Safari in Kruger Park or a Private Reserve?



Quick Guide 

Not sure whether to choose  Kruger National Park or a Private Game Reserve near Kruger National Park?

Here is a quick guide to help you make your own choice.


National Parks within South Africa fall under the jurisdiction of the South African Government.

  • They are administered largely by SANParks and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife. 
  • The Kruger National Park (KNP) is South Africa's largest and most famous National Park.

Private Reserves adjacent to KNP are privately owned and managed.

  • Some private reserves are found within KNP. They are on 25yr lease, fully catered and privately managed by the private lodges found within.
  • Other private reserves are found bordering and close to KNP.
  • By mutual agreement, the fences between these private reserves and KNP have been dropped to expand the conservation area and encourage free movement of animals. 
  • The entire conservation area is known as the Greater Kruger National Park, and is over 2.2 million hectares in size. 

Private Reserves (also known as concessions) found inside Kruger National Park include:

  • Shishengeni
  • Lukimbi
  • Tinga
  • Jock of the Bushveld
  • Imbali
  • Rhino Walking Safaris (Isibindi Africa)
  • Singita
  • Pafuri
  • Jock Safari

The largest private reserves include:

  • Balule
  • Kapama
  • Klaserie
  • Makalali 
  • Manyaleti 
  • Olifants
  • Timbavati
  • Thornybush
  • Sabi Sand  
  • Umbati

Each private reserve near or in KNP, has a selection of smaller private reserves or lodges within it.

Sabi Sand is the most famous and is home, almost exclusively, to prestigious 5 Star lodges.


Kruger National Park


  • Budget - mid range air-conditioned accommodation in beautiful settings. 
  • Self-drive where you choose your destination and timetable.
  • Paid guided drives and walks available if you want to learn more or access the reserve before and after gate times.
  • If staying in a private reserve in KNP - you get luxurious accommodation, private guides, full board and the choice to self-drive.


  • More rustic - no extras like hairdryer, shampoo, tea, coffee -  toiletries include soap only).
  • No off-road driving - 20 person vehicles used for most game drives.
  • Self-catering or basic meals at restaurants or picnic sites.
  • If staying in a private reserve in KNP, vehicles are not permitted to go off-road. You are paying significantly more for a luxury experience.



Private Reserves


  • Luxurious accommodation, toiletries, facilities plus gourmet cuisine, spa treatments etc.
  • Usually all meals included, personal guide/tracker team.
  • Off-road driving where guides radio one another with best sitings.


  • More expensive - significantly more so in 5 star establishments.
  • Expected to follow a loose daily timetable.
  • You are divided into small groups for drives and often eat meals with the same group and your ranger.




Our Tips

  • You have a great chance of seeing lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo near Satara, Skukuza or Lower Sabie camps in KNP within 2-3 days.
  • You will most likely see a leopard in KNP (our pick Lower Sabie or Letaba areas) if you have more than 3 days up your sleeve.
  • Choose KNP if you want to be in charge of your routine, have more than 2 days to spare and don't mind if you don't see a leopard.
  • Choose a Private Reserve if you want luxury, are nervous to self-drive and want the best chance of seeing a leopard within 2 days.



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