The Southern Circle – Kruger Park’s Best-Kept Secret!

Visitors to the Kruger National Park in South Africa go there for a variety of reasons.

Whether they are doing a self-drive safari or guided safari, one of the primary reasons is to find and photograph animals such as the ‘super-seven’. The super-seven are the most sought-after animals and are the ones that visitors mark on the sighting boards in all the Kruger camps each day – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino, (known collectively as the ‘big-five’) and adding cheetah plus wild dog to make up Africa’s ‘super-seven’ animals.

We have been visiting the Kruger Park since 1995 and have spent 400 days staying in all the main and bushveld camps doing photographic safaris. During this time we discovered the ‘Southern Circle’ – the area between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie camps in the south-eastern corner of the Kruger.

This area must be the most underrated in the whole park. We have heard some people saying that they just use the Crocodile Bridge gate to enter the park in order to enable them to get to the ‘real Kruger’ (from Lower Sabie northwards). Well in our humble opinion the section of roads known as the ‘Southern Circle’ must be the most consistently productive for super-seven sightings in the whole Kruger Park.

We have seen the big five animals on four separate occasions, all in this southern circle area. On the one day we had entered the park at 06h00 and by 10h00 we had seen the big five. On another occasion we saw the big five (including a lion kill), three leopards as well as wild dogs and cheetah – the super-seven all in one day on the circle roads!

We have our own sighting board at home where we plot all our super-seven Kruger sightings and there is a very high concentration of sighting pins in this Southern Circle. We have marked every lion, leopard, wild dog, and cheetah sighting but only large herds of buffalo, rhino and elephant as there are too many of these sightings to fit on our map!

I know; you want to find out which roads these are and why this circle area is so good for game viewing, don’t you!

Well, the southern circle comprises the H4-2 tar road and the S28 dirt road, both heading north from Crocodile Bridge to Lower Sabie and forming a circle. In this southern circle are also two short roads – the S130 and S137 Duke roads.

There seems to be a combination of three things that make this Southern Circle area so game-rich:

• there is water available most of the year as the area is situated close to two perennial rivers (as the crow flies it is just 20 kilometers from the Sabie to Crocodile River in the southern circle);

• the basalt plains hold water in pans for long periods; and

• the area contains sweet-grass, which is favored by the zebra, buffalo, impala and wildebeest and it’s these herbivores that in turn feed the predators.

So, as far as ‘best game-viewing routes’ go this must be the number one in the Kruger Park – give it a try on your next Kruger photo safari!