Guests often ask us what the difference is between Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger area? Located in the north-eastern corner of South Africa these two areas are the country’s most popular safari destinations. Kruger National Park is the oldest and largest national park in South Africa. The Greater Kruger area is a group of private game reserves that collectively form a protected conservation area that lies in and around the Kruger Park.
The Kruger National Park covers an area of 19,485 square kilometres and stretches over the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It is 360 kilometres from north to south and 65 kilometres from east to west. Collectively, the unfenced private reserves of Greater Kruger cover an area of 1,800 square kilometres of land dedicated to conservation.
What are the main differences between Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger?
State-owned versus privately-owned
Kruger National Park is a state-owned national park; while the Greater Kruger is made up of a group of private game reserves. The Greater Kruger is a more of an umbrella for the various private game reserves that form the unfenced protected wilderness area that lies adjacent to the Kruger Park.
Unrestricted versus restricted access
The wildlife fences that separated the private game reserves of Greater Kruger from Kruger National Park were removed in 1993 so that the wildlife could move freely between the two wilderness areas.
Wildlife now roams freely between Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger. For travellers, movement between the two is restricted as Greater Kruger and Kruger Park operate as two independent ecotourism destinations.
Guests staying at a private game reserve in Greater Kruger can freely visit the Kruger Park while the reverse does not apply. Access to the private reserves of Greater Kruger is restricted to paying guests.
Greater Kruger safari operators have unrestricted access to the public roads of Kruger Park. That said, to access Kruger National Park from the Greater Kruger, your guide has to drive you to one of the Kruger Park entrance gates i.e., there is no short-cut road through the private reserves to Kruger Park. In general, Kruger National Park is anything up to an hour’s drive from the private reserves of Greater Kruger.
Inclusive versus exclusive
Kruger Park caters for everyone’s budget from rest camps to safari lodges on private concession areas within the park.
The Greater Kruger is a much more exclusive area. The safari lodges and camps offer an intimate safari experience. The beauty of being in a private game reserve is that the camps and lodges are not governed by the national park rules. This means that unlike Kruger National Park, in private game reserves guides can drive off-road, do night drives, bush walks, and bush breakfasts/dinners etc. The private game reserves border the Kruger National Park and so the animals can roam freely between the two, however, the public cannot, thus creating a more private safari experience away from the sometimes maddening crowds.
Game-drives in The Greater Kruger area.
Budget vs luxury accommodation
The accommodation in Kruger National Park ranges from camping to traditional bungalows and family guest houses. There is also some lodges in private areas within the park. Rates are priced to be as affordable as possible and are geared mainly for self-catering holidays. The camps and lodges in the Greater Kruger area are more luxurious; smaller, offer more activities and are fully inclusive.
Self-drive vs open safari vehicles
The majority of visitors to the Kruger National Park drive their own vehicles. The private game reserves of Greater Kruger do not allow self-drives. Instead, guests are taken on game drives in open-sided 4WD vehicles with a professional guide and tracker. At wildlife sightings, you are able to go off-road and a number of vehicles is limited. Whereas in Kruger National Park you cannot drive off-road and there is no limit to the number of vehicles at a siting. Hence, not uncommon to see traffic jams in some areas of Kruger National Park.
Game-drives in Kruger National Park.
Public roads versus Off-road driving
Kruger National Park visitors are restricted to public roads. i.e., you cannot drive off-road. In the Greater Kruger, the guides are allowed to drive off-road to get up close to wildlife sightings.
Day drives versus night drives
Kruger Park has strict open and closing times. Visitors are not allowed to drive around after the sunset. The Greater Kruger does not restrict times on game drives. Guests are taken out for a late-afternoon game drive and often return well after dark.
What are the main similarities?
Both Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park are located in a protected wilderness region that is without doubt one of the most biologically diverse in the world.
Incredible wildlife sightings
The private game reserves of Greater Kruger are unfenced and open to the Kruger Park. Wildlife roams freely between the two protected wilderness areas.
Which is better? Kruger National Park or the Greater Kruger area?
Why choose Kruger National Park?
Kruger National Park is an iconic safari destination that is world-renowned for its incredible biodiversity. It is the oldest and largest national park in South Africa and one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations. The park offers something for everyone; from budget-friendly self-catering accommodation to safari lodges in private concessions.
At certain times of the year, Kruger National Park can get very crowded. For a more exclusive safari experience, we suggest you book a safari lodge in one of the private concessions within the park.
Why choose the Greater Kruger
The private reserves of Greater Kruger offer a much more authentic and exclusive safari experience not to dissimilar to lodges and camps in Botswana and Tanzania.
The number of people in a safari vehicle limited to usually between 4 and 6 people. The private lodges are quieter and more intimate, and wildlife sightings are restricted to three vehicles at a time. It’s perfect for photography enthusiasts.