Beyond Kruger: Best Private Game Reserves Bordering Kruger National Park


Nestled along the borders of Kruger National Park in South Africa, several private game reserves offer discerning travelers an exclusive and intimate safari experience. These reserves not only provide abundant wildlife sightings but also prioritize luxury accommodations, personalized service, and conservation initiatives. Each reserve boasts its own unique landscapes, from expansive savannas and riverine forests to rugged bushveld and picturesque waterholes, creating a diverse tapestry for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. Join us as we explore the best private game reserves bordering Kruger National Park, where the spirit of safari thrives in a secluded and pristine setting.

1. Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Game Reserve is renowned for its unrivaled wildlife sightings and luxurious safari lodges. Located in the southwestern corner of Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand shares an unfenced border with the park, allowing wildlife to roam freely between the two reserves. The reserve is famous for its high density of leopards, providing exceptional opportunities for leopard sightings on game drives and guided bush walks. Sabi Sand’s private concessions offer exclusive safari experiences, including night drives and photographic safaris, led by experienced guides and trackers who share insights into the region’s ecology and conservation efforts.

2. Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve shares an open border with Kruger National Park, known for its diverse wildlife and unspoiled wilderness. The reserve is home to the famous “white lions of Timbavati” and a variety of other Big Five species, including elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos. Timbavati’s remote location and pristine landscapes create a serene backdrop for safari adventures, with guided game drives and walking safaris offering close encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat. Conservation initiatives in Timbavati focus on habitat preservation and community engagement, ensuring sustainable tourism practices that benefit both wildlife and local communities.

3. Manyeleti Game Reserve

Manyeleti Game Reserve, meaning “Place of Stars” in the local Shangaan language, offers a secluded safari experience away from the crowds. Bordering Kruger National Park to the east, Manyeleti is known for its pristine wilderness and authentic safari encounters. The reserve’s off-road game viewing policy allows for intimate wildlife sightings, including lions, leopards, elephants, and rare African wild dogs. Manyeleti’s eco-lodges and tented camps blend harmoniously with the natural environment, offering eco-friendly accommodations and personalized service that enhances the safari experience.

4. Balule Nature Reserve

Balule Nature Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park ecosystem, encompassing diverse habitats ranging from riverine forests along the Olifants River to open savannas dotted with ancient baobab trees. The reserve offers a range of safari activities, including guided game drives, bush walks, and birdwatching excursions. Balule’s commitment to sustainable tourism practices and community empowerment is evident in its conservation initiatives and local partnerships. Visitors to Balule can experience the thrill of tracking lions on foot or witnessing large herds of elephants bathing in the river, ensuring memorable encounters with Africa’s wildlife.

5. Klaserie Private Nature Reserve

Klaserie Private Nature Reserve is one of the largest privately owned reserves in South Africa, sharing a boundary with Kruger National Park and the Timbavati. The reserve’s expansive landscapes support a diverse array of wildlife, from the Big Five to cheetahs, hyenas, and various antelope species. Klaserie’s remote location and low visitor density create a peaceful safari environment, with luxury lodges and tented camps offering comfort and seclusion amidst the African bush. Guided walking safaris, camping safaris and night drives provide opportunities to explore the reserve’s nocturnal wildlife and learn about its conservation efforts firsthand.

6. Thornybush Private Game Reserve

Thornybush Private Game Reserve is celebrated for its luxury safari lodges and commitment to conservation. Located adjacent to Kruger National Park’s western boundary, Thornybush is home to a thriving population of wildlife, including the Big Five and over 300 bird species. The reserve’s exclusive lodges offer panoramic views of the bushveld and feature gourmet dining, spa facilities, and guided safaris led by expert rangers and trackers. Thornybush’s conservation initiatives focus on wildlife research, habitat restoration, and community development, ensuring a sustainable future for the region’s natural heritage.


Exploring the private game reserves bordering Kruger National Park offers a privileged safari experience characterized by luxury accommodations, exclusive wildlife encounters, and conservation initiatives that preserve Africa’s rich biodiversity. From the legendary leopards of Sabi Sand to the untamed wilderness of Manyeleti and Balule, each reserve offers a unique perspective on the Big Five and other iconic species thriving in their natural habitats. By supporting sustainable tourism practices and community-based conservation efforts, visitors contribute to the long-term preservation of Africa’s wildlife and cultural heritage. Whether embarking on game drives, walking safaris, or simply relaxing amidst the sounds of the bush, the private reserves bordering Kruger National Park provide an unforgettable journey into the heart of Africa’s wilderness—a journey filled with discovery, adventure, and reverence for the natural world.