the land of
The Greater Kruger, referring to the larger area around the Kruger National Park, is a true Walhalla for the safari enthusiasts. For obvious reasons because the world-famous Kruger National Park lies here, but also because of the many game reserves that lie around the national park. Most of them have no fences between them, which enables the animals to roam freely between the park and reserves.
There are some differences between the Kruger National Park and the game reserves. In general, Kruger offers a lot more different types of activities and is more a do-it-yourself safari destination. There are plenty of guided day walks, even overnight hiking trails. Optional morning, afternoon and night game drives that are operated by experienced rangers. More than 2000 km of roads to explore in your own vehicle and a couple of 4x4 and eco routes. Because of the size, every section has its own natural characteristics.
The game reserves are specialized in luxury safari. Your stay will probably include 2 daily game drives, breakfast, lunch and dinner and luxurious accommodation. Depending on the reserve, there are some differences in activities and facilities. Some offer bushwalks, optional hot air ballooning and excursions outside the reserve or have spa and wellness facilities. In one of these reserves, you are well taken care of.
kruger national park
The Kruger National Park is THE safari destination of South Africa and attracts tourists from all over the world. With almost 2 million hectares it is roughly the size of Israel and the biggest national park on South African soil.
Kruger has the largest flora and fauna diversity of any South African park or reserve. There are more than 145 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, 115 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians, 50 species of fish and 330 species of trees.
The park can be divided into 4 different regions where every region has its own unique selling points. Far North Kruger is popular for its pristine and untouched wilderness and birdlife. Northern Kruger is home to the ‘Big Fellows’. Almost 60% of all the Hippos in Kruger life in the Letaba and Olifants River and about 9.000 Elephants are located in this region.
Central Kruger is known as the Big Cat Capitol of Kruger. Nearly half of the Lion population of Kruger lives in this region as well as large numbers of Leopard, Hyena and Cheetah. Southern Kruger gets the most annual rainfall of the park, the vegetation is lush and green and there is a large wildlife diversity.
associated private nature reserves
The Associated Private Nature Reserves is an association of privately owned nature reserves that border the Kruger National Park. This association consists of the Balule Nature Reserve, Kapama Game Reserve, Klaserie Game Reserve, Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush Game Reserve and Umbabat Game Reserve.
There are no fences between these reserves and the Kruger National Park, except for Kapama. For now, a public road prevents Kapama to open up. Being one of the largest privately owned reserves in South Africa, Kapama easily provides excellent safari experiences, is home to the big 5, 40+ mammals and 350+ bird species.
These reserves often have a number of different campsites, each of them with their unique accommodation and facilities. The accommodation varies between rustic tented camps to luxurious lodges. Daily activities are two game drives, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and guided bushwalks. Depending on the reserve, the facilities and different activities can vary.
All of these reserves offer the big 5, big cats and plenty of other wildlife. But Timbavati and Umbabat is home to something special, the endangered white Lion. The sighting of one of these creatures is a once in a lifetime experience.
sabi sands & manyeleti
The Sabi Sands and Manyeleti Game Reserves are located to the south-west of the Kruger National Park, between the Orpen and Paul Kruger Gate. Sabi Sands is by far the biggest of the two and is a collection of many smaller reserves, among which is the Mala Mala Game Reserve.
These smaller game reserves offer their own twist on a luxury safari. In general your stay at one of these reserves include 2 game drives a day and catering. Depending on the reserve, there are some differences in accommodation, facilities and activities. From tented camps to lodges to designer homes. Guided bushwalks, spa and wellness, dinning in beautiful locations and more.
One major difference between Sabi Sands and Manyeleti is the possibility to go on a self-drive safari at Manyeleti. They provide about 200 km of roads to drive your own vehicle, in search of wildlife.
Both reserves border the Kruger National Park and there are no fences between them. This means that the massive number of different species and individual animals can roam freely between the parks and reserves.
Sabi Sands and Manyeleti provide excellent safari experiences, done so in luxury, without the crowds that attract the Kruger National Park.
hoedspruit & gravelotte
Nestled between the Panorama Route and the Kruger National Park, lie a couple of big 5 game reserves; Selati Game Reserve, Makutsi Game Reserve, Karongwe Private Game Reserve and the Makalali Private Game Reserve. These reserves are fenced, but big enough to sustain healthy populations of wildlife.
Due to the location of these reserves, they are excellent destinations for a proper safari experience with optional day trips to the Blyde River Canyon (Panorama Route) and the Kruger National Park. In some of the reserves, hot air ballooning is also an option. The one thing they all have in common is the beautiful backdrop of the northern part of the Drakensberg mountain range.
There are also some differences between the reserves. Selati has a very large population of Elephants, Giraffes and Sable Antelopes. Karongwe has great Leopard and big 5 viewing and Makalali is home to many endangered vulture and raptor species.
There is no self-driving in these reserves, all the game drives are conducted by experienced rangers in open safari vehicles. The upside is that you are always in the right place while looking for wildlife, there is plenty of knowledge and storytelling about the bush and most of the time there are no more than two vehicles per animal spotting.