A day trip to the Kruger Park is fun for the entire family, children are always eager to see the animals up close in their natural habitat

The Kruger National Park links some of the best and most established wildlife areas in Southern Africa

Established by its namesake Paul Kruger, (the South African President of the day) in 1898, The Kruger National Park is one of the largest nature conservation areas in the world. Not only is it home to the Big Five, but it is found in two of our provinces, Mupumulanga and Limpopo.

The park also borders two countries, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park was proclaimed on the 9 December 2002, and links some of the best and most established wildlife areas in Southern Africa.

The Kruger Park opened its gates to the public in 1927 for the hefty price of 1 Pound per vehicle.

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I set out for a self-drive day trip, eager to see how many animals I would encounter

After driving for some time, I decided to stretch my legs on the giant rock at Mathekenyane Lookout on my way to Skukuza camp. From my vantage point, no matter where I looked there was untamed natural wilderness. I realised with deep appreciation for our country that we often overlook the dramatic landscapes that are on our doorstep.Time seems to stand still as one acquires a deep sense of connection to the nature surrounding us.

The long park has nine entrances that generally open at 5:30 during the summer months and close at 18:30. Skukuza airport (found inside the park) operates for chartered flights and daily scheduled flights from JHB, CT and Durban.

When is the best time to visit the Kruger Park?

In my opinion it has always been in the winter months, June to August. I visited at the end of June as a day visitor (due to COVID-19 regulations no camping or staying over is allowed).

SANParks announced on 6 June 2020 that self-drive excursions for day visitors would be permitted from 8 June 2020 in all parks countrywide that cater for self drives. Guests are asked to wear masks, maintain social distance, follow transport capacity directives and dispose of rubbish in the brown paper bag issued on arrival. Provincial border crossing is not permitted without a travel permit.

I was ecstatic to see not one, but two herds of rhinos

The dry bush and dwindling water holes make it easy to spot the wildlife. The animals have also become braver due to the lack of tourists, and herds of elephants, rhinos, bucks, zebras and giraffes are easy to spot along the road.

The park’s anti-poaching unit consists of 650 specially trained anti-poaching game rangers who are assisted by the South African Police and the SANDF. With the aid of a specialist dog unit, drones and two Gazelle helicopters, the mammoth task of ending poaching is making progress, together with education in local communities.

The crown jewel of Southern Africa, this unspoiled African bushveld made me realise why my roots are deep in Africa. It’s an experience that connects you with the wild side and can only be fully understood once you have breathed the African wilderness and witnessed the charismatic animals up close, wandering freely in their homeland.

A day spent traversing the park ends with the African sunset, the perfect canvas silhouetting the wildlife going home after a memorable day in the Park.