photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

No Mpumalanga Big Five edition is complete without an article of the Kruger National Park (KNP), home to the Big Five. Originally the term “Big Five” was only used by hunters and referred to the five most difficult animals to hunt by foot in Africa. They are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. Nowadays it is widely used by the tourism industry, referring to the same animals as the top five which tourists hope to see when visiting South Africa.

photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

“The world-renowned KNP offers a wildlife experience that ranks among the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the country’s wildlife, this national park of nearly two million hectares, SANParks – KNP is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.”

“Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Man’s interaction with the Lowveld environment over many centuries – from bushman rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela – is evident in the park. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the KNP and are conserved along with the park’s natural assets.” 

Giraffe
photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

Five of the main camps

Skukuza Rest Camp
Skukuza is the KNP’s largest rest camp and administrative headquarters. It is situated on the southern banks of the Sabie River. The camp is well foliaged and there are some lofty trees along the river’s edge. Activities and facilities are diverse, as are the animals and plants found both within the camp and in the surrounding areas.

Five things to see

  • Fruit bat
  • Thick–tailed bushbaby
  • Warthog
  • Spotted hyena
  • Purple–crested lourie (2004)

GPS: -23.973820, 31.458290

photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
When the world was still young, some 3 500 million years ago, molten rock forced its way through the earth’s crust and solidified to form the spectacular granite outcrops where Pretoriuskop Rest Camp is now nestled. The impressive granite dome known as “Shabeni Hill” is not far from the camp, which is found in the south-western corner of the park. It is immediately apparent to any visitor that Pretoriuskop is unique as brilliant red trees adorn the camp, predating the decision to make exclusive use of indigenous plants in laying out rest camp gardens. Nostalgia prompted an exception to the rule for Pretoriuskop, the KNP’s oldest rest camp, and exotic flowering plants were allowed to stay, enhancing the strong sense of the past that is so pervasive.

Five things to see

  • Sable antelope
  • Lichtenstein’s hartebeest
  • Wild dog
  • Kudu
  • Brown-headed parrot (2004).

GPS: -25.169270, 31.268704

photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
Berg-en-Dal is situated on the banks of the Matjulu Spruit with a view of softly undulating hills to the east. On the northern and southern sides dry riverbeds and a dam border the camp. There are large trees along the streams and dry riverbeds. Special care has been taken to preserve the natural vegetation in the camp. Berg-en-Dal is also the only camp set in a rugged mountain environment.

Five things to see

  • Wild dog
  • Klipspringer
  • Leopard
  • Scarlet-chested sunbird
  • Heuglin’s robin (2004).

GPS: -23.821560, 31.449750

photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Lower Sabie graces the banks of the Sabie River, one of the few perennial rivers to flow through the KNP. Visitors can only feel soothed by the view towards the river and the Lebombo Mountains beyond. In this rest camp, the bounty and plenitude of nature are evident, eloquently symbolised by the most conspicuous of its numerous trees, the mighty sycamore fig, which provides generously for the livelihood of many birds and insects. Not only do these giants produce fruit at least twice a year, but different trees produce fruit at different times, extending the gifts of life over many months. Watching the endless procession of animals coming to drink at the Sabie River establishes a sense of one’s own place in the eternal cycle.

Five things to see

  • Leopard
  • Hippopotamus
  • Lion
  • Goliath heron
  • Giant kingfisher (2004).

GPS: -25.119593, 31.915351

photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

Orpen Rest Camp
Orpen Rest Camp is situated centrally on the western border of the park. It is a small camp that derived its name from the surname of the donor of the land, Eileen Orpen. The scattered trees and wide-open plains covered by sweet grass attract many browsers. This, in turn, attracts the eye-catching cheetah, lion and leopard. Well known for its diversity of habitat and wildlife, Orpen offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience close encounters with elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard in a natural environment. Wild dog, cheetah, zebra and giraffe are also indigenous to this area, a paradise for the wildlife enthusiast.

Five things to see

  • Lion
  • Black-backed jackal
  • Blue wildebeest
  • White-backed vulture
  • Lesser black-winged plover (2004).

GPS: -24.474404, 31.390866

photo credit: Tours-De-Mornay

Visit http://www.mpumalanga.com/places-to-go/kruger-national-park for more.

Compiled by: Ista van Zyl

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