Elephants of the Kruger National Park

Elephants of the Kruger National Park

Elephants of the Kruger National Park

While enjoying a Kruger Park safari with Royal Safaris, guests will almost certainly see an elephant or 6. The Southern Kruger is home to a massive number of elephants and you can imagine just how hard they are to miss!

Once driven almost to extinction on the African continent, the elephant population has grown from a mere 120 in 1920 to about 10 000 to date.  Through a huge conservation effort, the Addo Elephant Park and Kruger National Park now protect large herds which span massive areas across both parks.

About the Elephant

The elephant is the world’s largest land mammal and can weigh up to 7 tons and reach a height at the shoulder of 3.3 meters.  The tusks of the older bulls can weigh up to 60kgs each.  Some of the older elephants have had tusks that weigh up to 90kgs.  An elephants tusks, which are actually their upper incisors, keep growing throughout their lives.  For the males, their tusks are not only used to obtain food but are also used to fight or in self-defence.  These majestic animals can live up to an age of 70 years.

The elephant has a modified nose in the form of a trunk and this appendage has about 50 000 muscles in it.   At the very tip of its truck, it has extremely sensitive finger like appendages that enable the elephant to pick a flower, pull out grass and even take a thorn from their feet.  Its trunk is also capable of finding water, above or below ground.  They have an inch of thick, sensitive skin and they love to swim and after swimming, they will throw sand or mud on their bodies that acts as a sunscreen.

Elephants are herbivores and feed on about 300kgs of grass or bark in a day.  All that eating makes them thirsty and they can drink up to 200 litres of water in a single session.   That results in a heap of dung being deposited every 15 minutes.

Family Life

Due to their 22 month gestation period, elephants only have one calf every 3 or 4 years.  Calves are only weaned after 2 years. Females normally stay in the herd while the males leave at about 14 years when they are expelled from the herd and join other male groups.  Males generally breed until they are well into their twenties.  The elephant is a very caring mother and should a calf become orphaned, another nursing mother will suckle the orphan. Elephant herds are always lead by an older female.

The Emotions of an Elephant

Elephants are capable of extreme emotion and even seem to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.  They have been seen grieving at the body of a dead elephant of their herd and even cover the carcass the flowers or leaves. When they come across an elephant carcass they are known to spend time visiting, and gently touching the bones with their trunks.


In general elephants are peace loving animals.

Females may show aggression when they have calves with them and males in must can be exceptionally aggressive.   A sick, injured or harassed elephant may also show aggression.  Generally, an elephant will first do a mock charge in an attempt to ward of the threat.  They do this by standing tall and facing the threat with their ears spread wide.  Sometimes they shake their head and swing their trunks.  They may even storm at the threat and then stop before reaching the threat.  It’s best to then move away slowly as an elephant is quite capable of killing its threat and have been known to overturn cars with ease.

When on a Kruger Park safari with Royal Safaris you will see elephants and more as we drive through the park. Contact us to book your Kruger safari, breakfast or bush braai.

James Stevenson-Hamilton

James Stevenson-Hamilton

James Stevenson-Hamilton

Nicknamed by the Tsonga people as “Skukuza”, which loosely translates to “The man that turns everything upside down or the man that sweeps clean”, James Stevenson-Hamilton was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1867.  Although well educated, James Stevenson-Hamilton decided to follow a career in the military and he stationed himself on the banks of the Crocodile River in South Africa before moving and settling at Skukuza which was known at the time as Sabi Bridge.

James Stevenson-Hamilton served as the first warden in the Kruger National Park, which was then called the Sabi Nature Reserve, from 1902-1946.

In 1902, James Stevenson-Hamilton was seconded from the military by Sir Godfrey Lagden, to become the parks first warden.  Sir Godfrey Lagden deemed James Stevenson-Hamilton as a bachelor, a man of means and a professional soldier and therefore fit for this unusual appointment.  After signing a two year contract, Stevenson-Hamilton left for what was described back then as the “White Man’s Grave” with only a map of the area, oxen and wagon, provisions and ammunition.  The area of the Kruger National Park as we know it today, was uncharted back in the day and rife with malaria.  Since “game ranging” was a completely new term, Lagden gave James Stevenson-Hamilton free rein in the area with his only instruction being “Make yourself generally disagreeable and eliminate poaching.

James Stevenson-Hamilton believed that if there was no shooting of game in the area, the game would lose their fear of humans and come back to the area.  He made it his first order of business to announce to the locals, that no shooting would be permitted.  He moved from Crocodile Bridge to make his headquarters at Sabi Bridge.   Here he appointed two rangers, one being Harry Wolhuter, and with the aid to these two rangers they trained local rangers.  Many poachers were caught and soon the locals realised that they were serious about the no shooting rule.  They even caught and convicted senior policemen for poaching in the area.

James Stevenson-Hamilton not only patrolled the reserve to keep it safe from poaches, he also saw the need to thin out the lions and wild dogs.  He managed to convince companies in the vicinity of the Sabi Reserve to lend him land which eventually gave him a huge landscape, spread out in a remote corner in the Transvaal.   This new land extended the original 3 100 square kilometres to 36 000 square kilometres, creating what is today the Kruger National Park.  Wildlife could now roam safely from Crocodile Bridge to the Limpopo River.  Up to this point it was still known as a reserve but in 1912, Stevenson Hamilton presented his idea to nationalise the reserve and transform it to a national park.

In order to do this he needed the support of the public and therefore the reserve was opened to the public.  His idea was put on hold by Wold War 1.  Encouraged by Stevenson-Hamilton, Piet Grobler established the National Parks board in 1926 in parliament and the dream of Paul Kruger turned into the Kruger National Park.  The Kruger National Park was officially opened to the public in 1927.

After 44 years of service to the Kruger National Park, James Stevenson-Hamilton retired and settled in White River, where he passed away on the 10 December 1957 at the age of 90.

The Kruger National Park has a rich and diverse history, and you can find out all about it when you join Royal Safaris on an exciting Kruger National Park safari. Book your trip today.

Owls of the Kruger National Park

Owls of the Kruger National Park

Owls of the Kruger National Park

There are few things more hauntingly beautiful than hearing an owl calling after the sun has set. When on an evening drive in the Kruger National Park, or when enjoying an evening braai, it is not unusal to hear these mysterious birds.

A Supersitious Past

Associated with witches and sorcerers, owls have for the best part not being the most liked bird.  The fact that owls are mostly seen at night does not help their plight.  Many people in the rural communities are known to put spikes on their roofs in an attempt to keep them off their roofs, as it is believed that should an owl land on your roof, it is a bad omen.  As owls are fairly easy to catch during the day, witch doctors use them in their traditional medicine, as it is believed that owl ingredients in their potions help patients with eye sight problems and also wisdom and hunting.

Although owls have huge eyes that do see well at night, it is the exceptional hearing that enables them to hunt successfully at night.  Owls are usually found in woodland areas of the Kruger National Park.  The most common owls found in the Kruger National Park and surrounding areas are the Barn Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and the Marsh Owl.

Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

The Verreaux’s Eagle Owl stands about 66 cm tall and can weigh up to 2.3 kg.  This owl has a wingspan of 1.5 meters, and it has a pale grey body, a set of distinctive ear tufts and a pale face that is black rimmed.  Although its eyes are dark it has pink eyelids.

The Verreaux’s Eagle Owl is known to snatch roosting birds out their nests at night.  It also preys on bats, springhares, mongooses, rodents, frogs and a variety of insects and fish.  A special treat for this owl is a hedgehog, after peeling away the spiny skin, which it neatly discards, it tucks into the flesh.

In Shangaan folklore the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl is known as Nkhunsi, a messenger of death sent by a malevolent person.  To undo the death spell you will need to sever the head of the owl, that way you are able to send the ill fortune back to the person that sent it to you.

Barn Owl

In comparison, the Barn Owl is smaller and is only about 36 cm tall.  It weighs about 500g and has a wingspan of about 90cm.  The  Barn Owl can be found in and around rest camps as they are comfortable around humans.  It has a golden buff and pale colouring with a distinctive heart shaped face.  This owl preys mostly on rodents, although it does prey on birds, frogs and lizards.  At dusk Barn Owls and be seen gliding low over the ground or beating bushes in an attempt to get the smaller birds out.  They only hunt from dusk as they can easily become prey to other raptors during the day.

 Marsh Owl

An adult Marsh Owl is about 36 cm, weighs 310 grams and has a wingspan of about 90cm.  This owl has a gray disk face and centrally placed ear tufts.  The rest of his body is shades of brown.  A favourite meal is the Mole Rat, but it also preys on small birds and rodents.  The Marsh Owl also eats termites and beetles.  As its name predicts, Marsh Owls are commonly found in marshy areas, particularly where there are thick reeds of grass.  They can also be found in open thorn savannah though out the Kruger National Park.

Book your Kruger Park night safari with Royal Safaris and keep a look out for one of the many owls that frequent the park.

Why a Guided Kruger Park Tour is better than a Self-Drive

Why a Guided Kruger Park Tour is better than a Self-Drive

Why a Guided Kruger Park Tour is better than a Self-Drive

Most South African’s are lucky enough to have visited a wildlife park of some kind in their lives, whether as children or as adults.

While self-drives are the most conventional way for South Africans to go on safari, there is another way to see the wildlife and the other exciting things that South Africa’s parks have to offer.

Guided safaris with a professional safari company, takes the stress out of your time in the park, and with Royal Safaris, not only do you get to experience the ultimate safari but you can also enjoy a bush braai or breakfast out in nature.

Why the guided Kruger Park safari is the better option

  • Accidents happen and there have been numerous accidents in the Kruger National Park with tourists cars been attacked by wild animals. In 2013 an elephant overturned a car and a British lady was seriously injured.  In 2016 a car was severely smashed by stampeding buffalo and a car was attacked by a lion.  Most of these could have been avoided had these people been on tour with a safari company, as the guides know how close to get to the animals and also know which animals are safe to get close too.
  • Safari companies have professional guides that visit the park daily. These guides are not only trained in the ways of the wild animals but are also constantly in touch with other guides in the park so they know where the best sighting are during the day.   Guides also have a wealth of information about the animals and while relaxing and game viewing the guides can explain all about the animals and their behaviour.
  • Guided safari companies know where the best places are in the Kruger National Park to ensure that you see the most animals in the least amount of time. Guides also have knowledge of where some animals have their lairs.  While it is unrealistic to expect to always see the Big Five, it is safe to say that with a safari company you are likely to see more than you would on your own.   On your own, you may drive around for hours and hours and see nothing.  Guides can also give you valuable information about the veld, plants and trees and also tell stories about all their bush experiences.
  • Safari companies offer a variety of packages for you to choose from. They can take you on an early morning drive or an afternoon drive, or if you want to spend the whole day in the park, they offer that service too.  Safari vehicles are open so you get a real feel for the bush, with the breeze blowing around you and the advantage of being higher than a normal vehicle enabling you to see over the roadside bush and view deep into the wild.
  • Safari companies will also take you to camps or picnic spots where you will get to stretch your legs and grab a snack or curio from the available facilities. It is safe to say, that going with a safari company will let you enjoy a safe journey through the Kruger National Park and get back home relaxed and bush wise.
  • Finally, some companies go above and beyond simply offering the average safari. Royal Safaris offers unique bush braais, early morning champagne breakfasts and exciting dinners close to the wildlife.

To find out more about our exceptional Kruger Park safaris and unique touring packages, contact us today or browse through our website.

What You Need To Know Before Booking Your First Safari

What You Need To Know Before Booking Your First Safari

What You Need To Know Before Booking Your First Safari

When you find yourself visiting the North Eastern nook of South Africa, it is hard to not go on a safari. After all, the safari is exactly the reason why so many people come to our visually exquisite country every year.

The Kruger National Park is without a doubt South Africa’s star attraction. Home to hundreds, if not thousands, of species of birds, animals, insects and reptiles, the Kruger is a conservation oasis. Here, animals live out their lives in relative peace, away from man and in habitats that their species has survived in for generations.

Planning your trip to the Kruger National Park can mean finding a tour operator to take you on a magical safari, while also organising memorable adventures and quality downtime.

Whether it is a bush braai close to the Kruger, as the sun goes down, or an unforgettable evening drive through the park, catching sight of those elusive nocturnal creatures, Royal Safaris is the best operator you could tour with. We try to ensure that our guests experience the most relaxed and memorable times in the Kruger.

But planning your tour means you have to think carefully about what it is you want to do with your time in this wild part of the world. So, we’re going to give you a few helpful tips to keep close in mind when you are booking your safari.

  • Some things need to be done offline

The internet allows you to do most of your safari planning, from booking accommodation and tours to making sure you have the right flights leaving at the right time. Make sure that you do your planning and booking well before your holiday. You might come across some amazing tour operator’s website, only to find that it’s just a marketing site and you need to give them a phone call or drop them an email to make your booking. Small tour operators and access to more rural attractions can’t always be done on the internet.

  • Know the type of reserve you are visiting

South Africa has a number of public and private nature reserves, and there are many private reserves around the Kruger. You can expect to pay out more if you book into a private reserve and then there is the fact that you won’t be having a more rural, laid back experience. And there is nothing wrong with that. It all depends on what you expect from your time in Africa.

Private parks tend to be smaller and they will require prior booking. There is also the possibility that they won’t admit day visitors.

  • Your days are best started early

Regardless of where you choose to experience your South African safari, you will need to make sure that you head out early in the mornings if you hope to catch sight of animals. Most safari companies take guests into parks before the heat becomes overwhelming. The best time of the day to see animals is in the early morning and late afternoon.

  • Pack Accordingly

It never truly gets too cold in those parts of the country where you will have a safari. Mornings and evenings can get quite cool, but the days stay hot. Don’t over pack when you go on safari!

Book your unforgettable trip to South Africa and join Royal Safaris for a tour of the Kruger National Park. Check out our tour packages for more information.

Choosing Your First African Safari

Choosing Your First African Safari

Choosing Your First African Safari

Africa is big! And it is filled with amazing national parks, home to all kinds of animals and plenty of plant diversity. The sheer number of places to enjoy a safari is what makes choosing the right one for you a tougher task than you’d imagine.

The thing is, it is highly unlikely that you will get to see all of Africa. You won’t be able to do it all and so you need to make sure that you’ve done your research about the different countries and their safari destinations so that you can select the destination that will provide you with the most relaxed, and thrilling, experience.

South Africa is without a doubt one of the best safari destinations in the world. And of all the safari destinations you can choose from, the Kruger National Park is going to come out on top of your list of preferred destinations.

Narrowing down all of your options and deciding on the Kruger as the destination of choice can take time and planning, as there is a lot to consider. And the considerations have more to do than just the animals you will see.

Every safari company knows that the guests they take on safari have certain hopes regarding the animals they want to see. But these safari companies also know that guests can get bored when spending numerous days on safari, so they like to plan other activities or things to see. If you are looking to experience a trip that lasts longer than a single day or morning, you will need to consider what else your destination has on offer.

Royal Safaris provides guests with a rather different approach to experiencing the Kruger National Park and its wild surrounding areas. Our wildlife tours leave from the White River area as well as from the Marloth Park area, making it easier for guests to get to get to the best wildlife viewing destinations.

Important questions to ask when choosing your safari

  • How do you feel about being on the road? Some safari destinations will have you driving for hours on end, and not always on the best of roads. Not everyone is keen on driving around, instead, they want to get to the destination and relax, before heading back. Many Kruger and Marloth safaris offer transfers, along with guided safaris.
  • Do you want to combine your safari with another destination? Many African safari destinations offer only the wildlife experience, whereas South Africa is also a top destination for those wanting to sit on the beach. When visiting South Africa, you can be on a Kruger safari on one day and exploring a beach on the next.
  • Would you like to be closer to urban areas? South Africa has a number of bustling urban landscapes, with major cities close to the safari destinations. This helps to ensure that you are never too far from all of the conveniences of modern living so should you find yourself in need of something from the shops, you can always get to a place that has what you need.

The Royal Safaris Experience

Royal Safaris, located close to the Kruger National Park, is the only safari operator allowed to take guests into the Kruger for evening safaris. But we also have a number of other fantastic tour packages for you to choose from.

Our bush braais, champagne breakfasts and sundowner drives are just as exciting as our full day tours in the Kruger as well as our Panorama Tours. Each safari experience is affordable and each trip is sure to provide an unforgettable adventure.

Book one of our Kruger safari packages today, and explore the wilder side of Africa.