10 Things You Should Know About The Greater Kruger National Park
Located in the north-eastern corner of South Africa, the Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger are considered two of the country’s greatest wilderness areas and most sought-after wildlife and safari destinations for avid local and international travelers and wildlife enthusiasts. Combined, the Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park boasts one of the finest and most diverse biospheres and wildlife and birdlife populations and destinations in Africa.
While many assume the Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park to be one and the same, it is important to understand and know the key differences between these two premier national parks as well as to recognise the different regions that make up the Greater Kruger Park and how they fare in terms of wildlife sightings and experiences when compared to a safari in the Kruger.
To help you differentiate between the Kruger National Park and the Great Kruger and what sets them apart, here are 10 things you should know about the Greater Kruger National Park.
#1 There is a difference between the Greater Kruger National Park and the Kruger National Park
The Greater Kruger National Park, also referred to as the Greater Kruger, is not the same as the Kruger National Park. Despite many local and international travelers and safari goers using these two terms interchangeably, there are several distinct differences between the two.
Essentially, the Greater Kruger National Park is a joint venture between the Kruger National Park and the surrounding associated Private Nature Reserves within Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The Greater Kruger Park consists of over 20 private nature reserves to the west of the Kruger National Park. Some of the Greater Kruger’s most sought-after private nature/game reserves include Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Kapama Game Reserve, and Klaserie Private Nature Reserve.
Together, the Greater Kruger Park and Kruger National Park cover an estimated 20 000 000 hectares of African wilderness.
#2 The Greater Kruger Park allows for unrestricted access
The Greater Kruger Park and its over 20 private nature reserves share an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. This gives visitors / guests staying at a private reserve in the Greater Kruger unrestricted access to the over 20 000 000 hectares of protected, unfenced, and unspoiled wild reserve.
Due to the unfenced boundary, the vast diversity of wildlife within the respected private reserves and national parks are free to move and migrate between the various wilderness areas – Resulting in exceptional wildlife sightings. Greater Kruger safari operators and guides also have unhindered access to the vast landscapes of the Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park, ensuring bucket-list worthy African safari experiences.
The Greater Kruger’s unrestricted access is undoubtedly one of its top draws and puts it a step above the Kruger National Park.
While wildlife are free to roam both the Greater Kruger and the Kruger National Park without any restrictions, visitors to the Kruger National Park are not granted the same privilege and are restricted to the borders of the Kruger Park alone. Access to the Greater Kruger and its array of private reserves are restricted to paying guests only, and the general public are not allowed to traverse the unfenced properties.
#3 Enjoy day & night-time guided open vehicle 4×4 safaris
When visiting the private reserves of the Greater Kruger guests are treated to both day and night-time guided safaris in open-sided 4WD vehicles with a professional and highly experienced guide and tracker.
The private reserves of the Greater Kruger Park do not have set opening and closing times, and don’t impose any strict time guidelines on game drives. This gives guests and wildlife enthusiasts visiting the Greater Kruger the opportunity to enjoy sunrise, sunset, day-time, and action-packed night drive safaris where they have the exciting chance to spot some of the Kruger’s remarkable nocturnal wildlife species. Not to mention experience the magic and thrill of the African bushveld at night – there is nothing quite like it!
#4 The Greater Kruger is highly exclusive
The Greater Kruger National Park is highly exclusive with avid safari goers, eager adventurers, and wildlife lovers traveling from all corners of the globe to experience everything it has to offer.
Each of its private reserves only allow for a limited number of entries and have strict vehicle limits at wildlife sightings. This ensures profound, unobstructed wildlife encounters, game, and safari experiences.
Crowd-free game viewing is probably one of the biggest perks of a safari in the Greater Kruger private reserves. Seeing Africa’s iconic animals up-close in their natural environment, completely undisturbed by a fleet of safari vehicles, large crowds, and masses of onlookers eager to catch a glimpse of the wildlife action, is a richly rewarding experience.
Due to the Greater Kruger’s highly exclusive reserves, camps, and safari lodges, as well as the fact that the entire Greater Kruger area is privately-owned, it is not governed by national park rules.
Unlike the Kruger National Park, which is state-owned, and thus governed by strict park guidelines and regulations, the Greater Kruger is not regulated in the same manner. Greater Kruger private reserve guides are free to roam the vast wilderness landscapes and embark on exhilarating off-road wildlife and safari adventures, exposing guests to a whole new and largely unspoiled region of the Kruger.
An added bonus is that due to the Greater Kruger’s exclusivity, it offers guests a more private safari and wildlife experience away from the large crowds.
#5 Luxury 5-star accommodation
Revel in the beauty and uniqueness of the unspoiled African wilderness as you embark on an unforgettable luxury safari experience in the most exceptional private game reserves and safari lodges in the heart of the African bushveld, the Greater Kruger Park. The accommodation in the Greater Kruger reserves truly is the epitome of exclusivity, luxury, and tranquillity at its finest.
Renowned for its unrivalled luxury, pristine attention to detail, lavish features, state-of-the-art amenities, breathtaking views, bespoke safari experiences, and far more than you can begin to imagine, the Greater Kruger boasts a sensational selection of exclusive, five-star, award-winning Safari Lodges, and luxury camps.
Each private reserve and safari lodge is perfectly positioned to provide true away-from-it-all indulgence, offering guests and discerning travelers an intimate and rewarding experience. The only ‘interruptions’ you’ll encounter are wandering elephants, curios giraffes, lions roaring at twilight, hippos wallowing in the river or, if you’re lucky, a leopard basking in the midday sun. This guarantees an unforgettable and unmatched African safari escape in some of the most astounding and beautifully secluded bushveld surrounds in the world.
**Added Bonus: As the private reserves, luxury camps, and safari lodges of the Greater Kruger are not governed by the same national park rules as the Kruger National Park, guests, eager adventurers, and avid wildlife and nature lovers can look forward to authentic, exhilarating, and bucket-list worthy safari and wildlife experiences. From amazing and adrenalin-inducing private off-road safaris, e night-time game drives,
#6 Off-road driving is permitted in the Greater Kruger
In contrast to the Kruger National Park where visitors are solely restricted to game-viewing on public roads, and are under no circumstances permitted to drive off-road, especially to get a better up-close perspective and view of the Kruger’s vast wildlife, off-road driving, safari adventuring, and game-viewing is fully permitted in the Greater Kruger area.
Greater Kruger guides are free to drive and venture off-road, giving guests and avid game enthusiasts the unbelievably exhilarating opportunity to experience magnificent up-close wildlife and Big 5 sightings with limited vehicles and onlookers.
Guides will get you as close to the action as possible, significantly heightening the thrill factor, guaranteeing the ultimate safari experience – This is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that should be on your African wilderness and safari bucket-list – no question about it!
**Added Bonus: As Greater Kruger guides, rangers, and trackers are some of the best, most experienced, passionate, and knowledgeable in the world, they take great pride in knowing everything there is to know about the vast and varied Kruger landscapes and its profound diversity of wildlife and birdlife. This means they not only have the knowledge, expertise and inside track of where the best spots are for exceptional wildlife sightings, but will introduce you to hardly explored secret spots, hidden gems, and wildlife wonders that may very well leave you speechless.
#7 Thrilling wildlife & safari adventures
There is so much to look forward to when visiting any of the Greater Kruger’s private reserves! The vast array of safari experiences and adventures in the Greater Kruger, all led by highly qualified guides and expert trackers, are regarded as some of the most thrilling in the world.
From exciting open-vehicle 4×4 off-road safaris, riveting night drives, thrilling early morning Bushman-guided nature walks, immersive and adventure-filled guided walking safaris in search of Africa’s big game, stunning sunrise and sunset sundowner safari experiences, personally-tailored safari expeditions, action-packed on-foot game tracking excursions with experienced guides and so much more – There are so many extraordinary African safari adventures to experience – and to be honest, we’d be disappointed if you didn’t at least try to tick them all off your bucket-list! Trust us, its beyond worthwhile!
#8 Highly experienced & knowledgeable guides & trackers
Compared to other game reserves and national parks, safari guides, rangers, and trackers in the Greater Kruger private reserves are known to be a step above the rest, largely owed to their remarkable experience, vast knowledge, and excellent tracking skills.
They pride themselves on ensuring that you do not miss even the smallest of animals or wildlife sightings when on a safari excursion, adventure, or game drive and will gladly educate you and offer as much insight and information as possible on the various sights, sounds and smells of the African bush.
#9 Vast diversity of wildlife & birdlife
The Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park are two of the country’s greatest wilderness areas and most sought-after wildlife and safari destinations. Combined, these two premier national parks boast one of the finest and most diverse biospheres in Africa.
Home to a vast diversity of wildlife and birdlife, the Greater Kruger is regarded as one of the greatest national parks and wildlife destinations in both Africa and the world. Renowned for its prolific African Big 5 sightings, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant, the Greater Kruger attracts avid wildlife enthusiasts from all around the world.
The Kruger supports the world’s largest population of white rhino, roughly estimated at 8,000, as well as the largest concentration of wild leopards anywhere in the world.
Besides the sought-after African Big 5, the Kruger is known for its spectacular sightings of several endangered or ‘rarely seen’ wildlife species, including the sable, roan antelope, cheetah, and African wild dog. In fact, the Kruger Park’s African wild dogs are one of the few populations of this endangered species left in the world).
Graceful antelope are another highlight of the Greater Kruger Park, with the greater kudu, waterbuck, and impala being merely three of the Kruger’s prevalent antelope species. Two mysterious species to look out for are steenbok and the common duiker, both of which are an incredible sight to behold.
It is estimated that the Kruger National Park is home to approximately 148 of southern Africa’s 350 mammal species, 18 of which are listed in the Red Data Book, 507 bird species (representing roughly 60% of the total for South Africa), as well as 18 reptile, 35 amphibian and 50 indigenous freshwater fish species. Not to mention the remarkable species that make up the African Little 5, which include the leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion, and the red-billed buffalo weaver.
If you’re a head-over-heels birding enthusiast, be sure to keep an eye out for the Kruger’s Birding Big 6 when visiting the park. The Birding Big 6 include the Saddle-billed Stork; Kori Bustard; Martial Eagle; Lappet-faced Vulture; Pel’s Fishing-Owl and the Ground Hornbill.
#10 The Greater Kruger is privately owned
In contrast to the state-owned Kruger National Park, the Greater Kruger National Park is privately-owned, made up of several exceptional and highly exclusive private game reserves. The Greater Kruger, along with its array of private reserves, fall under an associate body known as The Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR).
The Greater Kruger is regarded as more of a collective ‘umbrella brand’ that extends to and includes the numerous members of the APNR as well as the range of private game reserves which form part of the national 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.