This exhilarating and accessible Eden – which still bears traces of Stone Age secrets – promises stylish lodges and classic 1900s-style camps, in addition to spine-tingling encounters with wildlife.
As big as Wales but considerably wilder, Kruger National Park is one of the world’s top places to get up close and personal with the Big Five: lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. The park was set up to protect wildlife, but it also preserves human history, with ancient cave paintings and Stone and Iron Age artefacts all found within its borders (the Limpopo and Crocodile rivers to the north and south, and the Lebombo Mountains to the east). Kruger’s acclaimed wilderness is evident everywhere in its 7,500sq m of river-crossed veldt, but safari adventures needn’t mean roughing it: silver service and swimming pools await.
Game viewing is at its best during the dry winter months (from May to September), when days are mild and clear night skies make evenings chilly. But, the balmy summer months (October to April) bring their own attractions: lush vegetation, full waterholes, newborn wildlife and the arrival of migrating birds. For a peaceful stay, avoid mid-December to January, when South Africans evacuate their cities and Europeans and North Americans flock here for some winter sun.