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Kruger’s Private Game Reserves

“To get lost is to learn the way.” My husband and I had the privilege of an unforgettable week away in the Kruger Private Game Reserves and this African proverb perfectly describes the start of our self-drive safari adventure.

Timbavati Private Reserve

The Timbavati Private Reserve was our first destination. The drive from Johannesburg was soon behind us as we began to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of Mpumalanga. In fact, we were so distracted by the views that we missed the gate to Timbavati! After calling the lodge and re-directing our route along a back road, we found ourselves quite literally in the thick of it: stuck in the mud – our first day in the Kruger! With nowhere to go, we sat there but it wasn’t long before two rangers doing their daily activities saved the day. They quickly pulled us out of the mud and pointed the way to our first camp.

Kruger directions – lesson 1: When self-driving in the Kruger Park, DON’T follow GPS directions; this was a warning that we heard from all the camps throughout our journey!

Panoramic views of Kruger Private Game Reserves

Breathtaking panoramic views of Mpumalanga

The gentle hills and plains of the Timbavati are covered in open savannah and woodland vegetation ranging from scattered thorn trees to dense riverine forests. The game viewing did not disappoint: we saw plenty of hippo, lions in action, plus elephant, giraffe, zebra and hundreds of buffalo.

Wildlife and landscape of Kruger Private Game Reserves

The Timbavati landscape makes it easy to spot the animals.

Klaserie Private Reserve

The Klaserie Private Reserve was our next destination. It is a similar savannah landscape with a diverse mix of open plains and thorny bush savannah with pockets of woodland. It’s a great place to observe at close quarters the natural relationship between predator and prey, with lion, leopard, hyena and even African wild dog often seen. When we were there, we saw lions stay with their buffalo feast for two days.

Endangered wild dogs in Kruger Private Game Reserves

The wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals.

The Klaserie Private Reserve shares an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park and neighbouring private reserves so the Big 5 and many other species move freely throughout the reserves.

Kruger Private Game Reserves are home to zebras and wildebeest

Kruger Private Reserves are home to zebra and wildebeest.

Sabi Sand Private Reserve

The Sabi Sands Private Reserve: we were half way through the adventure and were finding it difficult to choose our favourite part of the Kruger area. Every lodge and area we’d visited had offered something unique and we fell in love with it all. For example, the Sabi Sands is especially well known for its amazing leopard sightings. The most elusive animal of the Big 5 is frequently seen during game drives in the reserve. As such, the Sabi Sands offers perhaps the ultimate Big 5 photographic safari one can think of.

Leopard sightings in Kruger Private Game Reserves

The elusive leopard.

We were exhausted after a long and bumpy ride. Driving through the rural areas outside the reserves gives one a new appreciation for everything we have. Avoiding all the potholes required much driving skill, so I would recommend guests to opt for transfers instead of a self-drive. The local transfer drivers are much more familiar with the surroundings and the road conditions. But once we arrived in the Sabi Sands, we knew we would enjoy the breath-taking waterhole. We even got to experience a dinner in the bush under the African stars. It was spectacular.

Lodges overlooking waterholes in Kruger Private Game Reserves

We were treated to rich animal sightings directly from the comfort of the lodge in the Sabi Sands.

We became avid bird watchers through the journey. Other guests shared their knowledge of bird watching while on game drives so we could not help but take notice of them all around us.

Birdwatching in Kruger Private Game Reserves

The lilac-breasted roller & tagged vultures.

We stayed at a variety of private lodges and experienced the same passion and enthusiasm from all the rangers wanting to showcase the natural beauty of Africa. We experienced what we felt was exceptional service from the heart, and everyone was always willing to go the extra mile. And needless to say, every lodge we left made sure that we had the correct directions to the next lodge. So, like the proverb says, getting lost the first time definitely did help us learn the way!

Sunset and sundiwners during a Kruger safari

The perfect sunset in Africa.

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Reviews

Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)
Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)
An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)
Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Neena
Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)
It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)