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Our guide to Kruger conservancies
The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier wildlife destination and is one of the biggest attractions in this diverse country. Those wanting a luxury safari experience away from the crowds tend to favour the private concessions and here we give our guide to these.
Covering nearly two million hectares and playing host to nearly 150 mammals and over 500 species of birds, the Kruger is South Africa’s wildlife treasure trove. Accessible to all with a range of accommodation from simple government rest camps to uber-luxury private lodges – there really is something for everyone here! Whilst you are able to self-drive in the national park itself, many favour the private reserves as they have strict controls on visitor numbers and careful regulations in place regarding number of vehicles at a sighting. What’s more, within the private reserves safari activities are only conducted by highly-qualified guides, so you get a great quality experience. Here we fill you in on how to tell the difference between the different conservancies and what is offered in each…
Sabi Sands Game Reserve
A conservation area since 1898 when the Sabie Reserve was created, the 65,000 hectares that comprise the Sabi Sands are widely regarded as the place to go in search of the Big Five in South Africa (as well as hosting a plethora of other game). Sharing a porous border with the Kruger National Park, game can move freely between the two. The Sands are particularly famed for leopard sightings – helped by having two perennial rivers within a comparatively compact area.
Timbavati Game Reserve
Established in 1956, the initial aim of the founders of the Timbavati Association was to halt the degradation of a previously pristine area of wilderness, by removing their internal fences to focus on conservation efforts. There are just 12 safari lodges sharing 53,000 hectares here, making for one of the most exclusive big five safari experiences possible. As with the Sabi Sands, the Timbavati also shares an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park. One of the most publicised aspects of the Timbavati is that it is home to rare white lions – although they are only found in certain areas of the reserve and sightings of them shouldn’t be relied upon.
Thornybush Game Reserve
A Big Five game reserve covering 14,000 hectares with 13 commercial lodges, Thornybush Game Reserve lies adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Particularly conveniently located for Hoedspruit airport, it is one of the most accessible of the private game reserves in the Greater Kruger. The fact that the reserve is fully fenced is both a positive and a negative. The drawback is that the animals cannot move freely between here and the main Kruger National Park, but the advantage for the visitor is that the same amount of game will always be within the reserve, allowing for successful game sightings.
At over 22,000 hectares, the Makalali Conservancy is a self-contained private game reserve an hour west of the Kruger National Park. All of the Big Five are present within the reserve, but it is worth noting that buffalo are within a boma area for conservation reasons. One aspect that makes the Makalali very popular is the undulating landscape, which offers spectacular viewpoints providing real panoramic views.
Klaserie Nature Reserve
The Klaserie Nature Reserve is one of the largest privately owned nature reserves in South Africa, with 60,000 hectares of perfect wilderness adjacent to the iconic Kruger National Park. Guests can spend their days in this stunning area on twice daily game drives, or get closer to nature on game walks with a specialist guide. As a lesser-known private reserve, vehicle density is low making for a more exclusive safari experience, with access to a whole host of animals including the Big Five an impressive bird population, as well as rarer species like the elusive wild dog.
Would you’d like to include a safari to the Greater Kruger in your next holiday?
Contact one of our South Africa specialists now on 020 3141 2810 to start putting together a tailor-made trip.