Encompassing 7,523 square miles, Kruger National Park is home to one of the greatest collections of wildlife, including the entirety of Africa’s “Big Five.” Kruger National Park also happens to be the most reliable place in the world to spot a leopard. But when is the best time to visit the park?
Travelers looking to get the most out of the park should arrive during what is summer in Kruger National Park but Winter for Northern Hemisphere. This is when the birds have migrated south, and many of the animals are easy to find. If travelers arrive late in the summer, they may catch sight of baby buffalo.
The Abundant Buffalo
Travelers will likely not have much of an issue locating the African Buffalo that populates this park. They mate between March and May and will give birth the following January and April, with the peak in February. If travelers want to catch sight of young ones running with the herd, arriving soon after these times is ideal.
The African Buffalo
This large bovine can weigh up to 750 kg and reach heights of 1.5 m. Both males and females have horns making them impressive and potentially dangerous animals. The bullhorns a distinguishable from the rest because of their upward curve.
The Predator African Buffalo primarily faces lions, though if one buffalo is attacked, it is quickly defended by others. A group of buffalo is more than capable of driving off a pride of lions. The African Buffalo is also listed as one of Africa’s “Big Five” because of how potentially dangerous a wounded buffalo can be. This trait has actually led to them becoming quite legendary in stories of adventure and hunting myths.
- Height - 1.5 m (ft)
- Weight - 750 kg
Bird Migrations And When To See Them
Living in a world without winter, billions of birds chase summer from North to South across the globe. Migrating vast distances, they transit hemispheres transiting their adventures based on the availability of food items. Most birds arrive in Kruger National Park during the summer months while winter burdens the Northern Hemisphere.
Migrant Average Arrival Times At Skukuza
The majority of these migrating birds are insect-eaters and waders. They follow a reliable migration pattern. Seed-eaters have a much harder to predict movements, and fruit-eating birds more or less stay put. It has been estimated by National Geographic that four and a half billion birds, which represent about 185 species, north to south and back again between Europe, Asia, and Africa every year.
- Wahlberg's Eagle - 31-Jul
- Yellow-billed Kite - 11-Aug
- African Cuckoo - 28-Sep
- European Bee-eater - 6-Oct
- Red-chested Cuckoo - 7-Oct
- Diederick Cuckoo - 12-Oct
- Barn Swallow - 16-Oct
- African Paradise-Flycatcher - 17-Oct
- Jacobin Cuckoo - 19-Oct
- Violet-backed Starling - 21-Oct
- Black Cuckoo - 25-Oct
- Woodland Kingfisher - 11-Nov
The Lesser Spotted Eagle
Perhaps the “distance champion of raptors,” the Lesser Spotted Eager has been tracked migrating southward from Poland to the Lebombo. This was on September 21, 1997.
This impressive distance flyer reached the Bosphorous on the edge of the Black Sea on October 5th. On October 15th, it crossed the Suez Canal. This was just a leisurely flight for this long-distance bird of prey.
- Wingspan - 150 cm (59 in)
- Length - 60 cm (24 in)
The Mysterious Red-Footed Falcons
One of the less predictable migration patterns of the birds in the park is the Mysterious Red-Footed Falcons. They fly south to Africa from the Russian Steppes. They cross over India and through the Middle East. An interesting detail about these falcons is that the route for their return flight is different and less well-known. It is possible they fly over the Indian Ocean and then the Himalayas.
- Wingspan - 65–75 cm (26–30 in)
- Length - 28–34 cm (11–13 in)
The Zebra Migrations
From October to April, the wet season, the entirety of the park’s 13,000 zebra reside in the west area of the central region. When it changes over to the dry season, about 70% of the zebra will migrate east. This shift occurs as zebra search out food in the western region, which, though possessing about 20% less grassland, has a similar vegetation structure.
The Rare Blue Wildebeest
Kruger National Park is home to 15,000 Blue Wildebeest. The species in the park gets its name from its fur, which has a slate blue sheen. The wildebeest and the Zebra have a fairly close social relationship and are also prone to sharing migrations. They usually graze around Satara in the summer before migrating southwards towards the Sabie River for Winter.
- Length - 170–240 cm (67–94 in) in head-and-body
- Male's Typical Weight - 165 to 290 kg (364 to 639 lb)
- Female's Typical Weight - 140 to 260 kg (310 to 570 lb
The Elusive Leopard
Travelers who want to catch a glimpse of a leopard will have their best chance along the rivers. The leopards love living near the rivers as it gives them access to fresh water, shelter, and prey items.
It is recommended to go to the Sabie River area as there is an abundance of impala. Travelers should be keen to look out for the leopard’s distinctive silhouette in the boughs and the branches of the riverside trees.
- Male Height - 60–70 cm (23.6–27.6 in) at the shoulder
- Females Height - 57–64 cm (22.4–25.2 in) at the shoulder
- Head-and-Body Length - between 90 and 196 cm (2 ft 11.4 in and 6 ft 5.2 in) with a 66 to 102 cm (2 ft 2.0 into 3 ft 4.2 in) long tail (sizes vary geographically).
- Male Weight - 37–90 kg (81.6–198.4 lb)
- Females Weight - 28–60 kg (61.7–132.3 lb)