Kruger traffic jam

Traffic jams are not unheard of in the Kruger National Park. Most people who have visited Kruger will know the frustration of coming upon a group of cars blocking the road when there is a significant animal sighting. People will have parked at all angles just to get a better view of the action.

Sometimes however the Kruger animals themselves cause the traffic jam, as happened to us one morning. We came around a bend to see cars stopped and soon realised that the action was on the road itself. A huge herd of African or Cape buffalo (we estimated at least 300 animals) had decided to cross the road from the waterhole on our left-hand side to where they wanted to graze on the right. And they were taking their sweet time about it.

Buffalo at the waterhole on the left side of the road. ©LB/

Buffalo at the waterhole on the left side of the road. ©LB/

Coming around a corner we see this. ©LB/

Coming around a corner we see this – a huge herd of buffalo slowly crossing the road. ©LB/

Closer view ©LB/

Closer view ©LB/

None of the cars was daring to move for fear of creating a stampede of buffalo. Something nobody wants to experience. These Savannah-type buffaloes weigh from 500 to 1,000 kg (1,100 to 2,200 lb) and can be very dangerous animals when provoked. They’re capable of doing serious damage to a car – and thus its occupants.

Buffalo milling about on right side of the road, waiting for the rest of the herd to cross. ©LB/

Buffalo milling about on right side of the road, waiting for the rest of the herd to cross. ©LB/



After a while the man in the Backhoe (excavating equipment – see the second photo), inched his vehicle forwards and slowly broke up the stream of buffalo. Once the buffalo had halted and there was a gap in the herd, the rest of us could continue on our way.

Bright sunlight and lots of dust made it difficult to photograph and film the event. So the video below is not of a high quality, but it will give you an idea of the sights and sounds of such a big herd.

This post is part of a series of Kruger National Park posts I will be publishing. It is also part of my daily posts for October 2016 – otherwise known as The October Dash


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Categories: Lifestyle/Travel, Nature/Environment


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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10 Comments on “Kruger traffic jam”

  1. October 4, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    What a sight! Hundreds of buffalo! I’m glad people were sensible and stopped their cars so they could cross the road – a stampede would have been terrifying.

    • October 5, 2016 at 10:10 am #

      Yes, it was a great sight. You cannot really convey the feeling of it in a couple of photos. There was a video online recently of a car getting in the way of running buffalo. The buffalo had been going in one direction across a road, and then obviously been chased by lions and turned around and ran back across the road the way they had come. Luckily they seemed to have just missed the car. Still scary stuff! You can watch it here:

      • October 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

        OMW! That was terrifying! That’s not something you would normally anticipate happening to you when you’re enjoying a peaceful little game drive!

      • October 6, 2016 at 7:00 am #

        I had seen the video about 2 weeks before we went to Kruger, so was a little nervous when everyone decided it was safe to drive through the middle of the buffalo herd. There was also an incident with a male elephant who was unhappy with us. Nothing dramatic, but we had to reverse to a safe distance and then wait for him to calm down.

      • October 6, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

        Phew! Wise choice!

        When entering nature reserves and wilderness areas etc., I think it is wise and responsible to treat the animals we may encounter there with respect and to acknowledge that we are now in *their* space, on their home turf, so to speak. They have so little natural environment left all around the world, because humans have encroached on and chopped up their habitats and migration routes – and we are still continuing to do so. If I was an elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, etc., I’d also become a tad defensive and irritable if too many humans kept disturbing and harassing me and my family as we go about our daily lives. 🙂 Going for a walk in the veld with a good field guide is actually a great way of realising how small and vulnerable (and often how clumsy, insensitive and unobservant) we are! It’s easy to forget that when we’re on an organised game drive, sitting in a big powerful vehicle high above the ground, roaring from one ‘sighting’ to another. 🙂

      • October 7, 2016 at 6:25 am #

        You’re so right! Even coming across a herd of buck is a different story when you’re walking through the veld. With the number of predators in Kruger, it would not be possible to go walking in the veld without a armed game ranger/guide. The number of carcasses and skeletons were a dire warning to anyone contemplating getting out of their cars outside of the fenced camps!

        On the permit you receive when you drive into Kruger, they have “tips” on how to deal with angry elephants – which seem the main threat to vehicles there.

  2. Eha
    October 5, 2016 at 2:19 am #

    Oh how wonderful! Who would have dreamed of such an incredible once-in-life opportunity when entering the Park!! The ruddy cars spoil the scenario of course since we are the intruders . . . . but lucky, lucky you!! Anyway, thanks, ’cause this is a lifetime ‘first’ for me . . .

    • October 5, 2016 at 10:13 am #

      In any of the game reserves one sometimes has to give way to animals crossing the road. This was certainly the largest herd of buffalo we have ever seen. I’ve put a link to a video in my reply to Reggie’s comment. Shows a herd of buffalo stampeding across a road in Kruger.

  3. October 7, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    All that ‘bull’ lol! They are awesome animals and not to be taken lightly, especially when in such a big herd.

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