The Kruger National Park & Panorama Route
The Kruger National Park is a popular destination in South Africa, ideal for day trip visitors with easy access from several entrance gates from the far North to the extreme South of the park. While there are benefits to staying in the park, mainly early access to the best game viewing, and the pure pleasure of hearing the sounds of Africa from the the comfort of your tent or chalet at night, availability is limited and high quality accommodation options even more so.
Most visitors head straight for the park and then board their flight to other parts of the country, this post aims to show you just a small portion of the delights that this part of South Africa has to offer outside the gates of the Kruger National Park. That’s why we are calling this blog post The Kruger National Park Plus+
Often, visitors choose to stay in one of the many privately owned properties surrounding the park and entering as day visitors which makes sense, all accommodation options within the main borders of the park are owned and managed by SAN Parks, so quality can vary quite substantially. From the much loved, and sometimes hated, but reasonably affordable, chalets & bungalows, and more recently glamping tents, in the rest camps, to more luxury, and expensive, options operated in partnership with private concerns.
The lowveld, as the region surrounding the park is known, has so much more than just the Kruger. Hoedspruit and Hazyview are blessed with plenty of private accommodation options, from luxury to budget, and are both located close to access gates. Hoedspruit is a little over 30km from Orpen gate and Hazyview is even closer to Phabeni gate at a little under 15km. Both towns also have good shopping facilities, although, the parks shops found in all the rest camps are well stocked with all the necessities, and are most reasonably priced too.
Best Times to Visit
In January, after a good rainy season, the Kruger Park is really green and lush, with fast flowing rivers and abundant water. There’s plenty of places for prey and predators alike to hide, so game viewing isn’t at it’s best. Nevertheless, if spending more than a day in the park there is a good chance of spotting most of the Big 5, although seeing the ever elusive Leopard is always a special treat.
The summer months can be hot in the lowveld and it’s also the rainy season, so grey skies and violent thunderstorm can be the order of the day, not always the best for photography, but, the African bush after a summer storm has a special quality. Water is abundant, so the water holes are less essential for the animals, who are more widely scattered in the thick bush. Many veteran Kruger lovers prefer the dry, and cooler winter months. At this time the bush is less dense, water is less abundant and the animals are more concentrated around waterholes, making viewing them considerably easier.
The Kruger is home to one of the largest elephant, impala and zebra populations in the country, so they are almost guaranteed. Also good numbers of buffalo, hyena, giraffe and even rhinos are to be found by the sharp eyed.
Not to forget the river dwellers, hippos and some HUGE crocodiles.
The Panorama Route
The area surrounding the Kruger Park is absolutely filled with incredible sights and hidden secret places. The Panorama Route, which runs roughly parallel with the park, to the west, is easily accessible and boasts plenty of accommodation options and some stunning natural wonders, like the Blyde River Canyon. It’s the 3rd deepest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, and it’s the largest “green” canyon on the planet.
Other must see spots are the awesome God’s Window, Bourkes Luck Potholes, the historic gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest and the many stunningly beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Fly Direct From Frankfurt Germany
As of 15 November 2022, Eurowings Discover operates up to three (3) weekly flights between Frankfurt and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA), with a short stopover in Windhoek, Namibia on the way.
This makes Eurowings Discover is so far the only carrier operating direct flights between South Africa’s Province of Mpumalanga and Germany. This new route now makes it so much easier for travellers from all over Europe to fly direct (almost) to the Kruger National Park, bypassing Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town altogether.
Contact Us For Advice
We hope this short post has given you some idea of why you should consider planning to experience more than just the Kruger National Park, but the Panorama Route as well. Let’s face it, this is perhaps a once in a lifetime experience for many, you really want to make it count. African Welcome are kind of experts on the Kruger Park, we also really really know South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, East and Central Africa. Chat to Kathi for advice planning YOUR African Safari, or just to talk about Africa: firstname.lastname@example.org
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