The self-drive option, where we organise a rental car to be waiting for the you on your arrival and organise all your accommodation at different rest camps in Kruger and you drive yourself around the Park, which is huge, over 2 million hectares!!
Option two is staying at a rest camp in Kruger and doing all your game drives with a ranger employed by South African National Parks. The exact camp that you stay at will depend on availability at the time of confirming your booking. Why I don't recommend this option is because you will be on a game drive in a vehicle with between 6 or 19 other people of all nationalities and of differing interests, all in the same vehicle.
The third option is that you stay in Kruger at the same rest camps as in option two but that you will have your own dedicated ranger in your own dedicated "open safari vehicle". This vehicle also accommodates 10 people but you will have it all to yourselves, which means from a photographic point of view you each have a "window" seat. The guide knows Kruger like the back of his hand and knows where to go to find the animals.
Then there are the "private" reserve options. You must appreciate that when staying in Kruger at one of the public rest camps, as per option one, two & three above, you are subject to certain rules and regulations such as you can only leave camp at gate opening time and you must be back in camp at gate closing time.
The programme at these private camps all follow pretty much the same routine. Early morning wake up for tea and coffee before you set off for the dawn safari. You return to camp at about 09h00 for breakfast. The rest of the day is free to either go on a bush walk with your ranger, go to the pool to "chill out" during the heat of the day, go to the water hole to watch the animals come down to drink or to just relax in camp. Lunch is served at about 13h00 and the evening game drive departs at about 16h00. At sunset you stop "somewhere in the bush" for sun-downers and then you carry on into the night looking for the nocturnal animals with the aid of a powerful spot-lamp. The nocturnal animals are the cats such as lion, leopard, civet, serval, genet etc which you don't see during the day. You return to camp at about 20h30, depending on animal activity, for dinner which is usually in the "boma" under the African stars beside a roaring log fire. This is the way most people imagine an African Safari and is definitely the way to get the most out of your visit to Africa.
One of the other main advantages of a private lodge as opposed to Kruger is that the game viewing at the private lodge is usually far better than in Kruger. The private lodges are normally situated in an area where there is abundant water with good grazing thereby with a large concentration of prey species. Where there are prey species there are the predators so at the private reserves your chances of encountering the "Big 5" are far better than in Kruger, due to the pure size of Kruger and the wide distribution of the animals within Kruger.
The best “private” lodges are all situated in the Sabi Sand Private Nature Reserve which adjoins Kruger and which are close to the confluence of the Sabi River and the Sand River with year round water. There are no fences separating the Kruger from the Sabi Sand Reserve so the animals are free to move between the two reserves.