Located to the east of Johannesburg in northern South Africa, most people will have heard of the private reserves that run adjacent to the Kruger National Park - the Sabi Sands and Timbavati in particular. These areas are home to some of Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges and ultra-exclusive game viewing areas. We cannot recommend them highly enough and find that most of our clients choose to stay there over options within the park itself.
The Kruger itself, however, is home to a network of tarmac roads that enable a unique self-drive market to explore the park. This self-drive market, as well as camping safaris and overland group tours, use these roads, creating a high build-up of traffic and a style of safari experience we prefer to avoid.
Within the Kruger National Park, however, are also a number of private concessions; where only guests staying within the area can go on safari. The self-drive market cannot reach these areas and so the result is a wilderness experience that remains as exclusive as possible within the Kruger itself.
Guests staying at the lodges within the Kruger Private Concessions also have access to Kruger National Park itself and your guide may choose to take you into the park for special sightings. We do find, though, that there is an incredible wealth of wildlife to be found in the private areas and most guests will opt to stay within their concession to enjoy the more intimate encounters on offer.
It is also worth mentioning that the activities available here are very similar to those within the private reserves adjacent to the Kruger itself – and in addition to the usual game drives, you could opt for a selection of night drives, walking safaris and off-road driving, none of which is possible within the national park.
The Singita Concession is situated on the remote and mountainous border with Mozambique, at the confluence of two rivers. This over 16,000-hectare concession boasts possibly the highest concentration of wildlife in the park and is home to two of the finest lodges on the continent – Singita Lebombo and Singita Sweni.
Farther north you will find the Makuleke Concession, named after the Makuleke people, to whom the land has been returned and who benefit from any profits from tourism. This remote and seldom-visited part of the park is over 24,000 hectares in extent and is home to almost 80 per cent of its biodiversity. Big-game sightings are certainly good, but the main attraction of this area is its feeling of true wilderness. A recent flood has meant that there is now only one high-end option – The Outpost.