South Africa’s Best Safari Parks and Camps
Collected by Marie Frei , AFAR Local Expert
At a safari lodge on a private reserve, you’ll find hotel amenities like pools, spas, and gyms in the middle of the wilderness. You’ll also indulge in gourmet meals and go on game drives with professionally trained guides. Located mostly on the western outskirts of Kruger National Park, these private camps don’t have fences, so you’ll see the same wildlife here that you would in the greater park. Many have airstrips for charter flights, but are also accessible by ground transfers from regional airports should private planes not be in your budget. If you’re traveling with young kids, be sure to check whether your lodge has a minimum age policy—some properties don’t allow children under six years old.
Sweni River, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, Kruger Park, 1350, South Africa
In 2001, Singita was granted a 25-year lease on a 33,000-acre concession within Kruger National Park. It was in this midsection of Kruger, a stone’s throw from South Africa’s border with Mozambique, that the company opened its Lebombo...
andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve, Timbavati, 1380, South Africa
The &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge is located on the Ngala Private Game Reserve, an unfenced private concession wedged between the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and Kruger National Park. &Beyond leases the land from World Wildlife Fund...
Thornybush Private Nature Reseve, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa
Spread over 28,417 acres of bushveld, the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. The surrounding savanna, together with several rivers and tributaries, attracts the Big Five as well as...
Avoca Road, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa
Royal Malewane is a five-star lodge located on the 34,594-acre Thornybush Private Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park region. Already quite glamorous, it underwent a refurbishment in 2018 and, in addition to several structural...
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, Hazyview, 1242, South Africa
An award-winning hotel company, Singita is lauded not only for its luxurious properties but also for its dedication to the environment and uplifting communities. To reach Singita Boulders Lodge, guests can fly direct from Johannesburg to Sabi Sand...
Ehlanzeni, 1260, South Africa
If you have your sights set on seeing the Big Five, then MalaMala Game Reserve is the place to be—it’s said that 98 percent of guests spot these illustrious animals over a two-night stay. One of the largest private game reserves in...
Sabi Sabi Game Reserve, Sabie Park, Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, 2146, South Africa
If you’re seeking a sophisticated safari experience with a touch of modern style, look no further than Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge. Here, everything is designed to blend into the beautiful surroundings. The entrance is constructed from natural...
Madikwe Game Reserve, Madikwe, 2876, South Africa
Sanctuary Makanyane is situated on 4,447 acres of private land within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s Northwest Province. Known for its exclusivity, it’s earned somewhat of a cult following among small wedding...
Dune 91, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Mier, Northern Cape, 8814, South Africa
!Xaus (pronounced Kaus) Lodge is located within Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, in the arid Northern Cape Province of South Africa. This large, sandy swath of protected land is part of the greater Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park—the first ever...
Farm Korranaberg 296, Van Zylrus, 8467, South Africa
Located in the Northern Cape Province, Tswalu Kalahari is set in South Africa’s largest private game reserve. While it caters to families with its malaria-free grounds, the reserve can only accommodate 30 guests at a time, so everyone enjoys...
andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, 3936, South Africa
The landscape surrounding Phinda Private Game Reserve is totally different from what you’ll experience in Kruger, Madikwe, or the Kalahari. Here, moisture from the Indian Ocean breathes life into gently rolling hills; flat, grassy wetlands...
Ottos Bluff Rd, Chase Valley, Pietermaritzburg, 3231, South Africa
Karkloof Safari Villas is the kind of luxury lodge you only find out about through word-of-mouth. A 45-minute drive from Pietermaritzburg airport, it’s tucked in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal Province, surrounded by rugged terrain, a wide...
Agert Pakhuis Pass, Clanwilliam, 8135, South Africa
Bushmans Kloof is a boutique wellness resort located in South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains. Just three hours north of Cape Town, the lodge sits on one of eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Cape Floral plant kingdom, surrounded by...
R43, Gansbaai, 7220, South Africa
Grootbos sits on a stretch of coast famed for its fynbos, an incredibly diverse natural shrubland. Guests may see one of 765 plant species while hiking the property’s trails. The ocean’s “big five” are the other draw: Boat...
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