Kruger

Kruger
Kruger National Park is surrounded by the most private luxury safari lodges in Africa - because sightings of all the Big 5 are almost guaranteed, and it's easy to get there. I've spent a lot of time at a friend's camp in the Sabi Sand, which is the best - animals allow you to get real close, and you can drive off-road to them. Pricier camps are not only more luxurious - a/c, private pools, butlers etc - but also have larger traversing areas. South Africa.
Best time: Best game viewing when dry and cooler from April to October, but popular year-round.
Access: Fly from Joburg (1 hour), Cape Town (2 hrs), Victoria Falls (2 hrs) plus quick transfer or charter flight into your camp. Driving from Joburg via the scenic Panorama Route takes about 6 hrs

I recommend these camps

Camp Jabulani (8 suites) Elephant interactions are the differentiator here. Family run, first class accommodation & cuisine, kids programme. Reserve is fenced from Kruger. Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Relais & Chateaux. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Leopard Hills (8 suites) Small very elegant camp, suites have glass fronts and private pools with views from high, which is unusual in the Sabi Sand. Sister camp to Madikwe Hills. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Seasons in Africa. $$$$$.
Lion Sands Ivory (10 suites) The more sumptuous sister camp next door to Lion Sands River Lodge – really big suites are more like small homes, looking straight out onto the river through big windows. Clean and contemporary design, private pools. Fish Eagle is their very glamorous private villa. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of MORE. Private villa. $$$$$. Read more.
Londolozi Pioneer (3 suites) Sophisticated and intricately designed – even glass sky walkways linking the large (450 sq feet) family suites. Can be booked exclusive use. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Relais & Chateaux. Private villa. $$$$$.
Londolozi Private Granite (3 suites) Londolozi’s very best with just 3 OTT grand, boldy decorated suites – have a bath watching animals on the river below. Can be booked exclusive use. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Relais & Chateaux. Private villa. $$$$$.
Notten’s (8 suites) Old fashioned in a charming way with no electricity, this family-owned camp has spacious suites romantically lit by lanterns at night. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
Royal Malewane (8 suites) Safari cool at glamour hotelier Liz Biden’s top of the range lodge, grand colonial décor with mahogany 4 poster beds, superb spa, private pools. Family suites can be used as private villas. Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Royal Portfolio. Private villa. $$$$$.
Royal Malewane Africa House (6 suites) Glamorous exclusive use villa away from the main camp, décor is dramatic and contemporary. Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Royal Portfolio. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Singita Boulders (12 suites) Tops in the Sabi Sands with sister camp Ebony, contemporary take on everything safari, dramatic décor, remarkable wine cellar. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Singita. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Castleton (6 suites) Singita owner Luke Bailes’ old family home is now very elegantly restyled into a private villa, in an understated an elegant manner. Far from other camps so it really is completely private, with pool & tennis court. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Singita. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Ebony (12 suites) Singita’s original camp has been completely reinvented with glass and canvas walls, and all the lux you’d expect from them. Next to Ebony. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Singita. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Lebombo (15 suites) Ethereal, loft-style suites perched on a hillside, airy and contemporary (glass, wood and steel) with views to the river below. Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of Singita. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Sweni (6 suites) Intimate camp with contemporary wood and glass suites between the riverine trees, close to the water to which attracts game and birds. It’s had a decor makeover, looking fresher and brighter now. Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of Singita. $$$$$. Read more.
&Beyond Kirkman’s (18 suites) Gracious historic homestead raised above the surrounding bushveld, good position in the Sabi Sand, relaxed and informal vibe is particularly well suited to families. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of &Beyond. $$$$.
&Beyond Ngala Safari (21 suites) Nostaigic but elegant feel with old colonial antiques, this is a large camp with a special kids programme – well suited to families (there’s a family suite with private pool). Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$.
&Beyond Ngala Tented (9 tents-en-suite) The only luxury tented camp inside Kruger – and the tents have aircon. Simple, small and elegant camp delivers close-to-nature African feeling, good game viewing. Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of &Beyond. $$$$$.
Chitwa Chitwa
Chitwa Chitwa (6+2 suites) Family-run camp in the northern Sabi Sand, contemporary décor and lots of space, great food, overlooking small lake. Chitwa House is exclusive use villa. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Dulini Leadwood (3 suites) Intimate, refined, tastefully appointed and small enough to be booked as exclusive use. Closed for part of 2018 for upgrades. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Dulini River (6 suites) Set amongst riverside trees with plunge pools and all those lux touches. Formerly known as &Beyond Exeter. Closed for part of 2018 for major upgrades. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Honeyguide Khoka Moya
Honeyguide Khoka Moya (15 tents-en-suite) A down-to-earth tented camp which just does everything right without the frills, and at good rates. Great for kids too. Manyeleti Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$$.
Honeyguide Mantobeni (15 tents-en-suite) Like the other Honeyguide camp, it’s down to earth value, but this camp is a little more contemporary. Manyeleti Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$$.
Kapama Karula (10 suites) Modern whitewashed wood and lots of glass Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa. $$$.
King’s Camp (9+4 suites) Refined, colonial feel, looking onto a waterhole. Waterbuck is their satellite private villa. Timbavati Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Seasons in Africa. Private villa. $$$$.
Lion Sands Narina (9 suites) Sister to Tinga, this is also inside Kruger looking over the Sabi River, designed in a tree house style with raised wooden walkways. Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of MORE. $$$$. Read more.
Lion Sands River (20 suites) Right on the Sabi River looking into Kruger; the central areas have been completely rebuilt after a fire and are now boldly light and contemporary, with a photo editing suite for guests, and the newer rooms follow this aesthetic. The Lion Sands logo is my handwriting! Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of MORE. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
Lion Sands Tinga (11 suites) Not quite as slick as the Lion Sands lodges in Sabi Sand, but nonetheless luxurious and you’re in the Kruger Park proper. Hi’Nkweni (pronounced Hing Kwei) is their private villa. Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of MORE. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
Londolozi Founders (10 suites) Londolozi’s camps are all in a row among large trees on the river, all with access to their prime land. This is the largest; family friendly, more simply decorated chalets, yoga deck. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$$.
Londolozi Tree (6 suites) Like all the Londolozi camps, expect grand suites amongst old trees on the riverbank with private pools, and superb Sabi Sand game viewing. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Relais & Chateaux. $$$$$.
Londolozi Varty (10 suites) Smallest rooms of the Londolozi camps, family friendly, has  gym, shop and treatment rooms – but these are used by guests from the neighbouring camps too. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Tanda Tula Field (4 tents-en-suite) Mobile tented camps are rare in Southern Africa – a fun adventure, exclusive use (min 3 night stay) and you track animals on foot, in a private concession. Smalller and simpler tents than nearby Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Timbavati Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Classic Portfolio. Child friendly. $$$.
Tanda Tula Safari (12 tents-en-suite) Down to earth, family feeling at Don and Nina Scott’s charming camp. Tents are under thatch, and there’s a star bed for a sleepout. Check out their nearby Tanda Tula Field Camp for a real adventure. Timbavati Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Classic Portfolio. Child friendly. $$$$.
The Outpost (12+4 suites) Strikingly modern, clean design overlooking the far north of Kruger, more about remarkable scenery, trees and birding than game, which can be elusive. Pel’s Post is the satellite villa. Kruger National Park (private concession), South Africa. Member of Dark Giraffe Marketing. Private villa. $$$$.
Tintswalo Safari (6+5 suites) Individually themed suites with lots of attention to detail which ends up feeling a tad overdecorated, but you’ll feel very comfortable. Manor House is a private villa. Manyeleti Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Tintswalo. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$.
Ulusaba Safari / Rock
Ulusaba Safari / Rock (11+10+2 suites) Richard Branson’s suitably spectaclar interconnected camps; Rock Lodge is on a koppie with the best views in the Sabi Sand, Cliff Lodge is exclusive use. Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Virgin Limited Edition. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
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