The Kruger National Park’s rich history about its formation dates back to the late 1800’s. In 1884, the president at the time Paul Kruger was made aware that the wildlife of the Lowveld was in grave danger of becoming extinct. He approached the Transvaal Parliament with a proposal to establish a protected area in the Lowveld for wildlife; in 1898 along with Jakob Louis van Wyk being part of the drive behind this proposal, the request was granted and the Lowveld was proclaimed the Sabie Game Reserve.
In 1926, the Sabie Game Reserve which ran from the Crocodile River (Southern border) to the Sabi River (Northern border) was merged with the Shingwedzi Reserve and other farms to become the Kruger National Park.
The Kruger National Park lies in the north-east of South Africa, in the eastern parts of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. The Kruger National Parks borders Mozambique on its eastern boundary, and on the northern most border with Zimbabwe. There are two rivers that define the northern and southern borders, that being the Limpopo River in the north and the Crocodile River in the south. These are two of the several rivers that run through the Kruger National Park. The other main rivers are the Sabie River (this river goes past Skukuza and Lower Sabie Rest Camps), the Oliphant’s River (seen from the Oliphant’s Rest Camp), Letaba and Luvuvhu.
It is one of the largest national parks in the world, with an area of 19 500 square kilometres (7 600 sq miles). The park is approximately 355 kilometres (220 miles) long, and has an average width of between 40 and 65 kilometres (40 miles). At its widest point it is 90 kilometres (56 miles) wide. The park varies in altitude between 200 metres (660ft) in the east and 840 metres (2 760 ft) above sea level.
Due to the low altitude, the Kruger National Park has a subtropical climate, with the northern areas being drier than the southern areas, and higher than average temperatures can be expected than the surrounding regions. The summer days can peak to above the 40 degree Celsius mark at midday and around 20 degrees Celsius average on the warmer nights. Our winters are very mild and range from 5 degrees to 30 + degrees. The rainy season starts around September, but heavier rain is experienced only from November through to April, with a small amount of rain in May. Rain is usually in the form of thunder showers and mainly from late afternoon.
With its incredible fauna and flora and its unrivalled density of permanent game with hundreds of different species; 507 birds, 336 trees, 147 mammals (in particular our Big Five), 114 reptiles, 49 fish and 34 amphibians, it’s no wonder that the enormous and magnificent Kruger National Park is one of the most popular game parks in the world.
Sabi Sand Game Reserve is the oldest and most successful private reserves in South Africa. The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a 65 000 hectare reserve, pioneered by local landowners in the 1950’s, and shares a border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. Even though there is a 50 kilometre unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, wildlife in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is well habituated resulting in extraordinary close encounters and prolific sightings. The Sabi and Sand rivers run through the reserve, which add even more bio-diversity of this area and this is where the name came from.
With the establishment of tourist resorts between the 1960 and 1970’s the ecological aspect of the reserve became a core focus to identify and protect the reserve from fire, bush encroachment and overgrazing. Animals such as white rhino, sable, eland, nyala, elephant and cheetah were reintroduced into the reserve.
In 1993, the fences between the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve were removed allowing free migration of game between the two reserves, now collectively known as the Greater Kruger National Park.