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Kruger National Park – The Big 5 in South Africa

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Kruger National Park - The Big 5 in South Africa
By Kevin Pluck (Flickr: The King.) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Measuring at just under 2 million hectares, Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest wildlife preserves. The park is easily accessible and can be reached by plane (Kruger Park International Airport in Mbombela) or by car – just a five-hour drive from Johannesburg. Located in the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, the park is bordered by Mozambique to the east and Zimbabwe to the north. Incidentally, Kruger National Park has become part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a “peace park” in which three different parks (Kruger, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique) will be linked upon completion.

Although the size of the park alone is impressive, Kruger National Park’s biggest draw is that it is home to Africa’s “Big 5” – the lion, African elephant, rhinoceros, cape buffalo, and the leopard. The term Big 5 was coined by big game hunters, as these 5 animals are the most difficult to hunt via foot. Rather than hunting these creatures, you can enroll in any number of safari tours and see them from the comfort (and relative safety) of a jeep. If you are a little more adventurous, you also have the option of getting up close and personal with the second largest land mammal in the world by taking a walking rhinocerous tour. The three-day tour truly gives you a sense of what it is really like to live in the South African bush, especially if you choose to stay at the Rhino Walking Safari Plains Camp. Here, you will sleep in a safari tent which overlooks the Timbitene Plain and waterhole. (The tents do have access to running water – BONUS!) Your armed guard tour leaves at dawn and is not dictated by any itinerary. It will move at its own pace and start and stop depending on what is seen out on the trail. In addition, the walking safari vehicles are allowed to travel at night – giving you the chance to experience what happens in the bush after dark!

Kruger National Park - The Big 5 in South Africa
By Nithin bolar k (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

While the Big 5 may be the most famous of the parks attractions, they are certainly not all that the park has to offer. Boasting 114 different species of reptiles, 49 fish, 147 mammals, 507 birds, and 34 amphibians, Kruger National Park is teaming with wildlife. On your journey, you may encounter “laughing” hyenas, elegant giraffes, and homely (but loveable) warthogs. More than 100,000 impalas, 25,000 zebras, and 180 cheetah call Kruger National Park home – which means you may be more likely to see these animals during your stay here than you would at a trip to the local zoo! For the flora lovers, the park is also home to about 336 different types of trees.

Kruger National Park hosts over 1.4 million visitors each year. In addition to the walking camp mentioned earlier, the park has numerous rest camps, bushveld camps, and overnight hides. The park also has 10 luxury lodges for those visitors who prefer a little more comfort than what the safari tents provide.

If you are looking for a great African safari experience, look no further than Kruger National Park in South Africa! So, why delay? Nature awaits!

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