one of the biggest National Parks in Africa. It is situated at the North-Eastern tip of South Africa and spans over the Mpumalanga and Limpopo province. The parks surface area spans 19633 km² as many of the surrounding private reserves have removed their fences, allowing wildlife to roam freely between reserves. This has created a wildlife area like no other, as its beauty soaks itself into anyone who visits this diverse place.
Lying in the heart of the Lowveld is a wildlife sanctuary like no other, its atmosphere so unique that it allows those who enter its vastness to immerse themselves in the unpredictability and endless wilderness that is the true quality of Africa.
The Kruger National Park lies across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north of South Africa, just south of Zimbabwe and west of Mozambique. It now forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a peace park that links Kruger National Park with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and fences are already coming down to allow game to freely roam in much the way it would have in the time before man’s intervention. When complete, the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park will extend across 35 000 square kilometres, 58% of it South African, 24% Mozambican and 18% Zimbabwean territory.
This is the land of baobabs, fever trees, knob thorns, marula and mopane trees underneath which lurk the Big Five, the Little Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle), the birding Big Six (ground hornbill, kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, pel’s fishing owl and saddle-bill stork) and more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve.
Very broadly speaking, the Kruger National Park is flat with a few gentle hills, and people tend to classify the bushveld of the Kruger as unvaried and dry, which is rather like saying South Africa is sunny – it conceals an amazingly rich diversity. The Kruger National Park is divided into no fewer than six ecosystems – baobab sandveld, Lebombo knobthorn-marula bushveld, mixed acacia thicket, combretun-silver clusterleaf, woodland on granite, and riverine forest.
The Sabie Game Reserve (as it was then known) was proclaimed in 1892 by the president of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger. The area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers were initially set aside for restricted hunting and in 1902 James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed the first warden.
In May 1926 the Sabie and Shingwedzi Game Reserves were combined to create the Kruger National Park. There are nearly 254 cultural heritage sites in the Kruger including rock art sites.
Homo erectus (early humans) roamed the area between 500 000 and 100 000 years ago and cultural artefacts have been found from 100 000 to 30 000 years ago.
There is lots of evidence of the San and Iron Age people who lived on these lands 1500 years ago and there are historical tales of the Nguni and European explorers and settlers in the Kruger area.
Travelers who are fortunate enough to visit Kruger National Park should be aware that the weather can change quickly, and that there are seasons of the year that are preferable to visit the park over others.
The seasons of winter and summer in Kruger National Park are reversed with respect to those of Europe and North America. The months of October through April, which are considered to be summer, are typically very hot and humid. Even though it is substantially cooler at night, the days during the dry winters (May to September) are still warm and pleasant.