Look for the Big 6 Birds when you’re in the Kruger

The Kruger National Park in South Africa is famous for many things, including both the “Big 5” game mammals of Africa as well as its “Big 6” birds. The Big 5 represents the five mammal species that were most desired as hunter’s trophies in times gone past. They now represent the 5 species of animals that visitors to Kruger National Park (or other African wildlife reserves) most want to see. The Big 6 Birds represent the 6 most desired birds that visitors to Kruger National Park want to see.

Birding in the Kruger Park
The large Kori Bustard is Africa’s heaviest flying bird and can weigh up to 20kg (45 pounds)! They are cryptically coloured and eat almost anything.

Birding in the Kruger
The mean-looking Martial Eagle is the largest African eagle and is very powerful; a true top predator. It has a unique hunting method, stooping from a height and slamming its talons into its prey at high speed.

Birding in the Kruger
It is estimated that there are only between 25 and 30 breeding pairs of the strikingly beautiful Saddle-billed Stork in the Kruger Park, plus a handful of non-breeding individuals.

Birding int he Kruger Park
The Lappet-faced Vulture is Africa’s largest vulture. This endangered bird species is a scavenger, which means it feeds mainly on carcasses it finds lying in the open.

Birding in the Kruger
The Southern Ground Hornbill is one of the most easily identifiable and most cherished bird species in the whole of Kruger. They are birds of great superstition in African culture and their booming calls are often mistaken for roaring lions!

Birding in the Kruger
The big-eyed orange-brown Pel’s Fishing Owl is the rarest of the big 6 birds and is seldom seen, mainly because of its nocturnal habits and restriction to large watercourses.

These big 6 birds should be relatively easy for visitors to find in the Kruger with the exception of the Pel’s Fishing Owl, but you never know… Browse to Nature Travel Kruger for info on all our tours and safaris in this world-famous park.

Roan Antelope

Looking somewhat like a cross between a Gemsbok and a Sable Antelope, the beautiful Roan Antelope Hippotragus equinus is at the top of many Kruger visitors’ mammal wish list.

Safari in the Kruger Park
The Roan Antelope is a large, powerfully built, horse-like antelope with an overall reddish brown body colour (like a Gemsbok), with the lower parts of the legs darker and the belly lighter. The striking black and white facial markings are characteristic of this species, but sometimes leads to confusion with Sable Antelope. Both sexes have heavily ringed scimitar-shaped horns that can reach a metre in length. Bulls can weigh up to 320 kg (710 lbs) and can sometimes measure 160 cm (63 in) at the shoulder, with the females somewhat smaller. Both sexes have long tails tipped with a black tuft.

Safari in the Kruger Park
They mostly inhabit lightly wooded grassland savannah, open areas of medium sized grass, with easy access to surface water, as they must drink regularly. Roan are primarily grazers, preferring to crop the top portions of grasses, but will occasionally feed on shrubs, herbs and acacia tree pods.

These antelopes are semi-gregarious with the females and the young forming the main herd, or harem. There is usually only one bull in each herd and young bachelors form separate groups. In each herd there is a hierarchy, the dominant female in the herd playing the role of matriarch. When two adult males encounter each other, it is common for them to fight for dominance of their herd. They brandish their horns, run forward, and drop to their knees while clashing their large horns together.

The Roan Antelope formerly occurred very widely in the savannah woodlands and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, but has been eliminated from large parts of its former range due to habitat loss due to human activity. Hunting outside of protected areas has also led to a decline in the population of this impressive antelope, with current estimates putting the total population at only about 50,000 individuals.

The Roan Antelope is even more rare in Kruger, with the latest census putting the total population at less than 100 individuals! It is undoubtedly one of the most sought after mammals for many visitors. The best chance you have of seeing one of these stunning animals is in the north of Kruger on our Northern Kruger safari, where you are also guaranteed some other amazing mammals, spectacular scenery, great camps, superb birding and a more relaxed Kruger experience.

For more information on this 6-night, small group, expert-guided enquire directly at info@naturetravelkruger.com.


Mopane Worm

It is said that if you haven’t tried the local delicacy of fried Mopane Worms while on safari in South Africa, you haven’t really been on safari! While it may be a scary thought for overseas visitors, the Mopane Worm has been eaten by locals all over Africa for centuries and is a major source of protein!
Mopane Worm.jpgGonimbrasia belina is a species of Emperor Moth (Saturniidae) which is native to the warmer parts of the southern African savannah, including the Kruger National Park. Its large caterpillar, known as the Mopane Worm, feeds primarily on Mopane tree leaves, hence the English name, although the worm has over 15 known local names in the region.

Like most caterpillars, the Mopane Worm’s life cycle starts when it hatches in the summer, after which it proceeds to eat the foliage in its immediate vicinity, growing considerably through 5 moult stages. It then burrows underground to pupate, the stage at which it undergoes complete transformation to become the adult moth. This stage happens over winter, for a duration of 6 to 7 months, after which it emerges at the start of summer in November. The large adult moths, with their distinctive eyespots on the hindwings, live only for three to four days, during which time they mate and lay their eggs. Eggs are laid in clumps, and after hatching small caterpillars tend to aggregate together, but they become solitary as they grow and age.

Mopane Worms can be bought at most rural markets in the region. Dried worms can be eaten raw as a crisp snack or can be soaked to rehydrate, before being fried until they are crunchy, or even cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices and then served as a stew with maize meal. The harvesting and sale of Mopane Worms is actually a multi-million dollar industry in southern Africa, with an estimated 2 million kilograms of worms traded annually! They are even found in some high-end restaurants as an expensive delicacy!

Mopane Worm dish

Go on, be brave and try these interesting snacks next time you visit the Kruger National Park with us. And if you don’t want to try that, it is still fascinating sitting next to a Mopane tree and watching hundreds of Mopane Worms eating the leaves – you can actually hear them crunching away! One of our best trips is our Kruger Grand Safari, a 12-night safari highlighting the absolute best that this world class park has to offer. On this trip we guarantee Mopane Worms (in early summer!), along with the Big Five and hundreds of bird species, with incredible landscapes and stunning African sunsets thrown into the mix.

Get in touch with us on info@naturetravelkruger.com for more information.

Impala Lily

The famous Kruger National Park contains many iconic species of animals, including Africa’s Big Five mammals, along with Cheetahs, African Wild Dogs and much more. However, this incredible park is also home to some star species of flora. The Impala Lily Adenium multiflorum is certainly one of them.

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The Impala Lily, also sometimes called the Desert Rose or Sabi Star, grows in northern KwaZulu-Natal, eastern Mpumalanga and Limpopo, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, extending further to Malawi and Zambia. Most of its range in South Africa therefore falls within the Kruger National Park, and most of the park’s rest camps contain many examples of these decorative beauties.

It is a deciduous, succulent shrub that can grow up to 3 metres high, with a thick trunk and woody base with many thick and fleshy, short branches arranged in spirals.

The Impala Lily, that has been compared to a miniature baobab tree, flowers mainly in winter when the surrounding vegetation is rather dull by comparison to the brilliant white, pink and red flowers that cover these small trees. It is indeed a beautiful sight every time you see it!

The plant contains certain toxins that are harmful to domestic stock although they are seldom eaten by animals; however Chacma Baboons have been seen uprooting whole plants to feed on the tuberous rootstock. The toxins are used by the Bushmen as poisons for their arrowheads, although usually in conjunction with the toxins from another plant. Other San cultures use different species of the Impala Lily as treatments for snakebites and scorpion stings. The watery latex-like substance in the Impala Lily is also made into a “magic potion” used by many different African cultures both in South Africa and Mozambique.

For your chance to see this stunning plant in full bloom, visit the Kruger National Park with us in winter when it is easier to spot animals and the temperatures are milder. On our popular Southern Kruger Safari we visit several camps with many Impala Lily plants dotted in the grounds. Browse through this safari to see what it’s all about or get in touch with us at info@naturetravelkruger.com.

Central Kruger Safari

The Kruger National Park covers a vast area of 19485 square kilometres (7523 sq miles) and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. It is the tenth largest game reserve on earth, and undoubtedly one of the best.All of Africa’s famous Big Five game animals (Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion and Leopard) are found in “Kruger”, as the park is affectionately known, along with more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve (at almost 150 species). Over 520 species of birds have also been seen in the park, along with vast numbers of reptiles, insects and other fauna and flora.

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This safari will cover the vast and mostly flat central section of Kruger. This region spans nearly 30% of the reserve’s territory and supports a huge amount of game. It is made up of mostly grassy plains, filled with animals like Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest and many species of antelope, which attract an array of predators.

The open savannah habitat also makes for great photographic opportunities, and the region is especially famous for photos of classic African sunsets.

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Five seasonal rivers meander across the central region and, as wildlife is abundant, during intense dry cycles water supplies are often depleted. As a result many man-made dams and water holes were established in the central region. Many of the water holes and dams have become popular tourist attractions as they act as a gathering point for animals. The concentration of predators, especially Lions, in the Central Region ensures that it remains a popular tourist destination.

On this 6-night safari, we will spend two nights each in Satara Camp (with its famous circles of bungalows), Olifants Camp (with stunning views of the plains below) and Letaba Camp (built right on the Letaba river). Each camp has been carefully chosen to provide you with the best chance of seeing all that Kruger has to offer, both in terms of fantastic animal sightings and beautiful classic African landscapes

For more information, visit our Nature Travel Kruger website or send us your query at info@naturetravelkruger.com

Satara Rest Camp

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Satara rest camp in central Kruger is rightly known as “cat camp”. No fewer than 50 Lion prides occupy home ranges in this area, with an average pride size of 12 Lions. Lions are inevitably followed by scavengers, and this area also contains large numbers of Spotted Hyaena, Black-backed Jackal and vultures. It is also one of the best areas in the entire Kruger to see Cheetah.

Satara, although fairly large, has a rustic charm, with the bulk of the accommodation set out in a series of circles. The nightly barbeque fires burning in front of the bungalows are a special sight. The ambience of the camp, Kruger’s third-biggest, recalls the mood of colonial Africa with red-roofed public buildings, thatched chalets and neatly raked paths.

One of the most famous roads in the entire park, the S100, runs east-west from Satara towards the Lebombo mountains and Mozambique. Many long-time visitors to Kruger swear by this road for spectacular sightings of the Big Five, many species of raptors and other rare creatures. The nearby Nsemani and Sweni dams are also always worth a “stop-and-scan”, and there are three bird hides in the vicinity too.

The sweet grasses that grow on the fertile soils formed on shale and volcanic basalt, and an abundance of excellent browsing trees, sustain the largest Impala, African Buffalo, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Waterbuck and Sable Antelope populations in the Park. This area of Kruger is one of the flattest, and this leads to some spectacular sunset photo opportunities.

Satara, like most of Kruger’s camps, has been artificially well wooded, and it is always worth exploring on foot. A walk inside the fence perimeter might produce Honey Badger, African Scops Owl and Red-billed Buffalo Weaver. An optional night drive from Satara might yield Cape Porcupine, Leopard and even the elusive Aardvark. And don’t forget to scan the trees in front of the main building for the resident African Scops Owl!

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The camp has a beautiful reception, shop and restaurant area, as well as a large swimming pool and a petrol station. Accommodation at Satara caters to a variety of guest requirements. Choose anything from luxury (10 guest cottages and 3 guest houses), self-catering (150 chalets/bungalows), and caravanning or camping (100 camp sites) accommodation for your stay in the wilderness. Satara is also the only main camp in Kruger with a live, 24 hour webcam at the watering trough just outside the camp fence.

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Join us on one of our expert-guided Kruger safaris that include sensational Satara. For more information browse to our website and read more about our Central Kruger Safari or enquire directly at info@naturetravelkruger.com.


Punda Maria Rest Camp

Sunset over the Luvhuvhu river

Punda Maria Camp is the northernmost main camp in the Kruger National Park, and undoubtedly offers visitors a more remote and wild experience than the rest of the park. The camp was developed from what was originally game ranger quarters built on the Dimbo hill. The name of the rest camp was given in 1919 by the first ranger to be posted to the area, Captain JJ Coetser. He mistakenly named his post Punda Maria in the belief that this was the Swahili name for Plains Zebra, the first big game he saw on arrival. The correct Swahili name is actually ‘punda milia’ (meaning Striped Donkey). When the error was pointed out to him, he chose to retain the name, in honour of his wife, Maria.

The camp is situated in the Sandveld region that is often described as the botanical garden of the Kruger park. There are numerous plant species which occur that are unique to the area, along with many area-specific animals, birds and insects. The area is home to some huge trees, including the mythical Baobab. Game species most likely to be sighted include Impala, Nyala, Plains Zebra, African Buffalo, African Elephant, Sable Antelope, Common Eland and Greater Kudu. However, this is also the best area in the park to see some species that occur nowhere else in the park; these include Sharpe’s Grysbok, Suni and Bushpig. It is also without a doubt the best place for birdwatching in the entire Kruger (maybe even the country!), with many rare species occurring only in this area.

Punda Maria is another of Kruger’s camps with a walking trail, and the Flycatcher trail is a must-do for guests. It offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, as well as a chance to see fauna like Brown-necked Parrot, Crested Guineafowl or even a Samango. The camp has what many visitors consider to be one of the best swimming pools in the entire park, as well as a hide overlooking a small pond that is often used by elephants, buffaloes and different antelope species. There is also a bird bath in the camp grounds, easily the most famous one in the country, that has had visitors like Orange-winged Pytilia, Eastern Nicator and Yellow-bellied Greenbul.

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Punda Maria has a small restaurant, a well-stocked shop and a petrol station. From an accommodation point of view, it offers camping, a unique setup of small bungalows with shared barbeque facilities, as well as luxury tents, two family cottages and the newly-renovated Russell Guest Cottage.

The 25 kilometre Mahonie Loop around Punda Maria camp is a favourite dirt road for many seasoned Kruger visitors, and a good road from which to spot African Wild Dog, Leopard and the sough after Pennant-winged Nightjar. Situated further to the north is the famous Pafuri picnic spot, with the impressive Luvhuvhu river bridge closeby, as well as the Fever Tree forest on the way to Crook’s Corner, a well-known spot where three countries (South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) meet. This area is home to various spectacular bird species, including Pel’s Fishing Owl, Tropical Boubou, Meves’s Starling, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Lemon-breasted Canary and even Dickinson’s Kestrel.

Two nights in Punda Maria camp is included in your stay during our Norther Kruger safari, along with Mopani and Shingwedzi camps. Get away from the rush of the south of the park, come and relax in the north and see some truly rare and unique fauna and flora. For more information , enquire at info@naturetravelkruger.com or  browse to our site and read more about the Northern Kruger Safari.


Lake Panic

There are eleven bird/game-viewing hides in the world renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa. Probably the most famous one, the one at Lake Panic on the Mafunyana Creek, is located on the S42 road near Skukuza camp on the road to the Nursery.

The name Lake Panic was given shortly after completion of construction of the dam around 1975 when, during a massive thunderstorm, it was feared that the dam wall would give way, creating panic amongst the staff in Skukuza.The almost constant presence of Nile Crocodiles, Hippopotamus, Nile Monitors, terrapins and various insects on the water lilies in front of the hide, makes Lake Panic one of the most scenic and productive spots in all of Kruger. Sunsets are particularly stunning!
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The hide is ideal for photography and large mammals like African Elephants are seen on a daily basis. There is a high incidence of Leopard sightings at Lake Panic, even during daytime! It is also a birdwatcher’s haven, with regular sightings of Grey, Purple, Striated and Goliath Heron, Malachite, Woodland and Pied Kingfisher, African Fish Eagle, Thick-billed and Southern Masked Weaver and of course African Jacana. Such rarities like Western Osprey, Lesser Moorhen and African Openbill also turn up at Lake Panic every now and then.
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Sometimes when one arrives at a hide it appears as if there is little movement. Yet sitting patiently for a few minutes will reveal a steady stream of activity. People who sit in a hide all day long often see much more than those who drive around searching for game. The beauty of the hide at Lake Panic is that almost anything can turn up!

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We offer day trips to the Kruger Park with experienced guides with years of time spent in the Lowveld bush. Our team will pick up guests early in the morning from where they are staying, as game viewing is best before it gets too hot. Kruger Park gate times vary throughout the year, but most pick-ups will be at around 5am depending on where you are staying. We can arrange pick up from your accommodation venue in Nelspruit, Malelane, Marloth Park, Hazyview, or even from your rest camp inside Kruger if you are already in the park. We can also arrange to pick up guests at all the Kruger Park entrance gates in southern Kruger.

Your guide will focus on finding you the best of the Park, this including the majestic Big 5, different types of antelope, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodiles and many others. Your guide will also show you many different kinds of interesting local birds, like hornbills, eagles, the famous Secretarybird, colourful rollers, along with many different water birds. Learning about the trees, insects and general bush and nature around you is also on the cards. We will stop at picnic spots and rest camps throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and restroom breaks. A stop at famous Lake Panic is also guaranteed – you might even see the “resident” Leopard!

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Depending on your personal preferences and budget, we can customise a day safari that meets all your requirements. To get more information about this trip or to enquire about a personalised Kruger day trip, get on touch with our expert team at info@naturetravelkruger.com and have a look at our Kruger Day Trip for more information.


Piccadilly Circus

One of the most popular roads in the Kruger National Park, and with good reason, is the H4-1 tar road connecting the equally popular Skukuza and Lower Sabie Rest Camps.

This 43 kilometre long road is sometimes called the “Piccadilly Circus” (after the equally busy road in London) due to the high numbers of visitors that drive it. The nickname is quite apt, but remember, if you have more visitors’ eyes staring into the bush you have a higher chance of seeing something spectacular.

The road follows the course of the Sabie River, and boasts a mix of riverine forest, woodland and thornveld, attracting a wide variety of bird and animal species. There are many small gravel loops turning toward (and away from) the river, and the road also has the famous Nkuhlu picnic spot, N’watimhiri dam and Sunset dam alongside it.

The H4-1 is especially famous for its large herds of African Elephant and Impala, as well as some of the best Leopard sightings in the entire park. It is also virtually guaranteed that you will see lots of Chacma Baboons and Vervet monkeys along this road, along with avian specials like White-crowned Lapwing, Black Cuckooshrike, Half-collared Kingfisher, Red-faced Cisticola and maybe even an African Finfoot!

One of our guides had the best wildlife encounter of his life recently, when he saw a Martial Eagle attack and kill a Steenbok (by diving into it at high speed) and then promptly fly off with its prize in its massive talons!

Piccadilly Circus features prominently in many of our Kruger itineraries, including our 9 day/8 night Kruger Lux Safari, offering the perfect South African safari experience. We have combined two great camps (Skukuza and Satara) in Kruger with a lodge in the adjacent luxurious Sabi Sands Game Reserve, offering you the best of both worlds and a chance to see the Big Five and so much more.

For your chance to see something spectacular along the Piccadilly Circus, join us on one of our fantastic Kruger trips. Enquire directly at info@naturetravelkruger.com or browse to the website on Nature Travel Kruger for more information.

Grand Kruger Safari

The Kruger National Park lies in the heart of the Lowveld in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province and is the country’s largest game reserve. It is also undoubtedly one of the top 5 game reserves anywhere in the world. The park has nearly two million hectares of unfenced African wilderness, in which more mammal species roam free than in any other game reserve anywhere on earth. The Kruger has excellent infrastructure and offers visitors fantastic Big Five sightings and birdwatching of over 500 bird species. This world-renowned park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa.

With this 12 night guided safari we want to show you the best of the Kruger Park. Prime Big 5 sightings, general wildlife viewing, birding, fauna and flora and of course the fantastic African landscapes and vistas will be included, along with unforgettable memories, superb local cuisine and great South African hospitality.

We have chosen this itinerary with care, minimising travel time between camps and ensuring maximum time out in the African bush on your safari vehicle. All accommodation will be in comfortable chalets in main camps, and you will experience diverse habitat and exciting biodiversity during this superb safari. In the south you will see the classic African bushveld, with thorn trees and dense bush along the rivers. The central portion of the park will feature the expansive grassland savannah where the predators roam. In turn, the northern part of your trip will feature two camps with spectacular vantage points on two impressive rivers.

Get ready for the Kruger trip of a lifetime! Get in touch with us at info@naturetravelkruger.com or browse to our Kruger Grand Safari for more information.