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Back to Kruger after 75 days

Mpumalanga and Limpopo residents flocked to the Kruger National Park (KNP) this week while the rest of the country could only virtually and longingly look on.

Although, understandably a bit slow, visitors said the process at gates ran smoothly and commended the KNP on a job well done.

Mario Paul, tour guide and photographer, arrived Monday at 05:00 at Malelane Gate, where there were already 10 cars ahead of them. “Apparently, the first guy was already there by about 23:00 the previous day,” Paul said.

Another visitor, Ella Venter, had a sighting on Wednesday where about five lions were feeding on a giraffe. “There were only a few vehicles and no fighting at the sighting.

“The big male lion proceeded to drag an unborn baby giraffe from the carcass and walked into the bush with it.

“We could sit and watch for a long while. The lions ate, slept, and came to eat again while the vultures patiently waited their turn.”

ALSO SEE: IN PHOTOS: First day Kruger National Park sightings

Reynold Thakhuli, acting head of communications for SANParks, said there has been “no fuss or fight” from visitors regarding the regulations.

“There has been no sense of entitlement because they have not been allowed in the park for more than two months. If they are told that something is wrong, they go and fix themselves.”

Thakhuli clarified a few things:

Prior to today, all gates were open except for Numbi and Pafuri, but he confirmed that these two would also be open from today.

He said gate quotas had been reduced to approximately 30 per cent of what the usual quota was before Covid-19.

There are three time slots and booked day visitors must arrive at the gate within that time span. Visitors who do not book online run the risk of being turned away as Thakhuli said online booking is compulsory. They try to minimise contact and also save time by doing this.

Slot one is from 06:00 to 08:00, slot two from 08:00 to 10:00 and slot three from 10:00 onwards. Booking fees of R46 per adult and R23 per child will apply. If visitors are not in possession of a Wild Card, a R100 per person conservation fee will also be added.

ALSO READ: SANParks opens for self-drive day excursions after two months

There was some uncertainty around Orpen Gate and which province it is considered to be in. Thakhuli confirmed that the gate is regarded as a duel province gate – Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Upon arrival at your chosen gate, an entry form is required and an exit one as well for when you leave. These can be found on the SANParks website and can be printed and filled out at home – an action that will make the process at the entrance run smoother.

You will be temperature screened at the gate, and asked to confirm that you are not experiencing any clinical symptoms before you are allowed to enter.

You can enter and exit at different gates, as long as they are in the same province.

For the first week, only bathroom facilities at the entry gates, main camps, and large picnic spots (Nkuhlu and Tshokwane) will be open.

Though restaurants will be closed for sit-down dining, limited takeaway menus and snacks at the shops at the larger camps (like Skukuza) are offered.

No braai facilities at picnic areas will be open at this stage. You are not allowed to have a picnic outside of your car.

The park also asks that visitors help them by removing all waste they generate in the park by packing their own rubbish bags.

Filling stations will operate from 09:30 to 17:00 daily.

Vehicle quotas:

Sedan = 3 (people)

Double Cab = 3

Microbus (10) = 7

Minibus (14) = 9

Minibus (16) = 9

Gate quotas:

Crocodile Bridge Gate 360 (people)

Kruger Gate 260

Malelane Gate 260

Orpen Gate 220

Phabeni Gate 250

Phalaborwa Gate 260

Punda Maria Gate 220

Numbi Gate 260

Pafuri Gate 180

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