THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KRUGER PARK & GREATER KRUGER
Many travellers ask what the difference is between the Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger. They are next-door neighbours located in the far north-eastern corner of South Africa and are two of the country’s most popular ecotourism destinations.
Individually; one is the oldest and largest national park in South Africa and the other is an amalgamation of private game reserves that collectively form a vast protected conservation area that lies adjacent to the Kruger Park.
Combined; Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger represent one of the finest and most diverse biospheres in Africa. The vast protected wilderness region is the core of the Kruger2Canyons (K2C) and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres, and the heart of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTP Treaty, 2002).
The main difference
State-sponsored versus privately-owned
The main difference between Kruger Park and Greater Kruger is the former is a state-sponsored national park; while Greater Kruger is made up of a group of private game reserves that fall under an associate body, namely Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR).
Greater Kruger is a more of an umbrella brand for the various members of APNR that form the unfenced protected wilderness area that lies adjacent to the Kruger Park. The latter was established to coordinate the interests of its members and to act as a single interest group interacting with government bodies that oversee conservation initiatives and ecotourism in the region.
Kruger Park is the largest and oldest of 21 national parks in South Africa that are controlled and managed by South African National Parks (SANParks). The only private entities in the Kruger National Park are the luxury safari lodges in the private concessions.
Unrestricted versus restricted access
The game fencing that separated the private reserves of Greater Kruger from Kruger National Park were removed in 1993 so that the wild animals could move freely between the two wilderness areas. Kapama Private Game Reserve is a member of APNR but has chosen not to remove its fences.
Game roams freely between the two protected wildlife regions. For human wanderers, movement between the two is restricted as Greater Kruger and Kruger Park operate as two independent ecotourism destinations.
Guests staying at a private reserve in Greater Kruger can freely visit the Kruger Park (for a nominal entrance fee) while the reverse does not apply; access to the private reserves of Greater Kruger is restricted to paying guests.
Where is the Kruger National Park?
Kruger National Park is located in the far north-eastern region of South Africa in Mpumalanga Province, otherwise known as the Lowveld. Mozambique lies on its eastern border and Zimbabwe on its northernmost boundary.
If you walk out into the middle of the dry riverbed at Crooks’ Corner at the very top of the national park where the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers merge, you’ll find yourself standing on the three-way junction of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The closest towns to the main entrances of Kruger Park are Nelspruit, White River, Hazyview and Malelane. You can fly from Johannesburg to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit and take a shuttle transfer to Kruger Park, or fly direct to Skukuza Airport (in Kruger Park). The drive from Johannesburg to the most accessible entrances in the southern section takes between 5-6 hours, with a refreshment stop along the way.
Where is Greater Kruger?
Greater Kruger lies alongside the Kruger National Park, on its western boundary adjacent to the central section of the Park. The closest access point that links Greater Kruger with Kruger Park is Orpen Gate. Sabi Sand Game Reserve shares a 50-kilometre unfenced boundary with the national park, and acts as a wild buffer between the national park and the unfenced private reserves of Greater Kruger.
The closest large town to Greater Kruger is Hoedspruit. It’s the central tourism hub of the region and you can fly there directly from Johannesburg to Eastgate Airport. Most travellers drive to Greater Kruger; it’s a 5-7 hour drive depending on where you’re staying, with a refreshment stop along the way.
How big is Kruger National Park?
The Kruger National Park covers an area of 19 485 square kilometres (7 523 square miles), and stretches over the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It’s 360 kilometres (220 miles) from north to south, and 65 kilometres (40 miles) from east to west.
How big is Greater Kruger?
Collectively, the unfenced private reserves of Greater Kruger cover an area of 1 800 square kilometres (180 000 hectares/695 square miles) of land dedicated to conservation. The fences that prevented free movement of game between the private reserves of Greater Kruger and Kruger Park were removed in 1993.
Hoedspruit and a number of popular private game reserves in the area are often marketed as Greater Kruger destinations but they aren’t formally part of the protected APNR conservation area.
What’s the same?
Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park are located in a protected wilderness region that is without doubt one of the most biologically diverse in the world. The region is core to the Kruger2Canyons (K2C) and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres.
K2C forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which is a peace park that links the Kruger Park with Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and with Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
Incredible wildlife sightings
The private reserves of Greater Kruger are unfenced and open to the Kruger Park. Game roams freely between the two protected wilderness areas. Visitors to both are guaranteed incredible wildlife and bird sightings. The most exciting are the famous Big 5 which includes elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard.
Dedication to conservation
Conservation of South Africa’s valuable resources is at the heart of the very existence of these two entities. A priority is to curb rampant wildlife poaching but there’s as much emphasis on protecting the rich ecosystems of the region.
The far north-eastern region is a medium-to-high risk malaria area. It’s highly recommended that visitors take anti-malaria tablets and other precautions to prevent being bitten by the malaria-carrying mosquito. It’s a life-threatening disease that can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated early.
Unrestricted vs restricted access
Everyone is welcome at Kruger Park, including day visitors. The private reserves of Greater Kruger are restricted to paying guests and the general public are not allowed to traverse the unfenced properties.
Greater Kruger safari operators have unrestricted access to the public roads of Kruger Park (pay an entry fee). Your ranger has to drive you to one of the Kruger Park entrance gates; there’s no short-cut road through the private reserves to Kruger Park.
Kruger Park is anything up to an hour’s drive from the private reserves of Greater Kruger. The closest access gate to Greater Kruger is Orpen Gate which takes you to central Kruger; from there you head south or north to explore the national park.
Inclusive versus exclusive
Kruger Park is affectionately known as the “People’s Park”. The national park caters for everyone’s budget and everyone is welcome (apart from the luxury safari lodges on private concessions); you pick the area you like and the accommodation you can afford.
Greater Kruger is the exclusive neighbour. The luxury safari lodges offer an intimate safari experience that’s tailored to discerning wildlife travellers. Many are award-winning establishments; all offer luxury accommodation and superb facilities in secluded bushveld surrounds.
Budget vs luxury accommodation
SANParks’ accommodation ranges from camping to traditional bungalows and family guest houses. Rates are priced to be as affordable as possible for the general public and are geared for self-catering holidays. Only the safari lodges in the Kruger Park private concessions offer an exclusive luxury safari experience.
Guests pay a premium to stay at a safari lodge in the Greater Kruger. The bulk of their guests are international tourists who benefit from the current exchange rate.
Self-drive vs open safari vehicles
The majority of visitors to the Kruger Park drive their own vehicles on daily game drives, apart from those that book private SANParks game drives in open safari vehicles.
The private reserves of Greater Kruger do not allow self-drive tours; guests are taken on game drives in open safari vehicles with a professional ranger and tracker.
Public roads versus Off-road driving
Kruger Park visitors are restricted to the public roads of the national park, unless they’re staying at a luxury lodge in a private concession.
In Greater Kruger, the game rangers are allowed to take the game vehicles off-road to get up close to wildlife sightings.
Day drives versus night drives
Kruger Park has strict open and closing times for the main gates and rest camp gates. Visitors are not allowed to drive around after the sun sets. Strict fines are imposed on visitors who don’t make it back in time to their rest camps in the evening.
The private reserves of Greater Kruger don’t impose strict times on game drives. Guests are taken out for late-afternoon game drives and often return well after dark.
Self-catering vs fine-dining
The Kruger Park restaurants typically offer more affordable meals to cater for families, overlanders and travellers on a tighter budget. Most local Kruger Park visitors book the self-catering units and prefer to braai (barbeque). You can stock up on provisions at the shops in the large rest camps.
The private game reserves of Greater Kruger are unashameably marketed to the high-end traveller and as one would expect, offer their guests meals that are a cut above what you generally find in the Kruger Park. There are no shops in the private reserves, only boutique outlets selling gifts and convenience items.
Which is better? Kruger National Park or Greater Kruger?
For scenery and wildlife sightings, both are winners. For accommodation and the safari experience, it all depends on what you prefer and your travel budget.
Choose Kruger Park
You don’t want to miss an opportunity to visit Kruger Park. It’s an iconic safari destination that’s world-renowned for its incredible biodiversity. Kruger is the oldest and largest national park in southern Africa and one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations.
The national park has no fewer than 6 distinct ecosystems so your experience in the southern section is vastly different to the central and northern region. Where you go depends on your fauna and flora fancy.
Kruger Park offers something for everyone; from budget-friendly self-catering accommodation to luxury safari lodges in private concessions; and from the game-rich southern ecosystem to the vast savanna plains in the central region with strong lion populations and the remote far-north which is a birder’s paradise.
To avoid the crowds at Kruger Park, choose the time of year you visit carefully (avoid the busy local holiday season) and where you stay. You have the choice of remote bush camps for a more authentic safari experience. For a more exclusive and intimate safari experience, book a luxury safari lodge in one of the private concessions.
Choose Greater Kruger
The private reserves of Greater Kruger offer an exclusive safari experience with luxury accommodation that rivals the best of Okavango Delta and the famous Serengeti. Guests pay a premium for this premier experience.
Numbers of visitors and safari vehicles are strictly limited in Greater Kruger. The private lodges are quieter and more intimate, and wildlife sightings are restricted to three vehicles at a time. It’s perfect for wildlife enthusiasts who don’t like crowds but it comes at a high price.
Staying in Greater Kruger doesn’t mean you miss out on all that Kruger Park has to offer. Guests can book a full-day excursion to the national park. You also have easy access to the popular tourist attractions in and around Hoedspruit, which is the ‘Safari Capital’ of South Africa.
What SANParks offers
Kruger National Park is managed by SANParks which is the governing national parks body. SANParks offers a range of accommodation that varies from the large Kruger Park Rest Camps to more remote bushveld camps, satellite camps and bush lodges.
Kruger Park Rest Camps
- Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp: located in southern Kruger on the bank of the Matjulu Spruit
- Lower Sabie Rest Camp: located in east-central Kruger on the bank of the Sabie River
- Olifants Rest Camp: located in north-east Kruger overlooking the Lebombo Mountain
- Orpen Rest Camp: located on the western boundary close to Orpen Gate
- Pretoriuskop Rest Camp: located in south-western Kruger close to Numbi Gate
- Punda Maria Rest Camp: located in northernmost Kruger close to Punda Maria Gate
- Satara Rest Camp: located in central Kruger
- Shingwedzi Rest Camp: located in northern Kruger overlooking the Shingwedzi River
- Skukuza Rest Camp: located in southern Kruger on the bank of the Sabie River
Kruger Park Bushveld Camps
- Bateleur: located in northern Kruger, south-west of Shingwedzi Rest Camp
- Biyamiti: located in southern Kruger, closest to Malelane and Crocodile Bridge entrance gates
- Shimuwini: located in north-central Kruger, south-west of Mopani Rest Camp
- Sirheni: located in far north Kruger, south-east of Punda Maria Rest Camp
- Talamati: located in central Kruger, south-west of Satara Rest Camp
Kruger Satellite Camps
- Balule: located south of Olifants Rest Camp, close to the eastern boundary of Kruger Park
- Malelane: located close to Malelane entrance gate, on the southern boundary of Kruger Park
- Maroela: located 2 kilometres east of Orpen Rest Camp, on the western boundary of Kruger Park
- Tamboti: located 2 kilometres east of Orpen Rest Camp, on the western boundary of Kruger Park
Kruger Park Bush Lodges
- Boulders Bush Lodge: located south of Mopani Rest Camp in north-central Kruger Park
- Pafuri Border Camp: located in far northern Kruger Park, close to Punda Maria Rest Camp
- Roodewal Bush Lodge: located north of Satara Rest Camp on the banks of the Timbavati River
Private concessions in the Kruger National Park
The private concessions in the Kruger National Park are areas of land that have been allocated by SANParks as restricted-access conservation tracts and private entities operate under government license. Each concession is several thousand hectares in size and is unfenced so game can roam freely across the vast wilderness areas.
Access to the private concessions in Kruger Park is restricted to paying guests, but the safari operators in the private concessions have unrestricted access to the public roads of the Park. Your game ranger is allowed to drive off-road for wildlife sightings on their private land but this is forbidden in the rest of Kruger.
Singita Private Concession
- Singita Lebombo
- Singita Sweni
Mluwati Private Concession
Jock of the Bushveld Private Concession
- Jock Safari Lodge
- Fitzpatrick’s at Jock
Lukimbi Private Concession
Tinga Private Concession
- Tinga Safari Lodge
- Narina Safari Lodge
- Plains Camp; home of the Rhino Walking Safaris
- Rhino Post Safari Lodge
Other private lodges in the Kruger National Park
Private reserves of Greater Kruger
Greater Kruger is made up of private game reserves that are members of Associated Private Nature Reserve (APNR). All except Kapama Private Game Reserve are unfenced and game can roam freely across the vast protected wilderness area.
Balule Private Game Reserve: 40 000 hectares
- Greater Olifants River Conservancy
- Olifants West Game Reserve
- Olifants North Game Reserve
- York Game Reserve
- Parsons Game Reserve
- Grietjie Game Reserve
- Mohlabetsi South Nature Reserve (include Jejane Private Nature Reserve)
- Mohlabetsi River Nature Reserve
Timbavati Game Reserve: 14 000 hectares
Sabi Sand Game Reserve: 65 000 hectares
- MalaMala Game Reserve
- Djuma Game Reserve
- Lion Sands Game Reserve
- Sabi Sabi Game Reserve
- Londolozi Game Reserve
- Singita Game Reserve
- Ulusaba Game Reserve
Umbabat Private Game Reserve
- Ntsiri Game Reserve
- Ndlopfu Game Reserve
- Ingwelala Game Reserve
Book a Kruger Adventure with The Kruger Safari Co.
The Kruger Park Co is a leading tour operator based in Johannesburg, offering a diverse selection of day tours and long-stay tours to destinations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.
Your safety and well-being are our main priority. We are here to help any time, any day with booking extra activities, sorting out any problems, offering advice on making your trip extra special and just being there for you if you need to talk to someone.
We know touring, we know Africa and we’re looking forward to getting to know you.