I just booked a trip to South Africa with the purpose of viewing wildlife in Kruger National Park (a safari has always been my dream!!) for August of 2018. I know that animals are unpredictable, but I also know that there are seasons in which the wildlife are more active.

Now August in South Africa, is still their winter time merging into spring, and I was wondering if this means it would be too early to have a chance of seeing all members of the big five (black rhinoceros, African elephant, water buffalo, African lion, African leopard) as well as hyenas, zebras, giraffes, etc.? Essentially, will the wildlife be less active in August or do they stay pretty active even in the winter months? Steady activity?

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    This isn't an answer since I don't know what's typical, exactly how different areas compare, and how things change from month to month, but I was in Sabi Sand, a private reserve that's part of the Kruger system and shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, last August, and saw everything you mention. My understanding is that some animals are harder to find in Kruger Park proper though. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 22:43
  • @JonathanReez, you're missing the point. Yes, I know elephants are not hibernating bears (I don't appreciate the unnecessary condescension). Who said anything about hiding? That's absurd! While I know the elephants are not birds (duh), but they are certainly migratory creatures too -- in fact, they're quite famous for their migrations. During a prolonged dry season in Africa, elephant migration distances were recorded to extend over 62 mi. So I was wondering where their migratory patterns take them in the dry month of Aug. Do they go outside the park? Or different parts of the park? Clear now? Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 14:19
  • Hi Butterfly and Bones! I'd love to know if you went on this trip, and, if so, what you saw. It's a dream of ours too, and if we could ever do it I'd want to plan the timing to see the most animal activity. If you have a minute and want to update your question or write an answer, that would be great! If not, that's fine too! I don't want to bother you! I hope you had an awesome time! Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 4:34

2 Answers 2


OK, I've spent two trips in Kruger, in the south, one later in the year, and one in autumn. Firstly, it's important to note that even Kruger's own website says that August is fantastic, as the grass is dry, and game tends to go towards the water sources, which you can drive to. It will be chilly for the early morning game drives though.

Note that the gates at your camp (I've generally stayed at Pretoriuskop) are open from 6am to 6pm, and that's a hard shut time - later and you'll be fined. So if you want to see animals before/after, you pay for morning/night drives with a ranger, or a walk. We had all three and they were amazing, we had some of our best sightings on these drives.

Big five sightings:

  • African elephant - easier than some of the others, you usually can spot their footprints (big round circles) on tracks, and other drivers will tell you where they've seen them.
  • Buffalo - lots of these, especially near water holes.
  • Lion - for many the dream, but last time over a week we saw nearly 20. Not many compared to say impala, zebra or kudu, but we were pleased. Even saw a hunt (they failed to catch the baboons).
  • Rhino (note that the Big 5 - rhino means black or white rhinos - although black is preferred. We definitely saw several white rhino, and a couple of black ones (very lucky to see those).
  • Leopard. Curse the blasted leopard. We spent a couple of days specifically trying to find these. We scoured tree tops, drove to rocky outcrops, followed up sightings from others. Nothing. And then on day 6 of 7, our hopes fading, a leopard walks out immediately in front of our car! Amazing!

But don't forget, even if you don't see all of the big five - there are so many other wonderful, amazing animals. Hyenas are incredible beasts, we had a couple walking right alongside the car, giraffes are graceful and amazing to watch, and the birdlife - kingfishers, vultures, African eagles, spectacular!

Except impala. My goodness you get sick of impala. They're like the dumb sheep of the game park ;)

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    I laugh at the number of impala pictures I took the first morning I was there. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 23:14

Make sure you stay over at one of the Southern most rest Camps. you are bound to see the big 5 between Skukuza and Pretoriuskop Rest Camp.

Tip from a South African: Book into a bungalow ( you gonna need the aircon ) it is an extremely hot area.

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