There is so much to see and do in and around Kruger National Park. There are thousands of different experiences to choose from which have been carefully curated by tourism specialists to allow individuals or groups to experience excellent game viewing, bird watching, tracking animals, plant identification, visiting attractions and more. What would the perfect Does the Kruger experience look like this?
“It depends on the individual,” says Sarah Watson, guest relations manager at the Kruger Gate Hotel. “While most tour operators craft their itineraries for the best overall safari experience, different people like different things and often want to see more of the area, beyond the park. To create the perfect the experience you would need to build your own itinerary. It can be very exciting, especially in Kruger National Park, as there is so much to see in the nearly 20,000 km² of the park, as well as in the surrounding Mpumalanga province.
From God’s Window along the Scenic Drive through the gateway towns of Lydenberg and White River, to Mac Mac Falls which has a rich history (literally!) rooted in the alluvial gold found there in 1873 – there is something for everyone in and around the Kruger National Park. Here are some activities to consider when building your own itinerary for the area, as recommended by the Kruger Gate Hotel expert team.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is in the Drakensberg Escarpment region of eastern Mpumalanga and forms part of the scenic scenic route. It is the third largest canyon in the world, covering 29,000 ha of magnificent views and waterfalls.
In the reserve, you will also be able to see God’s Window, so called because of the incredible view that stretches across the Kruger National Park towards the Lebombo Mountains. Along God’s Window Road you can also see Bourke’s Luck Potholes, named after Tom Bourke who discovered placer gold in the formations created by the swirling water of the river. The Three Rondavels and Pinnacle Rock are also on this route in the Reserve.
What to do in the reserve
From beautiful hikes to white water rafting and kloofing, from horseback riding to biking, from fly fishing to hot air ballooning, there are a myriad of activities to enjoy in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Preserve.
These incredible caves are the oldest known caves in the world, dating back 240 million years. They were formed by natural acid in the groundwater below seeping through fault lines in dolomitic rocks.
Along with the gaping caverns of dolomite, erid, shale, limestone and other rocks that color the caves, you’ll also see fossils dating back 2,000 million years, as well as iron bats. horse that live throughout the cave system.
Activities in and around the caves
A fascinating Crystal Tour will take you 2000m into the caves where you will enter the crystal chamber filled with sparkling aragonite crystals. You can also step out into the Sudwala Natural Butterfly Effect Garden to see amazing butterfly species or experience the Unity Maze.
Nearby you can also visit Dinosaur Park, a museum featuring life-size models of prehistoric dinosaurs; the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden, home to dozens of rescued chimpanzees; or the beautiful Lowveld Botanical Gardens that grow “magically” where the Crocodile and Nels rivers meet.
Other animal rehabilitation centers
If you have a thing for eco-preservation and animal rescue, you can also visit the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which offers guided tours and educational programs on South Africa’s endangered species – and is also home to lions, leopards and wild dogs.
For a great interactive experience with some of nature’s gentle giants, you can visit Elephant Whispers, located in the Sandford Conservancy on the banks of the Sabie River in Hazyview. This five-elephant sanctuary will connect visitors with these incredible animals, from walking with the herd to having memorable experiences with these confident elephants.
Another option is to visit the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center which works to rehabilitate cheetahs, rhinos, leopards, vultures and other endangered animals. Families can enjoy fun and informative tours as well as specialty excursions.
In the Kruger National Park
Then, of course, there is Kruger Park itself. “The park offers an incredibly diverse range of wildlife experiences, from hiking and hiking trails, to game drives, bird watching and even golf experiences,” says Watson. “The park also borders Mozambique to the east and Zimbabwe to the north. So you can extend your itinerary to a bush and beach getaway in Mozambique, or include Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.”
Park attractions you could include in your itinerary include the Masorini and Thulamela archaeological sites, sightings of the Big 5 and Little 5 (leopard tortoise, lion ant, rhino, buffalo weaver and elephant shrew), over 507 bird species , 114 species of reptiles, as well as incredible picnic areas.
“There is so much to see and do in and around Kruger Park that to get the most out of your experience, we recommend enjoying a longer stay and building an exciting itinerary over a few days” , explains Watson.
“Perhaps do a reverse scenic drive, starting at the Echo Caves which date back to 3,800 million years ago. Then spend a day or two in Graskop to see God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the other experiences there. Then you can head to Pilgrim’s Rest which has some great restaurants and pubs – and you might even spot a herd of wild horses! Passing through White River to play golf, you can pass through Nelspruit and continue into Kruger Park.A great end to your adventure is at the Kruger Gate Hotel, of course, where you can go on morning and sunset game drives, and end your itinerary with a great massage at the spa.”