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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2020 (89) > South Africa’s TOP PRIVATE RESERVES


The quarter century since the democratic elections of 1994 has witnessed a remarkable blossoming of private reserves in South Africa. Most famous, and justifiably so, is the cluster of five-star ‘Big Five’ properties — Londolozi, Sabi Sabi, Singita and so on — protected within the classic bushveld of Sabi Sands Game Reserve on the eastern border of the Kruger National Park. But the country boasts dozens upon dozens of other less lauded private reserves, all of which offer allinclusive guided safari packages to visitors who prefer not to take the self-drive approach.

Philip Briggs has recently visited most of the country’s top private reserves in the course of researching a new Rough Guide to the Game Parks of South Africa, and we asked him to pick 15 properties that particularly stood out, be it for the quality of the game viewing, for the spectacular scenery, for protecting a unique or rare ecosystem, for offering good value for money, or for a combination of the above.



South Africa’s most crowded province, Gauteng crams around 15 million people into an area smaller than the Kruger Park, yet remarkably it also hosts a thoroughly worthwhile 230-square-kilometre game reserve that contains all the Big Five. Dinokeng is divided into a self-drive sector traversed by 140km of dirt roads, and a patchwork of concessions serviced by lodges offering guided drives that come with a decent chance of seeing lion, elephant, white rhino, giraffe, zebra and various antelope. Kruger it isn’t, but Dinokeng feels as authentically ‘bush’ as one could reasonably expect given its location, especially after dark when the air resonates with the calls of jackals, nightjars and occasionally lions. Only an hour’s drive north of Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport, it is at once a great itinerary filler and an excellent overnight alternative to staying in the city itself.

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About Travel Africa

Namibia's winning formula - why you should make it top of your travel plans for 2020 • Walking across Tsavo • Where to stay in Ngorongoro • On foot in the Okavango • South Africa's best private game reserves • The anatomy of a bush camp... and much more!