Kruger National Park & private game reserves

Probably one of the main highlights of any South Africa holiday is visiting Kruger National Park or one of the adjacent private game reserves. South Africa, and especially Kurger, is synonym for the opportunity of seeing huge quantities of wildlife in their natural habitats. Whether you have been on safari before, or the phenomenon is completely new for you, Kruger guarantees an incredible and unforgettable experience. On this page you will find an overview of Kruger National Park's top attractions.

gamedrive kruger park

Kruger National Park is situated in the northeastern corner of South Africa and comprises a large chunk of unspoiled and untouched nature. In Kruger National Park there are about twenty restcamps in which the National Parks Board offers accommodation. There also is a number of private game reserves adjecent to the Kruger NP that offer private lodge accommodation. High quality private game reserves include Sabi Sands, Manyeleti and Kapama. Fences between these private game reserves and Kruger National Park have been removed in the 1990s. A small number of private lodges is located within the boundaries of the national park itself, making use of a concession scheme. Together, Kruger National Park and the private game reserves form the 'Greater Kruger' area. Wildlife in the area is able to roam freely and are thus able to migrate from one area in the park to another. The quality of accommodation, wildlife and rangers determine the price of an overnight stay. The most luxurious accommodations set you back approximately £ 750 per person per day and are rather expensive.

Due to the size of Kruger National Park (over two million hectares) the area is filled with wildlife in a awe-inspiring diversity of landscapes: dry savanna, dense forests and rugged mountains which are crossed by meandering rivers. Within the national park is a vast network of roads, trails and 4x4 routes. The southern part of Kruger National Park is generally the most popular area, mainly due to high concentrations of big game. Your best bet for seeing the 'Big 5' (leopard, rhino, lion, elephant and buffalo) is staying in one of the fantastic lodges in the private game reserves. Here you can make safaris under the guidance of trained rangers that know the area, know where to find game, and can tell you about it with great enthusiasm. Lern more about going on safari on our South Africa safaris page.

Private game reserves near Kruger National Park:

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

sabi sand kruger luxury safari

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a long established name and probably the most famous private game reserve bordering Kruger National Park. It shares a 31 mile border at the western side of Kruger NP. Sabi Sands has an incedible wildlife density. This is mainly due to the fact that the area used to be a farming area. Because of this many boreholes were drilled in the 19th century: these watering places still exist and provide a reliable water source for game throughout the year. Water supply levels in Kruger itself is much more volatile. Because of the steady water supply in Sabi Sands huge herds of wildlife are attracted, especially in dryer period. This in turns attracts the larger predators. Sabi Sands Game Reserve is probably the best place in the world to look for the elusive leopard.

Manyeleti Game Reserve

manyeleti kruger leopard

Manyeleti also shares a border with Kruger National Park, just north of Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Manyeleti possesses the same adavantages as Sabi Sands when it comes to seeing (big) game. Just as with the Sabi Sands, there are no fences between Manyeleti and Kruger allowing game to come and go as they please. The chances of seeing large predators are slightly lower, as there is less water in the game reserve. There is also a big upside compared to staying in Sabi Sands: it is much quieter in terms of visitos numbers. Sabi Sands is the well established name, attracting a large amount of visitors. Manyeleti is much lesser known, and also has a very limited number of private game lodges. Tourism in general is less well developed in Manyeleti, and the reason can be found in the dark history of the country. In the apartheid years Manyeleti was the game reserve where non-whites were welcome. The Kruger National Park was inaccessible for them at that time. In all those years the government only invested very little money in the area's development: ironically Manyeleti now is picking the fruits when you are looking for the ultimate bush experience.

Makalali Conservancy

makalali kruger south africa

Makalali Conservancy is situated west of Kruger National Park and a much younger private game reserve in this part of South Africa. It does not have a shared border with Kruger NP and is a completely fenced in reserve. It was founded early 1990 and used to be a farming area in the decades preceding that. In the years after its establishment wildlife has been brought in and the vegetation had a chance to recover. The results are simply splendid: Makalali is one of the finest private game reserves that we came across in Africa. Almost all species of big game are te be found here, with the exception of the African buffalo. We were particularly impressed by the spectacular accommodation in the reserve. Along with the great people that run this place makes that Malalali offers a real 'safari for the soul'.

Timbavati Private Game Reserve

timbavati kruger park white lion

Timbavati (or rather the Timbavati) comprises more than 53,000 hectares of private land bordering the Kruger National Park. Since 1962, this is a prime wildlife area focused on conservation. In the Timbavati there are more than forty species of mammals in addition to the whopping 360 bird species. In the early 1990s the fences between Kruger National Park, but also between the adjacent Sabi Sands and Manyeleti private game reserves, have been removed. Reason for removing the fences at the time was to re-establish the ancient migratory patterns of wildlife. The altitude in the Manyeleti varies between 300 and 500 meters above sea level. As such, the climate is temperate with warm summers and cool winters. Average rainfall in the area ranges between 450 and 500 mm annually. Something to look for when staying in the Timbavati: Very rare white lions occur in Timbavati.

Kapama Reserve

kapama kruger park

The Kapama Private Game Reserve Covers a large chunk of land between the northern foothills of the Drakensberg and the Kruger National Park. It is the largest wildlife sanctuary managed by a single owner, and is perfectly situated for travelers arriving at Hoedspruit (Eastgate) airport from Johannesburg. This small airport, serviced daily from Johannesburg, is just a twenty minute drive away. When staying in one of the four Kapama lodges, transfers from and to the airport are always included free of charge. In total a number of just over 200 travelers can stay in the reserve, which is a low number when looking at the size of the reserve. The name 'Kapama' comes from a nearby train station on the other side of the main access road. The name of the station is probably derived from a local "chief" who lived in this region.

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Did you know?

kruger park south africa

Kruger National Park in South Africa measures more than two million hectares? That is roughly the size of the whole of Wales!

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