Photos by J.R. Robinson
Kruger National Park
The world-renowned Kruger National Park is the most famous and most visited of all of South Africa’s National Parks. Located along South Africa’s northeastern border with Mozambique, the park occupies the distinctive terrain known as the lowveld, a vast plain crossed with a series of rivers in the rain shadow of the northern Drakensberg located to the west. It is also the country’s oldest national park, established in 1926.
The park encompasses a wide range of habitats within its borders, marked by the Limpopo and Crocodile rivers to the north and south, respectively. Along the northern reaches of the park, subtropical jungle and forest dominates the landscape, transitioning to mopane tree forests as it moves south, until it reaches the thorn-tree rich forested hills around the curving Oliphants river, which splits the park in two through its center. The southern reaches of the park feature the vast savannah plains and grasslands around the Satara rest camp, to the water-rich valleys carved by the Sabie River in the south.
The park is home to all five of the so-called Big Five, and has some of the richest diversity of wildlife in all of Africa. Huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope carve out an existence amongst hundreds of lions, cheetah, leopard, and wild dog. Rhinos, white and black, call the park home as well, and huge elephants patrol all areas of the park. In recent decades, the park has increasingly become one of the few parts of South Africa where all of these animals can be seen in their natural habitat, as the spread of humanity and poaching have wreaked havoc upon wild populations outside of protected areas.
The park is marked by large rest camps, that provide lodging to the many visitors that set out to explore the parks roads. Each camp requires that guests return before sunset and leave after sunrise each day, effectively splitting the park into small regions of day-long exploration of the many roads with the camp lying at the center of each region.