When planning a safari in South Africa the first place that comes to mind is usually Kruger National Park. While there are some amazing lodges and accommodation options within the park, Kruger attracts big crowds, which can often restrict your game viewing experience.
The alternative is find a lodge outside Kruger National Park to stay in. These incredible lodges offer the best of both worlds: a breathtaking setting, and close proximity to — or a location within — a private game park.
Staying in a private game park gives you the feeling that you have the wide open bush all to yourself. You will get one-on-one time in the bush, and you’ll be more likely to walk away with memorable experiences.
So if you are planning a safari trip to the area, here are a few of the best safari lodges outside Kruger National Park.
Vuyani Safari Lodge, Moditlo Private Game Reserve
If five-star private luxury is what you are after, but without the large bill at the end of your stay, then Vuyani Safari Lodge is where you should be headed. Located in Moditlo Private Game Reserve, just next to the Kruger and at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains, this lodge offers a truly spectacular safari experience.
Vuyani is the only lodge on the 36,000-acre reserve, and with only five suites available you will definitely get the privacy that you’re looking for. Home to all of Africa’s game, including some rare species and nearly 400 different species of birds, you should be able to get your wildlife fix on the various game drives offered by the lodge.
umSisi House, Peebles Valley
umSisi House is a Lowveld country house situated only 15 minutes from the Numbi Gate into the Kruger. It offers an exclusive luxury accommodation option for groups of four to 10 people. The main house sleeps six people in three ensuite bedrooms, and then another four people can fit into the cottage.
With the country house being situated in the Peebles Valley, between the Kruger and the town of White River, guests can easily explore the surrounding beauty of the Panorama route while setting aside a few days to venture into the Kruger for game viewing. umSisi House promotes all of the attractions in the area, including hiking trails, visits to beautiful rock gardens, access to community projects and even a touch of retail therapy.
Africa on Foot, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
There are some parts of the bush that can’t be explored or enjoyed from the back of a truck. But you can experience wildlife on foot during daily morning hikes at Africa on Foot at the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. You can even opt to spend a night in the treehouse – a wooden structure nestled high up in the trees with an amazing view of the game below, which can be admired from the comfort of your bed. Or settle down for the night in one of the five chalets with indoor or outdoor showers, comfortable beds, solar-powered lamps and mosquito nets.
Africa on Foot is located in the Greater Kruger, a series of private unfenced nature reserves situated on the western border of the Kruger National Park. Game moves freely throughout the region. Due to the private nature of the reserves, guests are more likely to see big game.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge, Manyeleti Game Reserve
Oozing with wild luxury and magical moments, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is an exclusive five-star safari lodge situated in the Private Manyeleti Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. The reserve shares unfenced borders with Kruger, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and Sabi Sands Reserve.
Each of the six suites are situated along a seasonal river bed, with private decks and plunge pools, overlooking the waterhole frequently visited by various wildlife. As mentioned earlier, the Greater Kruger area is abundant with wildlife, you may not even need to leave your private suite to see the wild animals on your checklist.
Elephant Plains Lodge, Sabi Sands Game Reserve
The Big Five, luxury accommodation, delicious cuisine, excellent service and a picture perfect setting – Elephant Plains Lodge offers all you need and more in a luxury safari. Situated in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park, this lodge is renowned for its game viewing opportunities. You are almost guaranteed a few good sightings on your daily game drives and bush walks.
The lodge can accommodate up to 24 guests, which ensures that you always receive personal service and attention is paid to the finest detail. While you will feel the luxury around you, the setup is unpretentious, allowing you to truly relax as if you were at home. Days can be spent sitting back on a deck chair beside the pool with a cocktail in hand before setting off on a sunset game drive then sitting down to a perfectly prepared meal.
Thornybush Game Lodge, Thornybush Nature Reserve
Thornybush Game Lodge is situated in the Thornybush Nature Reserve, which is adjacent to Kruger National Park. Thornybush is on a slightly larger scale than the other properties already mentioned. There are 11 different accommodation options to choose from within the reserve, all varying in size, style and price. Choose the Nkelenga Tented Camp for a more family-friendly budget holiday, or splash out with a weekend at the Shumbabala Lodge. Or you can just try them all them all, spending a night at each camp.
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