7 Day Kruger Park Luxury Safaris
Imagine that you have the opportunity to spend seven whole days at a private retreat located in native bushveld with the only sounds you will hear the calming tones of bountiful birds, and the hustle and bustle of city life feeling like it is thousands of kilometres away…
Kruger Park is a 2 million-hectare reserve in the north-eastern corner of South Africa. Greater Kruger is an additional 180 000 hectares of protected wilderness on the Park’s western border. The Kruger region is the largest and one of the best safari destinations in southern Africa when taken as a whole.
Many tented camps today reflect the grandeur and opulence of yesteryear, while others have completely reinvented the safari lodge, offering a fresh take on African aesthetics, authenticity, and luxury.
If you want to spend your time relaxing by the pool, playing golf on a private golf course, going on a bush walk, deciding when to take a game drive, or deciding what to have for sundowners, a 7-day luxury safari in the Kruger National Park is the perfect getaway for you.
The difference between a luxury and budget safari
Even though safaris have a reputation for being an expensive way to spend a vacation, going on one that you drive yourself can be a good option when money is tight. You are only required to pay the conservation fees, and you are free to drive about for the entirety of the stay. Additionally, you have the option to stay in a typical self-catering lodging that does not include any extra luxuries or treats.
On the other side, a luxury safari in Kruger National Park provides excellent opportunities to observe the Big 5, as well as award-winning accommodations, flawlessly organised logistics, and some of the most skilled trackers and guides in all of Africa.
If you’re thinking about going on a safari in South Africa, you might be wondering whether you should stay in Kruger National Park or one of the private reserves that surround it. This article will help you decide by explaining the differences between the two wilderness areas.
Difference between Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger
Kruger National Park is the actual national game reserve managed by SANParks, with its several main rest camps, some bush camps and lodges, and private camps in privately managed concessions in the park.
Set along most of the unfenced western boundary of the Kruger National Park, are several private game reserves that offer immaculate accommodation and fewer restrictions than in the public park. Activities like off-road game driving, guided nature walks and night drives are permitted, and Big 5 sightings are virtually guaranteed.
You can also see, do, and even taste a lot more – hot-air ballooning, fly-in safaris, and gourmet dining. The entire experience is enhanced by a cultural, historical, and environmental orientation, as well as the knowledge that you, as a guest, are an integral part of a sustainable and holistic conservation model.
With its many permanent water sources, the southern section of Kruger Park has a high concentration of animals. It is also the busiest section of the park.
Central Kruger Park, between Sabie River and Olifants River, gets higher rainfall which results in sweeter grass for grazing and many trees, which in turn attracts lots of antelope as well as giraffe, zebra and wildebeest.
Northern Kruger Park has very little annual rainfall and is semi-arid and barren. Because Far North Kruger is remote and difficult to reach, it is one of the park’s quietest sections and is popular among avid nature lovers for its pristine, untouched wilderness. It is also known as the “Birding Capital of South Africa.”
Concessions and lodges in Kruger National Park
Wildlife and nature enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury safari accommodation in the Kruger region. Within the Kruger Park, there are a number of deluxe safari lodges on private concessions, as well as a variety of ultra-luxury lodges in Greater Kruger.
Jock of the Bushveld Private Concession – comprising 6 000 hectares in southern Kruger Park, where the Mitomeni and Biyamiti rivers meet. The private concession was the first one granted and is home to Jock Safari Lodge and Fitzpatrick’s at Jock, an intimate private camp that caters for small groups.
Jock Safari Lodge combines old-world charm with the distinct personalities of the Zulu and Shangaan cultures. Fitzpatrick’s at Jock is located close to the main lodge. It’s a small camp with three luxury suites that caters to small groups of friends and families. Fitzpatrick’s at Jock welcomes children of all ages and offers a popular Kids on Safari programme.
Tinga Private Concession – comprising 5 000 hectare in southern Kruger with the Sand and Sabie rivers passing through it. The area around Tinga is well-known for its large population of Big Cats such as leopard, lion, and cheetah, as well as spotted hyena and wild dog. Tina Narina Lodge and Tinga Legends Lodge are located in a grove of magnificent trees within the private concession and operated by Lion Sands.
Lukimbi Private Concession – comprising 15 000 hectares in southern Kruger and bordered by three rivers. It’s the largest private concession in the Kruger Park and boasts the Lukimbi Safari Lodge. Lukimbi is a 5-star luxury safari lodge and being the only deluxe safari lodge operating that big area, guests staying here are guaranteed the ultimate exclusive safari experience.
Singita Private Concession – comprising 15 000 hectares in the remote and mountainous eastern region close to the Mozambique boundary and at the confluence of two rivers. It’s home to the ultra-luxury Singita Lebombo and Singita Sweni safari lodges.
Imbali Private Concession – comprising 10 000 hectares in central Kruger Park and home to Imbali Safari Lodge and Hamilton’s Tented Camp.
Plains Camp @ Rhino Walking Safaris – is a luxury tented lodge located on a private concession where Rhino Walking Safaris are conducted. The concession operator specialises in wilderness walking safaris in a game-rich area of 12 000 hectares of remote, pristine bushveld.
Camp Shawu, located on a 15 000-hectare private concession, with its authentic buffalo dung walls and rustic finishes, promises guests an ‘Out of Africa’ experience. Private decks overlook the Mpanamana Dam and the surrounding bushveld.
Camp Shonga is the sister camp to Camp Shawu. Camp Shonga is a small intimate bush retreat built in the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains with panoramic views of the African bushveld. Camp Shonga has the same ethos as Camp Shawu, but with the added emphasis of requiring guests to participate in select environmental awareness programmes.
Shishangeni Private Lodge was built on the Kruger National Park’s last private concession allocated to private operators. It is located in the southeast, with the Crocodile River on its southern border and the Mozambique border on the east.
Hamiltons Tented Camp provides an authentic safari experience while also providing pure luxury and indulgence. Hamiltons Tented Camp has six magnificent canvas tents nestled in a grove of ancient Jackalberry trees on the banks of a seasonal river.
Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge is an exclusive safari lodge located on the banks of the Mluwati River in a lush riverine forest. It provides guests with a choice of six elegantly decorated air-conditioned suites with luxurious amenities. The tented units at Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge overlook a waterhole and the surrounding bushveld.
The Outpost is located in the Makuleke region of the Kruger Park, which is bordered to the north by the Limpopo River and to the east by Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It provides luxurious accommodations in a spectacular setting known for its incredible biodiversity and abundant bird life.
Luxury safari lodges in Greater Kruger
Greater Kruger offers a diverse range of luxury accommodations for discerning travellers. Some of the nature reserves are among the oldest in South Africa and are home to legendary Big 5 safari destinations such as Londolozi, MalaMala, Sabi Sands, Singita, and Timbavati.
As you can see, visitors to Greater Kruger are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay.
What do luxury safari lodges in the Kruger region offer travellers?
There are no crowds at the lodges and no traffic jams at animal sightings; it’s pure bliss. And, with the current South African exchange rate, this type of safari vacation is relatively affordable if you have Dollars and Pounds to spend on your dream safari tour.
Expect the following:
The accommodations are immaculate, the service is excellent, and the safari experience is unforgettable.
Anything on offer in South Africa’s luxury safari category is comparable to any award-winning safari lodge located in Africa’s world-renowned destinations such as the Okavango Delta, Serengeti, or Maasai Mara. Actually, Kruger’s luxury safari lodges may be even better because they are more accessible and affordable.
Ease of access and affordability
The Kruger region is accessible by car or tour vehicle from Johannesburg. It’s a scenic 5- to 6-hour drive from Johannesburg to Kruger Park or Greater Kruger, and while many visitors choose to fly in and out on chartered flights, it’s not necessary if you want to keep your safari vacation costs low.
Heavenly bushveld surrounds
It’s rare to find a luxury safari lodge in South Africa’s safari capital that doesn’t have stunning bushveld surroundings, usually on a riverbank or an escarpment overlooking vast savanna plains. The luxury lodges are frequently located overlooking a large waterhole, which draws animals close to the buildings and allows for excellent ‘sofa game viewing.’
Other areas concentrate on guided wilderness walking trails in remote areas, while others emphasise Big Cats and photography.
Exclusive access to private land
Daily game drives in open safari vehicles with a dedicated ranger and tracker are provided for guests. Guests staying in Greater Kruger can be driven from the private reserves to the nearest Kruger Park gate and must pay an entrance fee.
The fences in Greater Kruger’s private game reserves have been removed, but this does not mean it is a “free for all” to traverse each other’s property. The rangers who take guests on open safari vehicles must stay on their property, but the private reserves are vast and there are plenty of animals and birds to see.
Professional rangers and trackers
The professional game rangers and trackers who work for the private reserves and concessions in the Kruger region are some of the best in southern Africa. Their bushveld knowledge is extensive, and their approach to client care and safety is flawless.
Your ranger will usually spend time with you in camp. Those who want to continue their game viewing can join their ranger after brunch for a guided walk in the surrounding bushveld.
Guaranteed animal sightings
The game rangers communicate via radio and report exciting sightings so that no one misses out on seeing the Big 5 and other excellent sightings. Greater Kruger is known as the “Leopard Capital of South Africa,” making it a popular safari destination for wildlife photographers.
Pampering and pleasures
Most Kruger luxury lodges have their own spa and, in some cases, a fully equipped gym. In between daily game drives, you can pamper yourself with a wonderful pampering session by skilled therapists and masseuses.
Many of Kruger’s luxury safari lodges employ award-winning chefs who specialise in authentic South African cuisine.
The luxury lodge rates are typically ‘all-inclusive,’ with three delicious meals per day, pastries for High Tea, and South African snacks for sundowners.
The luxury lodges in Kruger take pride in pairing decadent meals with South Africa’s finest wines. Many have their own cellars stocked with a fine selection of local wines, gins, craft beers, and spirits.
Can you go on a luxury safari inside Kruger National Park?
Yes, there are several private concessions with luxurious safari lodges located in the national park.
Is it possible to experience the Kruger magic in only seven days?
In seven days you can experience a great deal, and even participate in a number of additional activities.
What is the difference between Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger?
Kruger National Park is the actual national game reserve managed by SANParks. Together with several private game reserves set along the unfenced western boundary of the Kruger National Park, it forms Greater Kruger.
Is it worthwhile to spend a lot of money on a seven day luxury safari in Greater Kruger
Yes, a seven day luxury safari in Greater Kruger provides enough opportunities to observe the Big 5 game. You can enjoy award-winning accommodation and meet some of the most skilled trackers and guides.