5 things that makes the Kruger National Park a 'goated' destination

A game ranger watches an elephant at the Kruger National Park. Picture: Unsplash

A game ranger watches an elephant at the Kruger National Park. Picture: Unsplash

Published Apr 23, 2024


There is no doubt that the Kruger National Park is one of the biggest jewels in the global tourism crown. The park attracts more than a million visitors annually, with roughly a fifth of them being foreign tourists.

These numbers mean that the park ranks among the top five most visited tourist attractions in South Africa. It’s also worth noting that a large proportion of visitors to the park are repeat visitors, with some families going back at least once a year.

In a country with a plethora of game reserves, what makes some people return time and time again?

If you’ve never been to the Kruger National Park before, here are 5 reasons why it is the greatest of all time and why you should visit.

There’s so much to explore

Travellers looking for adventure in the bush have a lot of ground to cover as the Kruger National Park is massive. It covers an area of 19 623 km2, it is 360km from North to South and 65km from East to West, larger than some countries including Qatar, Switzerland and Slovenia.

KNP forms part of the larger Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which includes reserves in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and the park is home to no less than four distinct types of veld and several smaller areas of distinct vegetation.

Due to its size and plant diversity ,the park can support an immense array of wildlife and being home to 147 species of large mammals (more than any other African game reserve), 517 species of birds, 126 species of reptiles and thousands of insect species.

Get up close with the Big Five

Home of the the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and African buffalo), KNP is an exceptional game viewing destination.

Ticking off the Big Five from their “seen” list is viewed as a must by many visitors to the park and is one reason why so many people return to Kruger National Park time and time again. A visit where you get to see all five is something to be treasured.

Though hunting in the Kruger is banned, all five species are far rarer than they were once, making a visit to the region even more special.

The African lion and leopard are both classified as vulnerable while the elephant is listed as endangered. Meanwhile, the southern white rhinoceros and African buffalo are classified as near threatened while the black rhinoceros is classified as critically endangered.

It’s a birders’ paradise

If you’re an avid birdwatcher (or twitcher), Kruger National Park has so much to offer. Since the park is home to more than 500 species of bird, it’s worth digging into what makes it such an attractive birding destination.

Outside of the incredible variety of species – of which 253 are residents, 117 are non-breeding migrants, and 147 are nomads – there are also some species which are almost entirely restricted to the park and other conservation areas.

These include 6 of its largest species: lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, saddle-billed stork, kori bustard, ground hornbill, and Pel's fishing owl.

The park is also home to the Narina trogon, widely considered to be the most treasured sighting among Southern African birders.

Its conservation efforts are world-class

When you visit the Kruger National Park, you aren’t just giving yourself a chance to see some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife. You’re also actively contributing to the conservation of that wildlife.

Your entry fees, donations, and even purchases at stores and concession stands within the park’s boundaries, all contribute to some incredible conservation efforts.

Along with donations from NGOs and wildlife protection bodies, the money that visitors spend within Kruger is used for things like anti-poaching foot patrols, research, the removal of elephant snares, and upliftment and education initiatives focused on the communities who live around the park.

It caters to every taste, preference and budget

And finally, whether you want a basic but family-friendly self-catering experience or five-star luxury, Kruger National Park has it all.

According to Miguel Farinha, Hotel Manager at Kruger Gate Hotel, the park is a bucket list item for a wide variety of people and accommodation providers within and on the outskirts of the park recognise this.

“While there are people that come back to Kruger every year, there are others who may only experience the park once in their lifetime.

“As accommodation providers, we strive to make the experience as special as possible, whether someone is popping into the park as part of a wider South African trip, or are staying for an extended time,” said Farinha.