Kruger National Park is a sprawling game reserve located in the extreme northeastern corner of South Africa. Part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, it adjoins similar game reserves in neighboring Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which collectively is one of the largest wildlife preservation areas in Africa. Home to large numbers of most major African animals including the Big Five, Kruger is the most popular park southwest of Tanzania and the most visited in South Africa.
The park was founded in 1895 as the Sabi Game Reserve with the purpose to rein in the rampant hunting in the area. In 1926 it was merged with other neighboring reserves and expanded in to Kruger National Park. It was named in honor of Paul Kruger, former president of the Transvaal Republic. A land dispute with local residents, the Makuleke, in the 1960s resulted in their relocation within the park. Although this decision was overturned in the 1990s, the Makuleke largely remained within Kruger as caretaker-residents. The whole area was incorporated into the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in 2002.
Kruger is one of the largest and most diverse wildlife reserves anywhere. There are hundreds of species of reptiles and birds in addition to the scores of mammal species. There are over one-hundred thousand free-roaming mammals here, not including the over one million impala. Big game is plentiful, including over ten thousand each of Buffalo, Zebra, Wildebeest, White Rhinoceros and Elephant. There are five thousand big cats, including nearly three thousand lions. Some of the park’s rarities are the Black Rhinoceros, Cheetah and African Wild Dog.
Kruger National Park stretches out along almost the entire South African border with Mozambique, approximately 100 miles northeast of Pretoria. Nearly 20,000 square km in size, Kruger can be accessed from nine gates. There are numerous lodges and rest camps, including some run by the resident Makuleke. Kruger is a true open reserve, open at all hours with few restrictions. There is no cost of admission. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park includes adjoining reserves, including Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. Web: www.sanparks.org.za/parks/kruger (official website).