Every so often I buy a new guide book to the Kruger. They are cheap. This one, published by Jacana Media, was only R40.00 at the end of 2014. A bargain. It is also one of the better guides available.
I suppose the main reason one buys these guides is for the maps. These maps are clear and uncluttered. The main camps all have GPS co-ordinates (although one would have to be an idiot to miss them even without such modern toys) – I suppose it makes those who have become accustomed to listening to their electronic data more comfortable than actually reading a map.
One of the interesting things is that the waterholes that are due to be closed are marked on these maps as red giraffe while water holes that are going to be retained are still marked as the familiar blue giraffe of older Kruger maps. I was quite sad to see that some of my favourite detours on a drive will eventually be closed. The explanation for why this is being done is also given. Basically in the droughts of the sixties artificial waterpoints were created and this has messed with the ecological balance of the species. This is now being reversed. Human intervention, while well-meaning, is usually counter-productive in the end.
The more prominent hills and mountains are marked and named, a useful feature for those who want to know exactly where they took the picture of the baboons/klipspringers etc. It is certainly a topographical feature which pleases me in an otherwise easy to read map (the usual topographical colouring is missing, making these maps easy on the eye). What replaces this is the ecozone map which I last saw in my very precious, out of print, copy of Make the most of the Kruger. This enables one to learn to recognise areas by their biodiversity … and the good news is that it is simpler to use than my old battered copy of Make the most of the Kruger.
All the usual information is given including maps of the camps themselves, a useful feature for those who like to book their accommodation with the best view possible, or those who like to know where the swimming pool is in relation to their accommodation, or those who need to know where something else of importance is situated in any camp.
Tables of distances and travelling time between camps are standard, but a map of the entire Kruger National Park with get out points (and facilities at these get out points) is something I haven’t seen before. This lists where toilets are available, including toilets for the disabled. It also shows where one can get cold drinks, hire gas braais or find braai facilities, wood, kiosks and seating. This enables one to plan a trip for individual needs.
Some of the supplementary information is fascinating – bush fires, invasive alien species, sand spread on tar road and removal of vegetation from road verges are all covered.
Gate, restaurant and shop times are listed, together with numbers to call in the event of an emergency and other contact information, on the back page. Save our Rhino also gets prominence here.
My favourite feature is the drawn animals. They are beautiful, showing the various distinguishing features better than almost any photograph. There are not as many pages devoted to these as I would like, and certainly fewer than in the Make the most of the Kruger book.
For the cost of the guide and the amount of space it takes, this is a most worthy addition to the various reference books I choose to take to the park with me when I go and to have in the car (and even to take it with me to picnic spots and into camp accommodation).
Look out for it and buy with confidence. Highly recommended.