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Beast Reserves near Kruger National Park

Escape, Explore, Experience, a variety of the best private game reserves bordering Kruger National Park (KNP).

The ultimate quick guide to the game reserve location, overview, reviews, when to go, facilities, highlights, warnings and dangers and much much more. 

Border fences with most of these private reserves have been removed to promote free movement and migrations of the wildlife.

The area has now become known as Greater Kruger Park. 



  • Situated in the N/E corner of South Africa.
  • Located alongside the Kruger National Park eastern boundary.
  • Extends from the Malelane Gate in the South to Phalaborwa Gate in the North.
  • Incorporates a wide variety of Private Game Reserves.
  • Map




  • The Greater Kruger Park is a joint venture between KNP & the Associated Private Nature Reserves.
  • It is managed under their joint conservation.
  • It is a UNESCO ‘International Man and the Biosphere Reserve'.
  • Covers a total area of more than 20,000 Km².
  • All reserves are managed as eco-tourism destinations.
  • They all work closely with local communities.
  • The private Lodges offer something exciting for everyone on all budget levels.
  • There are 6 perennial rivers flowing through 4 Eco zones.
  • All reserves have the "BIG 5" (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). 



Private Game Reserves



 With all of the BIG 5          

  • Sabi Sand - Premier safari region. Luxury plus. Big 5 encounters.   
  • Manyeleti - Intimate seclusion. 2 tented camps. Family & couples.
  • Timbavati - 5 star & eco-adventure Lodges. Rare white lions.  
  • Thornybush - Exclusive. Variety of lodges from 5 star to self-catering.
  • Kapama - Superb value. Chic to tented safari-style. Great spa.
  • Balule - Personalized family owned and/or run lodges. Friendly. 
  • Makalali - 4 independent camps. Families and romantic couples. 
  • Karongwe - Small eco-reserve. 4+5 star. Personalized. Horse safaris.
  • Klaserie - borders Timbavati Reserve. Selection of lodges.
  • Moditlo - 36,000acres. Near KNP & Kapama. Wild dogs, cheetah.
  • Mthethomusha - 8,000ha. Near Malelane Gate. Rock Art tours. 


With some of the BIG 5

When to go 


All seasons offer something different.


  • This is summer and the rainy season.
  • Baby animals are born on mass.
  • Temperatures average 20-34°C (68-94°F).
  • The weather is hot and humid with frequent thunderstorms.
  • All Lodge rooms have fans.
  • Air-conditioning at all Lodges except tented adventure camps.
  • The summer rains transform the dry reserves into a lush flowering paradise,
  • However, grass is higher & the increased foliage does make wildlife harder to see.
  • More bugs however nets are provided.
  • Rain gear is provided for game drives.
  • NOTE: Peak season - most expensive.


  • This is Autumn/Fall.
  • Temperatures are milder than summer.
  • Cool mornings and evenings.
  • Less rain, however grass is still lush and tall.
  • The camps are beautiful with lush lawns and stunning sunsets.
  • You will be more inclined to relax outdoors and enjoy the cool evenings.
  • Warm jacket and trousers needed for game drives.


  • This is winter and the dry season.
  • Temperatures average 9-26°C (49-79°F).
  • Warm jacket and trousers needed for game drives - blankets provided.
  • Some suites have fireplaces. Most camps have a boma with a fire pit.
  • Extra bedding is provided and most pools are heated.
  • Pleasant temperature with warm dry days and cold nights/early mornings.
  • Usually the best game viewing period.
  • The vegetation is sparse with water limited to rivers & water holes.
  • The surrounds are dry and not as beautiful as in summer.
  • Some lodges do controlled burning at this time to prepare for summer growth.
  • NOTE: Low season - good deals to be had. 


  • This is Spring.
  • September is the driest month.
  • It is often windy with dust storms.
  • Game gathers at waterholes - the best time to see a kill.
  • Can be hotter than November.
  • Rainy season usually begins towards end October.

For more information see 


Climate in Greater Kruger Park

You can check the weather in any S.African town here  






Wildlife Highlaights

  • All contain the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). 
  • Kwa Madwala,only exception - buffalo removed to safeguard domestic cattle. 
  • Cheetah, painted (wild) dog, hyena, jackal and numerous nocturnal predators.
  • Timbavati Private Reserve is home to the exotic White Lion - a unique & endangered species.
  • Close encounters with wildlife guaranteed.
  • Go off-road to get close to a lion kill.
  • Track game on a professionally guided walk.
  • Listen to the night sounds from your luxury elevated suite.
  • Antelope graze around camp.
  • Wake up to bird life & monkeys in the trees around you.


Entrance Gates


Information for self-drive guests:

  • Please note: Most gates charge a one-off entry/conservation levy, payable in cash at the gate.
  • Please check with the individual Lodge for current information.
  • Some Game Reserves have an open and closing time.
  • It is essential that guests contact the individual camp if they anticipate arriving late.
Park Gate Dist from JHB (km's) Travel Time Open Close
Sabi Sand Shaw's 520 05:30 05:00 /06:00 22:00 /23:00
Sabi Sand Newington 530 05:30 05:00 /06:00 22:00 /23:00
Sabi Sand Gowrie 600 07:00 05:00 /06:00 22:00 /23:00
Timbavati Main Central 521 05:30 seek advice seek advice
Thornybush Main 530 05:30 n/a n/a
Thornybush Waterbuck 525 05:30 n/a n/a
Kapama Kapama Lodge 530 05:30 n/a n/a
Kapama Kapama Main 530 05:30 n/a n/a
Klaserie Incheni 630 06:30 seek advice seek advice
Manyeleti Manyeleti 520 05:30 06:00 18:00
Balule Balule Olifants West 540 05:50 seek advice seek advice




  • When driving on rural roads, watch out for pedestrians, animals and cyclists.
  • Distances & times are approx. (based on traveling 100 km/h, fastest route, without stopping).
  • The N4 motorway speed limits vary from 80-120 km/hr.
  • 0n rural roads, speed limit varies from 60-80km/hr.
  • Be aware of these variances; there are speed traps all along routes.
  • Allow extra time for traveling on secondary roads. Especially to Gowrie gate, and from gates to camps. 


Warnings and Dangers

In the park

  • Follow guidelines set by Lodge Management.
  • Many camps are unfenced.
  • Wildlife can move freely around accommodation (look here if you prefer fenced camps.)
  • Keep inside the vehicle - unless at specific get-out points
  • Use mosquito repellent, mosquito nets and cover up after dark
  • Take malaria prophylaxis if prescribed
  • Animals are unpredictable - keep your distance
  • Don't feed the animals - they become aggressive when you stop feeding them

Getting to the park

  • Close windows - especially at stop streets
  • Ignore street vendors
  • Lock all doors
  • Don't stop for hitchhikers
  • Stay on main routes and avoid isolated places - carry a map
  • Look out for potholes
  • Don't speed
  • Peel fruit before eating
  • Drink bottled water
  • Take precautions against AIDS and HIV
  • Conceal valuables - don't leave them on view in the car
  • Avoid carrying expensive cameras and videos in cities
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money in public places
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry
  • Don't let your credit card out of sight when paying at restaurants
  • Refuse help at ATM's


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