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Journeys : Feb March 2010
The rule for motorists driving through Kr uger National Park is as clear and emphatic as an African sunset – ‘Obey all traffic signs and remember -- animals have the right-of-way." A drive through South Africa's foremost tourist attraction, Kruger National Park, is a rewarding and exciting motoring experience. Its excellent road system combined with its huge size (20,000 square kilometres or the same size as Israel) mean that a car is a comfortable and flexible way to see the array of wildlife that the park has to offer. However the animals and not you, the driver, have right-of-way on the roads. Johannesburg, where there are plenty of hire car options, is an easy half-day drive to many of the gates of the park, which do have strict opening and closing times. The summer opening time is 5.30am daily while in winter it is 6am. Closing times vary from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. Latecomer motorists take note -- you can actually be fined for your tardiness by causing the reopening of a gate! Speed limits within the park are 50km /h on sealed roads and 40km/h on unsealed roads, while the recommended speed for viewing animals is 25km /h. Travel inside the park for motorists after closing time is prohibited so night viewing of animals is restricted to organised tours from the main centres within the park. There is a road assistance toll-free number for any motorist who encounters problems during the day, but a strict park r ule is that, except in designated areas, visitors must rem ain in their vehicles at all times for their ow n safety. Besides, the animals appear not to be spooked by the hum of a car engine, but seem to sense danger when they hear the click of an opening or closing c ar door. The variety of wildlife in Kruger is immense, but it is the larger animals that attract most of the attention from visitors. Whatever their time schedule, everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’ -- lion, rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo and leopard. The excellent road system means there is a good chance of sighting them all. To spot a leopard is the biggest challenge, as there are only about a thousand left in the park. Impala are the most prolific animals, while those who sight a cheetah or African wild dog can count themselves privileged, as they are the rarest. Stopping along the roads to take photographs is par for the course, but park r ules stipulate that no part of the body should protr ude from a window or sunroof when doing so. Signage for drivers within the park is extremely clear and accommodation is plentiful, as is the availability of food and fuel, so all the comforts are provided for visitors. Even short drives from the Day Visitors Centre at Skukuza to the wide-ranging facilities at Lower Sabie, a distance of under fifty kilometres, can result in excellent sightings of elephants stripping trees, troops of baboons relaxing on the roads and of course the occasional zebra crossing. On the whole, a wonderful series of drives can be experienced within the park and it certainly gives credence to the claim that once you have visited Kruger, you'll never go to a zoo again. Undoubtedly in 2010, with South Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup, Kr uger National Park will receive even more recognition and park bookings are already being taken for that high-profile period. In summary, care simply needs to be taken while driving through Kr uger. The wildlife of course needs protection through sensible driving and so does your car, as a rhino horn through your radiator, however unlikely, might be a little hard to explain to your hire car company! Paul Kruger monument at Kruger National Park 21 February / March 10
Dec Jan 2010
April May 2010