Why Choose a Private Game Reserve Above a National Park?

Best Private Game Reserves for a Top Safari in Africa

As a tourist who wants to explore Africa, why should you choose a private game reserve above a national park?  Well, a private game reserve is a large conservation area offering exclusive safaris on land owned by private individuals and organizations, trusts, and conglomerates. Private game reserves, national parks, or self-drive safaris? The choice is yours, but many travelers go private every time for access to exclusive lodges and outstanding game viewing. Experience authentic retreats that utilize ecotourism principles and sustainable tourism to conserve wildlife and natural habitats.

National parks, on the other hand, can be larger than private game reserves and are owned by governments or co-owned by governments and private businesses. A good example of a famous national park is Kruger in South Africa. National parks allow visitors to self-drive their way around, and game viewing from all vehicles. They offer a broad range of affordable accommodations, from private campsites and organized safari camping to rustic bungalows, cabins, and resorts. 

the african sunset going over the bush and mountains in the distance

On the other hand, private game reserves usually offer secluded luxury lodges with exclusive facilities, menus, and wildlife activities. Professional game rangers take guests on scheduled 4×4 game drives and return to swimming pools, spas, gyms, top-class restaurants, and five-star service. Luxury amenities include plush lounges, technology, outside showers, vast viewing decks, and personal butlers. 

As can be imagined, national parks are much more crowded than private game reserves, and many different vehicles converge on animal sightings at one time. Many roads are tarred and vehicles must follow all rules. In private game reserves, guests are treated to night drives off-road into the bushveld to follow predators on the hunt and other wildlife feeding and socializing. No one else is allowed into the game reserves besides the paying guests which is why the costs are so much higher and the service is so much more exclusive.

Walking safaris are popular in game reserves and national parks

Some good reasons why tourists should go private every time:

  • Fewer vehicles at wildlife sightings thus less disturbance. 
  • Fewer people in vehicles at one time. 
  • Diverse safari activities such as night drives, guided walking safaris, and horseback riding.
  • Fine dining experiences, often in secret outdoor spots.
  • Ethical off-road driving to follow wild animals in their habitats.
  • Five-star personalized service and facilities. 

Many private game reserves are established on previously developed or utilized land, such as old farms. Owners then restore and rehabilitate the land to create suitable wildlife habitats. While concessions and conservancies share similarities with private game reserves, they are typically government-owned but privately managed.

Activities available in private game reserves encompass morning and afternoon game drives, nocturnal animal viewing on night drives, sundowners at scenic locations within the reserve, bush walks, wildlife and star photography, cultural village visits, and boat safaris in some instances. The overarching goal of many private game reserves in Africa is to provide a protected environment for wildlife conservation and promote education and awareness of the natural world. National parks are also dedicated to wildlife conservation and education but they offer more freedom of movement on a set network of roads to visitors on a budget. Many national parks offer overnight trails for all ages to learn more about nature.

Choose private game reserves if you have the money and you desire all of these perks already mentioned. Some of our best private game reserves in Africa include the Masai Mara in Kenya, Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana, Niassa Wildlife Reserve in Mozambique, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania, and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in central Malawi. South Africa is famous for the private game reserves adjacent to Kruger such as Timbavati and also in the north of Johannesburg such as Pilanesberg and Madikwe.

Madikwe Game Reserve Special Deals

Best National Parks for a Wildlife Experience in Africa

National Parks have plenty to offer tourists and conservation ideals in Africa. We recommend these best national parks for a truly unforgettable wildlife experience in Africa:

aerial view of the national park of Gorongosa in Mozambique

Gorongosa – community-based natural resource management includes harvesting and buying honey from 40 entrepreneurial beekeepers, and sourcing vegetables from local growers. Sustainable development projects such as coffee plantations are innovative agroforestry enterprises to benefit poor people and the environment. Go and see the famous lions of Gorongosa whose numbers have climbed from a few left in the wild to several large healthy prides. The park now aims to restore its wilderness as a lion stronghold once again.

Guests on a safari game drive viewing a herd of Giraffe

Hwangethe largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe, stretching a vast 14,600 square km in area is easily accessible in the northwest of the country, just off the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. This amazing park lies close to the edge of the Kalahari desert, a region with little water and very sparse vegetation, dominated by gorgeous Zambezi Teak trees, mopane woodland, seasonal wetlands, and grasslands. Go and see more than 100 mammal and 400 bird species including 19 large herbivores and eight large carnivores.

A woman going on a guided safari walk through the bush with a game ranger

Krugerstriking landscapes, rich biodiversity, and breathtaking solitude in nature create a veritable sanctuary for all things living. This famous National Park boasts upmarket infrastructure for all visitors: good roads, supermarkets, fuel points, banks, restaurants and cafes. It’s the biggest and most renowned protected area in South Africa, with 20,000 square km attracting 2 million global visitors annually. Go and explore the wildlife on foot on an organized trail! Private game reserves line the borders and offer exclusive safaris.

Group of people game viewing a herd of elephants from a safari boat ride

Lower Zambezia prime safari destination on the lower reaches of the Zambezi as it wends its merry way down from Kariba Lake in Zimbabwe to Cahora Basa Dam in Mozambique. Appreciate game drives with expert rangers and trackers who lead intrepid travelers to leopards, lion hunts, and plenty of elephants, hippos, and crocs. The Lower Zambezi is exactly that and it takes only a few hours’ drive and a short boat ride from Lusaka to reach the wonderful rustic camps, ethnic river chalets, and deluxe safari lodges dotted along the banks of the meandering waterway. 

Lake Manyara National Park Accommodation

Lake Manyara – the name Manyara may come from the Maasai word “emanyara”, which is the spiky, protective enclosure around a family homestead (boma) – almost like the 600 m high rift escarpment hems in the lake. Lake Manyara has a catchment area of about 18,372 km2 and is in a closed basin with no outflow so water is simply lost by evaporation. It is fed by underground springs, and rainwater fed rivers that drain the surrounding catchment.

Aerial view of the river running past Mvuu camp in Malawi

Liwondea rich concentration of wildlife inhabits this smaller game park, such as elephant herds, and large pods of hippos and crocodiles on the riverbanks. Iconic species such as lions, cheetahs, and African wild dogs were recently reintroduced into Liwonde with the aid of African Parks, a new management team. Liwonde is an intimate wildlife experience in its small 580 square km area on the River Shire where boat safaris enhance exciting 4×4 game drives and thrilling bush walks. 

Our Top Private Safari Lodges in Africa

Some of our top private safari lodges in Africa are state-of-the-art eco-lodges that are committed to the environment, wildlife, and people around them. It’s not hard to find genuine sustainable authentic safari camps and lodges in Africa – never set off on a luxury safari at the expense of the wildlife and landscape, the people, and natural resources.  Sustainable tourism means that travelers support activities that protect that delicate balance between humans and natural resources while having a great time in the world. 

Private game reserves offer top safari lodges with luxury amenities, expert game rangers and trackers, mouth-watering cuisine, and the best wildlife sightings in Africa. They differ from national parks in their management styles, exclusivity, and added game-viewing treats. These are some of our top-rated safari lodges in Africa, based in private game reserves from South Africa to Tanzania, Kenya to Malawi, and Botswana too.  

&Beyond Ngala Tented Camp Timbavati

romantic dinner set up on the wooden deck outside with lanterns and a fire pit at AndBeyond Ngala Tented Camp in Kruger Park

This lodge allows guests to be right in the thick nature but still have every mod con necessary for ultra-lavish vacations in the heart of Africa. It’s a place that remains a select honeymoon treat thanks to its hands-on romantic touches and its remote setting in the wilderness. Your excellent and expert ranger guides and trackers will take you to find the unique and gorgeous white lions of the Timbavati.

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Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge Tanzania

Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge

Stay in closely thatched rooms that echo the traditional Maasai culture and their love of vivid scarlet-and-indigo checked ‘Shukas’ (cloaks) and bright yellow, white, blue and orange beadwork. The infinity swimming pool at this Tanzania safari lodge offers an incredible spot from which to soak up the sun while viewing the awe-inspiring flamingo-frosted Lake of the Great Rift Valley beyond.

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Masai Mara Sopa Lodge Kenya

exterior of the accommodation at Masai Mara Sopa Lodge with the swimming pool lit up outside

Enjoy the simple pleasures of a bush retreat that combines complete immersion in nature with all the contemporary comforts tourists love. The warm, friendly atmosphere of the lodge and attention to detail add to a pristine wilderness and explosive game encounters. A wide range of 50 rondavel cottages under thatch, emulate the design of a traditional Maasai homestead.

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Tongole Wilderness Safari Lodge Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve Malawi

The river running past Tongole Wilderness Lodge with forest on either side in Malawi

Tongole offers a delightful, varied menu and dining locations for fun and nutritious interludes to get to know fellow guests. Unique one-of-a-kind one- or two-night fly camps add to the bushveld immersion experiences so do try these breaks beside the river and go canoeing, flyfishing, and birding. It is picture-perfect and completely serene so indulge in pure nature with luxury while viewing Sable, Bushbuck, and Klipspringer.

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Khwai River Lodge Moremi Botswana

Moremi Game Reserve

Appreciate the finer things in life from the central guest deck and swimming pool area to the indoor and outdoor dining area, the lounge, and the bar. Make full use of the gym to keep fit and the spa for a wellness treatment or massage. Only 15 elevated tented suites are packed with luxuries such as enormous four-poster beds, ensuite showers, private decks with hammocks, and minibars. Enjoy dinner for two on your private deck one night as elephants rumble past.

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Now you should know why you should choose private game reserves in Africa! They offer exclusivity, excellent wildlife viewing and attention to detail. On the other hand, national parks are well-managed in larger spaces and offer a range of outdoor activities for all. Private game reserves, national parks, or self-drive safaris? We say go private every time if you want exclusive lodges and outstanding game viewing on authentic retreats.

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