Greater Kruger National Park region private game reserves
The map above shows the private game reserves that we have hand picked and recommend. Each has been selected to offer different styles of safari lodges, habitat and wildlife experiences. All of these privately managed reserves have removed fences between them and the Kruger National Park, allowing animals to free range across a vast area.
The Kruger National Park itself is open for public access, which is why we prefer to visit the privately managed areas which form part of this eco-system.
Here our guests can explore with a qualified ranger in an open 4x4 safari vehicles, offering the ultimate safari experience.
ThornyBush Private Game Reserve
Thornybush Game Reserve is approximately 14,000ha of game habitat: open savannah woodland with pat Hectares of tangled thicket and thorny scrub. It is a well established reserve and perfect habitat for Africa's famous Big Five as well as a host of other animals (eg. cheetah, African wild dog, hippo, crocodile, giraffe, zebra, various antelope species, porcupine, aardvark). Thornybush is home to 147 mammal species, 114 types of reptile, more than 500 bird species, dozens of fish and amphibian species and 336 types of trees, as well as countless grasses, insects, etc.
Game viewing in the reserve ranks as some of the best in Southern Africa with a near perfect year round climate.
Guests can enjoy off road close-up views of special sightings and once darkness falls, you'll be treated to thrilling spot-lit night drives in search of rare nocturnal creatures and big cats on the move. Guided nature walks complete the spectrum of safari activities.
From Thornybush the Drakensberg escarpment is visible in the distance, rising up from the lowveld in the west (on top is the famous Panorama Route).
Thornybush is a favoured safari location for movie stars and the rich and famous and some of the high end game lodge rates reflect that notoriety. However there is also reasonably priced accommodation available and the best news of all is that all lodges share the same access to the reserve and wildlife sightings.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is located in the southern section of our principle operating region. It is a reserve that our CEO Will knows very well, having worked there regularly since 2010 directing live TV safari shows.
The Sabi Sands is a 65,000 hectare reserve, pioneered by local landowners in the 1950s, and shares a border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
Today, many of these families are now third and fourth generation land owners, their legacy being the successful conservation of the highest density of big game in South Africa. Even though there is a 50 kilometre unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, wildlife in the Sabi Sands Reserve is well habituated, resulting in extraordinary close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, which add further dimension to the bio-diversity of this area.
The Sabi Sands is in particular well known for its amazing leopard sightings. The most elusive animal of the Big Five is frequently spotted when going on a game drive in the reserve. Beside the Big Five, other game species occur in great numbers, among which are more than 300 bird species.
One of the key elements of this reserve are the abundant waterholes, that attract large herds of animals. This to the enjoyment of travellers and large predators alike.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve is home to many different lodges that all have something unique to offer. Some are ultra luxurious, and some are more affordable. As with other private reserves, the rangers are allowed to drive off road so when following a leopard, you ranger is allowed to follow it in the bush. An amazing experience and worth a trip to the bush on its own.
Timbavati Game Reserve
Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is often described as pure, unspoiled South Africa. All forms of wildlife move freely between Kruger National Park and this reserve. The area is home to more than 40 mammal species and 350 types of birds, including large raptor varieties and the famous white lions.
The main habitats are grassy plains and mixed woodland. While the vegetation tends to thicken in the rainy season, off-road driving permits ensure continued access.
This is the only place in the world where the famous Timbavati White Lions may be seen in their natural habitat.
In 1956, a group of conservation minded landowners formed the Timbavati Association with the aim to reclaim the land for the benefit of all. There are now over 50 members who have succeeded in restoring the land to its former glory.
With an eye on the future, the Timbavati Foundation is currently active in various sustainability programs within neighbouring communities, as well as in outreach and educational programs in primary schools and high schools.
Whale watching - Hermanus South Africa
Hermanus is built along the shore of Walker Bay and is considered the whale watching capital of the world.
Known as the heart of the whale coast, this coastal resort offers the best land based whale watching in the world.
You can easily add a whale watching excursion to any of our South African safaris, flying down from the Kruger area to Cape Town and perhaps return to Johannesburg before your homeward flight.
Or you can opt for a stand alone whale watching tour.
Timbavati - Kings Camp
Kings Camp reflects the charm and romance of a bygone era in a pristine corner of unspoilt Africa. Situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Kings Camp faces an open savanna plain with a waterhole, which is frequented by a wide variety of wildlife both day and night.
As part of the greater Kruger National Park, which covers an area of 2.2 million hectares, this Timbavati safari lodge is a wildlife haven boasting a diversity of animal life including the Big 5. The reserve is also home to the famous white lions. With 100 km² of bush to traverse, you have plenty of space to explore the endless variety of Africa’s wildlife in an open Land Rover or on foot.
Seven generously spacious Luxury and Family Suites and two exquisite Honeymoon Suites are luxuriously equipped with air-conditioning, Victorian ball-and-claw bath, indoor and outdoor double shower, fully stocked mini-bar and private verandah. Each Honeymoon Suite has a private verandah with large plunge pool overlooking the African bush. The ultimate in safari privacy, Waterbuck Private Camp at Kings Camp, boasts a four-bedroomed villa with its own Land Rover with game ranger and tracker, as well as a villa attendant and chef to take care of your every need!
At the Main Camp, a thatched viewing deck overlooks an active waterhole, and an open plan lounge and bar are ideal places where you can simply relax and soak up the tranquility of the African bush at this Timbavati safari lodge. The spacious dining room offers stunning views of the bushveld, while enjoying sumptuous meals.
Thornybush - Royal Malewane
A haven of old-world charm and stylish splendor
Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge that exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern comfort and convenience. The classic safari experience is unsurpassed with unrivaled game viewing and the most qualified guiding team in Africa. Your exclusive adventure will provide detailed insights into the complex and fascinating ecosystems of the South African bushveld.
Royal Malewane is an intimate and luxurious safari lodge with just six Luxury Suites, two Royal Suites (which each have two bedrooms), and Africa House – the exclusive use bush villa with six bedrooms.
Their guides and trackers will bring you thrillingly close to the Big Five; indulge in sensual treatments at our tranquil Waters of Royal Malewane Bush Spa and let the passion of our chefs delight you with nightly feasts under the African stars.
The lodge is easily accessible by air and road and is located in Thornybush Private Game Reserve on the Western Border of The Greater Kruger National Park.
The private safari experience at Royal Malewane will delight and surprise. Wildlife is the focus of the safari experience but there is something to delight every taste at Royal Malewane. From the award winning spa to the sumptuous cuisine.
Royal Malewane’s six palatial suites are the pinnacle of refinement and opulence in game lodge accommodation. Luxuriously appointed and fully air-conditioned, they provide an elegant colonial-style refuge in the heart of the bush
Royal suites , offer a huge outside deck complete with crystal-clear pool allows you to make the most of the surrounding wild beauty and enjoy the warmth of the sunshine in complete privacy. Inside, the décor is classic colonial bush style, brimming with old world elegance that is perfectly suited to luxury safari accommodation
Africa House is a spacious and elegant exclusive use bush villa with six bedrooms. Each has vibrant and eclectic furnishings. Light floods into en-suite bedrooms, each of which enjoys a private outside shower and deck. Antique furniture, carved four-poster beds from Mombasa, plush silk furnishings and Persian rugs create an exotic and luxurious feel
Sabi Sands - Ulusaba
Ulusaba is owned by Sir Richard Branson and is located in the Eastern sector of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Ulusaba means “place of little fear”. That’s because the koppie where Rock Lodge sits provided the ancient Shangaan warriors with the perfect lookout point. Spend time at Rock Lodge and you’ll be flying with the eagles, or take a walk on the wild side back down to earth at Safari Lodge.
Rock Lodge has the best view in the Sabi Sand. Perched high on the summit of a koppie, with panoramic views over miles of bush, grab a pair of binoculars to see what you can spot. Within Rock Lodge is Cliff Lodge a two bedroom suite, perfect for some added privacy.
Both Rock and Cliff Lodge are ideal for families with children of all ages who are welcome to join our Cub’s Club.
You’re on top of the world at Rock Lodge! Survey miles of game-rich bush as you stand eight hundred feet above the wilderness.
Here the view is king and there are endless opportunities to spot the roaming wildlife, all set against a backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains far in the distance. The view inside is just as spectacular and the granite rock of the koppie is a key feature of the main house’s design and each room has a different design reflecting African tribal influences and style.
There are 8 rooms at Rock Lodge, including our Master Suite, Makwela Suites, Rock Cliff rooms and the two bedroom Rock Suite, some of which have private plunge pools.
There are four adjoining Rock Cliff rooms, all south facing with views over the vast landscape each from their own private balcony. Rooms are spacious and offer en-suite bathrooms with spectacular views. Two of these rooms are built on split levels with a spiral staircase connecting the bedroom and bathroom.
Safari Lodge is built along the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed and some of the rooms are built ‘tree house’ style and you really get the feeling of being in the heart of life in the bush. Your room will provide fascinating views of the animals as they stroll past on their way to the nearby watering hole.
Safari Lodge fits snugly into the bush located beneath a canopy of ancient trees on the edge of a dry riverbed. You’ll love the sense of adventure as you access some of the rooms by swing bridges. Your room will provide fascinating views of the animals as they stroll past on their way to the nearby watering hole.
The rooms at Safari Lodge include a Treehouse Suite overlooking the nearby Xikwenga Dam while other rooms have their own private plunge pools. Kids over the age of 12 are welcome to stay at Safari Lodge.
Sabi Sands - MalaMala
MalaMala Game Reserve has been in existence since 1927, this massive thriving tract of land produces the most exciting wildlife experience this side of the equator. MalaMala Game Reserve is the largest private Big Five game reserve in South Africa. Comprising 13 300 ha (33 000 acres), sharing a 19 km (12 mile) unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, and lies strategically sandwiched between the National Park and the Sabi Sand Reserve.
For nearly nine decades, the custodians of this land have remained focused to preserve and protect this special piece of Africa. Allowing nature to move to its innate rhythm, guests experience today what the forefathers of the African Safari would have experienced at the turn of the century. This philosophy has paid off, as experienced by a veritable collection of photojournalists and film-makers who have made MalaMala their destination of choice to capture footage of wildlife viewing that would rival any Hollywood production for thrilling and breathtaking animal encounters.
MalaMala offers three different accommodation options:
Rattray’s on MalaMala offers an intimate glimpse of an era long lost, when travellers from afar married the magic of the African bush with elegance and refinement. Combining humble opulence and romantic exclusivity with unrivalled game viewing.
Each luxurious freestanding and spacious Khaya (Zulu word for ‘home’) offers an atmosphere of lush seclusion and boasts spectacular views of the Sand River where wildlife of all shapes and sizes can be viewed whilst taking a dip in the private plunge pool, cooling off in the outdoor shower or enjoying a massage on the deck.
Sumptuous meals can be enjoyed in a variety of locations including in the privacy and comfort of your Khaya, or even experience a delicious bush breakfast.
MalaMala Main Camp is the oldest private game reserve in South Africa and back in the day was the first to make the transition from hunting to photographic safari’s.
Every aspect of the MalaMala Main Camp is designed to appreciate and enjoy the view of the surrounding wilds. Pathways wind their way along the perimeter of the camp to reveal individual ochre colored units tucked into the greenery that flanks the Sand River.
The impressive lounge, air-conditioned dining room and historic bar are conducive to good companionship – safari style
Imbued with the spirit of MalaMala, the Sable Camp is a more intimate version of the Main Camp and the choice for those seeking a more private and intimate safari. Situated at the southern end of the MalaMala Camp in a prime elevated position overlooking the Sand River and surrounding bushveld, Sable Camp accommodates a maximum of 14 guests. It may also be reserved exclusively for between 10 and 18 guests.
Sabi Sands - Londolozi
Londolozi is one of South Africa’s original private game reserves. A pillar of global ecotourism, and a proudly family-run business. The word londolozi comes from the Zulu word and means ‘protector of all living things’. The name reflects the ambitious conservation ethic in our relationship with the natural world. The reserve has been lauded internationally for its far-sighted and progressive land and wildlife management, as well as its productive community involvement.
Their emphasis is on conservation and a village ethos stands alongside a commitment to luxurious accommodation, fine cuisine and exceptional service. In 1993, Londolozi became the first game reserve in the world to be accorded Relais & Châteaux status.
Londolozi is situated on the Sand River at the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park.
Each of the five exquisite Londolozi camps offers luxury accommodations, stunning views, and exceptional cuisine. All camps offer the same access to 34,000 acres of some of the best Big Five game viewing in Africa, led by some of the continent’s finest rangers and trackers.
The camps vary in price according to the quality of the accommodation. The Private Granite Suites are the crème de la crème of the Londolozi portfolio, followed closely by Pioneer Camp and Tree Camp.
Londolozi always strives to transcend and redefine the journey into wilderness, and at Tree Camp, guests are given a direct encounter with that vision. Nestled in the leadwood tree canopy, this lodge is a sanctuary of elegance and simplicity. Tree Camp is a celebration of over 4 decades of our connections and kinship with the wild free ranging leopards that move through Londolozi.
Guests spend lazy afternoons on the Tree Camp deck, champagne in hand, as elephants pass in the river below. By night, the camp glows with countless lanterns and rings with laughter and conversation.
This exclusive camp epitomises luxury and style in every detail. From the private swimming pools, all-weather dining and contemplation decks (salas) to the Ralph Lauren wallpaper and plaited leather beds, Tree Camp is simply a matchless showcase of African excellence.
The campfire has burned at Varty Camp for 90 years, making this place the symbolic heart of Londolozi. The Camp décor echoes the tones of the owners’ private homes and reflects their ongoing love affair with the earth.
All rooms have private swimming pools framed by timber decks that overlook the riverine bush. The living spaces are raised off the ground and shaded under a cathedral of trees. The camp has a pleasingly down-to-earth quality and the emphasis on family heritage means that children over six years of age always have a place at Varty Camp.
Varty Camp is the site of the original Sparta hunting camp, and a stay here has the feel of an old-time African safari holiday.
Founders Camp honours past guests and staff who contributed to building Londolozi Game Reserve. Their efforts developed and distilled our common mission over the course of many decades.
Enchanting, intimate and child-friendly, Founders Camp is ideally situated to provide an insider’s view of the secrets of river life. Ten idyllic superior chalets repose in the shade of ancient matumi trees along the banks of the Sand River. Three of these superior chalets have been especially designed to accommodate families on safari with a convertible children’s room.
This lodge has a ‘bushveld Bohemia’ style in which nature-based colours are accentuated by wallpaper and handmade cushions for a contemporary safari feel. Founders Camp uses recycled elements of nature in their most natural and raw form.
Founders Camp is also home to the Londolozi yoga deck, a wonderful sanctuary suspended high in the arms of a 500-year-old ebony tree. Inclusive daily classes are held whilst nyala, bushbuck and monkeys abound. On special occasions elephants will move through the riverine bushveld below.
Hermanus - Birkenhead Hotel
Hermanus is built along the shore of Walker Bay and is considered the whale watching capital of the world, and naturally the centre for our whale watching safari.
Known as the heart of the whale coast, this coastal resort offers the best land based whale watching in the world. Here you can enjoy a marine big five safari and enjoy a chic and intimate coastal experience Birkenhead House.
Birkenhead House sets the standard for luxury hotels in Hermanus. With its exhilarating cliff-top position overlooking the whale watching paradise of Walker Bay, Birkenhead House provides luxury accommodation for those seeking an extraordinary coastal experience. Watch surfers carving through the waves and, for several months each year, witness Southern Right and Humpback Whales breaching just metres from the shore.
The hotel’s contemporary décor is an artful mix of beach-house and quirky opulence. While Birkenhead House is a five star hotel with all the services and amenities that you would expect, the hotel is characterised by a laid back and easy-going atmosphere.
Whether you are seeking a rejuvenating retreat or an adventure filled beach holiday, Birkenhead House is the ideal destination. The all-inclusive rate means that guests never need to leave the comfort of Birkenhead House, where all meals and drinks are included.
For the more adventurous, Hermanus offers activities aplenty including whale watching, shark cage diving, golf, horse riding on the beach, hiking, surfing, mussel picking and even wine tasting. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is just a short drive away and is one of South Africa’s premier wine routes specialising in cool climate Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs.
Birkenhead House is in the seaside town of Hermanus and is surrounded by sea, pristine beaches and towering mountains. Whether you’re in the mood for more gentle pursuits like a wine tasting on the main deck, or for a thrilling encounter with Great White Sharks, there is something for everyone at Birkenhead House.
The 11 rooms at Birkenhead House are individually decorated by the stylish wand of owner Liz Biden. The rooms are located in three different houses which make up Birkenhead House.