The Bateleur

The Bateleur

The Bateleur

The Bateleur is a very iconic and popular bird in the Lowveld and Kruger National Park. With Plenty of guest lodges and companies named after this iconic bird, it carries its fame with pride. With its pitch-black feathers and white under wings, it gives a majestic contrast. It has a bright red, almost bloody looking face and legs with a yellow patch on the back of its neck and upper back. The black beak is almost iconic with the Bateleur. Bateleur males are larger and generally darker than the females. One Year old Bateleurs have a uniform dark brown colour to their feathers, which will develop into the iconic colour over time. At about 3 years, the feathers start changing colour and developing. It can take up to 8 years for a Bateleur to completely shed all of its brown feathers. The Bateleur has very long wings that allows it to fly by letting the wind carry it. The Bateleur has short tail feathers which means that its legs stick out when it is in flight.


Bateleurs can spend up to 10 hours a day in the air looking for a meal to sink its talons into. Bateleurs are part of the Birds of Prey. A Bateleur’s diet usually contains carrion, birds, snakes, lizards, road kill, mice and antelope. These massive birds are easily capable of taking down small antelope like klipspringer for a meal. Bateleur eagles will mate for life and will have a nest location that they will stay at for many years before moving to a new nest. Single individuals will often be seen flying close to nests in hopes of getting a mate. Bateleurs will commonly be seen flying in direct, rapid flight which is the preferred method of hunting. Bateleurs can cover up to 300km in a single, 8 hour hunting period.

Because of the Bateleur’s habit to cover large distances, it is easy to over-estimate the amount of these birds in a region. Though it might look like there are plenty if birds in the sub-Saharan region, their numbers are actually in the decline. Some of the behavioural traits that Bateleurs do mid flight include barrel rolls (which are followed by a loud clapping sound that can be heard by humans quite some distance away), 360 loops, steep and speedy dives and they also will stretch out their wings to represent a phoenix pose. These birds are very active birds.

Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Of all the antelope found in the Kruger National Park, the Steenbok is the smallest. Weighing only about 15kg makes these animals difficult to spot in the bush. If you are lucky you will spot one just before it scampers off into the bush.

They are usually found alone, spending most of the day in search of food. Steenbok are herbivores and feed on leaves, tubers, flowers and fruit. They get most of the moisture they need from their food and can go for long periods without a drink of water.

Appearance and Lifestyle

Because of the size of the Steenbok, it is often referred to as a dwarf antelope. Steenbok are white on their underside and the rest of its body is a pale red-orange colour. For their size, they have unusually large ears which are more predominant in the females as the males have small horns.  Females are usually slightly larger than males.  Both male and female steenbok can live up to six years in the wild. The Steenbok is a solitary animal which makes them quite territorial. They are not too fussy about their habitat and are as happy in the open savannah as they are in woodland areas provided there is enough cover to hide them from predators.

The Steenbok couple mates for life, sharing the same territory, an area from .50 to 1 square kilometre. In this area, they will forage, find shelter and raise their young. Both male and female Steenbok will mark their area by either urinating or defecating around the boundary and then covering the area with sand, much like a cat. By covering it, the dung or urine is kept moist and the scent then lasts longer. They do this on a regular basis until it forms a visible border around their area.

Steenbok have a gestation period of about five and a half months and usually give birth at the start of the rainy season. Normally Steenbok have only one or on rare occasions two calves.  The Steenbok keeps their young well hidden for the first two weeks of their lives.

Steenbok have the most predators because of their size. They are preyed on by caracals, servals, jackals and every other wild cat found in the Kruger National Park. The baby Steenbok is so small that it often falls prey to snakes, foxes and birds. The only defence a Steenbok has is to either hide or flee from the threat. When the Steenbok spots a predator it will first conceal itself in the long grass.  And the, at the right moment, they will sprint away, often changing direction very sharply or suddenly which does give them a bit of an advantage.

The best time to spot a Steenbok is in the early morning or late afternoon, while on a guided game drive as these bucks lie down in the grass under a tree in during the hottest time of the day but they will forage at the cooler times in the day.

Spend some time on a Kruger Parks safari with Royal Safaris and perhaps you will be one of the lucky few who get to see these quaint animals.

All About The Zebra

All About The Zebra

All About The Zebra

The Burchell’s Zebra is a beautiful and welcome addition to any Kruger Park Safari. Let’s get to know this animal a little better…

The Burchell’s Zebra is an icon of the Kruger National Park and many of the surrounding areas which has a pretty silly and funny nickname, the Pajama Pony. The Zebra is a member of the Horse family and shares many visual similarities with the domestic/ wild horse, with a long whip like tail, long face, a mane on the neck and skinny legs. Where the Zebra differs from the other members of the horse family, is it is much smaller and it has the iconic white and black markings covering its body.

The Zebra is a non-seasonal breeder which means it can breed throughout the year. Most foals are born in the summer months but they can be born in any month. The Zebra has a gestation period of 340 – 400 days after which only one foal will be born. Foals are fully weaned at the age of 11 months and weigh an average of 35 kg. Zebras prefer living in small herds that consist of a single stallion, mare and all their foals. In areas with multiple watering holes, many family herds will come together to graze and drink water. Zebras usually stay in close proximity to baboons, antelope and wildebeest for increased protection. Stallions who don’t have a family her usually form their own Bachelor herd and travel together. The average age of a Herd Stallion is about 12 years. Mares reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years and can continually give birth to foals until the age of 20.

Burchell’s Zebra aren’t local to just the Kruger National Park but can be found all over South Africa, from farms and townships, to mountains and game reserves. Zebras are a common sight and many farmers will have a few walking around on their farms. Zebras are grazers which mean they mainly eat grass and will also consume fruits and berries when they are available. There used to be a third member of the Zebra family that lived in South Africa called the Quagga, an animal that looked like a combination of a Horse and Zebra. Unfortunately, the Quagga went extinct in the 19th century, The Burchell’s and the Cape Mountain Zebra are the only species left.

Why not book a Kruger Park Safari with Royal Safari’s and experience the Zebra and other amazing animals at the Kruger National park?

A Guide for First Time Kruger Visitors

A Guide for First Time Kruger Visitors

A Guide for First Time Kruger Visitors

Those who are first time visitors to the Kruger National Park are truly in for one of the most life changing experiences. This park is the stuff of legends and it is often featured on the must-see places lists as well as being a bucket list adventure of note.

Planning your trip to the Kruger National Park will present you with a myriad of options. You can choose to book a safari with a touring company like Royal Safaris, or you can drive yourself. Both have their pros and cons, and both will have an effect on your budget. When you begin your planning, you should do so with a clear but flexible budget in mind and it is important that you make sure you have researched all of your available options, and come up with an idea of how you’d like to see this world famous park.

In our quick guide, we cover the basics about what you need to know while planning your trip to the Kruger Park for the very first time. Our tips are helpful for both self-drive safaris and guided ones.

Plan your time of year

Summer or winter? There are benefits to visiting at either time and it’s really a matter of preference. Many park guests find that autumn, winter and spring, which runs from April to October, are the best times to visit as the intense heat that characterises summer has not yet arrived. Summers in the park can be quite overwhelming as it can be rather uncomfortable for most.  During the summer months the vegetation in the park can be quite over grown, which makes it incredibly difficult to spot animals.

What would you like to see?

Planning your route can, in a way, help you plan what you see. Keeping in mind that the animals go where they please making it impossible to know exactly what you’ll see, there are some places in the park that are home to more of one kind of species.

At entrance gates and rest camps, you’ll find sightings boards marking what has been seen and where. You can then drive these roads in search of those animals, and if you are lucky, they will still be hanging around.

Planning your route is also important for other reasons. Certain areas of the park are known to be more prone to malaria infected mosquitoes while other regions are almost malaria free. The routes you choose can also take you to watering holes and rivers (where animals are known to frequent) and you have the opportunity to take a trip to historical landmarks and memorials.

Where will you stay?

If you are going on a Kruger Park safari with a company, your accommodation arrangements should be included as a part of the package, if you are spending more than a day in the park. Many safari companies choose Hazyview as the place to accommodate guests. If you are driving yourself and intend to stay in the park, there are over 12 rest camps to choose from while there is also private accommodation and luxury accommodation in the park.

Getting there

Whether you’re driving or flying, the park is only 3 hours away from Johannesburg, and depending on the entrance you’d like to use, the park is an hour’s drive from Nelspruit and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. The park is easily accessible and there are countless transfer companies offering a ride.

Royal Safaris takes the hassle out of organising a Kruger National Park safari and we offer a wider range of safari options than most of our associates. With us, you can enjoy a morning drive with breakfast or an evening drive with a memorable braai and sundowners. The choice of how you experience the park is up to you.

Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Antelope of the Kruger National Park

When driving around the Kruger National Park, one of the first things you probably will see are the various antelope that call the Kruger Park their home. Here are some of the Kruger Park’s most famous antelope…

The Impala is the most common antelope in the Kruger national park and probably the first animal you see when entering the Kruger Park. The Impala is a social animal that lives in herds up to 40. Their fur color is duotone, with reddish-brown on their back and half of their sides and the rest is a cream colour. The Impala is both a grazer and a browser and feeds on grass, leaves twigs and even fruits and acacia pods. Impala aren’t shy animals and will go and explore camp sites and even walk up to your porch.

The Lichtenstein Hartebeest is a rather large and rare antelope. Both the females stand 1.25m tall at shoulder height with the males weighing up to 200kg. They have a dark brown ‘saddle’ on the back that stretches from the tail base to the base of the shoulders. Unlike the Red Hartebeest, the Lichtenstein Hartebeest has very short, stubby horns and it also has a much longer face. The Lichtenstein Hartebeest is a very rare animal that can only be found in the Kruger National Park (where originally thought to be extinct) in small numbers. The herds of the Hartebeest are rather small ranging around 10 members.

The Waterbuck is also a rather well-known antelope that can be found in the Kruger National park. It is a robust antelope that stands 1.4m and can weigh up to 260 kg. They have a grey colored coat with white rings around the eyes and nose and a white patch on their necks. The Waterbuck has very prominent ears that stick out under the horns of which the males are the only ones with long forward-facing horns). Another unique feature of the Waterbuck is the fact that their shaggy coat has a very unpleasant, musky smell that can linger at resting sites. Waterbuck are very strong swimmers and will retreat to very deep water when seriously threatened.

The Kudu is surely the most popular and iconic of the antelope in the Kruger. The Kudu is a massive antelope that show very strong Sexual dimorphism, with the bulls bearing massive record-breaking spiral horns that can reach 1.8 meters. With a shoulder height of 1.4m and weighing an average of 300kg, the Kudu can be crowned the king of the antelope. The Herds of Kudu usually consist of 20 members, with young bulls forming groups with older bulls after sexual maturity and young cows staying with their mothers. The hierarchy of kudu herds are size based, with the largest bull being the on in charge. All Kudus have beards and manes but the length depends on the age of the kudu. Both the male and female kudus have a light grey coat with white stripes on their sides.

The Black Sable is a very large and muscular antelope that is characterized by its glossy black fur, white face and long curved horns. The males are rather large, weighing in at 270 kg and about 1.4m at shoulder height. The horns on young antelope are only visible from two months old.  Black Sable is primarily a grazer, feeding on grass and other plant life found on the grass. The Black Sable also chews on the various carcasses found in the Kruger Park that help them counter Phosphorous deficiencies. The Herds of Black Sables are varied in size and are usually active during the early mornings and late afternoons. When young bulls are sexually mature, the Territorial bull will evict them from the herd.

When you book a Kruger Park Safari with Royal Safaris, you can experience these amazing animals yourself

Nocturnal Animals of the Kruger National Park

Nocturnal Animals of the Kruger National Park

Nocturnal Animals of the Kruger National Park

Anyone who has visited the Kruger National Park for a night drive or an evening drive will agree that a Kruger Park safari at this time of day is once in a lifetime experience that you won’t soon forget. 

When the sun dips low in the Kruger National Park and night falls, another, more magical side of the park comes alive. Dusk is the hour that the nocturnal hunters start stretching their limbs,waking up after a lazy day in the African heat. The haunting owl calls start-up and the hyenas start their laughter. Hippos leave their pools to go grazing and burrowers leave their dens for the dinner. And let’s not forget the singing of the jackal which fills the night.

Nocturnal Animals of the Kruger

A study of the trees will reveal several eyes staring back at you. The Bush Baby is surely the cutest of the night animals and is frequently seen going about their night time activities in the trees. These remarkable animals have amazing jumping abilities. 

The largest of the rodents in South Africa is the Porcupine, whihc is another nocturnal creature you might be lucky enough to see. Porcupines normally mate for life and the pair can have up to six burrows that they move their young around in as a defence against predators. Although porcupines live in pairs, they forage alone so it is more than likely that you will only see one and not a couple. 

Lions hunt in prides so if you lucky you will see either a kill or a pride of lions feasting after the kill. At a lion kill you are more than likely going to find hyena hanging around trying to get a bite to eat. Although Hyena can do their own hunting they prefer to scavenge from the other hunters. Leopard typically drags their kill up a tree to enjoy their meal in peace so be sure to keep looking to the trees. 

African Civets are similar to Genets with their striped and spotted coats. African Civets are larger than Genets and where African Civets are found on the ground, Genets are more likely to be spotted in trees. African Civets produce a sharp musk liquid from their pineal glands that were used as a perfume before the synthetic musk was produced. 

Aardvarks are a very rare sighting even though they are common throughout the Kruger National Park. This strange looking animal comes out at night to feast on ants or termites. Aardvarks are solitary animals and only pair up to mate where after the male leaves and the females will bring up their young on their own. 

Another animal that feasts on ants and termites is the Aardwolf. They can also be seen eating other insects that are around at night.

A huge highlight of being in the Kruger National Park at night is the night sky. On a clear night, without any city lights around, you will be awestruck at the amount of bright stars you will see. It will truly make you aware of the enormity of the universe. Looking up you will be able to see millions of stars. The San people have a story about how the Milky Way came to be. It is told that a young girl needed a visible path and so took ashes from a fire and threw them together with some bits of edible root into the sky. And when you gaze at the heavens, it is a story that is so easy to believe. 

Book a night drive with Royal Safaris, the only private company authorised to take guests on an exciting evening trip into the park.