No, you can’t ride your bicycle inside of South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
I knew that too. Ever since I started planning my bicycle tour across South Africa, people tell me, “You know you can’t ride your bicycle inside Kruger National Park, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I’d have to tell them – as though this weren’t this thousandth time I’d been given this information. “I know I can’t ride my bicycle inside Kruger National Park.”
But my plan was to ride a bike from Cape Town in the west to Kruger National Park in the east. So when people met me on the road in South Africa, I often times told them I was cycling to Kruger National Park. And that’s when they’d tell me I couldn’t ride my bike in the park and I’d have that conversation one more time.
I soon changed my story and began telling people I was cycling from Cape Town to Swaziland – which was true. But Kruger National Park, which is located just north of Swaziland, was my true and final destination.
Because I was on a bicycle, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to get in to the park once I arrived in Malalane, South Africa. I had three main ideas, however.
My first idea was to rent a car and drive into the park on my own. It would be expensive, I’d have to find an automatic car (because I don’t know how to drive a manual) and I’d have to get used to driving on the left-hand side of the road. But I knew I could do it if I had to.
The other option was to simply stand at the gate outside of Kruger National Park and beg for a ride from passing individuals. Maybe there would be a person or family going into the Park that would have an open seat in the car and wouldn’t mind me tagging along?
Finally, there was always the option of joining an established tour company on one of their single-day or multi-day tours inside the park.
Luckily for me, I found my solution just minutes after arriving in Malalane, South Africa and checking into a local guesthouse called the Chill Inn. A man working there informed me that he worked for a tour company that led day tours in the park. The price or a one-day safari-style tour was 820 Rand (About $90 USD). I told him I was in… and two days later I was jumping in the back of a safari truck and driving into Kruger National Park with a guide named Wimpy and two other tourists from Portugal.
We entered the park in an area called Crocodile Bridge, at the southernmost section of Park, near the border of South Africa and Mozambique. Almost instantly we were spotting animals. The pictures below are shown in no particular order (not the exact order that we saw them in).
I sat in the back of the truck. It was freezing cold in the morning. I was wearing two jackets and had a blanket wrapped around my legs… and I was still freezing.
There were springbok everywhere in the Park. I saw at least 1,000 of these antelopes while on my one day safari.
The wildebeest inside Kruger National Park were a different color/breed than the ones I had seen in central South Africa. The ones I had seen in central South Africa (in and near Golden Gate Highlands National Park) were black with a golden tale. The wildebeest inside Kruger National Park, however, were kind of a golden brown all over their entire bodies…. and with black tales.
I think zebras are some of my favorite animals. I’m not sure why. I just love the way they look. And they look so friendly.
We spotted dozens of wildebeest. The thing that interested me most about the wildebeest were the birds that sat on the backs of these animals and climbed inside their ears to eat the bugs that were living in the wildebeests’ hair.
We stopped at several points throughout the park. Sometimes to take a photo (such as in this location below). Other times to take a food/restroom break.
Even though I had seen elephants a couple month before in Addo Elephant Park, I was delighted to see even more of the animals inside Kruger National Park. We got extremely close to some of the elephants at times. The male elephant in the photo below came right at us at one point and Wimpy, out guide, had to quickly back up the vehicle so that we would not be hit.
Those are more wildebeests laying by the river in the photo below.
I had been telling everyone when I came to South Africa that the animal I wanted to see most was a giraffe. I told this to Wimpy too, so he set out on a mission to find me some giraffes. But at the end of the day we hadn’t seen any giraffes. I was sure we weren’t going to see any. But just as we were about to leave the Park, five giraffes were spotted directly to the right of our car! I couldn’t believe it. They were unreal.
We also saw a number of hippos and two rhinoceros. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a very good picture of the rhinos. I only snapped this one photo of a rhino butt. Not very interesting!
Those are warthogs in the photo below. A mother and three babies.
After one day inside Kruger National Park, I was pretty tired. I had seen a ton of different animals. I had even seen two lions, but was unable to get a good photo of them because they were kind of hiding behind some thick bushes. It had been a great day, but I was tired… and my stomach was kind of bothering me.