When traveling to South Africa, visiting a game reserve is an absolute must. There are plenty of options to suit a range of budgets and experiences. In this list, we’re looking at the top 5 private reserves in the country:

Sabi Sands in Mpumalanga

The great appeal for Sabi Sands Game Reserve is that it’s private, but the land borders the Kruger National Park and that border is unfenced. Visitors to the main park can’t access the Sabi Sands paths and land, but your game drives can range out as wide as you like. This also means that the animals will range between Sabi Sands and the Kruger with no barriers. All of the Big Five call this reserve – this is one of the best places in Africa to see a leopard up close.

Madikwe in the North West Province

Located just inside South Africa on the border of Botswana, Madikwe Game Reserve is home to a massive variety of wildlife. It hits number five on the list for the largest reserves in South Africa. It covers 185 000 acres. You’ll get to see the Big Five, as well as African Wild Dogs – a real treat as these animals are endangered.

Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

Just outside the city of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), you’ll find Shamwari Game Reserve. It covers a range of biomes – five out of the seven found across South Africa. This means that you’ll see some incredible diversity in the flora and the fauna on your game drives. There are over 275 different species of birds in Shamwari, as well as the Big Five.

Thula Thula in KwaZulu-Natal

Ever heard of the book The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony? It was set here and told the story of the elephant herd that resides in the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve. It’s a magical place that is home to more than just elephants. You’ll see four of the Big Five – elephants, leopards, hippos, and buffalo. They also have rhinos there.

Tswalu Kalahari in the Northern Cape

This reserve is in the spot where the savannah transitions to the desert. This makes the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve an unusual space for game viewing. You get a range of bucks that have adapted to desert-living such as springbok and gemsbok. You also get some great lesser predators, including cheetahs and aardwolves.

The Beauty of Private Game Reserves

One of the best parts about staying in a private game lodge is the access to amenities. You may be in the middle of the bush, going on game drives and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city – but you can still enjoy your everyday pleasures. Whether you’re into gambling online or you like to keep up to date with the latest news, you’re likely to have a good internet connection. You can choose to stay connected or completely disconnect – it’s up to you.