The private game reserves in Kruger are set alongside the national park's unfenced western boundary and deliver the best Big 5 safaris in Southern Africa. Here are some of our favourite reasons to visit:
- Stay at the finest luxury safari lodges with spas, gyms, private pools, and some of Africa's best star-beds.
- Enjoy 5-star service and exquisite cuisine – Kruger private reserves boast some of the best safari cuisine in Africa by award-winning chefs.
- Enjoy uncrowded game viewing – there are strict vehicle limits at wildlife sightings in the Kruger private reserves.
- Experience closer and more frequent animal sightings than in the Kruger National Park.
- Virtual guarantee to see all the Big 5 (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard).
- Experience extremely high standards of safari guiding.
- Enjoy exclusive safari activities like off-road game driving for extra close-up encounters, exciting spot-lit night drives, and guided nature walks – these activities are not permitted in the Kruger National Park.
The 'Kruger area' and a 'Kruger safari' usually comprise the massive national park itself plus the park’s surrounding private game reserves. Easily accessible via road or air, these exclusive, conservation-driven reserves are pioneers of the 'luxury safari' concept. Whether you’re planning a safari for the family, a romantic honeymoon or a wildlife adventure, you can expect a superb luxury safari experience at Kruger private reserves like:
- Sabi Sands Game Reserve
- Thornybush Private Game Reserve
- Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
- Kapama Game Reserve
- Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
To discover other exclusive safari areas in the rest of the continent, see our list of the best private game reserves in Africa.
Differences Between Kruger Private Reserves & The National Park
The Kruger National Park and its neighbouring private game reserves deliver incredible game viewing, thanks to the large concentration of animals that live within this vast wildlife area. Remember, because there are no fences and the animals are free to roam as they please, sightings in both the national park and the Kruger private game reserves can be equally sensational. The difference is in how you experience those sightings.
When you're on safari in one of the Kruger private reserves, you are privy to special activities like:
- Guided walking safaris. On these expeditions, you are accompanied by a tracker and an expert guide as you experience Africa on foot, like the first explorers did. Approaching big game on foot is an exhilarating experience.
- Night game drives. Most national parks require all vehicles to be off the roads by sunset. In the Kruger private reserves, your guide can finish up the afternoon game drive at a scenic viewing spot (with a sundowner drink in hand) and then head back to the lodge slowly, sweeping a spotlight from side to side, catching the eyes of Africa's nocturnal creatures.
- Crowd-free game viewing is probably the biggest perk of a safari in the Kruger private reserves. Seeing Africa's iconic animals up-close in their natural environment, undisturbed by a fleet of safari vehicles, is a richly rewarding experience.
The below table provides a good overview of the the key differences but for a more comprehensive comparison, read our guide to the differences between the Kruger National Park and Kruger private reserves.
|Kruger National Park||Kruger Private Game Reserves|
|Ownership||Government-owned and managed||Privately owned and managed|
|Admission||Public||Only guests of the private reserve|
|Self-drivers & Tour Buses||✔||✖|
|Safari Vehicles From Private Reserves||✔||✔|
|Guided Game Drives||✔
(with national rangers)
(with private guides)
|Vehicle Limit at Animal Sightings||✖||✔|
|Night Game Drives||✖||✔|
|Big 5 Sightings||✔||✔|
|Off-road Game Driving||✖||✔|