PRIVATE GAME RESERVES The best Big 5 game viewing in Southern Africa

Private Game Reserves

Set alongside the Kruger National Park’s unfenced western boundary, Kruger’s private reserves deliver the best Big 5 game viewing in Southern Africa.

You’ll pay a premium to stay at a private Kruger game reserve but the expense is worth it: not only are they packed with animals but you’ll get closer and more frequent sightings than normal and your chances of seeing all of the Big 5 are virtually guaranteed. The standards of guiding are extremely high and you’ll enjoy safari activities not normally permitted in the Kruger Park itself such as off-road driving for extra close-up encounters, exciting spot-lit night drives, and guided nature walks.

Sweeping across 13 000 hectares of riverine forest and wild savannah, and flanked by the picturesque Drakensberg and gorgeous Kruger National Park, Kapama Private Game Reserve is a utopian paradise for wildlife and nature lovers. The area was proclaimed a private nature reserve in December 1993. It is also the largest single-owned game reserve in the region.

Kapama Private Game Reserve shares a great number of biomes with the Kruger National Park, and is able to host approximately 42 different mammal species (including the Big Five) as a result of this and a hugely successful game relocation programme.

The 60 000 hectare Klaserie Private Game Reserve is hot and dry for most of the year which makes game viewing along the reserve’s Klaserie River hugely rewarding. There’s great Big 5 game viewing and plenty of plains game too.

Manyeleti’s prime location between the Kruger, Sabi Sands and Timbavati means excellent Big 5 game viewing. One of the drier areas of the Kruger, it’s famous for both its animal-packed waterholes and clear night skies – expect amazing evenings at ‘the Place of Stars’.

Olifants River Game Reserve is a private nature reserve situated on the banks of the Olifants River, between Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province.

The reserve consists of 6 200 hectares and another 3030 hectares of traversing on Olifants North Reserve. It forms part of the Greater Olifants River Conservancy.

Olifants River is unfenced and is open to the Kruger Park, from there through to Mozambique, to facilitate the free and natural migration patterns of the animals.

For a Big 5 safari experience par excellence, few African destinations can match South Africa’s Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. Adjacent to the Kruger National Park’s unfenced south-western boundary, this 66 000 hectare reserve pioneered the luxury safari concept and is home to some of the continent’s leading safari brands such as Singita, Mala Mala, Londolozi and the eponymous Sabi Sabi. This reserve features the most exclusive, luxurious safari accommodation in the country and delivers arguably the best Big 5 game viewing in Africa.

Sharing a fenceless border with the equally famous Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve is 11 500 hectares of prime big game habitat: open savannah woodland with patches of tangled thicket and thorny scrub. Game viewing in the reserve ranks as some of the best in Southern Africa and visitors to Thornybush are virtually guaranteed the Big 5 within a day or two.

The Timbavati Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger Park and lies nestled between the Kruger National Park on the east, the Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves in the north and the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve in the west. The Reserve is also home to the famous white lions.

There are no fences between the Timbavati and the Kruger National Park which allows free movement of wildlife between the Reserves.

Timbavati is a 53 000 hectare private nature reserve that ranks among the region’s most successful conservation stories. Created in the 1950s to rehabilitate degraded farmland, the environment is now fully restored and teeming with wildlife.

It’s classic Big 5 safari territory and also home to a small population of lions carrying a rare recessive gene that gives rise to the so-called ‘white lions of Timbavati’.

The Selati Game Reserve was proclaimed as a conservancy in 2003 and added more than 30.000 ha to the greater Kruger Park area.

The reserve is typical of the savannah grassland biome, with six different veld types offering a great diversity of habitats that support 26 species of large mammal.

The area within which the Reserve lies, is perhaps best known for its indigenous Sable Antelope herds.

Need help ?

At Villa Kudu, we can organize guided safari tours in the area with a personal ranger.

Ask your concierge to help you with game-drive or bush-walks bookings!