In 1940, ranger Sinias Nyalunga was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society for risking his life to dive into the river to rescue a woman and her baby who had been swept off the bank by floodwaters.
The Crocodile River would almost certainly have been the northernmost border with Swaziland had a rather dubious 19th century land deal not been conducted between the Transvaal Land Commissioner, Abel Erasmus, and an unnamed Swazi chief, in which the Swazi border was pushed 80km southwards in exchange for 12 cases of gin.
The Crocodile Bridge area is a juxtaposition of open grassland and dense thorn thickets. It’s one of Kruger’s driest areas – receiving about half the average Park rainfall.
The Gate is named after the Crocodile River, which forms the southernmost boundary of the Kruger Park. The river gets its name from the number of crocodiles that it has and would certainly be one of the most dangerous to try to wade across.
Crocodile Bridge is the most direct access point to the game-rich south-eastern grasslands of the Park, and sighting opportunities open up very quickly after entering the Park. The game drives here are part of what is known as the “Southern Circle” which has a reputation for good lion-spotting. Several prides operate in this area, each with its own distinct hunting techniques and behaviour patterns.
In recent times, this has often led to problems of lions crossing the Crocodile River and attacking livestock outside the Park. At one point during the early 1970s, the situation got so bad that 26 escaping lion had to be shot during an 18-month period. The Crocodile Bridge area also has the highest percentage of Kruger’s white rhino population.
Crocodile Bridge to Lower Sabie
There are two main routes between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie – the Gomondwane Road (H4-2) and the Nhlowa Road (S28).
Where to Stay
Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp is on the banks of the Crocodile River a few kilometres from the entrance gate. Situated in the sweetgrass knob-thorn, marula savanna, it was once briefly the headquarters of the old Sabie Game Reserve.
The camp is an excellent place to stop for a meal when coming either in or out of Crocodile Bridge Gate, and is well-placed for late arrivals and early departures. There is a reasonable restaurant, a convenience store where one can buy snacks and essentials, a gift shop, petrol station, post office and emergency first-aid post.
Tragically, the camp’s wonderful setting among tall riverine trees and thorn thickets has been compromised by developments across the river. Rather try and get into Lower Sabie and consider Crocodile Bridge only as a last resort if accommodation elsewhere in the south-east is fully booked.
Despite this, Crocodile Bridge is in the heart of good game territory and there are usually a variety of animal sightings close to the camp. Hyaena are often heard outside the camp fence at night, with their unnerving giggles and cries. The proximity of the river ensures that Crocodile Bridge is an excellent birding camp – with many Lebombo and Mozambican birds to be seen. During periods of heavy rainfall, the Crocodile Bridge camp entrance is prone to flooding.