A three-day safari in Kruger National Park is a must for anyone visiting South Africa. Entering the gates is like Jurassic Park and you feel transported back in time to the creation of Earth where the wild animals, especially the elephants, are dinosaurs filled with ancient knowledge of the land’s beginning. Although you may not see anything like the infamous “Battle at Kruger” YouTube video, you will certainly witness some interesting animal behavior like hippos bathing, monkeys mating, giraffes snacking or even two elephants flirting in the brush.

More Recommendations

Safari Skies in Kruger Park

Despite all the animals you are guaranteed to see on a Kruger Park safari, the skies and landscape can be the most enthralling. The clouds all line up overhead on a parallel plane as if friendly flying saucers. The endless horizon makes you feel small yet connected to the land and the beginning of time. The vibrant colors are pure, true to their natural form and unaffected by filters of the modern world. It fills you with nostalgia and awe. While you are surveying the land for animals just make sure to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and sit with that feeling for a moment (or more).

Forget the Big Five (Kruger National Park)

Too many visitors to Kruger Park make the mistake to focus way too much on seeing the ‘Big Five’ (lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) just to check them off their list. No doubt it’s an amazing experience to see a rhino in the wild, but equally spectacular was running into this interesting looking fellow, the almost extinct Southern Ground Hornbill. Our animated guide No Matter (yeap, that really was his name!) explained the quirky characteristics of this somewhat grumpy bird with great humor. Nina Dietzel traveled to South Africa courtesy of South African Tourism, Collette and South African Airways. Her highlights are part of AFAR’s partnership with The United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations across the entire globe.

Up Close and Personal Kruger Park Safari Experience

We went on a game drive through the Kruger National Park on the Jock of the Bushveld Route on our way from Numbi Gate to Crocodile Bridge. There were many small creatures and a lot of Jock of the Bushveld way markers / Monuments. We were lucky enough though to meet the stunning elephant bull in the highlighted picture and some lions. What a spectacular sight! We were driving on the “lesser driven areas” and also saw some creatures more difficult to have a sighting of.

Lionesses enjoying the shade.

While living in Mozambique last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa and go on a safari in Kruger National Park. While on the safari I saw all Big 5 animals, including lions. On one morning drive we saw lionesses and it was the most beautiful sight. I captured this picture using my iPhone 5s and a binocular.

Walk on the Wild Side....

Upped my safari experience during my last visit by taking a walk in addition to the standard game drives where you get quite close to animals. Walking is not for the faint of heart and I was told before hand that listening to my rangers instruction is paramount. When he says “don,t move” thats what he means, regardless that your fluttering heart tells you to run just as in my case. I could not tell right away the reason for our “dont move” motion with his hand so my instinct would have been to run, but heeding his advice I froze, looked and listened with intent. Only seconds later, but seemingly taking forever, I following his pointed finger to make out a herd of herd of zebras partly hidden by bushes and scrub. My worry of encountering lions did not come through thankfully but just the idea that you never know what you will come across heightened my senses by a factor of at least a thousand times! Sure got the adrenalin pumping made me feel super alive...Adventure To Africa highly recommended taking a walk and I can only agree, it made my trip!

Kruger National Park, Awesome Safari Destination for ANYONE!

I planned to spend my Kruger time with a guy who keeps his Landrover nearby. We didn’t exactly hit it off, ‘nuff said... I ended up renting a car, making friends with some of the locals that work in the park. I met the most wonderful people, saw the Big 5, the Little 5 and everything in between. Kruger is a very special spot. If you go, take the night drive with the guide to inform you.

Lions, rhinos, leopard, oh my!

Kruger Park is perfect for the independent traveler or a group of any size. From Crocodile Bridge campground (south) to Shingwedzi to the north, elephants, zebra, hyenas, rhinos, hippos, amazing birds abound. Giraffe and leopard too! I saw the Big 5 many times over and met wonderful people who work in the Kruger. The campgrounds have electric, hot showers, most have stores. You rent a campsite or bungalow, for 1, 2 or 12... if you want to go on “safari” on the cheap, a trip to the Kruger is well worth it.

Kruger Safari Experience

One of South Africa’s true treasures is the massive Kruger National Park, home to wildlife ranging from rhinos to kudu. A safari experience is at the top of most people’s bucket lists and with good reason. There is nothing like standing in the middle of a deserted savannah listening to the sounds of elephant as the sun sets. My most heart-racing moment was at the beginning of a morning game drive. The sun had just begun its slow ascent and I was bundled under a layer of blankets, trying to stay warm in the chilly temperatures. As soon as the Jeep rounded a bend in the bush a huge white rhino stomped its feet and started rushing the truck. My brain barely had time to react before the guide slapped the car, scaring off the massive beast. We continued on that morning, but I couldn’t forget the amazing experience of being that close to such a beautiful animal. There are many options to visit Kruger, from day visits to staying at overnight safari camps. However you choose to visit, though, you are guaranteed to have an experience of a lifetime.

Kruger Park - looking for elephants

When they are not digging up trees, they are certainly quieter than you would expect!

Vacation 14 years in the making

A superb short vacation where we stayed at the Guernsey Game Reserve, Thornhill Safari Lodge (www.thornhillsafarilodge.com). Thornhill is situated in a premier eco-tourist area with several different animal rehabilitation center. The staff and trackers were very knowledgeable and friendly. I unfortunately only stayed 2 nights/3 days. I highly recommend at least one more day; if not more. I hope to travel to another part of Africa; just not as long in the making.

Older Male Lion

While on Safari in Kruger National Park, this massive male lion was passing by and I was fortunate enough to get a photo. It was a short duration that we seen him. He was a little bit older but still a beautiful animal. I only wish I could have seen him with a pride and my life would have been complete.

Family of Four

We seen a cheetah off in the distance about 300 yards away coming towards us in the dried up creek bed. Next thing I know this family of 4 is sitting about 5-10 feet from our vehicle. They were so close that I could here one of the cubs purring. A great experience and viewing of a beautiful and healthy family of four.

Straight Out Of Lion King

I felt like I was in The Lion King as I saw so many different species of animals congregating around the watering hole.

AH! Lions!

We stayed at the Ezulwini Game Lodge which created a magical experience in South Africa. This was our first drive out. Off roading we went to a family of male lions. We wondered what would top this. Well each drive did.

Impala, the most graceful of creatures.

Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s best known game preserves. It houses thousands of species that once freely ruled the land. It was designed to help encourage survival of these animals and they rome free, and live off the land. You can either take tours, or bring in your own vehicle. However, be warned these are creatures in their own habitat, you do not want exit your vehicle at any time. They are rest stations to be found in the park that are safe.

The Road Less Traveled.

On this particular day, we had spent at least six hours driving inside Kruger National Park. We steered away from the main part of the park up into some hills which is when we saw these majestic animals. It was a beautiful experience sharing the road less traveled.

Brotherly Love on the Road.

There is no experience that compares to seeing a baby elephant who is too young to even walk be helped up by his elder. We were blessed enough to be turning down this road to see this baby elephant stumbling in all its beautiful glory and being pulled up by its ears. I could never describe anything like it. Might I also add that Mom was out of the shot, but one thing I have learned from South Africa and Kruger National Park is that you never get too close to elephants especially there babies. We then patiently watched and waited for this baby elephant to stumble across the road.

Lions Laying Low.

In the midst of our travels through Kruger Park we came across three young lions (2 female, 1 male) lying in the middle of the road. We didn’t expect to see them laying in the road and had to hit hard on the breaks. They then ran to the bushes only to wonder who we were. They then proceeded to come near our van, they were so close I could have touched them! This without a doubt is considered to be one of the best days of my life. They are such beautiful and strong animals. I relive my experience daily.

The way Mother Nature intended it: Kruger National Park

Hear the elephant trumpet sound, the Africa lioness roar, and gaze into the eyes of the menacing mother water buffalo at Kruger National Park located near Johannesburg, South Africa. The fenced in national park is home to the Big 5: the African elephant, African lion, Cape buffalo, African spotted Leopard, and the rhino. No guarantees that you will spot these elusive creatures, but it is quite hard to miss the elephant matriarchy or the long-necked giraffe in the Bush. Other animals accompany the Big 5 such as Kudu, Bushbuck’s, hyenas, zebras, crocs, and hippo’s. Book a one-day tour into the park or stay at a lodge right in the middle of all the action. Fall asleep to the calls of the wild and wake to the smell of adventure. Tip: Travel between May-August and you will stumble upon Africa during winter. Which, of course, means less bugs and no mosquitos.

What are you looking at?

Imagine waking up to a bird staring at you, wondering what you are doing in their territory. Imagine stepping out of your hut and seeing a troop of monkeys running around looking for food. Imagine a deer hiding behind a tree to see what you’re up to as you walk around the park. Yep. All these happened during my stay at Kruger National Park.


Over several days on an amazing safari, my favorite was watching the Animal Kingdom mingle. You would often see just elephants, or just giraffes but watching hyenas scamper between elephants was amusing!

DIY Safari

We woke up one morning and found this lion and two lionesses hanging out by the side of the road. We slowed down the car and drove slowly along as he made his way down the road, just a few feet from the car. At Kruger, you create your own safari--you drive your own car, and camp in the park’s many camps. We particularly enjoyed the Sirheni Bush Camp, Lower Sabie and saw a huge variety of animals around Skukuza.

Safari in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park, in the northwest corner of South Africa, spans over 19,000 square kilometers and boasts hundreds of animal and bird species including the “Big Five” -lions, rhinos, buffalo (seen here), leopards, and elephants.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at notification@afar.com.

Nearby highlights
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR