The Greater Kruger Area is an absolutely vast conservation area extending more than 21 000 km², and holds both the government-owned Kruger National Park and a large number of unfenced private reserves.
To the West and South of Kruger are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The Greater Kruger Area is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, an area designated by the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the “Biosphere”).
It is home to the widest diversity of wildlife in South Africa and delivers some of the best game viewing in the world, has no "extreme" seasons, is easy to get to, and the accommodation is of the highest standards, at affordable prices. These factors combined make it hard to beat. A safari doesn't get much better than in the Kruger! It can get crowded though. It attracts over a million visitors each year. By comparison; this is ten times as much as the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers about 19000 km2 and extends 360 kilometres from north to south and 65 kilometres from east to west.
It takes the bulk of the Kruger's one million visitors per year. These are mostly self-drivers staying in the restcamps of Kruger, and doing safari drives on Kruger's (often tarred) roads. It is important to try to avoid those crowds as much as possible. The south is the worst, but does have the highest animal density. The middle part is quite doable, if you avoid the busiest periods. This section also has nice game viewing. The top part of Kruger is by far the most peaceful but has a much lower wildlife density.
In all the three park sections, Kruger National park has carved out concessions, and these offer a quite similar experience than the lodges on the private reserves. Regular Kruger visitors are not allowed to drive on these concession and as such they are your best bet if you're looking for an intimate safari experience away from the crowds.
Kruger Private Reserves
There's a network of private reserves to the west of Kruger National Park. These reserves have lots of privately owned farms, some are commercialised (ic have an ex-lodge on them), some are not (but may still have a private home on them). The bush is pretty much identical to Kruger, with the exception of some two tracks that are straight as as arrow; these demarcate a cutline between two farms.
Being bound by a common set of reserve rules, eco-lodges on private reserve offer high-quality & low-volume safari experiences. No daytime-tourists are allowed, no self-drivers are allowed, animal sightings can only have maximum two vehicles present, and lodges can only have one customer-bed per 100 hectare of land that they own or lease.
If the terrain allows, guides are often allowed to drive off road to get you very close to the big five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) and other predators such as cheetah and wild dogs. In the afternoon, your game drive goes on until after sunset, and your guide will look for nocturnal animals with a spotlight.
An in-depth look at all Private Reserves
KLASERIE PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE
The landscape and vegetation of Klaserie is very rough and diverse. There's the Klaserie river winding it's way through the reserve, carving out beautiful valleys, and there's rather flat sections. There's sections with very lush vegetation, but sections with lots of boring mopane as well.
Most lodges are very affordable, but you need to make sure you choose one with decent traverse, allowing you to get away from the "mopane blocks". We can help with that.
Klaserie reserve is conveniently close to Hoedspruit Eastgate airport, but it is quite big, so if you choose a lodge far "at the back" (close to the Klaserie- or Olifants rivers) then it is still a long drive to get there.
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