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.
What are the main differences between Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger?
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.
State-owned versus privately-owned
Kruger National Park is a state-owned national park. Whereas, 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 the Greater Kruger from Kruger National Park were removed in 1993. Wildlife can now move freely between the two wilderness areas.
Wildlife now roams freely between Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger. However, for travellers, movement between the two areas is restricted because the 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. And, the camps and lodges are not governed by 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. Accommodation is more affordable, and are targeted mainly towards self-catering travellers. 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 the Greater Kruger do not allow self-drives. Game drives are conducted in open-sided 4WD vehicles with a professional guide and tracker. At wildlife sightings, guides can drive off-road and the 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 game-viewing on public roads. You cannot drive off-road. In the Greater Kruger area, guides can 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 for a safari?
Kruger National Park is an iconic safari destination. 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 for a safari?
The number of people in a safari vehicle is limited to 4 and 6 people. Camps and lodges are quieter and more intimate. The number of vehicles at a wildlife sighting is restricted. It’s perfect for photography enthusiasts.