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How has the park changed in the last 10 years?

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Unread post by Perks. » Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:24 pm

As late as 1997, the personnel in the park still had this quaint and charming innocence.
Most spent the bulk of their lives in the park, seldom venturing into civilisation as we know it.
Like teachers, they did it far more for the love of it, than any financial reward.

But soon after this, the whole ethos of The Parks Board changed, from being a national treasure and a certain sink of government funds, it was called on to operate as a business, paying its way.
And rightfully so, given the increased exposure to foreign tourists, many of whom are particularly fussy, and where only a business-centric operating model could live up to those expectations.

But as the business side got leaner, the employees got meaner.
In 2002, on a five night stay, some of the staff were downright surly. About the only member of staff with a reasonable attitude, doing a good job, was the makulu chap cleaning the ablutions at Lower Sabie.

Similar the following year, but that was only a day-trip, and we only had exposure to staff at shops and the LS restaurant.

But my folks who've been going several times a year for the last ten years, detected a diametrical shift in attitude soon thereafter.
It seems someone decided that becoming a business, didn't necessarily involve turning the staff into morose monsters, and things improved.

This year, with the exception of the shop staff in Skuk, who seemed distracted (rather than downright rude), everyone was pretty pleasant.
In particular, the management staff at Pretoriuskop bent over backwards to see to our unusual needs, being a large party.
Sure, a lot of it was pre-planned, but things like an extra braai... 'the public' have been fleecing the camp of their three-legged braais, and they are now embedded in terra firma.

Regards visitors, sure, we've all become insular, self-absorbed.
But that is the nature of the beast.
I mean, how many of us in Gauteng know our neighbours? As the walls and electric fences have gone up, so has our collective guard.

But as several have mentioned, break the ice, and the old spirit returns... people with a common love of the bush still know how to get along, despite their differing 'everyday' backgrounds.

At the end of the day, don't expect a return to the park of the fifties or sixties, it's not going to happen. The business itself, visitors and staff have become more sophisticated, and that will all manifest in the interactions we experience.
Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
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Unread post by Mgoddard » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:52 pm

Skillie wrote:We've obviously had similar experiences and hold similar views, Perks, but nothing can minimise the still wonderful thrill as you enter the park, no matter how many times you visit. We will continue to go by the old rules of the park and so will our children. :wink: :lol:

I cant agree more!!!! We obviously all had some experiences that stick in our minds, but there's only one Kruger and we all love to be there and experience matter what...this may seem like the obvious...but ppl still want to go there and expierience the old and the safety.....

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Unread post by giraffee » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:46 pm

After many years of not visiting the park :( I could not believe my eyes - last year - when in Olifants I found the same photo of the elephants - in the same spot - in the restaurant
A tear was quietly blinked away.
It felt like seeing a long lost old friend!
Even the shop was still the same!

Of all camps excluding Punda and Shingwedzi ) Olifants was exactly as I remembered.

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Unread post by Kingfisha » Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:45 pm

I believe everything has been said!
The biggest change over the years for me is that KNP has become so commercialism - and the reason is understandable.
If KNP does not make the money, none of our other National Parks will survive as KNP is the big daddy, subsidizing all other Parks.
The hundreds of private tour operators with many tourists were never seen 10 years ago...

This is the reason why we always escape to the northern parts of the park.
I agree that facilities have improved, but disregard for the rules on the road has really deteriorated.
This may count for the whole country really - looking at how people disobey basic traffic rules, why will they bother to stay in their vehicles and stick to speed limits in KNP?

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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:48 pm

The biggest change for me in the last 15 years, i.e. since 1992, is the amount of pre gate opening time traffic. It is now impossible to see anything that slept on a tar road anymore, and we often were the first car down a road and had mega sightings, but that now is sadly gone.
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How has the kruger changed ...

Unread post by ndloti » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:29 pm

Have visited KNP at least 5 times per year on average for last 24 years , I am disillusioned about :

1) Concession areas with their network of private roads and the impact on the KNP
2 ) Excessive amount of open game viewing vehicles and their impact on private tourists enjoyment
3) Over commercialisation of KNP , beer banners and litter at picnic places , shops , ....
4 ) Diminished " sense of place "
5 ) Tarriffs have increased disproportionately
6 ) Increased disregard of the basic rules

Unfortunately I am forced to pay R 750 per night to escape on wilderness trails
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:32 pm

I agree with all except number 5 ndloti, the prices of accomodation without own ablutions have stayed very reasonable and within the means of the budget minded nature lover.
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Unread post by mountainview » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:34 pm

The last time I went up to Pafuri was in 1991.
Back then the roads were more often than not covered with millions of those gray armoured Ground Crickets [the cannibalistic ones] and there were always a couple of columns of army ants [you waited for them to cross the road].
This year we saw none of that.
Not even one.
Maybe they were late due to the terrible dryness, I hope this is the case.
But speaking to people who have watched the area closely say that every year the insects that gathered around lights at night are diminishing year by year.

As for the Fever Tree Forest, it is non-existent, oh there are lots of fever trees at Pafuri but the ancient ones are gone [these were those which had crowned, indicative of their age].
The flood plain dynamics have changed bringing permanent dryness [at least to the koosboom vlei and hence the forest] and together with fire have destroyed the trees.
In mid-2006 three fires raged through from the Mozambican side.

A similar situation exists on the Mahonie loop where there were strands of Ironwood along the hilltops, which have over the past decade also been ravished by fire.
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Unread post by Richprins » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:02 pm

As far as the big picture is concerned, I don't think the Park has changed much at all!

It remains a "must see" for local and foreign visitors, and provides acres of space for them to each get their own chance to get that "special feeling"! :D

I also think that the spirit amongst visitors regarding sharing stories and stopping cars to report is alive and well!

Smaller changes, for me:

A drastic reduction in rare antelope sightings, but a boom in predator sghtings, especially leopard!

Increased rainfall, and a consequent lessening of rewarding waterhole experiences.

Ghastly elephant overpopulation! :evil:

Lovely new hides and camps.

Less poaching.

The loss of many experienced staff.

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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:47 pm

Jenb wrote:I really miss the impala pies. 8)
Satara once had a special of impala steak.
Ele biltong.
Cans of braised buff steak.
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Unread post by Freda » Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:52 pm

Bush Baptist wrote:Cans of braised buff steak.

That stuff was great, we used to take lots of tins home :D
Suppose finding TB in buffs stopped that :cry:

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Unread post by davegrohl » Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:59 pm

Pretty much all the changes in the last 20 years have been for the worse, except for the introduction of the night drives, bush braais and bush walks.

Im not talking of changes and confusing the issue with old fond memories - the green soaps (the smell still fresh in my memory), the buffalo/impala pies, biltong in the plastic bags with the green writing on them during the culling season (buffalo definitely the best!).
These aren't bad changes, they're sadly just the evolution of the KNP.

The bad changes, to name a few: (bear with me)

*The general behaviour of many visitors (such behaviour goes without punishment - "zero tolerance" - wake up!), speeding, etiquette, litter, general bad attitudes.

*The staff. Since various outsourcing of shops/suppliers etc, the once friendly staff attitude has disappeared. Sure there are exceptions, but on a whole, you cant compare it to how it was.
I'm sure we would agree that the food has improved in the KNP over the years (i haven't eaten at a restaurant in KNP for the last 10 years or so, but I've been told its improved), but slightly dodgy restaurant/cafeteria food was all a part of the Kruger experience.

*the traffic on the roads (rangers, deliveries etc) before gate opening in the mornings was almost unheard of in the past.
Nowadays, you make the effort to wake up extra early, get to the gate ASAP, and have to watch 4 or 5 parks board vehicles, trucks zooming past the road from behind the closed fence.
I understand that rangers/staff have places to go, but this wasn't happening 15 years ago?
Its a common fact that, especially in winter, the (tar)road acts like a heater during the night, and if you were fortunate enough to be on the road first, you were almost guaranteed to get some great action.

*Locks on the doors.
Sad state of affairs when this had to be introduced. not really a bad change, just a sad sign of the times..

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KNP after 50 years

Unread post by Tony T » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:54 pm

In Sept 09 I'll be returning to Kruger after 50 years. My SO has never been. I'm just wondering what to expect.
We are sold on Kgalagadi. My SO is a Namibian so I've grown to love the open spaces of the arid plains and wilderness.
We love birds and animals in the wild; we love nature!
We've been to most Parks in SA, but not Kruger over the past 40 years. We want to keep an open mind. One hears so much about comercialisation; the shops, fast food outlets, laundries, conference centres etc. People having come away not seeing the "Big 5" and traffic jams.
As I said I will keep an open mind and rather enjoy the beauty of the bushveld which I vaguely remember.

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Re: KNP after 50 years

Unread post by big5spotter » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:03 pm

Some people take it a bit far.Traffic :hmz: depends mainly on the road and the sighting.On our last trip we saw 12 lions on the S28 we spotted them we were there 20-30min and not a single car we left them still no car showed up.We had a cheetah sighting where we were alone for around 10min until they stood up and walked away.To me KNP is awesome.Yes you dont always see the big 5 but imagine going and you always see them?To me it is a challenge to find them.If I dont i'll try next time.There are a few things that I dont always like but we cant always have what we want otherwise I will be the only visitor :lol: :lol:

It has not come to the point where it becomes unpleasant with the amount of people.You normally get the bad spots like LS during mid day on the deck can become far to busy.

KNP is in my blood and I hope it stays forever coz I want to show my children our beautiful land 1 day!! :tongue:
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Re: KNP after 50 years

Unread post by DuQues » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:24 pm

Half a century without Kruger! :shock: I have trouble with 2 years!

Oh, I'm interested in a few things when you come back....
But a little question first, do you still have photos of the trip you made just before I was born? There are very few around it seems...

And I'm looking forward to your impressions, what's your itinerary?

It's going to be totally different to KTP, Etosha and Naukluft, that's for sure.. More difficult photography, but on the other hand a surprise waiting around every corner, or not, which is a surprise as well. ;)
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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