History of the Park
The park was first proclaimed in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve by the then president of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger. He first proposed the need to protect the animals of the Lowveld in 1884, but his revolutionary vision took another 12 years to be realised when the area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers was set aside for restricted hunting.
The first park tourists arrived on the Selati Railway which ran between Komatipoort and Tzaneen and so the history of Kruger National Park reached a milestone.
In 2002, Kruger National Park agreed to join Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. The combined park is now called the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a so-called “peace park”. Fences have started to come down between the parks to let the animals follow their original migratory routes.
5 Things to Seek
- The Big Five – Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino.
- The Little Five – Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle.
- Birding Big Six– Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet- faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Saddle-bill Stork.
- Five Trees – Baobab, Fever Tree, Knob Thorn, Marula, Mopane.
- Natural/Cultural Features – Letaba Elephant Museum, Jock of the Bushveld Route, Albasini Ruins, Masorini Ruins, Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library, Thulamela.
Lakes And Dams
There are a number of lakes and dams that offer fantastic game viewing, such as Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie. Another of our favourites is Lake Panic Bird Hide near Skukuza. You can sit here and watch the animals without disturbing them. The hides make for good Kruger National Park sightings and great pictures!
When you get to a lake, if there’s big or exposed game there, they’re easy to spot, such as elephants, rhinos, antelope and zebras.
If you don’t see anything straight away, stay around for a little while and look again. There are many lakes in Kruger National Park. Every lake and dam that you can drive past or view is signposted on the park’s way markers. If though, you want to get an overview of them before you’re on safari a detailed Kruger Park map will show them.
Rock Art – Besides the more than 130 Rock Painting locations identified within the Kruger Park, three very rare Rock Engraving sites have also been located. The engravings were made by chipping away at the rock to expose the different coloured rock beneath. Rock Art played an integral part in the daily lives of the San and gives us some clues as to their spiritual beliefs and practices.
Masorini Heritage Site – When it was decided to restore the village of Masorini in 1973, there was nothing except some stone walls, grinding stones, potsherds, the remains of foundries dating back to the 19th century, and some implements dating back to the Stone Age. When excavation work eventually began, it revealed hut floors and other remains that provided information on the inhabitants’ way of living, the types of hut used, the foundries in which iron was worked, the nature of their commerce and their socio-domestic activities.
Letaba Elephant Hall Museum – The museum covers elephant evolution, biology, behaviour, ecology and research. It also showcases the ivory of eight of Kruger’s greatest tuskers (including six of the Magnificent Seven).
The baobab tree grows into a huge tree with a very thick trunk and a great root system-like canopy at the top. All that growth at the top gives the tree its nickname – the upside down tree. It very much looks like a tree that’s been up uprooted and planted upside down. This is especially true in the dry season when the tree has lost its leaves. The thick trunk of the tree is a massive water storage tank. The tree can survive a long drought thanks to the water resources it keeps in its trunk.
Keep a lookout for mopani trees and the mopani worms that you may find on them, chewing away at the leaves. If you’re brave enough, you can try eating a worm. They’re a local delicacy!
The sausage tree is a funny looking tree with giant sausages dangling off rope-like stems! Of course they’re not really sausages, but giant seed pods.
Since the establishment of the Park in 1898, lion have increased proportionately to a significant increase in their prey species. In the 1920s Stevenson-Hamilton counted 600 lion in the Park. Today, Kruger supports about 2 000, representing one of the largest populations in Africa. Discover the incredible variety of Kruger National Park wildlife. There are over a hundred animal species!
On any trip to Kruger National Park take a camera! You don’t have to be a wildlife photographer to take great pictures. Any type of camera should do, but a lot of people have large zoom lenses to capture the detail in distant shots.