A safari in the Kruger National Park is regarded by travelers around the world as one of the best in Africa, affording up-close encounters with the sought-after Big 5 and some rare and endangered animal species. Stretching across the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the Kruger National Park is surrounded by a number of smaller game reserves that are collectively referred to as the Greater Kruger Park.
The Greater Kruger National Park is one of the biggest parks in Africa and, at over two-million hectares, the park is the same size as Slovenia! The Greater Kruger National Park (GKNP) refers to the over twenty private reserves to the west of the Kruger National Park (KNP) which add 180 000 hectares to the reserve. In total, the whole area covers 20 000 000 hectares of unfenced, wild reserve with free movement of animals across this spectacular land. The year-round tropical climate means that this area is perfect to visit at any time. Winter often offers better game sightings as the animals are more energetic in the cooler weather, but the summer rains and the fruits of spring mean that waterholes are full and new life abounds in the summer months. With over 140 different types of mammals (including the Big Five), more than 500 species of birds and a biodiversity second to none – this natural haven is sure to deliver all that you were hoping for.
This region lies on the boundaries of the Kruger National Park. The Greater Kruger comprises many large private game reserves, with some fences dropped to form a corridor for animals to move freely from Kruger National Park: Sabi Sands, Thornybush, Kapama, Timbavati and Manyeleti are some of the more well-known private reserves. It is important to understand the different regions of the Greater Kruger Park and how they fare in terms of wildlife sightings and experiences when compared to a safari in the Kruger.
The Greater Kruger Park is a malaria area, so for families or travelers looking to go on safari without taking anti-malaria precautions should consider top game reserves such as Shamwari, Addo Elephant National Park, Madikwe or Private Game Reserve along the Garden Route.
Although game reserves such as in the Greater Kruger region all offer plenty of opportunities to spot the Big 5, the biggest difference between them other than their topography, is the land size and varying wildlife populations.
It is important to understand that the total Kruger area is huge, the size of Israel to be precise! Although both regions enjoy the same fauna and flora, the habitats differ and so animals do tend to move toward habitats that are best for them. Some areas are well-known for their big cat sightings whilst others are great for spotting elephant and rhino etc. Fenced private game reserves do try to contain the larger animals they own, making it easier to track and allow quicker sightings.
In Kruger National Park you are not allowed to travel off-road or without a cover on your safari vehicle. But in private game reserved your ranger can venture off the tar roads and explore dirt roads and regions not usually accessible by the public.