Famous Game Reserves​ in South Africa

South Africa safari

Sabi Sand Ulusaba Rock Lodge Aerial
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

South Africa is home to some of the best game reserves in the world. With there being so many options to choose from, let’s name a few where proper African luxury is a given and sightings of the famous big five are guaranteed.

Kruger National Park

Stretching over almost two million hectares, which is approximately the size of Wales, is the word famous Kruger National Park. Because of its sheer size and abundance of animals, you could visit a hundred times and still discover new things. Choose between a self-drive option which gives you the most flexibility and it is very affordable; or a guided game drive where you just sit back, relax and enjoy what Africa has on show. Kruger offers a range of different accommodation alternatives like public camping sites, self-catering options as well as stunning luxury villas. Which makes it easy to find the accommodation that suits your budget while still being able to see a high density of wild animals including the big five.

Lebombo Lodge, Singita
Singita, Lebombo, Singita, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Lebombo Lodge, Singita
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Kruger offers public camping sites, self-catering options as well as stunning luxury villas

Sabi Sand

Right next to the Kruger is the private game reserve Sabi Sand, stretching over 650 km². Its smaller size makes it a lot easier to spot wildlife and you can often see the big five in one day. Although this park does not allow day visitors like the Kruger does, it offers a more exclusive safari experience with the park being less crowded. One of the amazing advantages of Sabi Sand is the authentic off-road safari where rangers can take you into the bush to experience African wildlife up close (this is strictly prohibited in Kruger National Park). If you are a leopard fan, then this is the place for you! This game reserve is world renowned for the unique leopard sightings that you will only be able to get here in South Africa.
Cliff-Lodge-1-Lounge
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park, situated in the North-West province, is the fourth largest park in Southern Africa, but still about 40 times smaller than the Kruger. This amazing park is on the edges of an alkaline crater (formed 1.2 billion years ago)- one of only three such craters in the world. Reasonably, only a 2-hour drive from Joburg and Pretoria and 15 minutes from South Africa’s famous playground, Sun City, the park offers both day entries as well as luxury lodges for you to stay in. Pilanesberg provides a world of entertainment and fun for kids and parents, which makes this destination amazing for all ages. The park also has impressive amounts of leopards, buffalo, both white and black rhinos, elephants and lions. Pilanesberg may be one of the smaller game reserves, but it has a particular charm that creeps into your heart and keeps loyal fans coming back.
Photographer Marsel Roothman, Lodge Photographer
Lush Private Lodge

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Situated 280kms north of Durban lies Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, which has become known worldwide for its white rhino conservation and it is the oldest game park in South Africa. Containing a huge variety of animal life, this park spreads over 96 000 hectares and is the largest proclaimed reserve in Africa. The park also offers boat rides on the Hluhluwe dam to view wildlife in a way that most parks would not, which is special because who does not love the thrill of being chased by a hippo. This reserve offers both the option to visit during the day as well as to stay at the reserve choosing between luxury lodges, B&B style houses or self-catering.

Being in the southern region of South Africa, a Shamwari adventure can be well combined with a Garden Route trip

Shamwari Game Reserve

Stretching over 250 km² of South Africa’s beautiful Eastern Cape, lies a 5-star African safari experience. Situated along the Bushman’s river, halfway between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth is the stunning Shamwari Game Reserve. Consisting of seven luxury lodges and one explorer camp, Shamwari only offers luxury accommodation and is very kid friendly with specialised activities such as ziplining, rock climbing, arts and crafts. Visits to the Born Free Foundation big cat rescue centre and the Animal Rehabilitation centre, making this reserve truly perfect for all ages. Being in the southern region of South Africa, a Shamwari adventure can be well combined with a Garden Route trip.

Sanbona Wildlife reserve or Garden Route Game Lodge

If the main goal of your trip is to visit one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town, but still considering a safari experience that is not too far away, then Sanbona Wildlife reserve or Garden Route Game Lodge might be the places for you. Both game reserves are the closest game reserves to Cape Town (only about a three-hour scenic drive away) that contain the Big Five. If you want to see a wildlife superstar, Sanbona is a home to the only free roaming and self-sustaining white lions on the planet. For those who like the creepy reptiles, the Garden Route lodge has a reptile centre with the in-house Herpetologists (snake expert) that will share his knowledge about these beautiful but scary cold-blooded animals. Both lodges are extremely kid friendly with a specially designed children’s packages and exciting interactive activities.
Dwyka Tented Lodge at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Dwyka tented lodge

Choose your stay in Cape Town!