If you’re looking for a safari that ticks all the boxes, there are two destinations in South Africa which are unmatched in terms of top quality accommodation, prolific wildlife and high standards of service.
A Kruger National Park safari is the obvious choice for many first time visitors to South Africa, thanks to its reputation for Big 5 sightings and its top quality lodges and camps. For safari travellers looking for something a little more off the beaten track, the premier choice is usually Madikwe Game Reserve in the north west of South Africa, on the border of Botswana. Here’s our advice on choosing between the two.
Kruger National Park: South Africa’s flagship wildlife reserve
Kruger National Park is without a doubt South Africa’s most famous safari destination. It is home to all of the Big 5 and some of the best safari guides in the business. Kruger is also easily accessible and therefore combines well with other well-known destinations such as Cape Town, Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta.
The reserve is best visited in the dry season from June to October, when there is little rainfall and wildlife can easily be spotted gathering at dusk and dawn around waterholes. Kruger is serviced by three airports which receive flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and other regional safari destinations.
Because it is South Africa’s flagship wildlife reserve, it can also become crowded in the peak season. Seasoned travellers hoping to avoid the crowds should opt for a private reserve on the border of Kruger National Park, such as Kings Camp Private Game Reserve in the Timbavati or consider visiting in the off season.
Highlights of a Kruger National Park Safari
- Top quality accommodation
- Private game viewing
- Good chance of seeing the Big 5
- Regular lion and leopard sightings
Important things to consider about the Greater Kruger Area
- It is a malarial area
- The main park gets busy in peak periods
- Day visitors permitted into the park
Madikwe Game Reserve: South Africa’s Rising Star
Madikwe Game Reserve is located on the border of Botswana and South Africa, where the savannah plains meet the desert. The park is one of the newest wildlife developments in South Africa, opening its gates as recently as 1991 after wildlife was reintroduced to the area under ‘Operation Phoenix’.
Today entire breeding herds of elephants, Cape buffalo and black and white rhino have been resurrected in the park, along with predators including lion, cheetah, hyena and wild dogs. For families travelling on safari, Madikwe is an excellent choice. It is entirely malaria-free and boasts a number of properties, such as Madikwe Hills and Tuningi Safari Lodge geared towards families and child-friendly safari experiences.
Madikwe is approximately 360km from Johannesburg and 28km from Gaborone in Botswana. Private air charters can be arranged along with accommodation, but unfortunately there are no commercial flights connecting from Johannesburg or Cape Town to the area.
Highlights of a Madikwe Game Reserve Safari
- Excellent family safari destination
- No day visitors permitted in the park
- All of the Big 5 present
- Diverse accommodation options
- Easily combines with Botswana
Important things to know about Madikwe
- 360km drive from Johannesburg
Having first-hand travel experience in both Kruger National Park and Madikwe, it’s difficult to choose one above the other. Whichever place you decide to visit, the most important thing to get right is your accommodation. Picking the right lodge and reserve for you, your friends and family is the difference between a good and an unforgettable safari experience.
Our safari experts and reservations team are on hand to listen to your personal requirements to understand what you want from a holiday and tailor an itinerary to ensure your safari is truly personalised and memorable.
Kings Camp Private Game Reserve
Tuningi Safari Lodge
Post courtesy of Kings Camp
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