My Top Ten Game Reserves in South Africa to visit.

July 5, 2024
In the land of South Africa, we are blessed with wilderness, nature, and so much land to explore on Safari.  Every single game reserve in South Africa is beautiful! Here is my list of the top ten wonderful game reserves to visit when you travel to South Africa.

Kruger National Park, is located in the northeastern provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Important to note, it is South Africa’s largest and most iconic game reserve.  Spanning nearly 20,000 square kilometers. Known for its vast biodiversity, Kruger offers an unparalleled wildlife experience with the Big Five among its abundant species. Game reserves in South Africa, also host the ugly five and the small five, equally interesting to see.

Without a doubt, the park features a mix of self-drive and guided safari options. Catering to both budget travelers and luxury seekers with various accommodation choices.  From, campsites and high-end lodges. Its diverse landscapes, from savannas to riverine forests.  Without question, its rich history makes Kruger National Park a must-visit destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Enjoy my top ten game reserves in South Africa.

Kruger National Park

Location: Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces
Size: Nearly 20,000 square kilometers, making it one of the largest game reserves in Africa.

Wildlife: Home to the Big Five, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, and an extensive bird population.

Activities: Self-drive safaris, guided game drives, walking safaris, and camping.

Why Visit: Kruger is the quintessential African safari destination, offering diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a variety of accommodations from budget to luxury.

Spoor on Safari

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Location: Adjacent to Kruger National Park
Size: Approximately 65,000 hectares.

Wildlife: Known for high-density leopard sightings, along with the Big Five.

Accommodation: Luxurious lodges such as Singita, Londolozi, and Sabi Sabi.

Why Visit: Exclusive access to wildlife-rich areas with top-notch guides, making it a prime spot for close-up animal encounters and luxury safaris. Another iconic game reserve in South Africa.

My favourite lodge in Sabi Sands has to be Leopard Hills Safari Lodge.

Leopard Hills Sabi Sands

Pilanesberg National Park

Location: North West Province, near Sun City
Unique Feature: Situated in an ancient volcanic crater.

Wildlife: Big Five, as well as over 300 bird species.

Accessibility: Malaria-free, making it ideal for families.

Why Visit: The park offers a rich history, stunning landscapes, and diverse wildlife, all within easy reach of Johannesburg.

My favourite Lodge in the Pilanesburg is Shepherds Game Tree Lodge

aha Shepherds Tree Game Lodge

Madikwe Game Reserve

Location: North West Province, near the Botswana border
Size: 75,000 hectares.

Wildlife: Famous for wild dog sightings and Big Five.

Accommodation: A range of luxury lodges.

Why Visit: As a malaria-free reserve, Madikwe is perfect for family safaris, offering luxurious accommodations and diverse wildlife.

My Favourite Lodge is Jamala Madikwe Lodge

Jamala madikwe bed side decor

Addo Elephant National Park

Location: Eastern Cape
Unique Feature: Big Seven (Big Five plus great white shark and southern right whale).

Wildlife: The largest concentration of elephants in South Africa.

Activities: Game drives, horse trails, and marine tours.

Why Visit: Addo offers a unique opportunity to see both terrestrial and marine wildlife, with a strong focus on elephant conservation.

One of my most memorable lodges in the Eastern Cape must be Kwandwe Fish River Lodge.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Location: KwaZulu-Natal

History: The oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa.

Wildlife: Notable for its rhino conservation efforts.

Activities: Game drives, walking safaris, and boat tours on the Hluhluwe Dam.

My favourite lodge is Rhino Ridge, Safari Lodge

Why Visit: The park’s scenic landscapes and significant rhino population make it a must-visit for conservation enthusiasts,

Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Location: Bordering Botswana and Namibia

Terrain: Red dunes, sparse vegetation, and dry riverbeds.

Wildlife: Black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetahs, and gemsbok.

Activities: 4×4 trails and wilderness camps.

Why Visit: The park offers a unique desert safari experience, perfect for adventure seekers and photographers.

My favourite Lodge: Tswalu

Tswalu Motse day Bed

Phinda Private Game Reserve

Location: KwaZulu-Natal

Habitats: Seven distinct ecosystems.

Wildlife: Big Five, cheetahs, and rare species like the black rhino.

Accommodation: Luxurious lodges with conservation-focused activities.

Why Visit: Phinda’s diverse habitats and commitment to conservation provide a rich and varied safari experience.

My top Lodge: Phinda Forest Lodge

Phinda Forest Lodge Suite

Shamwari Game Reserve

Location: Eastern Cape

Conservation: Renowned for its rehabilitation and conservation efforts.

Wildlife: Big Five and more, with a focus on endangered species.

Accommodation: Luxurious lodges and family-friendly options.

Why Visit: Shamwari offers a combination of luxury and education, with a strong focus on wildlife preservation.

My top Lodge: Hillsnek Safari Lodge 

HillsNek Safari Tented

Timbavati Game Reserve

Location: Adjacent to Kruger National Park

Wildlife: Famous for rare white lion sightings.

Activities: Game drives, walking safaris, and photographic safaris.

Accommodation: Exclusive lodges offering intimate safari experiences.

My top lodge: Tanda Tula

Tanda Tula Safari Camp Bush Dinner

Finally, game reserves in South Africa offer a blend of breathtaking landscapes, rich wildlife, and luxurious accommodations. Whether you’re seeking the classic Big Five safari, a family-friendly adventure, or a unique experience in the desert, these top ten game reserves in South Africa provide unforgettable experiences for every type of traveller.

Top 10 Game Reserves in South Africa

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