Kruger Park with kids

Visiting the Kruger Park with kids is a lot of fun. If you are touring South Africa with the family, this is surely the most famous national park to visit in South Africa. Going on safari in a national park in Africa is always exciting, and you don’t know in advance what animals you will encounter. We visited the Kruger Park for 4 full days and in this blog we list all the information you need to visit the Kruger Park with kids.

Kruger Park with kids: general

The Kruger Park is a huge national park in South Africa, covering an area of 20,000 square kilometers. In terms of area, it is as large as half the Netherlands. The Kruger Park is home to all the famous African animals and, of course, the big five can be spotted here (the elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard).

The national park has 8 different entrances where you can enter the park and in the park itself you have more than 25 locations where you can stay with kids in Kruger Park. There is sometimes confusion as to what exactly the Kruger Park is. You can distinguish between Greater Kruger and the Kruger Park itself.

Greater Kruger is the Kruger Park including all surrounding private reserves. The Kruger Park itself really belongs to the government of South Africa and the private reserves belong to private individuals who have often built very luxurious lodges here. We entered the Kruger Park through the Phalaborwa Gate. This is in the north of the Kruger Park and we drove from the north to the south of the park in 4 days.

Kruger Park with kids

If you want to drive your own car in the Kruger Park with kids, it is best to do so in the Kruger Park itself and not in the private reserves (there it is usually only organized transport).

The Kruger Park is easily accessible from Johannesburg, but it is quite a drive to drive. We drove from the Johannesburg airport to the north of the Kruger Park in about 7 hours. If you start in the south of the park, you will reach the park entrance in about 5 hours.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to drive in the dark, so the advice is to drive to the park in the morning so that you arrive there in the early afternoon.

Kruger Park with kids

Transportation in Kruger Park

You actually have 3 ways to explore the Kruger Park. The first way is with a private rental car. Especially with kids, this would be our preference. With your own car, you can decide how long and when you will drive, and you can be much more considerate of your kids that way.

If your kids are under 6, this is really the only way to explore the Kruger Park. You have both paved roads and off-road roads in the Kruger Park, and it is exciting every time if you will encounter animals. For example, a whole herd of elephants may suddenly cross. Super cool of course!

Kruger Park with kids

By the way, keep in mind that there are traffic regulations and speed limits in the Kruger Park as well. For example, you are only allowed 50 kilometers per hour on paved roads and 40 kilometers per hour on dirt roads. The roads are even monitored (with speed cameras, among other things), so stick to the speeds. Besides, driving fast doesn’t make much sense anyway, because you will also be much less likely to spot animals. Obviously, you don’t want to hit animals either.

Before entering the park, fill up the car. Along the way, you won’t encounter super many gas stations. These are present only at the rest camps. We did not have to refuel in the park itself in the 4 days we visited the park because the distances we made in a day were not super large.

Transportation in Kruger Park with kids

The second way is to use organized transportation to visit the park. These tours are only open to kids 6 and older, though. You then go out with a guide and a jeep in the park to spot animals that way. One advantage of this is that a guide can probably spot animals before you and because there are several guides driving around the area and they are all in contact with each other, they also know where to spot certain animals. That way you can spot many animals in a short time.

The downside, of course, is that the cost of a safari can be quite pricey. Especially if you want to go on safari with a whole family. In addition, you are with a group and it is less easy to stop for a restroom visit for your kid. Of course, you can also do a combination of self-driving and organized tours. We hesitated for a long time about what we wanted to do, but we finally chose to drive ourselves through the park for all 4 days.

The third way to visit the park is to go hiking with a guide, but this is possible only if your kids are 13 or older. You then go out on foot with a guide to spot animals. Super exciting of course, as you can suddenly find yourself face to face with wild animals just like that. Of course, this also comes with quite a price tag with a family.

Kruger Park with kids

How many days of Kruger Park with kids

We visited the Kruger Park for 4 days and by then we had also spotted most of the animals. The last day we had actually seen most of the animals and then you do notice that you are less impressed when you see a deer (again). In that respect, therefore, it is fine to set aside 3 full days for the park.

If you also take advantage of organized tours, you may even have seen all the animals before and can see a lot in 2 days. Keep in mind that the park is very large and some of the trails in the park will take you an entire morning or afternoon. Especially if you still stop at various points along the way.

One advantage of spending several days in the Kruger Park with kids is that you don’t have to drive the car all day. Then you can choose to ride a trail for a few hours in the morning, drive to the accommodation and have lunch and possibly swim here and then return to the park by late afternoon. Then it stays fun for kids too!

What to do in the Kruger Park with kids

Best travel time for the Kruger Park

Basically, you can visit the Kruger Park with kids all year round. However, the summer months (June through September) are slightly more favorable for spotting animals. Often there is a little less vegetation then the other months, making the animals more visible. Keep in mind that when it is summer in Europe, it is winter in South Africa and vice versa.

June through September is also drier, making it easier to spot animals at certain watering holes. One drawback, however, is that precisely during these months it is also a lot busier in the Kruger Park. Then, of course, the prices are also a lot higher. We visited the Kruger Park during the summer vacations and found it a fine time to visit the Kruger Park.

What to do in the Kruger Park with kids

Tips for the Kruger Park with kids

Visiting the Kruger Park with kids can be a fantastic experience, but there are a number of things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure your kids are entertained in the car. It may well be that you spend a long time driving and you encounter few animals. Therefore, it is important that the kids do have fun in the meantime. Therefore, really consider if you are going to travel by car with kids for a few hours. Of course, you can also do games with kids like who sees an animal first. Our daughter also always loves being able to tick off animals. Therefore, make sure your kids have something of a map that they can use to tick off the animals.
  • Make sure you have some food and drinks in the car so you can have something to eat and drink along the way. Buying a cooler in advance is nice, so you have nice chilled drinks in the car, too.
  • With kids anyway, it is important to plan out a bit of an itinerary in advance, so you know exactly where you can stop to go to the bathroom, for example. Of course, you can’t just stop by the side of the road to take a pee with all those wild animals.
  • Malaria is prevalent in the Kruger Park and especially during the months of September through May. Therefore, be well informed in advance by people from the Public Health Service about what is best to do with kids. Therefore, make an appointment at the GGD well in advance to get informed.
  • As we mentioned earlier, take time with your kids to visit the Kruger Park. It’s better to visit the park for 4 days for 4 hours, than to go out for 8 hours in 2 days. Of course, this also depends a bit on how your kids are, but make sure it’s a relaxing visit and not a very rushed drive through the park.
Family-friendly tips Kruger Park

Spotting animals in Kruger Park

We found animal spotting really fantastic to do in the Kruger Park. You never know when you might get to see something. Because the park is quite large, you are also often alone in your car and may suddenly come face to face with a large elephant or a giraffe. Of course, though, they remain wild animals and you have to have a little luck with exactly what you encounter. Still, here are some tips for spotting more animals.

  • Go out especially in the early morning or late afternoon. Most wild animals only then become active and get moving. They often go looking for food then, so you are more likely to see something.
  • Bring binoculars for you and your kids. That way, you and your kids can spot animals from afar.
  • Also pay attention to other cars in the park. You can almost be sure that there is a hard-to-spot animal when there are several cars in one spot. Often then you see a lion or a leopard and it is not a deer. It may be a little more difficult to spot the animal then, as the best spots are already occupied by other cars, but wait quietly until these cars have disappeared.
  • At many restaurants and restrooms in the park, you have signs with magnets. Each color is an animal and visitors can then indicate, where they have spotted certain animals in the park. For example, if you would still like to spot a leopard, take a good look at where it has been spotted by visitors. Often these people have seen the animal that day, and if there are several magnets along the animal’s route, you are obviously a little more likely to find the animal there.
  • Check the map you can buy at Kruger Park entrances to see where animal watering holes are. Here you are often more likely to spot animals and often see several animals together. You can also see on these maps, for example, at which lake you can spot hippos.
  • Most animals like to be in the shade during the day, so be sure to check shaded areas to see if you see certain animals. Lions, for example, like to lie in the shade.
  • If you haven’t seen a particular animal yet, you can always choose to go on an organized tour anyway. You then indicate to the ranger which animal you would like to spot and then the ranger can do his best to spot this very animal.
  • Bring a good camera, too. Too often we still see tourists trying to photograph animals with a cell phone. We normally take most photos with our phones as well, but especially with animals, it’s easy if you have a camera with a big zoom so you can photograph the animals properly. With a phone, this is almost impossible to do.
Family-friendly tips Kruger Park
Children's activities Kruger Park

Costs Kruger Park with kids

In terms of accommodations, you have big differences in price. You can choose to always drive out of the park and stay in cheap accommodation or stay in the Kruger Park itself. There are also differences in accommodations. Thus, you have the choice of luxury cottages to book, as well as a simple tent.

You can, of course, stay in the luxury lodges of a private reserve. Here, accommodation prices are often hundreds of euros per night. Therefore, you can make it as crazy as you want in terms of cost.

Costs Kruger Park with kids

We ourselves spent 3 nights in different accommodations (Mopani Restcamp, Tamboti Tent Camp and Lower Sabie Restcamp) in the Kruger Park itself.

In terms of food and drink, of course, you can also make it as crazy as you want. You can get food from the supermarket in advance and then fill up your whole car with food and cook it yourself or you go out to eat at a restaurant. The latter, of course, comes with a different price tag. So you can visit the Kruger Park fairly low budget with the family if you would like to.

Costs Kruger Park with kids

Family-friendly restaurant Kruger Park

We often found lunch and dinner in the Kruger Park to be a highlight of the day. In advance also because some restaurants are in fantastic places, where you can also spot animals while eating. We list some great family-friendly restaurants in the Kruger Park.

Family-friendly restaurant Kruger Park
Family-friendly restaurant Kruger Park

Mugg&Bean: this family-friendly restaurant in the Kruger Park is located at Lower Sabie near the Sabie River and you have a fantastic view of the river here. You can spot hippos and crocodiles here and other animals that come to drink at the river. In addition, the food here is also good. However, it is one of the more popular restaurants, so it does get crowded at the restaurant.

Cattle Baron Take Away: If you want to go for a quick bite, this restaurant is a great option. They sell sandwiches here, as well as burgers with fries. Here, too, you can sit by the water and have a view of the park.

Family-friendly restaurant Kruger Park

Family-friendly Kruger Park hotel

Organized trip through South Africa

Scroll to Top