Spanning across the Mpumalanga region into the Northern province lies the South Africa’s top safari destination, the Kruger National Park. Rich in wildlife and home to the Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino and Cape Buffalo) the area has the highest concentration of game in Southern Africa and is famed worldwide for its game viewing statistics.
Throughout the Kruger region there are private reserves and lodges. These private reserves border the National Park with no fences, so animals are free to roam throughout the area. Choose from luxury tented camps with all mod cons to stunning lodges raised up on platforms, built overlooking the bushveld. The standard of accommodation ranges from luxurious to downright decadent, these are the places to see and be seen!
Your day starts with an early wake up call and tea or coffee on the terrace before heading out for an early morning game drive. On your return to the lodge you will have a sumptuous breakfast including the full English!
If you’re feeling energetic your Ranger will take you for a game walk after breakfast. Not everyone has the nerve or the inclination to go walking in the bush, but we’ve always enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs. You’ll get a chance to see, smell and even taste some weird and wonderful things that you don’t experience from the normal game drives. Particularly interesting are the indigenous plants used as natural remedies and tonics.
Back to camp, just in time for a buffet lunch and then spend the rest of the day relaxing with spa treatments or trying to swim off some of the meals in the pool! After tea is served, you’ll head out in the afternoon for another game drive, stopping later for sundowners in the bush. Come back in time for drinks in the bar, a tally of the day’s game sightings and then a superb dinner under the stars in the ‘boma’, around a log fire.
Kruger also offers the chance to experience a wide range of exciting safari activities. We would recommend bush dining, with a romantic dinner enjoyed in the company of nature and wildlife. Another favourite is star gazing. The rural plains of the Kruger afford incredible views of the endless starry sky and we can arrange for a professional to teach you how to read the stars and find direction.
Top of our list though, would be a night at Lion Sands Chalkley Treehouse. Here you’ll enjoy a 5* bush bedroom like no other. After a gourmet picnic supper and drinks, you’ll spend the night under the sparkling night sky, alive with the nocturnal sounds of the bush.
Kruger National Park is criss-crossed by a network of well-maintained roads, so we consider it a good option for self-drivers. For those on a budget, there are series of rest camps throughout the park, which offer value accommodation and self-catering facilities, along with a braai (barbeque), making a self-drive safari an accessible and affordable option. The downside of this is that the park does get very busy at peak times, especially when you consider that it attracts over one million visitors a year. There is no control over the number or type of vehicles allowed into the park and you may decide that this is not the type of safari experience you’ve dreamed of.
To avoid the crowds, we would always advise staying on a private game reserve. In Kruger these are found to the west of the park. Only those staying on the reserves are permitted to visit, which means there is a very low density of people and vehicles, leading to a more exclusive and intimate safari experience.
Along with providing luxurious accommodation, these reserves also employ expert guides and rangers and offer the opportunity to drive off-road, go on a bush walk, as well as sleep out under the stars. Our favourites include the famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve, the family-friendly Thornybush Game Reserve, the former home of the rare white lion, Timbavati Game Reserve and the beautifully located, Makalali Conservancy.
Buhala Lodge is situated on the banks of the Crocodile River, the border of the Kruger National Park. The large, colonial style thatched building is elegantly furnished, the service, food and wine are excellent and the scenery is magnificent.
Situated at the northern end of the Kruger National Park, in the Limpopo Province, is Hans Merensky. Originally the play ground for local mine workers, the Country Club is now a substantial 4 star hotel with a unique golf course.
Jock’s Safari Lodge
The 5* Jock Safari Lodge is nestled in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park. The lodge offers 6,000 hectares of exclusive traversing rights in an area of the park which is celebrated for Big Cats game viewing.
Located at the southern end of the Sabi Sand Reserve, Kirkman’s Kamp has a lovely colonial feel with wide shady verandahs and cool reception rooms. The lodge is built on a bank overlooking the Sand River with magnificent vistas.
Built on a hill overlooking a natural waterhole, Leopard Hills is a stylish and exclusive lodge in the west of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Superb cuisine and attention to detail make this one of the top safari lodges.
Lion Sands Tinga
Lion Sands Tinga Lodge in the Kruger National Park is idyllically situated on the confluence of the Sabie River and the Sand River. Tinga exudes style and sophistication and offers first-class service to its guests.
Lion Sands River Lodge
Hog Hollow is a 4-star lodge in one of the most beautiful parts of Africa – the Garden Route. The lodge is set on the edge of a forest in a private nature reserve with panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
Located at the south eastern region of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, MalaMala Safari Lodge has an unrivaled reputation for game viewing. It is the largest privately owned tract of land adjoining the Kruger National Park.
Ngala Tented Camp
Ngala Private Game Reserve was one of the first to be incorporated into the renowned Kruger National Park. The reserve has exclusive traversing rights within 15 000 hectares (37 100 acres) of untouched wilderness.
Surrounded by the lush forests Oliver’s is situated on the White River Country Estate overlooking the 18-hole White River Golf Course. It is one of our most requested hotels for guests on safari and golf holidays in the Kruger.
Rattrays on MalaMala
This modern lodge is reminiscent of a bye-gone era is the trademark of the Rattray’s properties. The service, food and attention to detail are impeccable as you would expect from a MalaMala property with top class game viewing.
Rhino Post Walking Safaris
Rhino Walking Safaris are based on a private concession inside the Kruger National Park that shares a 15 km unfenced boundary with the famous Mala Mala Reserve. There is an abundance of wildlife moving freely between the areas.
A small, intimate safari lodge with just 9 semi-tented rooms this is the perfect honeymoon safari location. Located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in the southern part fo the Kruger, Savanna boasts exceptional game viewing in a romantic tented setting.
Sefapane Lodge offers affordable accommodation on the doorstep of the Kruger. Comprising of 31 Rondavels and 20 Safari Houses, Sefapane offers the ideal spot from which to explore the northern regions of the Kruger National Park.
Simbambili Game Lodge
Located at the northern end of the Sabi Sand Reserve, Simbambili is an oasis in the bush. A small intimate lodge built along a dry riverbed and overlooking a floodlit watering hole. Watch the wildlife as you sip your cocktails from the privacy of your own room.
Singita Sabi Sand
The Singita Group encapsulates the ultimate African safari with spectacular lodges on prime Big 5 game viewing land. The magnificent lodges personify unsurpassed luxury, each with their own distinctive character and charm.
Singita Lebombo is located on a private concession on the eastern side of the Kruger National Park. This upmarket and contemporary lodge offers outstanding game viewing in the Lebombo Mountains.
Thornybush Main Lodge is an exclusive safari hideaway in the heart of the Kruger region. Set in a 14, 000 hectare reserve, it is an exceptional property where attention to detail and highly personalised service make for a memorable stay.