Best South African safari Greater Kruger

Kruger National Park is South Africa’s oldest and largest game reserve. And its most famous. Greater Kruger refers to the exclusive and private area to the west of the park, its unrivalled game densities and award-winning private reserves offer intimate, five-star African safaris, it’s hands down the very best place to see the Big Five in South Africa – and the most stylish way to do it.

Anchored by Zimbabwe to the north and Mozambique to its east, this incredibly diverse biosphere stretches out across nearly two million hectares (we told you it was big).

Exclusive private concessions line the national park’s western borders, forming a vast protected conservation area known as Greater Kruger. While the two names (Kruger and Greater Kruger) are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences. Exceptional densities of wildlife may move freely between the two, but human access to the private reserves is restricted to a very limited number of paying guests. This makes for intimate, authentic safari experiences, privately-guided by some of Africa’s very best.

If elegant designs, private plunge pools, romantic treehouses, fine wines and authentic, jaw-dropping safari experiences are what you seek, you’ve arrived. Greater Kruger’s private reserves are a haven for photographic tourism and discerning safari-goers are guaranteed serious bang for serious buck. (Your Instagram feed will never be the same again.)

Sabi Sand

The birthplace of modern luxury safaris, Sabi Sand offers up the ultimate African safari, stacked to the stars with leopards. Tucked away inside fence-free borders, many of the national park rules don’t apply here. Off-road driving and walking safaris get you closer to the action, without having to share the view with hundreds of other vehicles. This is what you’re paying for. It’s money very well spent.


Just a little further north, Thornybush Private Game Reserve oozes an equal amount of safari charm. This world-famous reserve has it all: Lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard (You’ll know them as the Big Five). And you can track them down any way you like. This fence-free area has no set curfews, meaning nocturnal game viewing and bush dinners under the stars are firmly on the menu. This makes Thornybush the ideal corner of the Greater Kruger for a luxury African safari.


Say the name Timbavati and everyone’s safari senses start tingling. This is lion territory. White ones, to be precise. Best known as home to the famed Birmingham pride who carry a rare gene, the sandy riverbeds and open grasslands of Timbavati teem with wildlife, making it one of the best areas for a luxury African safari. Its five-star lodges might have hefty price tags, but its five-star line up is so freakin’ worth it.

Best time for a safari tour

Like most African safari destinations, winter is the best time for game viewing in the Kruger. Thirsty elephants and buffalo congregate along rivers and around waterholes, and the sparse bush and parched grasslands make spotting big cats a whole lot easier. That’s not to say you won’t see all kinds of exciting stuff year-round.

As the summer rains roll in towards the end of October, Christmas comes early for the Kruger’s predators. Wobbling their way through the new green grass, baby antelope make easy pickings for lions, leopards and wild dogs – and even the odd baboon. The hot, humid days also invite summer migrants like the Woodland Kingfisher, closely followed by binocular-wielding birders.

Greater Kruger Itineraries

9 nights Custom Safari Southern Africa Honeymoon safari The iconic Southern Africa tour

Starts: Cape Town Ends: Cape Town

Price from USD $8,120 per person

9 nights Custom Safari Luxury South Africa Safari and Victoria Falls The iconic Southern Africa tour

Starts: Cape Town Ends: Cape Town

Price from USD $7,100 per person

12 nights Custom Safari Luxury treehouse safari Life in the trees

Starts: Cape Town Ends: Cape Town

Price from USD $17,290 per person

8 nights Custom Safari South Africa art and safari A creative pursuit

Starts: Cape Town Ends: Cape Town

Price from USD $10,575 per person

7 nights Custom Safari Luxury bush and beach safari Beyond luxury

Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Johannesburg

Price from USD $12,050 per person

Lodges in Greater Kruger

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