Best Private Game Reserves & Conservancies in Africa

Private game reserves and conservancies allow safari-goers to experience Africa's wildernesses in a more authentic and sequestered way. Because you’re on safari in a large, exclusive-use game reserve, you’ll see Africa's iconic animals up-close in their natural environment and undisturbed by a fleet of safari vehicles.

Most of Africa’s top national parks are contiguous with some of the best private game reserves and conservancies in the business. But before we get into that A-list, let’s have a look at the key differences between a safari in a national park and a private game reserve:

Private Reserve vs National Park

Private Game Reserve vs National Park

Private Game Reserve National Park
Ownership Privately owned and managed Government-owned and managed
Admission Only guests of the reserve Public
Self-drivers & Tour Buses
Safari Vehicles From Private Reserves
Guided Game Drives
Walking Safaris
Night Game Drives
Off-road Game Viewing
Vehicle Limit at Animal Sightings

We recommend a safari in a private game reserve or conservancy that share unfenced borders with Africa’s legendary national parks. This offers the best of both experiences: you have all the perks of the private game reserve with easy access to the national park to augment your game drives. For example, staying in one of the Masai Mara’s private conservancies means you’re close to all the Wildebeest Migration’s hot spots (like the river crossings which can get very crowded), but can retreat to the tranquillity of your camp or lodge within an exclusive-use area.

Best Private Game Reserves & Conservancies in Africa

Tanzania

Tanzania

Singita Grumeti Reserves, Serengeti

Consisting of two exceptional lodges and one incredible safari camp situated in a 14 000-hectare (350 000-acre) private concession, the Singita Grumeti Reserves share the Serengeti National Park’s western border. Located along an annual migratory corridor for huge herds of wildebeest and zebra, these reserves offer private safari experiences with high-density game viewing in an exclusive-use area almost double the size of New York City.

Highlights:

  • Luxurious accommodations with world-class amenities and service
  • Spot-lit evening game drives
  • Guided walking safaris
  • Community visits

Where to Stay:

Loliondo Concession, Serengeti

Perched on the edge of the Kuka Hills in a remote corner of the Serengeti National Park, Klein’s Camp boasts breath-taking views over the 10 000-hectare (24 700-acre) Loliondo Concession. The camp offers guests and exclusive Tanzania safari experience and old-fashioned luxury. Guests can explore the area on game drives and bush walks while enjoying excellent sightings of Africa’s iconic wildlife. Your chances of spotting lion, leopard and cheetah in this private reserve are excellent all year round.

Highlights:

  • Breathtaking views
  • Exclusive game viewing
  • Night game drives
  • Bush dining

Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, Serengeti

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Mwiba is a privately managed game reserve that shares borders with Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park. The Wildebeest Migration passes through Mwiba between about December and April, but the reserve’s natural springs attract an abundance of plains game and predators (especially leopards) throughout the year. Mwiba Lodge is an ultra-luxurious accommodation that’s nestled among gigantic boulders overlooking a rocky gorge of the Arugusinyai River, offering total freedom and exclusivity in the Serengeti.

Highlights:

  • Guided bush walks
  • Fly-camping
  • Cultural experiences
  • Night game drives
  • Bush dining
Kenya

Kenya

Mara Conservancies, Masai Mara

The Mara Conservancies are the result of an inventive approach to wildlife management. These specific areas next to the Masai Mara National Reserve are set aside by local Maasai landowners and leased to safari operators to help the communities benefit from the generated revenue. Under these conservancy lease agreements, local landowners establish areas that are not used for grazing and agriculture, which means that the wildlife flourishes. The Mara Conservancies consistently offer some of the most reliable and exciting predator sightings – especially big cats – in Kenya.

Our favourite private conservancies in Kenya are:

  • Olare Motorogi
  • Naboisho
  • Mara North
  • Ol Kinyei
South Africa

South Africa

Kruger Private Game Reserves & Concessions, Kruger National Park

Considered some of the best private game reserves in South Africa, the Kruger’s private reserves are set alongside the national park’s unfenced western boundary and deliver phenomenal game viewing. As the pioneers of the ‘luxury safari’ concept, these private reserves boast magnificent lodges that offer 5-star service and some of the best safari food in Africa by award-winning chefs. It’s not unusual to see each member of the Big 5 on a single game drive – and you can expect amenities like impressive wine cellars, gyms, spas and private pools.

Our favourite private game reserves in Kruger are:

There are a number of private concessions within the Kruger National Park. Similar in concept to the Kruger’s private game reserves, these exclusive-use and unfenced concessions are set in prime Big 5 wilderness areas and deliver excellent, crowd-free game viewing. Accommodation is limited to two or three luxury lodges per concession and includes several of the finest safari lodges in Africa.

Our favourite private concessions in Kruger are:

  • Singita
  • Lukimbi
  • Tinga
  • Narina
  • MalaMala
  • Cheetah Plains
  • Londolozi
  • Ulusaba
  • Dulini

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, Northern Cape

TheMotseatTswalu-Exterior-ArealView

The Tswalu Reserve is the biggest private game reserve in South Africa, covering over 110 000 hectares (274 000 acres). Conservation is at the forefront of everything at Tswalu and guests can spend time with the many research and conservation teams to gain insight into the finely balanced Kalahari ecosystem. This private game reserve in South Africa is a haven for 240 bird species and a plethora of mammals including Hartmann’s mountain zebra, wild dog, cheetah and rare creatures like aardvark and pangolin. There are only two camps on the entire reserve, offering you the pinnacle of luxury and exclusivity.

Highlights:

  • Your own dedicated guide and safari vehicle
  • Helicopter safaris
  • Guided walking safaris
  • A night on the Malori sleep-out deck / star-bed
  • Meeting habituated meerkats

Where to Stay:

Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

phinda-mountain-lodge

This protected wildlife area encompasses over 28 500 hectares (70 500 acres) and is one of the best game reserves in South Africa. Home to the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) and more than 430 bird species, Phinda Private Game Reserve is a unique conservation area with seven distinct habitats: woodland, grassland, wetland, forest, mountain ranges, rivers and pans. Phinda is particularly well known for excellent sightings of cheetah and rare black rhino. It’s situated close to some of KwaZulu-Natal’s unspoiled beaches and spectacular coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, making it a great choice for combining bush and beach.

Highlights:

  • Fantastic Big 5 game viewing
  • Close-up sightings of cheetah and black rhino
  • Luxurious accommodation
  • Very high standard of guiding
  • Combining a safari with ocean adventures like scuba diving, fishing and turtle watching

Where to Stay:

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

KwandweEccaLodge-Activity-GameDrive

Kwandwe is another world-class private game reserve in South Africa. Situated in the beautiful Eastern Cape province, its pristine 54 000-acre wilderness is sliced by the Great Fish River which meanders for about 30 kilometres (18 miles) through an incredibly scenic landscape. Home to the Big 5 and just six safari lodges, camps and villas, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve offers one of the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa.

Highlights:

  • Tracking big game (elephant, buffalo, white and black rhino) on foot with a specialist ranger and tracker
  • Catch-and-release fishing excursions along the Great Fish River
  • Exclusivity – one of the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa
  • Night drives to see rarities like aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox and porcupine

Where to Stay:

Ready to Plan Your Dream Safari?
Botswana

Botswana

Khwai Private Reserve, Okavango Delta

hyena-pan

Thanks to its perfect position between the Chobe National Park and the Moremi Game Reserve, game viewing in the Khwai Private Reserve benefits from the magnificent wildlife (especially elephant) that roams from these productive conservation areas. In addition, the reserve’s Khwai River is also a magnet for big game and a plethora of bird species, especially raptors. Khwai is a haven for antelope like sable, impala and roan, as well as predators like lion, leopard and wild dog.

Highlights:

  • Incredible game viewing, especially elephants and big cats
  • Fantastic birdwatching
  • Intimate and authentic safari camps
  • Aquatic safari activities like boat and mokoro cruises
  • Spending a night in a star-bed

Where to Stay:

Mombo Concession, Okavango Delta

Chief’s Island is one of the biggest islands in the Okavango Delta and situated in the exclusive Mombo Concession of the Moremi Game Reserve. With large numbers of elephant, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, lion and hippo on the island, Mombo delivers fantastic game-viewing opportunities – you may even be lucky enough to spot the elusive white rhino. Mokoro (traditional canoe) excursions are par for the course with a Delta safari, while most lodges and camps also offer twice-daily game drives.

Highlights:

  • Some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Okavango Delta
  • Exquisite camps and lodges
  • Mokoro safaris
  • Rare white rhino sightings

Where to Stay:

Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, Chobe National Park

This private game reserve consists of untouched grasslands, riverine forest and meandering lagoons, all boasting beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife. Linyanti is renowned for its phenomenal birdlife; avid twitchers will be in awe of the thousands of exotic birds that migrate to this region during Botswana’s Green Season. Large herds of buffalo and elephant congregate around the Linyanti River and surrounding waterholes during the dry season (May to October), and other wildlife like lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog are also prolific.

Highlights:

  • One of Southern Africa's best birdwatching destinations
  • High concentrations of elephant
  • Excellent predator sightings
  • Helicopter flips

Where to Stay:

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Somalisa Concession, Hwange National Park

somalisa-acacia

Hwange National Park is a land of contrasts. From its dense teak and acacia forest to the vast open savannah, it offers safari-goers an exhibition of raw and alluring Africa. Home to the second-largest concentration of elephants on the planet, a visit to ‘The Land of Giants’ will be made extra special by staying in the Somalisa Concession. With three wonderful camps each featuring waterholes in front of viewing decks, lounging with a G&T at one of these ‘elephant bars’ will be a daily highlight. Follow some of Africa’s most powerful lion prides on game drives and learn all about Zimbabwe’s fauna and flora from some of the best guides in the business.

Highlights:

  • Incredible, up-close elephant sightings
  • High standards of guiding
  • Bush dining
  • Authentic safari experiences

Where to Stay:

Kanga Concession, Mana Pools National Park

Located on the only private concession in Mana Pools National Park, Kanga Camp overlooks a busy waterhole and is well-known for its exceptional ‘armchair safari’ experience – you can expect thrilling game viewing without even leaving camp. Guests can enjoy activities like game drives in the beautiful park, interpretive bush walks and canoeing excursions on the Zambezi River. If you’re looking for an authentic safari experience in an untouched wilderness, look no further than Kanga.

Highlights:

  • No other properties on the private concession
  • Overlooks a busy waterhole
  • Interpretive bush walks
  • Excellent armchair game viewing
  • Regular sightings of wild dog, leopard and lion

Ready to Start Planning Your Safari in a Private Game Reserve?

Chat with someone who’s been there. Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make a trip to some of the best private game reserves on the continent: