The Kruger National Park - an extraordinary Big Five park the size of Wales - is almost synonymous with an African wildlife safari. But although the Kruger is probably Africa’s most famous national park, it is far from the only one, and South Africa’s private reserves also offer the same concentration of wildlife viewing opportunities but without the crowds of other visitors. Solitude and exclusivity are just two of the reserves’ benefits over national parks; they often have additional strengths, such as stronger partnerships with local communities, permission for night drives and nature walks, and support for experimental conservation initiatives.
The Singita group really has set the bar for quality safari stays in South Africa. They have several properties in the country: on a private concession inside the Kruger National Park, and at Sabi Sands, a privately owned game reserve adjoining the Kruger. Singita Sabi Sands has been owned and protected by the Bailes family since 1926, and you can opt to stay either at Singita Ebony Lodge, or at Singita Boulders Lodge. The reserve is renowned for its high concentration of big game, and in particular for the frequency of leopard sightings, something you may struggle to get elsewhere.
The Phinda Private Reserve is situated in KwaZulu Natal, between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. All the Big Five are here, and the presence of southern white rhino is particularly exciting. You can stay in the heart of the sand forest at andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge, a remarkable collection of glass villas where it really does feel as if you are sleeping outdoors. You can swim in the rim flow pool, treat yourself to an in room massage, and get wonderfully close to the game on twice daily drives and safari walks. In season, it’s also possible to watch turtle nesting during a night drive, or to enjoy a scuba dive, making this the ideal location to combine the wonders of the woodlands and the coast.