Activities and Things to Do in the Kruger National Park
While enjoying unforgettable safari tours in the Kruger National Park, you may at some point want to take some time off to enjoy some other activities and things to do in the Kruger National park.
The Greater Kruger National Park is a primary South African destination for many local and international tourists, with far more than half a million visitors that are registered for visits and safaris each year.
While enjoying unforgettable safari tours in the Greater Kruger National Park or adjacent game lodges, some visitors may want to take some time off the traditional game drives or bush walks to enjoy other activities within the area too.
With a little bit of planning, this is quite possible, and visitors can go home after an enriching but also fun-filled and activity-laden holiday.
An awesome and exciting wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa is of course the number one aim of any safari to the region.
The Kruger National Park is not world renowned for nothing. The nearly 2 million hectares of national park that was established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and also a definite world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
As a true flagship of the South African National Parks (SANParks), Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: more than 330 trees, about 50 fish, more than 30 amphibians, more than 110 reptiles, more than 50 birds and another almost 150 mammals.
The park is also home to an extensive cultural heritage, evidence of man’s interaction with the environment over many centuries. Several treasures ranging from bushman rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela are evidence of these interactions and represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and surrounds.
Most of these are conserved along with the park’s natural assets and offer interested visitors ample opportunities to learn more about the past.
The Greater Kruger National Park offers a host of activities for any visitor, some for the more active and other for those that came for pure relaxation. With no restricting fences between the Private Game Reserves and the Kruger National Park, exciting wildlife encounters in the open veld are
always the order of the day. With each activity added to your safari holiday or vacation, you can be assured of the sheer enjoyment of un-spoilt nature.
Moreover, the open vistas and vitalizing air will leave you relaxed and energized for your return to civilization.
A safari can be an affordable activity
A budget safari in Africa offers excellent value for money and usually include accommodation, meals, sightseeing, activities (game drives, game walks, etc), and airport pick-up. This allows you to manage the budget easily while preparing to get up close and personal with the wildlife.
A safari offers a unique opportunity to see wildlife in flesh! Whether you want to see the Big Five or want to witness more elusive species, there is a choice for everyone. A safari offers ample learning opportunities. There can hardly be a better way for children to learn about the animals than to see them during a family safari. Many lodges offer Junior Ranger similar activities in which children learn to track animals, while others focus on the local culture in their activities.
A night drive while on safari is a wonderful opportunity to view the star filled sky away from city lights.
Some of the most popular activities offered by Tour Operators are:
Guided walks and hiking trails
All walking safaris on hiking trails are guided by experienced rangers with an extensive knowledge of the area, its wildlife, birds and indigenous vegetation.
For overnight trails, accommodation is usually provided in a tented camp on a riverbed, in two-bedded safari-tents with communal toilet and shower facilities. Camp staff cleans and cooks while the guide leads you into close encounters with the area’s wildlife. To maximise this experience and offer more sightings, one or more game drives may also be included in such game hikes.
Going on a walking safari offers a unique chance to see the animals up close and personal. The guides’ experience ensures that you not only get a chance to spot them, but lets you go home with a wealth of knowledge about the animals and their habitat.
The aim of such walks is to learn and appreciate the intricate details of the nature surrounding you. Once your senses have been activated, you will be able to tune into the sights, sounds and smells more than when you are travelling in a vehicle.
Open air dining and traditional cuisine
Whether you are a culinary expert or not, open air dining on traditional cuisine under the African sky remains one of the most magical safari experiences one can imagine.
These dinners usually go hand in hand with exclusive comfort in the open savannah, superior personalized service and more adventure in the wild.
Mountain bike trails
A tour operator can assist you to swap four wheels for two. The most prestigious trails can be found at Olifants Camp and you can be supplied with all the equipment you need.
Different trails are available depending on your skill and fitness level and will offer the ideal opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park out of a vehicle.
Bird watching has become a very popular activity in the Greater Kruger National Park, mostly due to the hugely diverse selection of birds found in the area. Birds are abundant throughout the park, but the northern area is particularly favoured since many of the bird species found here cannot be seen anywhere else in Southern Africa.
The Kruger National Park itself has quite a number of bird hides to choose from and far more than 220 different species of birds have been recorded in the park.
The Kruger National Park and adjacent area sport several well-known golf courses for enthusiasts to try their hand and clubs at. Amongst these are
the Sabie River golf course, the Leopard Creek golf course, the course at Skukuza and the Hans Merensky golf course.
As the park enjoys a sub-tropical climate, the cooler months of winter is best to play. A round of golf on one of these courses provides another great opportunity to get up and close with wildlife, while enjoying the excitement of the sport.
Apart from the above very popular activities, there is a great selection of others to try too
Self- drive through the Kruger National Park
A night drive through the Kruger National Park
Wellness spa treatments
Hot air balloon flights
Caving near the Kruger National Park
4×4 adventure trails
Whatever your preference, there will be something for everyone in your family or group to try in the magnificence of the Kruger National Park.
Supporting conservation efforts
The cost of an African safari includes conservation fees for the parks you visit, which helps support the conservation efforts and save those species in danger of extinction. Also, many safaris offer the possibility to stay in environmentally responsible lodges and camps which contribute to the well-being of local communities and wildlife.
17 things you will LOVE to do in Kruger National Park
While on one of the incredible safari tours offered in the Greater Kruger National Park or one of the private game lodges located nearby, some guests may like to take a break from the typical game drives or bush walks in order to participate in one of the many additional activities available in the park and surrounds.
This is entirely feasible with some forward preparation, and vacationers will be able to return home after a trip that was not only educational but also adventurous and packed with exciting activities.
The Greater Kruger National Park has a tonne of different things to do for tourists, some of which are more strenuous and others of which are more geared toward people who just want to chill out. Due to the fact that there are no fences separating the Private Game Reserves and the Kruger National Park, visitors to the open veld can always expect to have interesting interactions with the animal species.
Your ability to take in the pristine beauty of nature during your safari holiday or vacation increases with the number of activities you choose to participate in.
In addition, the expansive views and invigorating air will leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated, both of which will be beneficial for when you return to civilised society.
Kruger National Park offers an amazing variety of activities, each of which is geared toward bringing the guest closer to nature and making them feel more at home in their surroundings, so guests do not need to worry about how to occupy their spare time while they are there.
Participants can have peace of mind knowing experienced, competent, and armed guides will function as trail leaders and interpret the spectacular surroundings at regular intervals, regardless of whether they are participating in eco trails, back packs, or guided day hikes.
Because of this, the participants are able to get up close to nature and experience its wondrous aspects in a way that they never had before.
17 of the most popular activities offered by tour operators include:
You will be able to enjoy the tranquillity of the Kruger National Park at sunrise during your guided morning drive. Morning drives depart a half hour before official gate opening times, which vary depending on the season, implying that you will be the only guests driving around at that time. The drives last 3 to 3.5 hours and allow you to see the sunrise over unspoiled bush.
You will be transported from your camp of residence or entrance gate on an open vehicle and an experienced guide will interpret the natural bush and provide additional insight into the Kruger National Park’s ways.
Throughout the morning, the guide will visit various watering holes and lookout points to increase the number and variety of animals that guests can see.
2. Sunset open vehicle safari drives
These three-hour drives leave the camp before dusk and return after sunset. In the cool afternoon, look for grazers and predators beginning their nightly hunts. Sunset is when night animals emerge, and a drive during this time allows you to see the beauty of the bush as it transitions from day to night. Learn about the fauna and flora from an expert guide before returning to camp.
3. Night open vehicle safari drives
Guided night drives are the only way to see animals at night. They depart at 19:30 or 20:00 depending on the time of year and last approximately two hours. The groups are led by experienced guides to spy on Kruger’s nocturnal creatures and their secretive activities.
Learn about fauna and flora from expert guides before returning to camp on a night drive. It is also a great chance to see our starry sky away from the city lights. An experienced guide will interpret the natural bush and provide additional insight into the Kruger National Park’s ways.
4. Full day open vehicle safari excursions
Guests may enjoy wonderful comfort as well as an unobstructed view of the wildlife, especially the “Big 5”, from specially constructed open safari vehicles that will leave camp very early in the morning. The excursion is an extension of a morning drive and may include a bush breakfast along the way, as well as visits to some of the main Kruger camps for an opportunity to buy lunch or drinks.
5. Guided bush walks
Walking through the Kruger National Park will plunge you in the heart of an African adventure. You will be accompanied by experienced armed guides. The purpose of the walk is to learn about and appreciate the intricate details of the natural world around you.
A walking safari allows you to get up close and personal with the animals. The guides’ expertise ensures that you not only see the animals, but also leave with a wealth of knowledge about them and their habitat.
The goal of such walks is to learn about and appreciate the intricate details of the environment around you. You will be able to tune into the sights, sounds, and smells more than when travelling in a vehicle once your senses have been activated.
Once your senses are activated, you will be able to tune into all of the sights, sounds, and smells that one does not often get to experience while driving. Take advantage of the opportunity to see members of the Big 5 on foot.
Longer walking tours and hiking trails can also be done.
All such hiking safaris are led by experienced rangers who are well-versed in the area’s wildlife, birds, and indigenous vegetation.
Accommodation for overnight trails is typically provided in a tented camp on a riverbed, in two-bedded safari-tents with communal toilet and shower facilities. While the camp staff cleans and cooks, the guide takes you on close encounters with the area’s wildlife.
6. Mountain bike trails
Reducing the number of wheels from four to two may be a real exciting decision when in the park. On two wheels, you can take in all the sights and sounds of the national park.
Olifants Camp is the only camp that offers this kind of excursion and provides you with all of the necessary equipment. There are multiple trails to choose from, depending on your degree of expertise and physical preparedness.
These paths provide the best opportunity to take in the views and sounds of the park while remaining outside of your car.
7. Bird watching
This is one of the best-liked things to do in the Kruger National Park, and the primary draw is the enormous variety of bird species that can be seen there. Birds can be seen in great numbers throughout the park, but the northern half of the park is especially desirable for birdwatchers.
It is the only place in Southern Africa where you can witness some species of birds that are only found here. There are currently eleven separate bird hides available for use in Kruger National Park, and park rangers have identified over 226 distinct species of birds.
The Kruger National Park and the surrounding area are home to a number of renowned golf courses, providing opportunities for golf aficionados to test their skills and swing.
You can test your skills on one of four different courses that are available in or near Kruger National Park – the Skukuza course, Sabie River Golf Course, the Leopard Creek Golf Course and the Hans Merensky Golf Course are some of the courses in the area.
Because the Park has a subtropical environment, the best time to play golf there is during the winter months when it is cooler. Enjoying a round of golf while getting the chance to get up close and personal with local wildlife is a win-win situation.
9. Bush braais and traditional cuisine
A bush braai is an evening meal combined with a game drive to and from a BBQ location. The drive there will be during the day, and the drive back to your rest camp will be at night.
You get out in a safari vehicle, see the sun set, continue driving at night to a special location for a barbecued meal of game meat, sausages, vegetables, and salads. Dessert, tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are also available.
While you are eating, keep your eyes and ears open, looking for and listening to any wildlife in the surrounding bush. Do not forget to bring your camera!
Several main Kruger National Park rest camps offer bush braais. You must spend the night at the same rest stop from which your bush BBQ departs.
10. Wellness spa treatments
The AM Spa – Kruger is a world-class spa facility located in the Kruger National Park. The Spa captures the stillness of the bush, punctuated by birdsong and leaf rustling.
AM Spa – Kruger has four luxurious treatment rooms that can accommodate both couples and singles. The Spa also includes two outdoor treatment rooms, a manicure and pedicure bar, and a pool. This world-class spa is ideal for families or individuals looking to relax and rejuvenate in the heart of the African bush.
11. Hot air balloon flights
Experience the magic of lighter-than-air flight over the Lowveld game reserves in the Greater Kruger National Park for an enjoyable and educational adventure that will be one of the highlights of your Big Game Country visit.
Hot air balloon safari flights are available over a few lodges and game reserves in the Greater Kruger Park area that have suitable terrain.
You meet before sunrise and enjoy coffee while watching your hot air balloon be inflated and prepared for flight. After a safety briefing, you should be able to take off in time to see the sunrise. Then, on your hot air balloon safari, you will change altitude to look for a favourable wind that will allow you to drift gently over the landscape.
After about an hour of hot air balloon safari flight, the pilot will choose a suitable landing site where the rescue crew will be present.
Depending on the weather, sparkling wine and fruit juice are served after the hot air balloon safari.
12. Wilderness Trails
Staying in a rustic, primitive camp and exploring the African bush on foot is much more akin to true wilderness recreation. That is what is offered to the more daring tourist: wildness, remoteness, tranquillity, peace, and, as an added bonus, no other people!
Although the KNP operates trails in the big five areas, the primary goal of these trails is to provide a wilderness experience. It offers vast open spaces and a unique atmosphere that few other destinations can match. Wilderness Trails views dangerous animals as part of a larger picture, rather than the entire picture.
When you travel by foot, you feel more connected to the environment than when you travel by car. Because you can see, smell, hear, touch, feel, and even taste wild things, it tunes you in to all aspects of nature.
The presentation of trails emphasises wilderness ethics and philosophy and the Bushman’s Wilderness Trail from Berg-en-Dal, is the ideal example.
The three days and two nights excursion include two hikes per day with highlight being the San rock art found in the rocky areas of the park’s southwestern corner, as well as the possibility of seeing white rhinos, lions, and large herds of antelope.
Elephants are abundant in this area of Kruger National Park, and the walks frequently follow their well-worn paths.
You will spend three nights in a rustic wilderness camp in a simple A-frame hut with two beds. There is no electricity or cell phone reception, but there are pole-enclosed toilets and hot showers, as well as a central fire area where you can commune at night while being served food by the camp’s cook.
Early morning walks are followed by lunch and an afternoon siesta, followed by another late afternoon walk. All of your meals are provided, but you may want to bring your own drinks for sundowners.
13. 4×4 adventure trails
4×4 trails allow the self-drive visitor to get off the beaten track and explore areas of the park that are rarely seen.
The 4×4 vehicles are essential for minimising environmental damage and for providing access to a true wilderness experience in the park. Some of the trails have dongas or riverbeds that make standard vehicles unsuitable for them, especially during the wet season.
Because the adventure trails are not gravelled, they are typically closed after a rain to allow them to completely dry. The trails are self-guided and must be completed at one’s own risk. Participants should be aware that no facilities are available along the routes.
Please exercise extreme caution at all times, especially when exiting vehicles, and be aware of potential hazards. Participants are encouraged to bring their GPS devices. Within the KNP, there is currently only one adventure trail. Per trail, a maximum of six vehicles are permitted per day.
14. Photographic Safaris
Any safari provides fantastic photographic opportunities. No matter how advanced your photography skills are, you will want to capture as many photo memories as possible while on safari. The breath taking scenery and incredible wildlife create unforgettable moments, and photos are the best way to share your experience with friends and family.
15. Supporting conservation efforts
The price of an African safari includes conservation fees for the parks you visit, which helps to support conservation efforts and save endangered species. Furthermore, many safaris include the option of staying in environmentally responsible lodges and camps where guests can contribute even more to the well-being of local communities and wildlife.
16. Backpacking Trails
Are you feeling energised, enthusiastic, and ready for a new challenge? Then try the Olifants River Backpack Trail.
The trail is 42 kilometres long and will take four days and three nights to complete. This Kruger National Park Trail runs every Sunday and Wednesday between April and October.
Because you will be carrying all of your own gear, pack wisely and keep your bag to no more than a quarter of your body weight. Prior to the start of the trail, a gear check will take place, during which guides will assist you in packing your bag in such a way that it feels comfortable and not as heavy.
After you leave, you will be in the middle of nowhere, with no camping facilities, and you will be pitching a tent wherever you find it after a day of hard work, while admiring the stunning scenery and wonderful wildlife.
Each trail requires a minimum of eight people.
17. Eco trails
There are three different eco trails available.
Participants must drive their own 4×4 vehicles equipped with provisions for the trip, including tents and camping gear, as well as a sufficient supply of water, firewood, and food. A knowledgeable and professional trail guide will lead the trail and provide interpretation along the way.
At any given time, only 5 vehicles, plus the guide vehicle, are permitted on the trail. Per vehicle, a maximum of four people are permitted. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted unless prior arrangements have been made.
Lebombo Eco Trail is a 5-day (4-night) outdoor adventure that takes you through a large portion of the Kruger National Park.
The trail follows the eastern boundary of the Kruger National Park along the Lebombo hills from extreme south to extreme north. Trail leaders are experienced, professional guides who will interpret the various ecozones the trail crosses at regular intervals.
Only 4 x 4 vehicles and genuine off-road trailers or caravans are permitted. Although it is not strictly a 4×4 challenge, road conditions vary from fairly good to a few places with steep inclines and muddy patches where guests are required to engage in 4 x 4.
During the dry season, which runs from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, the trail departs from Crocodile Bridge every Sunday and ends at Pafuri on a Thursday.
The route is over 500 kilometres long. Clients must drive their own vehicles, prepare their own meals, and transport their own equipment. Guests must also supply their own firewood and water.
The Mafunyane 4×4 Eco-Trail is a four-day (three-night) self-catering guided adventure activity in the northwestern section between the Olifants and Luvuvhu Rivers. The trail route is approximately 270 kilometres long. Overnight sites have a fireplace, environmentally friendly toilets, and a shower that you heat with fire. The trail departs from Phalaborwa Gate every Thursday afternoon (at 12:00) and returns on Sunday morning to Punda Maria Camp during the dry season, which runs from 1 March to 30 November.
The Malopeni Overnight Eco Trail is a one-night guided adventure trail that travels along management roads north of Phalaborwa Gate up to the Letaba River.
The route gives the adventure tourist exclusive access to remote areas that are rarely visited by vehicles and brings the true eco-tourist up close to the realities of the African bush. The wilderness, remoteness, and seclusion of travelling through areas rarely seen by others are highlighted.
What activities are available at main rest camps?
Activities at main camps may include guided bush walks, game drives, bird hides, camp walks, bush breakfasts and bush braais.
Is a backpacking trail in the Kruger Park an option and where can I do it?
The Olifants backpacking trail is a good option for fit hikers looking for a longer trail because it lasts four days and three nights and covers 42 kilometres, during which hikers must carry their own tents and food. Anyone wishing to participate in this hike must have a medical certificate of fitness.
How many wilderness trails are there in the Kruger Park?
There are seven wilderness trails to choose from including Bushmans trail, Mathikithi-, Napi-, Nyalaland, Olifants-, Sweni- and Wolhuter trails.
Can I enjoy mountain biking the Kruger National Park?
The only camp in the Kruger that offers mountain biking is Olifants camp with three trails to be enjoyed: Hardekool Draai Trail, Olifants / Letaba River Confluence Trail and Klipkoppies Mozambique Border Trail.
Can one go on an overnight trail in the Kruger National Park?
Yes, the KNP operates trails in several areas with the primary goal being to provide a pure wilderness experience.
Are there bird hides in the Kruger National Park?
Yes, there are hides in most of the camps situated near dams or rivers, as well as at some other points.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Olifants backpacking trail in the Kruger Park a good option?
The Olifants backpacking trail is a good option for hikers who are fit and looking for a longer trail as it stretches over 4 days and 3 nights and covers about 42km during which time hikers must carry their own tents and food. A medical certificate of fitness is required for anyone who wants to undertake this hike.
How many wilderness trails are there in the Kruger Park?
There are currently seven wilderness trails to choose from including Bushmans trail, Mathikithi-, Napi-, Nyalaland, Olifants-, Sweni- and Wolhuter trails.
Where can I enjoy mountain biking the Kruger National Park?
The only camp in the Kruger that offers mountain biking is Olifants camp on the Eastern side of the park. There are 3 trails to be enjoyed: Hardekool Draai Trail, Olifants / Letaba River Confluence Trail and Klipkoppies Mozambique Border Trail.
What activities are available at Letaba rest camp?
Activities at Letaba include Guided bush walks, Game drives, Visits to the Letaba elephant hall, Matambeni bird hide and Masorini ruins, Mananga 4×4 trail, Riverside camp walks, a TV Lounge, Educational programme for kids (seasonal), Wildlife films, Bush breakfast and Bush braai.
Is there a bird hide in Satara rest camp?
Yes, the Sweni bird hide is located on the Sweni river about 30km from the rest camp.