It’s unthinkable to come all the way to South Africa and not visit Kruger National Park. It is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. You can easily drive yourself there in a rental car from Johannesburg or you can join an organized safari. With such a huge area and wide variety of habitats to choose from you may be wondering how you can chose at all?
First you need to decide on which part of the park you want to see. It’s way too big to try to cover it all in one visit so best to figure out which species you want to see, research the best possible places to see them, then decide if you want a private safari camp or one of SAN-Parks rest camps. Here is a map to show where they are located.
All the Big Five game animals are found at Kruger National Park, which has more species of large mammals than any other African Game Reserve (at 147 species). Out of the 517 species of birds found at Kruger, 253 are residents, 117 non-breeding migrants, and 147 nomads. You won’t be able to see everything so choose a few species an concentrate on finding them and just enjoy everything else that comes along. There are numerous blogs and forums about African safaris so I am not going to try to compete with them but rather write from a birder’s perspective. Siyabona Africa has a great introduction to birding in Kruger NP.
BIRD LISTS FOR KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
HOW I DECIDE ON MY TARGET SPECIES
Parrots are my all-time favourite types of birds so I tend to seek them out first and choose my safari location accordingly. There are 2 species of parrots found in Kruger – Brown-headed Parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus) and a sub-species of Cape Parrot (Poicephalus fuscicollis). There is an easier place to find Cape Parrots, the Woodbush Forest in Magoebaskloof so I base myself at the northernmost SANPark rest camp-Punda Maria. The best place to see Brown-headed Parrots is near Pafuri which is best accessed from Punda Maria Camp. I will be doing a full review in the next post.
You won’t miss out on the Big 5 by targeting a bird species. We saw lions and elephants even on a short visit to nothern Kruger. You can also visit several rest camps and target different species.