Wildlife Safari: Kruger vs. the rest. The Facts

Twenty years ago there were 8 commercial safari lodges in Southern Africa. Today there are in excess of 2 800! Of the 8 original safari lodges, four are situated in the Kruger National Park area of South Africa, those being Sabi Sabi, Londolozi, MalaMala and Motswari. The other 4 were situated in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Today every landowner who has a sizable piece of land and game on their property and who has built a lodge (of sorts) now operates a game farm / game reserve / nature reserve offering wildlife safaris. There are game reserves which are known as “soft” reserves, meaning that they have animals like antelope, monkeys, giraffe etc roaming free, but none of the “Big 5”. The Big 5 are lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, and were given the name “Big 5” by the early big game hunters as these 5 animals were, and still are, the most dangerous animals in the African bush to hunt. Then there are game reserves that have all the “soft” game free roaming and the “Big 5” are in separate areas camped off from the other game. This is like doing a wildlife safari in a theme park or zoo at any major city in the world. I’m sure this is not the type of wildlife safari you are looking for?    
Then there are the “Big 5” reserves. Game reserves where all of Africa’s wild animals roam free. A wildlife safari in a “Big 5” reserve is what most people dream of when thinking of a wildlife safari in Africa. Make sure you get the safari that you expect. Free roaming lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and all the rest of the animals you imagine when thinking Africa, all free in their natural environment. Many land owners have come to realize the wealth in offering wildlife safaris to overseas tourists, after all that’s one of the two main reasons to come to South Africa, the other is her scenic beauty, Cape Town and surrounds. Some of these landowners have “rehabilitated” old farmlands and cattle farms to wildlife game reserves, again offering wildlife safaris. Some of these reserves like Phinda in KwaZulu/Natal and Shamwari in the Eastern Cape, and are quite remarkable in the job that the ecologists have done in converting old cattle farms into pristine African bush. But these are few and far between. Wildlife safaris are now offered from the southern tip of the African continent, Cape Town, north to the Limpopo Rivers, the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. There are “reserves” and then there are “reserves” Make sure the safari that you book live up to your expectations of “I dreamt of Africa” It’s interesting to note that the last two elephants in the Cape Town area where shot in the Hout Bay area as long ago as 1689!! Without doubt, the best areas in South Africa for game viewing and for a real wildlife safari are in the areas that since time immemorial, have been home to all the Southern African wild animals. This is either Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu/Natal (Est. 1897) and the Kruger National Park which was proclaimed a National Park in 1926.