In October 2022, I visited the beautiful Kruger National Park in South Africa—a breathtaking experience with wildlife. We even spotted the Big Five within 24 hours of arriving at the park. In this article, I like to share the photos I made there.
My itinerary in Kruger National Park – South Africa
My trip to South Africa was for a wedding near Cape Town. Of course, I’m not flying from Belgium all the way there for a weekend. So we added a tour around South Africa following the wedding weekend. Part of that trip was in Kruger National Park.
In early October 2022, we spent three days and two nights in the game reserve. It was already dark upon arrival, so that we couldn’t enter the park yet. We stayed the night at the border in Pestana Kruger Lodge near the Malelane Gate.
An early morning with breakfast overlooking the river already provided us with the first spottings of an elephant and hippos.
We soon started spotting different animals after driving through the Malelane gate’s security. We had already seen impala (duh), elephants, and lions within the first hour.
With some detours, we arrived at Lower Sabie rest camp for lunch.
After lunch, we made our way to Skukuza. Again with the necessary detours. We spotted more lions, elephants, hyenas, buffalo, and more.
At 8 pm, long after dark, we had a night drive booked. With the big lights, it was easy to spot the animals. Even at night, they just roamed close to the roads. With my f1.8 50mm lens, it was possible to photograph them. However, a fast 85mm would’ve been better.
After a night at the Skukuza Safari Lodge, we had a full safari day with a private guide. He drove all three of us around the Southern part of the park. That day we saw so much. Before lunch, we completed our Big Five with several leopards and a crash of rhinos.
After lunch in Berg-en-Dal, we returned to Skukuza. The heat was catching up with us. Too hot to see anything. Except for some Southern Ground Hornbills and a couple of elephants.
After another night, we woke up early for a sunrise drive. We were being expected at the pickup point at 4:30 AM already. But it was worth it. We had some lions all to ourselves for a while. The morning trip ended at 8:30. In time for us to catch breakfast at the hotel, pack our stuff, and do a self-drive on the way to the Malelane gate and Eswatini beyond that.
9 tips for having a good photo trip to Kruger National Park
To make your photo safari in Kruger National Park a success, you can learn from my failures. So here are some tips.
1. Do self-drives, but also book guided tours.
Self-drives are fun. You get to decide where you go and how long you stay somewhere. You can also do that with a private guided drive, which costs some money. Though guided drives are beneficial. The guides know where to look and communicate with each other. Especially for leopards and rhinos, it could be better to have a guide.
2. Go on drives as much as you can
We filled our days—morning, noon, and evening. We filled every possible hour with drives. The more you go out, the more you’ll see.
3. Talk to the other cars
If you’re self-driving, that is. Otherwise, the guide will do it for you. Talk with the other drivers and talk about what you’ve seen. And ask what they spotted.
4. Don’t focus too hard on the daily Sighting Boards you see in the camps
They aren’t always accurate. Not in animals or locations. They can give you some idea of where to go, but if a hyena was spotted somewhere 3 hours ago, they probably aren’t there. Talking to other drivers is far more efficient.
5. Bring a variety of lenses
My biggest Kruger National Park photography mistake. Only bringing my 50mm and my 150-600mm. All on one body too. So switching didn’t happen; if an animal approached too close, I couldn’t do anything. And they come close!
Go from wide to tele with your lens choices. And having multiple camera bodies so you don’t have to change lenses on dusty roads is even better.
I’m curious to your Kruger National Park photos. DM me them on Instagram!
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