Every visitor's priority when visiting the Kruger National Park is to see as much of its wildlife as possible. But choosing a route from the maze of criss-crossing tar and gravel roads for optimum sightings can seem like a daunting task.
To help you plan your trip, here are five of the Kruger's best roads for wildlife sightings. Remember that the early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to explore as the animals are much more active then. Don't forget to pack your binoculars and get ready to get trigger-happy.Five recommended roads:
S28 between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie
Accessible from both Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp and Lower Sabie Rest Camp, this gravel road may seem straight, flat and uneventful, but it's actually ideal for spotting animals. In fact, white rhinos adore the grassy plains, so keep an eye out for them as they graze off the road. Herds of giraffe, zebra and elephant also frequent these parts and even lion are spotted occasionally.
The S28 is 24km in length, making it great for an early morning game drive, followed by breakfast at your end point.
H4-1 between Skukuza and Lower Sabie
Perhaps the busiest road in the park, the H4-1 is popular with good reason. This broad, tarred road skirts the iconic Sabie River, resulting in some incredible wildlife sightings. Leopards are often spotted along the road in the late afternoons, while large herds of impala mill about. Elephants also cross the road regularly on their way to get a drink while hippo and crocodile can be seen bathing in the dams below.
The H4-1 itself is 43km long, but be sure to explore some of the many gravel loops sprouting from this road, as they'll bring you closer to the river. Nkuhlu Picnic Spot creates a perfect halfway point.
- H3 heading south from Skukuza
Seeing as the H3 serves as one of the park's main transportation routes, it is often disregarded as a good road for spotting wildlife. But lions are often spotted at the side of the road very early in the morning as you drive south from Skukuza Rest Camp. Herds of antelope and giraffe are also common sites.
The H3 runs all the way from the south of the park to Skukuza, but the first 20km as you head south from Skukuza might be the most fruitful for spotting animals.
H7 between Orpen and Satara
Ideal for exploring the flat, grassy plains of central Kruger, the H7 connecting Orpen Rest Camp (and its satellite camps of Tamboti and Maroela) and Satara Rest Camp is the main road slicing through these vast stretches of savanna. Large herds of wildebeest and zebra add texture to the golden grasslands while giraffe, elephant and warthog are also common.
The H7 is 45km in length and, although Orpen doesn't have a restaurant, you can enjoy a leisurely brunch at Satara Rest Camp if this is your end point.
S100 east of Satara
The area surrounding Satara Rest Camp is labeled 'cat country' for good reason and scrutinising the vegetation along the S100 might be your best option to spot these agile beauties of the bush. Apart from leopard and lion, herds of elephant and buffalo are also commonly spotted along this gravel road as it follows the course of the N'wanetsi River, a popular drinking place.
The S100 starts slightly south of Satara and heads east for 20km.
For more information, go to www.sanparks.org