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Kruger National Park
Like many African national parks Kruger is best known for its mammals and most of the more sought-after species are here. However, this vast park, 350km long and 60km wide and covering nearly 20,000km2, has a birdlist of around 500 species and is one of the best birding areas in Africa.
The main habitat is savanna with open to dense woodland of various types including mopane, Acacia and Terminalia. In addition there are many areas of riverine woodland scattered through the park and these are among the most productive habitats for birders.
The avian inhabitants of the park range from tiny sunbirds and waxbills up to the world's largest bird, the Ostrich and the Ostriches here are one of the very few remaining pure populations of the southern race. Other large and spectacular birds include Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork and Marabou Stork, Kori Bustard and Southern Ground Hornbill all of which are widespread through the park.
Raptors are well represented with species such as Secretary Bird, Cape Griffon and Lappet-faced Vulture, Bateleur, Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle and Verreaux's Eagle and a variety of kites, hawks, harriers and falcons.
Birds you can see here include:
Ostrich, Little Grebe, Great White Pelican, Pink-backed Pelican, White-breasted Cormorant, Long-tailed Cormorant, African Darter, Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Black Heron, (Intermediate), Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Green-backed Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-backed Night-Heron, Little Bittern, Dwarf Bittern, Hammerkop, Yellow-billed Stork, African Openbill Stork, Black Stork, Abdim's Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, White Stork, (Oct-Mar), Saddle-billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Sacred Ibis, (scarce), Hadada Ibis, African Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Comb Duck, African Black Duck, African Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Duck, Southern Pochard, African Pygmy-Goose, (recorded only in the north), White-backed Duck, (rare, recorded mainly in the north), Osprey, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Western Honey-Buzzard, Bat Hawk, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Yellow-billed Kite, African Fish-Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-headed Vulture, Hooded Vulture, Cape Griffon Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black-breasted Snake-Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle, Bateleur Eagle, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, African Harrier-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, African Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, African Goshawk, Shikra, Little Sparrowhawk, Ovampo Sparrowhawk, Great Sparrowhawk, Steppe Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Verreaux's Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, Booted Eagle, Ayres Hawk-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Long-crested Hawk-Eagle, Crowned Eagle, (recorded mainly in the far north), Secretary Bird, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Dickinson's Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Amur Falcon, Northern Hobby, African Hobby, Lanner Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Swainson's Francolin, Natal Francolin, Crested Francolin, Shelley's Francolin, Coqui Francolin, Common Quail, Harlequin Quail, Helmeted Guineafowl, Crested Guineafowl, Little Buttonquail, Hottentot Buttonquail, Cape Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, (recorded only in the north), Buff-spotted Flufftail, Corn Crake, African Crake, Black Crake, Baillon's Crake, Allen's Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, Common Moorhen, Crested Coot, African Finfoot, Kori Bustard, Buff-crested Bustard, Black-bellied Bustard, African Jacana, Greater Painted-Snipe, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Water Dikkop, Cape Thick-knee, Temminck's Courser, Bronze-winged Courser, White-crowned Lapwing, Senegal Plover, Crowned Plover, Senegal Wattled Plover, Blacksmith Plover, Kittlitz's Sand Plover, Three-banded Plover, White-fronted Sand Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, African Snipe, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, White-winged Tern, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Speckled Pigeon, African Mourning Dove, Red-eyed Turtle-Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove, Lemon Dove, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Tambourine Dove, Namaqua Dove, African Green-Pigeon, Brown-headed Parrot, Brown-necked Parrot, (rare, north only), Grey Go Away Bird, Violet-crested Turaco, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, African Cuckoo, Klaas' Cuckoo, Didric Cuckoo, Black Coucal, White-browed Coucal, Barn Owl, African Grass Owl, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, Pel's Fishing-Owl, African Wood-Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Barred Owlet, African Marsh Owl, European Nightjar, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, African Dusky Nightjar, Freckled Nightjar, Gabon Nightjar, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Mottled Spinetail, (north only), Boehm's Spinetail, African Palm-Swift, Alpine Swift, African Black Swift, House Swift, Horus Swift, White-rumped Swift, Speckled Mousebird, Red-faced Mousebird, Narina Trogon, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Half-collared Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Mangrove Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Striped Kingfisher, White-fronted Bee-eater, Little Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, European Bee-eater, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, European Roller, Lilac-breasted Roller, Racket-tailed Roller, Rufous-crowned Roller, African Broad-billed Roller, African Hoopoe, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Crowned Hornbill, African Grey Hornbill, Red-billed Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, (recorded only in the north), Southern Ground Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, (rare, far north only), Pied Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Crested Barbet, Wahlberg's Honeyguide, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Greater Honeyguide, Lesser Honeyguide, Bennett's Woodpecker, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Bearded Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Monotonous Lark, Rufous-naped Lark, Flappet Lark, Fawn-coloured Lark, Sabota Lark, Dusky Lark, Red-capped Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Plain Martin, Banded Martin, Rock Martin, Grey-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow, Lesser Striped Swallow, Red-breasted Swallow, Mosque Swallow, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, Common House-Martin, Yellow Wagtail, African Pied Wagtail, Cape Wagtail, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Richard's Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Buffy Pipit, Plain-backed Pipit, Striped Pipit, Bushveld Pipit, Grey Cuckooshrike, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Black Cuckooshrike, Dark-capped Bulbul, Sombre Greenbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Eastern Nicator, White-crowned Shrike, Long-crested Helmet-Shrike, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Brubru, Black-backed Puffback, Black-crowned Tchagra, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Southern Boubou, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Bokmakierie, Four-colored Bushshrike, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Fiscal Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Thrush Nightingale, Cape Robin-Chat, White-throated Robin-Chat, White-browed Robin Chat, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Brown Scrub-Robin, White-browed Scrub-Robin, African Stonechat, Mountain Wheatear, Capped Wheatear, Familiar Chat, White-headed Black Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Groundscraper Thrush, Kurrichane Thrush, Arrow-marked Babbler, African Sedge Warbler, Sedge Warbler, African Reed-Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Red-faced Cisticola, Lazy Cisticola, Rattling Cisticola, Tinkling Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Winding Cisticola, Levaillant's Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola, Piping Cisticola, Zitting Cisticola, Desert Cisticola, Tink-tink Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Black-chested Prinia, Red-winged Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Stierling's Wren-Warbler, Long-billed Crombec, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Greencap Eremomela, Burnt-neck Eremomela, Willow Warbler, Southern Black Flycatcher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Chinspot Batis, Black-throated Wattle-eye, African Crested-Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher, African Penduline Tit, Southern Black Tit, Collared Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, White-bellied Sunbird, Mariqua Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Cape White-eye, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Cape Bunting, Golden-breasted Bunting, Larklike Bunting, Cape Canary (scarce), Southern Yellow-rumped Seedeater, Yellow-fronted Canary, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Green-winged Pytilia, Green-backed Twinspot, Peters's Twinspot, Red-billed Firefinch, Blue-billed Firefinch, Jameson's Firefinch, Blue-breasted Cordonbleu, Violet-eared Waxbill, Swee Waxbill, Common Waxbill, Black-cheeked Waxbill, Zebra Finch, African Quailfinch, Bronze Mannikin, Black-and-White Mannikin, Cut-throat, Village Indigobird, Variable Indigobird, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Pin-tailed Whydah, (Oct-Apr), Eastern Paradise Whydah, Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, House Sparrow, Grey-headed Sparrow, Yellow-throated Petronia, Grosbeak Weaver, Spectacled Weaver, Lesser Masked Weaver, Southern Masked Weaver, African Golden Weaver (scarce), Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Holub's Golden Weaver, Village Weaver, Red-headed Weaver, Red-billed Quelea, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-winged Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Parasitic Weaver, Red-winged Starling, Black-bellied Glossy-Starling, Red-shouldered Glossy Starling, Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling, Burchell's Glossy-Starling, Meves's Glossy Starling, Violet-backed Starling, Wattled Starling, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-billed Oxpecker, Eurasian Golden Oriole, African Golden Oriole, African Black-headed Oriole, Fork-tailed Drongo, Pied Crow, Cape Crow, White-necked Raven, (recorded only in the far north)
Mammals of Kruger include African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros and White Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, African Buffalo and Burchell's Zebra. There are antelope such as Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Eland, Tsessebe, Kudu, Waterbuck and Steenbok and carnivores include Lion, Leopard and Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Black-backed Jackal and Spotted Hyena.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Skukuza Camp, accessible by air, is one of the most popular with birders and Lower Sabie to the south-east on the Sabie River is another good area. Further north good birding can be found at Olifants in the centre of the park and in the hilly country of the far north around Pafuri.
Access and Facilities
Kruger is very popular with visitors and there are numerous camps throughout the park all of which provide excellent accommodation and superb birding.
Contact Details for Bookings
Public requests: [email protected]
Central Reservations (Pretoria): +27 (0)12 428 9111 or mobile: +27(0)82-233-9111
Call Centre Office hours (GMT +2): Monday to Friday....07:30 - 17:00; Saturday....08:00 - 14:00
Central Reservations (Pretoria): +27 (0)12 343-0905
The Kruger Park is full of surprises. At every turn in the road you will be likely to find another bird or animal species. The park is larger than the review states, now approx 37000 sq.kms. The Kruger is truly a great park by world standards and affordable by just about everyone. As you can see from the species list you will have your work cut out for you.
There really is something for everyone.
Birds - anytime. Animals - April to October when the grass is shorter before the rains.
When planning your visit move rest camp every 3 or 4 days to see the most. Eco zones change as you move on so the chances of seeing more increase significantly by doing this.
Lower Sabie, Satara, Letaba & Olifants are very nice. Pros
Mark Bruce's review
The Kruger Park is really an awesome experience.There is great birding throughout its length and breadth.There is one area that deserves special mention,and that's the Pafuri area in the extreme north.The Pafuri is the southern most limit of a number of the tropical birds.The closest camp to the Pafuri area is Punda Maria.There is very good birding in and around the camp.Here's a list of birds frequently seen in the Punda Maria Camp.
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius Little Banded Goshawk Accipiter badius African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro Natal Francolin Francolinus natalensis Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani Crowned Plover Vanellus coronatus Cape Turtle Dove Streptopelia capicola Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Green-spotted Dove Turtur chalcospilos Cape Parrot Poicephalus robustus Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus Purple-crested Lourie Tauraco porphyreolophus Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius Burchell's Coucal Centropus burchellii African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis Pearl-spotted Owl Glaucidium perlatum Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma Mozambique Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus Red-faced Mousebird Urocolius indicus Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides Red-billed Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus Trumpeter Hornbill Bycanistes bucinator Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas Crowned Hornbill Tockus alboterminatus Black-collared Barbet Lybius torquatus Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii Bennett's Woodpecker Campethera bennettii Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens European Swallow Hirundo rustica White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis Lesser Striped Swallow Hirundo abyssinica Eastern Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus Pied Crow Corvus albus White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis Southern Black Tit Parus niger Grey Penduline Tit Anthoscopus caroli Arrow-marked Babbler Turdoides jardineii Black-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus Terrestrial Bulbul Phyllastrephus terrestris Sombre Bulbul Andropadus importunus African Yellow-bellied Bulbul Chlorocichla flaviventris Yellow-spotted Nicator Nicator gularis Natal Robin Cossypha natalensis African White-throated Robin Cossypha humeralis White-browed Robin Erythropygia leucophrys Eastern Bearded Robin Erythropygia quadrivirgata Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chiniana Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata Southern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina Chinspot Batis Batis molitor Striped Pipit Anthus lineiventris Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio Southern Boubou Laniarius ferrugineus Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla Three-streaked Tchagra Tchagra australis Orange-breasted Bush Shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus Grey-headed Bush Shrike Malaconotus blanchoti White Helmet-shrike Prionops plumatus Red-billed Helmet-shrike Prionops retzii Plum-coloured Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster Glossy Starling Lamprotornis nitens Greater Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio Yellow-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia venusta White-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia talatala Scarlet-chested Sunbird Nectarinia senegalensis Collared Sunbird Anthreptes collaris Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea Melba Finch Pytilia melba Blue-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata Jameson's Firefinch Lagonosticta rhodopareia Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis Cutthroat Finch Amadina fasciata Eastern Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea Black Widowfinch Vidua funerea Steel-blue Widowfinch Vidua chalybeata Yellow-eyed Canary Serinus mozambicus
Superb Birding although lack of dawn and dusk birding due to park restrictions was frustrating. Some species are very localised. One of the easiest spots in africa (supposedly) to see Pel's fishing owl Pafuri (NE corner); this small area arguably holds the best localised patch of birding on the reserve.
Tip: Take a spotlight for the night drives.
A week in the Kruger should be enough to see all the specialties. By this time you'll probably be suffering from car-bound fever and be glad to move on to equally good birding in other areas of SA.
For wildlife in general this place for me is a 10.