We often get inquiries from travelers who would like to stay at the Kruger National Park, but are unsure of where exactly they want to go. With around 20,000 square kilometers of incredibly diverse wilderness to explore, who can blame them? In a series of posts taking a comprehensive look at the four major sections of the Kruger Park – the Far North, North, Central and South regions - we'll point out best areas are for spotting each of the Big 5, as well as hippos, crocodiles, and cheetahs; what types of climate and vegetation to expect and where to stay in each region. Check out the detailed maps for each area available on our site, which you can download and use to navigate your way around the Park. We begin in the isolated wilderness of the far north.
Famous For: An atypical Kruger experience.
The arid north region is not only ecologically distinct from the other areas, but it’s the habitat of some of rare wildlife. Keep an eye out for the Knocking Sand Frog, Samango Monkeys, the Nocturnal Bushpig and Sharpe’s Grysbok, amongst others.
Landscape: Sand plains
Although dominated by Mopani trees, the habitat here is noticeably different from the other regions of the park – consisting mainly of sand plains created by river floods, interspersed by sandstone formations and tropical areas. Mostly arid and flat, the area is interspersed with dense Mopani groves and a riverine forest hugs the banks of the Luvuvhu River.
Wildlife: Wild Dog, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant Nyala, Sable, Eland.
The Natal Red Hare, Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax and rainbow Killifish, which is unique to this region of South Africa, can all only be spotted here.
Historical Sites: Thulamela
The ruins of a stone citadel where archeological evidence of early humans – the first Nguni speaking people – migrated from the north and lived between 1240 AD and 1700 AD. The enclosure is thought to have housed about 2000 people and the discovery of gold beads, gold wire, gongs, forged tools and weapons mark the site as an area of bustling trade – as well as immense historical importance.
The Pioneer Dam - often the meeting place for Burchell’s Zebra, buffalo and the rare tsessebe, as well as storks, egrets, kingfishers and African Fish Eagles.Limpopo River - this seasonal river is more than 65 million years old.Lanner Gorge – the 11km long, 150 meter deep gorge carved by the Luvuhu River that forms the northern border to the park, where dinosaur fossils and desert rose formations have been found.Crooks' Corner – the historical site marks the meeting point of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The area is fabled for the shady characters that frequented the spot in the 1900s to exchange stolen goods, arms and ivory, and flee across the borders.
Where to Stay: Shingwedzi, The Outpost
Shingwedzi is famous for elephants, which linger in riverine areas alongside Nyala, Kudus and giraffes. The roomy rest camp offers everything from camp sites to bungalows and family cottages. For something more luxurious, The Outpost’s sleek and contemporary lodgings overlook the Limpopo floodplains and are juxtaposed by the rugged wilderness around it. Also check out Punda Maria and Sirheni Bushveld Camp, which both provide comfortable lodging in the tranquility of the north.One of our Kruger travel experts visited the Greater Kruger Park for a safari. Discover what she saw and experienced during her stay, as well her reviews on the lodges she visited: Giada's Greater Kruger Safari Vacation