Must-Know Tips for Visiting The Kruger Park
1. Bring binoculars. Although your guide will have a pair, they need them to spot animals for you and having to share them with everyone else on the ride means you only have them for a few seconds. Guides recommend roof prism binoculars because they are smaller, more compact, hardier and they let in more light.
2. You don’t need specific outdoor wear. But wear neutral colours.
3. Don’t ever be tempted to feed the animals or try to get their attention/bring them close to your car. Especially when you’re driving yourself to/from your lodge. They are wild animals and feeding them is not only dangerous but detrimental to their survival in the wild. It’s also illegal, and you can be fined or even receive jail time for breaking the rules.
4. Respect your guide at all times. Guides know how to read animals for signs of fear or irritation, so respect their instructions. If they tell you to shut up, do it! It might be the difference between being stormed by a bull elephant or living to see the light of another bush sunrise.
5. Bring sunscreen even if you’re coming in winter. Hats for the sun and beanies for winter mornings. This might be Africa, but the winter months are cold, even if the days are sunny. You’re likely to get a sunburn even in the middle of winter.
6. Tips and gratuities are encouraged. If you’re staying at a lodge, you can budget on around R150 per person per day for your guide. You can tip at the end of your trip, either by adding it to your credit card bill or slipping it into the gratuities box on your way out – you don’t have to tip after every drive. Also make sure to leave something for the general staff, who split the tips offered by guests.
7. Bring travel adapters and a book. There will be down time and possibly limited access to wifi, so bring along that book you’ve been meaning to read for years.
8. If you’re into birding, definitely download an app like Roberts Birds, so you can tick off lots of new sightings. Most guides have a solid knowledge of birds, so even if you aren’t into birding, it’s interesting when they stop and point out unique birds or behaviours.
9. Be prepared for early mornings. And don’t be tempted to sleep in. You cannot beat a sunrise in the bush, and guaranteed, the morning you decide to hit the snooze button will be the morning the group comes across a baby cheetah. Also, don’t make your guide wait. If you’ve arranged to meet at 5:30 am, your guide has been up since 4:30 am, and keeping them waiting is just very rude.
10. Research the different areas of the Kruger and find out what they have to offer. While the south is densely populated with animals (and visitors), the north has incredible landscapes and more opportunity for authentic animal encounters (where you won’t encounter any other vehicles at a sighting.
11. Be realistic in your expectations and understand that it’s not a zoo. You might not see animals on every game drive, so use every opportunity to soak up the fresh air and enjoy being in the outdoors. Your guide always wants to make your stay as memorable as possible, so don’t blame them if you don’t come across any wildlife – they’ll be as disappointed as you are.
12. Always thank your guide. First of all, it’s just good manners. But also because they are the ones making your experience. They’re always on the lookout for something that might interest you, and always keeping you safe.
13. Be respectful of other people on the vehicle. Everyone is interested in different things, so give your fellow guests time to focus their binoculars on that rare (boring) bird. Your guide will know how to manage time, so don’t worry that you’re missing out on seeing more interesting stuff.
14. Do a bit of the north and the south so that you can see both. I loved having the opportunity to see so many animals in the south, but then enjoy the tranquil pace and luxury of the north.