We are often asked when is the best time to visit South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Here are our recommendations for when to visit and how to ensure you have a memorable safari.
Bear in mind that you can have many days with no rain during the rainy season and during the dry season it can sometimes rain.
WINTER SEASON [May to August]
The winter months in South Africa are possibly the best time to enjoy your Kruger National Park safari. These months are dry months where traditionally there is no rain. April as well as September and October when rain is still low is also an excellent option for safari.
The vegetation is less dense at this time of the year and the temperature is more comfortable being less hot. This allows for better game spotting and the animals roam more freely enjoying the cooler weather.
The permanent water holes attract many animals so it is worth waiting at a waterhole. Suddenly an elephant may stroll along for his morning “tea” break.
The early mornings and evenings can be chilly at this time of the year, so warm jackets for your game drives are essential.
The winter months are most certainly a better time to travel if doing a self-drive safari. If driving in a smaller vehicle which is lower to the ground, this time of year with less dense vegetation is better.
SUMMER SEASON [November to March]
This is the Kruger National Park’s rainy season with hot and balmy weather. Temperatures can reach 30 degrees Celcius during the day.
The scenery becomes beautiful, with lush and green vegetation – and, although perhaps more difficult to spot game, the game drive vehicles are situated higher off the ground allowing better sight lines.
Bird life is at its best at this time of the year for those keen bird spotters.
Baby animals are usually born in the months of November and December, so this is a good time to spot those baby lion cubs!
If you are considering combining your safari with beach, we suggest that the months November to March are ideal.
PACKING FOR SAFARI
This is most certainly one of our most popular questions. Please bear in mind when you pack that although you may have very hot days in the Kruger National Park, it can get chilly when on your game drive vehicle, particularly early morning and evening.
The best way to dress for your game drive is to layer your clothing. Wear a lightweight t-shirt, and take along a sweater as well as a fleece or windbreaker. This allows you to adjust to the varying temperature changes during the day.
Light Aircraft transfers – it is also important to note that if a charter flight from Johannesburg airport is included in your program, that there are luggage limitations on these flights. The luggage limit is generally 15 – 20kg’s per person in soft sided bags. If you are returning to your point of departure, you can store excess luggage at the airport – to be collected on your return.
If storing luggage is not possible, pack light and remember that hotels and lodges in South Africa do have laundry facilities for your use.
WHAT TO PACK
Pack ahead. Most of the time you’ll be most comfortable in light, summer-weight clothes but do pack a warm jacket, socks, good shoes and a rain jacket. Pack sunscreen – lots of it – and a hat and sunglasses. Make sure you have at least one cool shirt with a collar for sun protection. Stock up on insect repellent and, if you’ll be in a malaria area, ensure you have a cool, long-sleeved shirt and cool long pants for evenings. Bring good walking shoes.
Always pack a bandanna or cotton scarf and a sarong, kanga, pareo, kikoi – whatever you want to call it. These two garments are probably the most useful and versatile items in the world.
If you’re spending time watching game, you should try to wear reasonably neutral colours such as khaki, brown, olive and beige colours. White is not a recommended colour on safari, nor bright colours as these are highly visible by game.
WHAT TO TAKE ON SAFARI
• A variety of clothing : Light comfortable clothing for the hot days and warm windbreakers or jackets for your game drives. The game drives are usually conducted in the early morning and the late afternoon into the evening – and it can get chilly. Clothing should be in neutral colours. Long sleeved clothing is recommended for the evenings.
• Comfortable shoes.
• Sunblock / Sunhats / Insect repellent.
• Anti-malarial tablets if entering a Malarial area.
• Cameras with plenty of film and video camera’s and binoculars – for capturing those magical moments of perhaps a Lion kill.
• Any personal medical supplies – including those for personal medical conditions.
Naturally don’t forget your camera / zoom lenses and binoculars. Many of the game lodges do have spare binoculars should you require some.
You will need plenty of spare memory cards [ you will fill at least one with all the photo memories of the animals you spot ] and don’t forget your charger or battery.
If you are dependent on any medication bring a supply and a spare prescription.
The Kruger National Park is situated in a Malaria Area. This should however, certainly not deter you from enjoying your Safari, as it is merely a tablet that needs to be taken.
There are many Malaria tablets on the market, some to be taken on a daily basis, some weekly – and we recommend that you consult with your travel clinic or medical doctor as to your best malaria medication to suit you individually.
All the private game lodges have insect / mosquito proofing in the rooms – however, common sense should also prevail.
Cover your arms and legs towards evenings with light coloured clothing to cover exposed skin areas and especially the ankles. Wear long sleeved shirts, long trousers, socks and closed shoes.
Make use of insect repellents particularly when you are sleeping.
The highest malaria risk time is between December and April, during the rainy season. The other times of the year are considered low risk, however, we suggest that precautions are taken year round.