Kruger National Park
Where to go
The Kruger National Park is regarded as the ultimate safari destination and the largest in South Africa. With almost two million hectares of pristine wilderness, the park is split into northern and southern reserves. The northern reserves are often referred to as the Greater Kruger National Park.
Home to the famous Big 5: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, and the highest number of large mammal species on any African reserve, the Kruger offers a rewarding safari experience and an array of accommodation options including luxury lodges and self-catering. Activities offered at most reserves include morning and afternoon/evening open vehicle game drives and guided bush walks. Some reserves offer optional local village tours, hot air ballooning, elephant interactions, visits to animal rehabilitation centers, treehouse sleep-outs and photographic safaris.
Find out when is the best time of year to visit Kruger National Park
January is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you looking to avoid the rush but want to still experience the gorgeous summer weather, possibly even combine your safari with a local beach destination. The South African schools reopen in January and the peak season generally draws to an end from around mid-January, seeing a reduction in accommodation rates. During the summer months of December, January and February, the days are incredibly hot and humid, with temperatures at their highest during the month of January. By midday, temperatures often soar over 30°C (86°F) and late afternoons could see relatively short but dramatic thunderstorms. The wet summer months bring lush vegetation, healthy waterholes, newborn wildlife sightings, and various migratory birds. It is a great time to explore the bushveld on foot and although animal sighting are a little more challenging, plenty of wildlife can still be seen with a bit of tracking.
The month of February is the last of the rainfall in the Kruger National Park with occasional thunderstorms and comfortable evening temperatures, averaging around 20°C (68°F). It is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you love bird watching, with a large number of migratory birds present in the park, particularly in the northern reaches of Pafuri. With the dense vegetation, it can be difficult to spot animals through the lush greenery so we do recommend considering a private game reserve within the Kruger where you will have a highly trained ranger who will be able to track the animals off-road. This is particularly crucial when searching for the iconic Big Five. The summer rains bring plenty of water for the animals so they don’t tend to congregate around the rivers and waterholes as they would in the winter. They tend to seek out shelter during the heat of the day, making them harder to spot. It is for this reason that early morning and late afternoon game drives present favorable weather conditions for animals to move around.
The month of March is still classified as the summer season and so it is still the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you are looking to go bird watching or if you enjoy landscape photography. The Kruger boasts a multitude of indigenous and endangered plants and trees and is the one of the best places in Africa to experience savannah and forest. The month of March also makes the breeding season of various antelope species, including kudu, wildebeest and impala. This often presents great photography opportunities with many males compete for females, often clashing their horns together. By now, all the migratory species have arrived, with as many as 200 different species recorded in the park during the summer months. These birds will only leave the Kruger to return north by around mid-April.
April is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you wanting clear skies and pleasant weather conditions. The lush green vegetation starts to turn brown and the trees begin to lose their leaves. It doesn’t rain as much but the Kruger still experiences an occasional thunderstorm. The days are hot and humid whist the evenings are much cooler - offering some relief from the heat of the day. The rest camps within the park are popular amongst local South Africans during the long Easter weekend, so if you are looking for a more private getaway, then you should rather consider one of the private game reserves in the Kruger that will afford you a more exclusive safari experience. Your expert ranger is skilled and able to track animals down in the thick vegetation. With winter soon approaching, April marks the end of the migratory bird watching in the northern parts of the Kruger who will soon depart, searching for a warmer climate.
The month of May brings with it less rainfall and the vegetation becomes less dense as winter approaches, making it the best time to visit Kruger National Park for a safari. The days are pleasant with low humidity. With the drier conditions, animals begin to gather around the rivers and waterholes where there is still a supply of water, making it easier to spot them on game drives. The pleasant weather conditions offer a greater opportunity of viewing the famous Big Five. It is also a good time to venture out into the bush on a guided walk. The month of May is considered to be low season with fewer crowds present in the national park and surrounding private concessions.
The winter season has now set in and is considered the best time to visit the Kruger National Park for a safari. It is the most favorable time of the year, often resulting in the park feeling somewhat crowded. If you are looking for a more private safari experience then it is recommended that you stay in one of the surrounding private concessions where there are restrictions on the number of vehicles and off-road game drives are offered by expert guides. When exploring the park you can expect to see naked trees, short grasses, and thinned out vegetation that is colorless. The landscape improves visibility for game spotting, making it the best season for game drives and bush walks. The early mornings and evening game drives are much cooler so visitors to the park are encouraged to bring comfortable warm clothing with them. With a high density of animals gathered around the waterholes and rivers, you can look forward to some incredible wildlife sightings and a lot of predator action. It is a great time to tick off the Big Five.
July is the peak of the winter season, with temperatures and humidity levels dropping considerably, especially around waterholes and rivers. The dried up vegetation makes it easier to spot elusive leopards and lions who enjoy resting during the day. Animals frequently visit permanent water sources and several species such as elephant, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra gather together, bringing with them many predators. Knowing how animals move during the winter season makes it easier for you to find them. The private concessions on the western edge of the park offer privacy and a lack of crowds, which enhances the overall safari experience. The excellent guiding offered at these lodges and camps increases your chances of spotting the Big Five. The skies are clear with no little rain, making it the best time to visit the Kruger National Park for unforgettable bush dining experiences, magnificent sunsets, and remarkable stargazing.
The temperatures are on the rise, making it the best time to visit the Kruger National Park to experience a range of outdoor activities, including game drives, walking safaris, and mountain biking. There is minimal rain and temperatures are at a high of 27°C (80°F) and a low of 9°C (48°F) in the early mornings and evenings. August is the middle of the dry season and water sources are now very scarce. Good game viewing is had in the central and southern regions of the Kruger where there is more waterholes and a higher density of wildlife, as well as the sweetveld plains in the eastern region of the park.
The month of September marks the beginning of spring with little rainfall but not enough to fill all the rivers and waterholes across the two million hectare reserve. Animals continue to congregate around the remaining permanent sources of water, making it easier to spot wildlife on game drives. You won’t have to travel far in order to see several of the 147 mammal species recorded in the park. The first migrant birds also arrive from the north, making for incredible bird watching opportunities. Temperatures in the day are hot and humid, making it the best time to visit the Kruger National Park and Cape Town - two of South Africa’s most iconic destinations.
Migratory birds continue to flock into the Kruger with the far northern reaches of the park offering the best bird watching experiences. Temperatures are steadily increasing with hot and humid conditions during the day. The scenery is lush and many animals are giving birth to their young in preparation for the summer rains. You may see the first thunderstorms towards the later part of the month. October marks the end of the dry season but sightings are still incredible as animals still hang around the permanent waterholes and rivers. It is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you looking for a rewarding but more exclusive safari experience with fewer crowds.
The first rains start in the month of November, usually in the form of an afternoon thunderstorm after a hot and humid day. The average temperature at this time of the year is 24°C (75°F) but can go as high as 30°C (86°F). The evenings are pleasant with an average temperature of 18°C (64°F). The northern reaches of the Kruger still offer incredible birding safaris, with the number of migratory birds increasing in the park. November is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you are eager to see the cutest newborn animals, particularly impala. It is still a relatively quieter time of the year to visit the park as most South African generally visit the region for the December holidays.
The southern and central areas of the Kruger National Park are very popular during the South African summer school holidays, so it is the best time to visit the Kruger National Park if you plan on visiting the camps in the far northern reaches of the Kruger, or the surrounding private concessions that make up the Greater Kruger. December is extremely hot and humid, experiencing plenty of rainfall as a result. Daytime temperatures rise well above 30°C (86°F), and evenings are equally hot and humid. Although the summer months are not as favorable as the winter months for game viewing, one is still able to see several wildlife species, including baby animals and several migratory birds. The Kruger has over 500 species recorded in the park.
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