Kruger National Park is on nearly everyone’s South Africa bucket list. With over 19,000 km2 (~ 7,000 sq mi), it’s one of Africa’s biggest game reserves. And game is what people come here for, to see (and photograph) wildlife from up close and to hopefully spot the Big 5. One way of doing this, is going on a guided safari in Kruger National Park.
There are plenty of options when it comes to Kruger National Park tours, but we went on a full day safari with Bushbaby Adventures. Keep reading to find out more.
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is located east in South Africa, on the border with Mozambique. The high density of wildlife makes it a popular destination for safari tourists. It’s possible to spot the Big 5 here, but Kruger Park is home to plenty more mammals, birds and other fauna and flora.
You can explore Kruger National Park and its inhabitants on a self-drive safari or a guided game drive. As Kruger Park is enormous and we only had one day, we decided to go on a guided game drive with Bushbaby Adventures, recommended to us by the owners of the beautiful Muweti Bush Lodge we were staying at.
Full Day Safari in Kruger Park with Bushbaby Adventures
We met Elize from Bushbaby Adventures at 7:00 in the morning at Phalaborwa Gate. Before we could start our game drive, we had to fill out a form with our details so she could arrange entrance permission at the gate office. Not much later we hopped in her Toyota Open Safari vehicle, leaving our small hired car at the Phalaborwa Gate car park.
In the first 1.5 hour before breakfast, we spotted all kinds of birds. We quickly noticed how much Elize knows about Kruger Park and its flora and fauna. She told us about the buffalo weaver, the easiest to spot of the Little 5, and its community nest, and pointed out the very small, but very colourful common kingfisher.
We also saw a couple of southern yellow-billed hornbills, a common, not so colourful brother of Zazu’s (from the Lion King), who gladly posed for our photos. Its nephew on the other hand, the southern ground hornbill, is a more rare sighting. Another pretty uncommon sight was the kori bustard, the largest flying bird native to Africa.
Time for breakfast! At around 8:45 Elize pulled over at a safe spot for breakfast. She set up a table with all kinds of South African snacks, including biltong (dried, cured meat), droëwors (dry sausage), lepelsteeltjies (cheesy jam-hole biscuits), rusks (kind of like biscotti), and a special African blend coffee with Amarula (a cream liqueur) instead of milk. We tried everything, and must say the rusks were absolutely delicious! She also had yummy chocolate muffins, some fruit and yoghurt.
About 30 minutes and a visit to the toilet later, we were continuing our Kruger Park game drive. Elize told us about the mopane bush with its butterfly leaves and how the locals eat the protein-filled mopane worms. We also learned about the marula tree, whose fruits, leaves, bark and roots are a delicacy for elephants.
We spotted zebras as well, elephants (even one with 6 legs!), and giraffes. Some of them were carrying around oxpeckers, small birds that pick off ticks and other small insects from their backs. When looking for hippos we almost mistook one for a rock until we saw his ears move.
Right before we stopped for lunch, Elize pulled over near a red-crested korhaan. He’s known as the suicide bird, because he sometimes drops like a ball before spreading his wings to land smoothly. And he has a funny mating ritual, dancing around in a circle. Yes, Elize is walking encyclopaedia when it comes to Kruger National Park animals!
For lunch, Elize threw a couple of boerewors (South African sausages) on the gas braai (BBQ). We ate them between a roll, with sheba sauce (tomato onion sauce) on top. Good, but not as good as dessert: koeksisters, some kind of fried dough dipped in honey sauce. I’m a sweet tooth!
After lunch we drove along a river, where we saw (and heard) a woodpecker, a stork, and 2 hippos from afar. They’re so cute with their short legs! We also spotted a waterbuck, a large antelope with a white bum (looks like a target or toilet seat) and a heart shaped nose.
About 25 km from the Mozambique border we stopped on a bridge over a wide river. The view was amazing! Apparently the river is known for its crocodile population, but unfortunately we didn’t see one. There was hardly any water in the river at the time, but there were signs marking the spots to where the river flooded back in 2000.
Next, we pulled over near the water where we spotted somewhere between 10 and 15 hippos in the water. These big mammals are so fun to watch while “playing” in the water, opening their mouths, disappearing beneath the surface and coming up again. (Thanks binoculars!)
Elize dropped us back off at our car at around 16:00, meaning we spent about 9 hours exploring Kruger National Park with Bushbaby Adventures. We had a great day, spotting plenty of Kruger Park wildlife, taking way too many photos. No big cats, unfortunately, but you’ll need a bit of luck on your side for those!
Booking a Kruger Safari with Bushbaby Adventures
During our visit to Greater Kruger National Park we stayed at Muweti Bush Lodge, a gorgeous lodge in a private game reserve near Kruger Park. They know Elize from Bushbaby Adventures and arranged this full day guided safari in Kruger for us.
Kruger National Park Safari Price
Elize had no other customers for the day, so we enjoyed a private guided safari in Kruger Park for 2,850R (~ 190$ ~ €163) for the both of us. The full day safari she offers takes 9 to 10 hours, which includes stops for breakfast and lunch.
No need to bring anything but a camera though, as Bushbaby Adventures takes care of all the rest. Upon arrival Elize handed us a bag with some snacks and a drink. She also provided a South African breakfast and lunch for us. This was all included in the safari price, just like the refreshments for the road. The day visitor entrance fee for Kruger National Park is included as well.
So also had an extra pair of binoculars to share, but if you have a pair yourself, make sure to bring it as well.
Bushbaby Adventures – Practical Information
The Kruger National Park game drives are in their Toyota Open Safari vehicle, which can seat 9 people in the back. We prefer an open vehicle for a game drive, so you can hear and smell everything, but you can request an air-conditioned vehicle as well.
Check out the view you’ll get in an Open Safari vehicle in this 360 panorama:
You can meet up with your safari guide from Bushbaby Adventures at the Phalaborwa Gate, like we did. You can leave your car at the car park there. However, if you wish, they can come pick you up at your accommodation as well, in a Ford Ranger pick up truck.
If you’d like to book a safari with Bushbaby Adventures, check out their website for all available Kruger National Park tours and contact information. Check out their page on TripAdvisor for more reviews.
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