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Kruger National Park, South Africa - Unique Places Around the World

Part of the multinational Great Limpopo system, South Africa's Kruger National Park shares borders with parks in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

5. Description

Nestled within the exotic Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces of Northeastern South Africa, Kruger National Park spans a total land area of 7,523 square miles, making it one of the most expansive and truly diverse game reserves on the African continent. The park is approximately 56 miles at its widest point, and is partitioned by two rivers on its north and south sides. The cities nearest to it are Nelspruit and Phalaborwa, and the park was launched in May of 1926. Visitors touring the park in summer can expect to fry in the hot African sun, with temperatures there often ranging from 90 to 100 degrees. It is best to visit the place during the cooler and dryer seasons, especially in September and October, not only because its safer but also because its more comfortable. Malaria is prevalent in the area, and the illness is best avoided when its not too rainy nor too hot.

4. Tourism

More than 1 million people visited Kruger National Park in 2004, and the numbers have continually increased further over the years since. Being one of the largest game reserves in Africa, it is often visited by people who want to experience an authentic and truly unforgettable safari adventure. The park is easily accessible, thanks largely to the wide scale development of airports in the region, and the improvement of roads leading from them to the area in the vicinity of Kruger National Park. Foreign guests often prefer to fly directly to the park, via airlines servicing Johannesburg, Kruger, Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit, and Skukuza daily. Once in Kruger, they have the option to rent vehicles and drive their way into and around the park. Others may choose to book any one of the package tours being offered by various operators, as well as coach and bus services that can be well suited to the demands of even the most frugal of budgeters.

3. Uniqueness

Apart from the breathtaking beauty of Kruger National Park’s wilderness, there are about one thousand and one other reasons for tourists to go there. Perhaps the most compelling is the fact that it is home to all manner of rare organisms, and there is an infinite wealth of information that one can learn just by touring any one of its well managed facilities. The park is popular for its several cultural features, including the Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library, the Letaba Elephant Museum, the Albasini Ruins, Thulamela, and Jock of the Bushveld Route. Meanwhile, those who are into birdwatching or bird photography will have their hands full day and night, especially with their most popular group of birds, titled the "Birding Big Six" (ground hornbill, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, kori bustard, and saddle-bill stork). Other famous camps are those housing the world famous "Big Five" (Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Lion) and "Little Five" animals (buffalo weaver, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion and leopard tortoise).

2. Habitat

Kruger National Park offers a staggering array of plants and animals readily seen in any of its nook and crannies. For families with kids longing to see all of the biggest five animals of the world lounging in their natural habitats, this is the place to be, with the park’s highly informative tours and truly wild African vibe. Other animals of interest also thriving there are what’s collectively known as the Little Five, composed of the buffalo weaver, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion and leopard tortoise. All in all, Kruger National Park is home to no less than 49 fish species, 147 mammals, 336 trees, 507 birds, and roughly 114 reptiles. Bull sharks, snakes, Zambesi sharks, black mambas, wild dogs, impalas, blue wildebeests, and a host of other rare life forms call this place their home. This makes for all the more reason for families, couples, or any wanderer for that matter, to visit Kruger at least once in their lives.

1. Threats

Being home to a significant number of wild and highly coveted animals and plants, Kruger National Park is perpetually subjected to threats of poaching and illegal plant collecting. The National Anti-Poaching committee works overtime to ensure that it remains free of big game poachers, although the task is a rather huge challenge because of the exorbitant prices that the animals and their products fetch in black markets. Conservation of the park’s biodiversity is also a major concern along with the day to day management of its 7,523 square miles land area. Indeed, the very size of Kruger often makes poacher, and many tourists, feel they can get away with breaking the rules here. However, those who do choose to risk it will likely get busted by one of the hundreds of SANP (South African National Park) rangers who patrol the area, who are also at times even assisted by police and military personnel.

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