By Plane -- There are three main airports in the Kruger vicinity. The busiest by far is Kruger-Mpumalanga International Airport (still often referred to as Nelspruit Airport), near White River and Hazyview (the gates to southern Kruger). The other options are Eastgate Airport (Hoedspruit, southern/central Kruger) and Kruger Park Gateway Airport (Phalaborwa, central Kruger). Your best bet is SA Airlink (www.flyairlink.com), which operates daily flights to all three from Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. Alternatively, SA Express (www.flysax.co.za) also flies in daily from Johannesburg, and Expressions of Africa (tel. 011/978-3552), a division of SA Express, puts together promotional flight and accommodations packages to safari destinations throughout southern Africa. Skukuza Airport, situated within Kruger Park near Skukuza Rest Camp, is no longer licensed for commercial flights, but this may change in the future, and it is used by charter flights such as those operated by Federal Air (www.fedair.com).
By Car -- The park has 10 entrance gates, most a comfortable 5- to 6-hour drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. The closest gate, Malelane, is 428km (265 miles) from Johannesburg, while Pafuri (the farthest) lies around 580km (360 miles) northeast. The southern gates are Malelane, Crocodile Bridge, Numbi, Phabeni, and Paul Kruger. The central gates: Orpen and Phalaborwa. The northern gates: Punda Maria, Giriyondo (from Mozambique), and Pafuri. Allow enough time to reach the park; entrance-gate hours are strictly enforced. For safety and easy access, officials recommend the newest gate, Phabeni.
All inquiries and applications should be made to South African National Parks (SANParks), P.O. Box 787, 643 Leyds St., Muckleneuk, Tshwane (Pretoria; tel. 012/426-5000; fax 012/426-5500; www.sanparks.org; Mon-Fri 7:30am-4pm, Sat 9am-noon). You can also phone the park directly at tel. 013/735-4000 or 013/735-4246. Accommodation and campsites at all public rest camps within the park can also be booked by e-mail or telephone, but it's far easier and more efficient to use the very user-friendly and almost instantaneous online booking service on the SANParks website listed above. The park's headquarters is situated at Skukuza Rest Camp, located in the southern section, on the banks of the Sabie River.
By Car -- Avis (www.avis.co.za) has a desk at the Eastgate Airport (tel. 015/793-2014), at the Kruger-Mpumalanga International airport (tel. 013/750-1015), at Phalaborwa's Kruger airport (tel. 015/781-3169), as well as at Skukuza, main camp in the Kruger (tel. 013/735-5651). Budget (www.budget.co.za) operates from the Kruger-Mpumalanga airport (tel. 013/751-1774) and Phalaborwa's Kruger airport (tel. 015/781-5404). It's exciting to explore the park at your own pace in a rental car, but at least one guided game drive in an open-topped vehicle is recommended. Note also that the park has opened 4- to 5-hour 4x4 Adventure Trails that take you right off the beaten track into areas previously off-limits, but you will have to hire a 4WD vehicle to complete these. Sign up for these from Pretoriuskop, Satara, Phalaborwa Gate, Punda Maria, and Shingwedzi. The Planning trails are weather-sensitive, so they must be booked on the same day.
When to Go
Each season has advantages. Between October and March, when summer rains (often in the form of dramatic thunderstorms) have transformed the dry landscape into a flowering paradise, the park is alive with young buck and migratory birds, but at the same time, temperatures can soar above 105°F (40°C), dropping to 68°F (20°C) in the balmy evenings. The dense, junglelike foliage hides game, and the malaria risk is at its highest. In the winter, when water is scarce and the plant life recedes, animals are easier to spot, especially at water holes and riverbeds. Because this is the most popular season, however, be prepared to share your sightings with other motorists. The days are warm, but temperatures can drop close to freezing at night, and units are not heated. Try to avoid going during the school holidays, particularly in winter, when the park is packed to capacity.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.