This is: Kruger National Park

Johan van Zyl Johan 2 Comments

Arguably one of the largest and most famous Game Reserves in Africa, Kruger National Park has become a hub for many photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.  Situated in the Northeastern part of South Africa, this Game Reserves offers plenty in terms of wildlife and photographic opportunities, which is one of the reasons we have decided to offer full day trips into the Kruger.

HISTORY

The first area of what was to become Kruger National Park was officially protected in 1898 by President Kruger when he established the Sabie river Game Reserve.

The Game Reserve was established to protect wildlife from the threat of “biltong” hunters who were visiting this area in ever increasing numbers during the dry season.  Having already slaughtered vast herd of wildlife throughout South Africa, this was an early attempt to preserve a undisturbed wilderness.

In 1903 the area was re-proclaimed by the British, increasing the size of the park with the new area under protection covering roughly the same area as Kruger does today.

Numerous factors threatened the survival of the park with hunters wanting access to the park, soldiers returning from the First World War expected land for sheep farming, prospectors looking for gold, copper and coal wanting mining rights and South Africa’s vets were campaigning for a mass slaughter of wildlife to prevent the possible spread of the tsetse fly.

The seeds of creating a self-financing National Park open to visitors were unwittingly sown by South African Railways when they opened a new tour running from Pretoria to Maputo which stopped in the bush for game rangers to take visitors out in the bush.  The first tourist arrived in 1923 and the visits became such a popular feature of the holiday that park visits were used as publicity by the railways.  Public access was finally allowed in 1926 with the first cars arriving in 1927.

ABOUT THE AREA

Kruger National Park is one of the Largest Game Reserves in Africa, covering an astonishing 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 square miles) in the Provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga.  The area extends roughly 360 kilometres (220 miles) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 miles) from east to west.

Several Rivers run through the Park, with the Limpopo and Crocodile Rivers acting as natural boundaries to the north.  Other rivers include the Sabie, Olifants, Letaba and Levuvhu river.

During our Full day Safari’s we will mainly operate in the southern section of the park, entering through either Malalane or Crocodile Bridge Gate.

FAUNA AND FLORA

The diversity of plant life in the park, mainly Acacias, Leadwoods, Marula’s, Mopane and Bush willows means that birdlife is brilliant with up to 517 different bird species recorded, 253 of them being residents, 117 non-breeding migrants and 147 nomads.  There is also a “Big 6” birds which includes the Lappet-Faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Kori Bustard, Ground Hornbill, Saddle Billed Stork and Pel’s Fishing Owl for the enthusiastic twitchers.

Over 140 mammal species are found in the Kruger National Park, including all of the Big 5 as well as endangered species such as the African Wild Dog and Cheetahs.

PHOTOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS

The Southern section of the Park produces good predator viewing, with sightings of Lion and Leopard being spotted frequently.  During the heat of the day patrolling the rivers is a good idea with most of the mammals moving in that direction to quench their thirst.

There is no shortage of general game in the area, with lots of Antelope species, Zebra’s, Giraffe’s, warthogs etc to be found and being used to the vehicles, they can present some fantastic photographic opportunities.

RECOMMENDED GEAR

As with everywhere it very much depends on what you are looking to photograph and what images you are looking to create.  Because off roading is not permitted in the Park, a little more focal length is advised for the Game Drives.  Focal lengths of 300 and 400mm would be sufficient for mammal photography.  For the Hides and general bird photography, focal lengths of 500-600mm is recommended.  Check out our rental stock or get in touch with us if you need any assistance.

The photographic opportunities are endless in the park and is a easy break away from the hustle and bustle that has become part of our lives.

Join us in exploring this historical Park.

Johan

About the Author

Johan van Zyl

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The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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