30 August 2013 by Kate Turkington

Best time to visit the Kruger?

As a veteran safari-goer and safari travel writer, I’m often asked, ‘What’s the best time to visit the Kruger National Park?’ It’s difficult to give a definitive answer, because the Kruger is great at any time of year.

A lone elephant drinks at sunset

But I have to admit that winter (June through August) in the Kruger National Park is possibly my favourite season. One reason is that this is my own special family time – because it’s school holidays, we muster as many of the family as possible (from six-year-olds to grannies) and off we go.

Dozing in the early-morning sun Dozing in the early-morning sun

Although the park isn’t looking at its lush best at this time because the grass and vegetation is low, the lack of surface water means the game and birds have to come to waterholes, dams and rivers to drink; game viewing is really at its best at this time.

And remember to book well in advance for any of the big variety of accommodation options from traditional rondavels (round huts) to guest cottages, big family houses and camping sites.

Another bonus is that the weather will almost certainly be dry and sunny, with temperatures averaging about 26 degrees Celsius.

A favourite day was at the N’wanetsi hilltop picnic site near Satara, where we watched hippos doze, yawn and play in the early-morning light.

Stop at dams and picnic sites, read all the signs, take the back roads as well as the main ones, keep your eyes open and you’ll be amazed at what you see, from the Big Five to the smaller stuff.

Recently, on one day alone, we saw five black rhino, a pride of 10 hunting lions, a herd of 120 buffalo crossing the road in front of us, as well as a delightful little klipspringer antelope, magnificent kudu bulls, herds of waterbuck and a very old, very big, bull elephant right beside our vehicle (tip – always keep your engine running in any elephant encounter).

Typical rondavel accommodation at Pretoriuskop Typical rondavel accommodation at Pretoriuskop

Plus our collective family bird list amounted to 107 birds – a good total considering that hundreds of avian summer migrants had not yet arrived.

A favourite day was at the N’wanetsi hilltop picnic site near Satara, where we watched hippos doze, yawn and play in the early morning light. 

By the way, I have never been along the S100 along the N'wanetsi River without spotting lions. Stop at the Shibotwana and Nsasane waterholes and continue on the S41 Gudzani Road. We just missed a pair of hunting cheetahs, but were given details by the excited French couple that had spotted them early that morning.

And, of course, no matter what time of year, you’re guaranteed one of the unforgettably glorious Kruger sunsets...

Another glorious sunset Another glorious sunset

Category: Wildlife

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