Top 10 Game Reserves in South Africa

The best game reserves in South Africa offer an authentic safari experience that you will never forget. Even though South Africa has a lot of beautiful places to visit, going on a real safari in the unspoiled African bushveld should be at the top of every traveler’s list. South Africa is a wonderful place to go on an African safari and see wildlife because of its unapologetic natural beauty, diverse landscapes, nature reserves, National Parks, and protected ecosystems, as well as its exciting wildlife encounters and spectacular birdlife.

Book the Great African Escape which is an unforgettable safari experience to South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Zambia.

No more wondering about game reserves near me when you are in South Africa. Here are the 10 best private game reserves in South Africa that you should add to your African safari bucket list.

South Africa Wildlife Reserves

1. Sabi Sands Game Reserve

The famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve is the best private game reserve in South Africa and the best location to go on a safari. Sabi Sands Game Reserve has 65,000 hectares of wildland that hasn’t been tamed. It shares an unfenced border with the world-famous Kruger National Park, South Africa’s flagship national park.

This lets animals move freely between the reserves and makes the Sabi Sands Game Reserve part of a large ecosystem that can take care of itself. Nature and animal lovers who come to Africa can look forward to a safari and wildlife experience that can’t be beaten. Sabi Sands Game Reserve is home to some of Africa’s unique and different kinds of wildlife.

It has the largest population of animals in the country. Even though the leopard is the hardest of the Big 5 animals to see, Sabi Sands is known for its amazing leopard sightings. However, all Big 5 animals, lions, rhinos, leopards, buffaloes, and elephants, can be seen at the reserve.

For Sabi Sands game reserve accommodation specials, visit their website.

2. Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

The world-famous Timbavati Game Reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park, is one of the top 10 finest private game reserves in South Africa. It is a piece of Africa that people haven’t changed. The famous Timbavati Nature Reserve is in the Lowveld region of South Africa.

It comprises the Timbavati, Klaserie, and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves, which combine to make one large area of untouched wilderness. The Kruger National Park and the Timbavati Nature Reserve share an unfenced border. This means that animals can move freely between the two reserves, making for great game viewing and incredible wildlife sightings and encounters.

The animals and birds in the Timbavati Nature Reserve are very many and come from all over. Timbavati’s Magnificent 7 animals are the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, African wild dog, buffalo, and cheetah. It’s no wonder that Timbavati South Africa is one of the most popular wildlife and safari destinations in Africa, both in Africa and around the world.

Check out all the Timbavati game reserve lodges. 

3. Madikwe Game Reserve

The beautiful Madikwe Game Reserve is near the border of Botswana, about 40 km southeast of Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, and close to the Kalahari Desert. It is the fifth-largest wildlife reserve in the country and one of the most popular wildlife destinations in Africa.

Madikwe is one of South Africa’s less well-known reserves and one of Africa’s best places to protect wildlife. It is sometimes called a “hidden gem.” In addition to the great things, it does to protect the environment, Madikwe Game Reserve is a huge supporter of infrastructure welfare and responsible tourism.

It also helps the local economy in a big way by bringing in a lot of money. Madikwe Game Reserve has a lot of different kinds of animals, and it is home to the highly sought-after Big Five of Africa, so it is almost certain that you will see these amazing animals when you go there. With many lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve you will be spoilt for options.

Check out the map of Madikwe Game Reserve.

4. Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve is one of the best game reserves in South Africa to go on a safari. It is in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, which is important ecologically and culturally. People come from around the world to visit what is considered the most popular and sought-after private game reserve in the Eastern Cape.

The famous Shamwari Game Reserve comprises five of South Africa’s seven biomes. This amazing variety of habitats is home to a wide range of animals, including all the Big Five and more than 275 distinct bird species.

More than 26 species of game, such as elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalo, giraffes, and zebras, have been reintroduced at Shamwari South Africa. These animals, the famous Big 5 of Africa, and many birds make for great wildlife sightings and encounters. People say seeing wildlife at Shamwari Private Game Reserve is almost as good as in the Greater Kruger area.

For Shamwari specials visit their website.

best game reserves in South Africa

5. Manyeleti Private Game Reserve

Manyeleti Game Reserve is deep in the safari heartland of Mpumalanga. It gives visitors and wildlife fans a real, off-the-beaten-path wilderness experience. This makes it a great choice for people who like to move off the beaten path, and it’s a great way to see the African Big 5 and the huge variety of wildlife in Manyeleti.

Manyeleti is next to the Kruger National Park, the Timbavati Nature Reserve, and the famous Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, all of which are not fenced in. This means that animals can move freely between the reserves and that Manyeleti Game Reserve is part of a large ecosystem that can care for itself.

Book a 2-day safari experience at Kruger National Park.

Nature and animal lovers who go to Africa can look forward to an unforgettable safari and wildlife experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Since Manyeleti Game Reserve isn’t as well-known as some of its neighbors, it’s much less busy and gets fewer visitors.

For Manyelati game reserve bookings visit their website. 

6. Phinda Private Game Reserve

This protected wildlife area is in KwaZulu-Natal, between Richards Bay and the border with Mozambique. It covers more than 28,500 hectares (70,500 acres) and is considered the leading school game reserve in South Africa.

Phinda Game Reserve is not only among the best private game reserves in South Africa but also one of the unique conservation areas in the country. It has seven ecosystems and habitats: grassland, wetland, woodland, woods, mountain ranges, rivers, and pans.

Phinda Private Game Reserve is the best place to see lots of Phinda Game reserve animals, birds, and other wildlife. It is said to be just as good as the better-known Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Seeing this kind of big cat running full speed on a hunt is among the most exciting and amazing things to see, and every animal lover should see and experience it at least once.

For Phinda Game Reserve bookings visit their website. 

7. Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is not only one of the best game reserves in South Africa to see wildlife but also one of South Africa’s most popular world-class private game reserves, bringing in wildlife lovers from all over the world. It is in the beautiful province of the Eastern Cape.

The Great Fish River cuts through its pristine 54 000-acre wilderness for about 30 kilometers, cutting through a very beautiful area. One thing that makes Kwandwe Game Reserve stand out is that it is very hard to get into. You can’t get more unique than this on an African safari! The ratio of land to guests at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve South Africa is also one of the highest.

For bookings and Kwandwe private game reserve prices visit their website. 

8. Balulé Private Game Reserve

Balule Private Game Reserve is a huge-protected area that shares open borders with the famous Kruger National Park. This lets animals move freely between the reserves and makes Balule part of a large ecosystem that can care for itself. This Game Reserve was first set up in the 1990s when a group of farmers decided to take down their fences to give animals and other wildlife more space to roam and stop them from getting too fat.

Even today, hunting in this pristine wilderness area and the small properties nearby are illegal. This had and still has a hugely positive effect on the birds and animals in the Balule Private Game Reserve, as well as on the wild, unapologetic beauty of the area’s landscapes, ecosystems, and habitats.

As a HUGE bonus, it became much easier to get close to the huge variety of animals that live in Balule. This made it possible to see and talk to animals up close in ways that had never been possible. Not to mention perfect for an action-packed safari trip that you’ll never forget!

Visit the Balule Private Game Reserve website.

9. Amakhala Game Reserve

Amakhala Game Reserve South Africa is located in the malaria free Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Founded in 1999 the game reserve offers an authentic and world class big 5 safari experience. The unforgettable safari at Amakhala Game Reserve offers visitors a chance to see wild animals like the cheetah, zebra and the big 5 wildlife in their own habitat. You can visit the game reserve all year round as the climate is semi-arid. With conservation being a huge part of Amakhala you will hear about all their conservation programs.

For more information about visiting Amakhala Game Reserve visit their website.

10. Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Hluhluwe Game Reserve is the oldest game reserve in South Africa. It is located at the heart of Zululand about 2.5 hours from Durban, the capital city of KwaZulu Natal. The game reserves offer a perfect scenic opportunity to see the big 5 and other wildlife. Located on 96 000 hecrates one of the oldest game reserves in Africa was once the Zulu kingdom hunting ground during the reign of Shaka Zulu. Hluhluwe Game reserve accommodation options consist of self-catering, tent accommodation and luxury lodges. Have a look at all the accommodation options offered at Hluhluwe.