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Top 10 private lodges in the Kruger National Park

Singita Sweni outside sleeping facilities
Singita Sweni Photo Credit: Singita

Selecting the perfect luxury game lodge in Kruger National Park can be overwhelming because there are so many to choose from. That’s why it’s important to research, read reviews, and compare features, activities, and prices.  

In this article, we give you a breakdown of the best luxury lodges in Kruger National Park. We introduce you to the top 10 luxury private lodges in Kruger, tell you what you can expect from each concession camp, and why you should consider booking a stay at one of these luxury lodges. We delve into a range of activities and attractions you can enjoy at the lodges. Moreover, we help you gain insights into some of the lodges’ unique features.   

But our number one rule for choosing a luxury lodge? Choose the one with the best deal available, as they all offer similar experiences!

Disclaimer: We received no earnings or compensation for writing this article. You can rest assured that this article reflects our honest opinions.

What are luxury lodges like in the Kruger park?

Have you ever wondered what a private luxury lodge in Kruger National Park is like? These exquisite camps offer a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience within the most well-known Big 5 reserve. The camps are in private concessions that share unfenced boundaries with Kruger National Park; these exclusive lodges provide guests with the best of both worlds.

The luxury lodges are not open to the public; they are restricted to living-in guests. SANParks refers to them as “Golden Kudus”. However, to reach these luxury lodges, guests must enter through the Kruger National Park’s main gates closest to their destination.

Please note that Kruger National Park gate fees and opening and closing times apply. Read our article, ‘What to know before planning a trip to Kruger National Park’ for more information.

What to expect from a luxury lodge in the Kruger National Park

Prepare for an unforgettable African safari experience at private lodges in Kruger National Park. These lodges offer authentic African-style accommodation, often with luxurious tents on raised platforms overlooking the untamed wilderness. Get up close and personal with the wonders of Kruger National Park while enjoying delectable meals around a crackling fire under the stars. Don’t miss out on twice daily game drives, with morning coffee breaks and memorable sundowners in the late afternoon.

A breakfast table set outdoors for Singita Sweni
Breakfast at Singita Sweni Photo Credit: Singita

Choose extravagance, choose a private luxury lodge in Kruger

Make your stay in the Kruger National Park truly extraordinary. Experience the luxury and thrill of a private concession camp, where unforgettable moments await at every turn. Book your adventure now and embark on a journey you’ll cherish forever.

Top 10 luxury lodges in the Kruger National park

The following luxury private lodges are located within the boundaries of the Kruger: (Listed in no particular order)

People doing a walking safari in Kruger
Walking safaris are very popular at private lodges inthe Kruger National Park Photo credit: Singita Lodge

Located on one of the most predator-dense roads on earth, the H4-1, between Skukuza and Lower Sabie rest camps in the Kruger National Park.

a tent on the banks of the river in the Kruger National Park
Nkuhlu Tented camp in the Kruger National Park Source: Nkuhlu website

We had the pleasure of exploring this self-catering camp during its inaugural week in June 2023, the first of its kind in the Kruger National Park.

Discover this luxury tented camp, operated by aha Hotels & Lodges. Located alongside the Nkuhlu picnic spot, between the Lower Sabie and Skukuza rest camps, on the picturesque H4-1 road, this self-catering camp offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of the Kruger National Park while indulging in glamorous accommodations. 

Each of the seven luxury tents boasts a well-equipped kitchenette with a fridge, gas stove, and microwave. Outside, the patio features a gas braai, ensuring a memorable dining experience. Please note that wood or open fires are not permitted to maintain the camp’s eco-friendly ambience. It’s important to mention that this camp operates solely on solar and gas systems. Kindly note that this camp does not accommodate children under the age of 12.

Resort type: Self-catering

Visit their website for bookings and more information

Nkuhlu Tented Camp look forward to welcoming you where luxury and nature intertwine for an unforgettable experience.

The inside of the tent at Nkuhlu Kruger National Park
The luxury bedroom of the tent at Nkuhlu camp Source: Nkuhlu website
The patio of the luxury tents at Nkuhlu
The views from a luxury tent at Nkuhlu camp Source: Nkuhlu website

Are you looking for a blissful retreat surrounded by nature's wonders? Look no further than Shishangeni Lodge where you can enjoy magnificent sunsets and boma fires under the African sky, a pampering spa, and endless photo opportunities.

Camp Shona prive lodge in Kruger
Camp Shonga Source: BON Hotels

Shishangeni Lodge by BON Hotels is located near Crocodile Bridge rest camp in the southeastern section of Kruger National Park. This lodge comprises solid thatch structures that accommodate 44 guests, with interleading family rooms. Baby-sitting options are available; booking is necessary in advance.

Camp Shawu is named after one of the famous Magnificent Seven elephants. Shawu bull, with the longest-ever, recorded tusks in South Africa, roamed their valley for sixty years. Interestingly, the walls of Camp Shawu are plastered with buffalo dung to capture the authentic spirit of Africa. The camp can host ten guests in five spacious rooms.

Camp Shonga is a small and intimate bush retreat with accommodation for ten guests in five magnificent permanent tents. 

Contact details: +27 13 735 3300

Email: reservations@shishangeni.com

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

The boma of Jock Safari Lodge
Enjoy untamed experiences at Jock safari lodge
The patio and external room views of Jock Safari Lodge
Jock Safari Lodge. Kruger National Park

This extraordinary lodge promises much more than a mere game drive... Prepare for a truly legendary experience! "Treading lightly and doing everything we can to conserve our wildlife and untouched landscapes is integral to everything we do" - Jock Safari Lodge.

The luxury tent of Jock Safari Lodge
Photographed at Jock Safari Lodge. Kruger National Park. Mpumalanga. South Africa.

Jock Safari lodge was the first private concession camp within the Kruger National Park. This colonial-style safari lodge is named after the classic African tale Jock of the Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, a narrative of courage and loyalty against the backdrop of South Africa’s first gold rush era. The private 12-thatch suites at the main lodge provide uninterrupted views over a riverbed. Each suite features a romantic Victorian ball and claw bath and outdoor shower leading onto a private deck with a plunge pool and sala. 

An additional three luxurious suites are located at the nearby secluded Fitzpatrick Lodge, which can accommodate up to six adults. This intimate lodge is ideal for small groups, families or individuals that seek solitude and ultimate peacefulness. The main suite is separate from the other two rooms, with a private deck and plunge pool. The two additional rooms create a family unit with a bathroom, shared foyer, deck and plunge pool. Fitzpatrick Lodge can be privately booked with a chef or as individual suites.   

This fully inclusive lodge offers two daily game drives, guided safari wilderness walks, all meals and afternoon teas, a selection of house beverages, and game drive beverages. Booking made six months or more before arrival qualify for a 10% discount.

Jock Safari Lodge Highlights:

  • Guided wilderness walks by expertly trained game rangers
  • High tea before the afternoon game drives
  • Boma dinners under the African sky
  • Golf at the legendary Leopard Creek Golf course (prior arrangement needed)
  • Bird watching for the avid birdwatchers with abundant bird species, including raptors such as martial, Tawny, and Fish Eagles and Steppe Buzzards 
  • The Pilgrims Rest Spa offers guests some well-deserved pampering and an opportunity to rejuvenate body, mind and soul
  • Special children’s activities include junior ranger training, a night walk in the camp, arts and crafts and many more.
  • Kids on Safari is the ultimate experience at Fitzpatricks’ Lodge, where each child receives a special safari gift pack for their stay.

How to reach Jock Safari lodge:

The lodge is approximately 458 km from Johannesburg and halfway between Skukuza rest camp and Malelane Gate (approximately 35 km in both directions) in the Kruger National Park.

From the Malelane gate, drive straight on the H3 road for about 37km and turn left at the Jock Safari Lodge sign. Continue for 3km on the gravel road until you reach the lodge.

Jock Safari Lodge is 45 minutes to an hour from the Malelane Gate. Therefore, it is highly recommended that flights to and from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) be booked to:

  • arrive before 14H30 od day of arrival
  • depart after 10H00 on the day of departure

Contact details: +27 (0) 13 010 0019

Email: reservations@jocksafarilodge.com

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

You may wish to watch a video about this spectacular lodge.

 

Boma dinner at Jock Safari Lodge in Kruger
Boma dinner at Jock Safari Lodge Kruger National Park
Bath tub on an open deck in the Kruger National park - Private lodge exterior bathtub
Bath time at Jock safari Lodge Kruger National Park
Game drive vehicle with lion next to it at Jock Safari Lodge Kruger
Game drives are an adventure at Jock Safari Lodge. Kruger National Park
Aerial Pool views of Shalati Kruger Private Lodge
Kruger Shalati, Train on the Bridge

Experience this luxurious train, permanently stationed on the historically-rich Selati Bridge above the Sabie River in the Kruger National Park. Kruger Shalati is the perfect blend of freedom, elegance and African connection.

The seating area overlooking the pool and bushveld at Kruger Shalati Lodge
Views from Kruger Shalati over the Sabie River

This first-of-its-kind lodge promises an elevated experience of Kruger’s awe-inspiring scenery in a re-envisioned train. Kruger Shalati transports you to a bygone African railway era, with its 24 train carriage suites permanently situated on the original Selati Train Bridge. As you step into the spacious train carriages with their stunning floor-to-ceiling glass windows, prepare to be mesmerized by the breathtaking infinite views of the majestic Sabie River. 

The highlight of this unique lodge is the custom-designed overhanging carriage pool with a viewing deck, allowing you to indulge in game viewing like never before, just meters below. An abundance of wildlife and birds can easily be spotted from your luxurious suite and during game drives.

Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to stay on the Train on the Bridge, but the lodge will gladly accommodate them in one of the seven Bridge House suites (the land-based rooms next to the train). These elegantly furnished suites offer outstanding views along the Sabie River. There a several beautifully furnished interleading rooms to accommodate families.

Join the Kruger Shalati team for an unforgettable adventure amidst Africa’s serenity. 

How to reach Kruger Shalati lodge in Kruger:

  • Kruger Shalati can be accessed by road, approximately 480 km from Johannesburg.
  • Complimentary airport transfers to and from Skukuza Airport (only 4.9 km from the airport)
  • Access through the Paul Kruger and Pabeni Gates of the Kruger National Park.

Contact details: +27 (0) 13 591 6000

Email: reservations@krugershalati.com

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information

The bathroom of the train hotel in Kruger
The bathroom of a luxury carriage suite at The Train on the Bridge - Kruger Shalati
The bedroom on the train in Kruger
The bedroom of the luxury carriage suite at The Train on the Bridge - Kruger Shalati
Eeveing views of the Selati River Bridge in Kruger
Views of the Famous Selati Bridge
Sun downers in the bush next to the vehicle in Kruger
Enjoying a scenic sundowner on a game drive with Shalati Lodge
arial views of Lukimbi Safari lodge in Kruger
Lukimbi Safari Lodge

Lukimbi is the ultimate lodge to forge unforgettable memories with your family, thanks to its family-friendly suites. Premier suites can comfortably host two adults and up to three kids, ensuring an incredible and thrilling experience for all.

Lukimbi safari lodge private pool deck
Lukimbi Safari Lodge - suite with private swimming pool

Lukimbi is a delightful, family-friendly lodge! The lodge caters to children from the age of two, ensuring an unforgettable experience with plenty of age-appropriate activities. Picture your little ones enjoying walks, treasure hunts, interactive sessions with rangers, and special children’s dinners, while you indulge in some well-deserved relaxation in the bush veld. The lodge boasts a fantastic children’s safari playroom, an outdoor play area, and a paddling pool for endless fun.

Situated in the southern section of the Kruger National Park, their concession spans over 15,000 hectares, offering unparalleled privacy. At Lukimbi Safari Lodge, they prioritise guests’ comfort, never traversing public roads in Kruger unless captivated by an extraordinary sighting nearby.

Get ready to explore their unique features and facilities, including a fully equipped conference room, a private chapel, a well-equipped gym, a spa, a swimming pool, and a kiddies pool. Unwind at their well-stocked bar, wine cellar, and boma, and don’t forget to visit their charming curios shop for unique souvenirs.

If you want to venture beyond the lodge, avid golfers can tee off at Leopard Creek. Marvel at the majestic giraffes as you take on the challenge of pitching a shot over a lake teeming with crocodiles and hippos. The lodge can arrange this once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. Please note that reservations must be made through the lodge, and Leopard Creek reserves the right to confirm or cancel a booking.

Join Lukimbi Safari Lodge and let the adventure begin! Whether you travel by road, fly into Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI) or Skukuza Airport, or opt for a charter flight to Malelane airstrip, they will be delighted to arrange transfers to ensure a seamless journey. With just 440 km separating them from Johannesburg on the N4 highway, the bush veld awaits you.

Contact details: +27 (0) 13 735 8000

Email: res@lukimbi.com

Resort type: All inclusive

Email: res@lukimbi.com

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

The pool at Singita Sweni Private Lodge
The rim-flow pool at Singita Sweni Photo credit: Singita

Featuring 15 exquisite, award-winning lodges and camps sprawled across Africa. Singita is committed to upholding their renowned status of delivering unparalleled guest experiences. They are embarking on a journey to revitalise their remarkable boutique and gallery (B&G) concept. This transformation aims to celebrate Africa's blossoming recognition as a destination of artistic eminence. Brace yourself for the unveiling of not one, but two magnificent art galleries! One awaits you at Singita Sabi Sand, while the other beckons at Singita Kruger National Park. Prepare to immerse yourself in a world brimming with vibrant artistic brilliance!

The primary of Singita Sweni private Lodge
A one bedroom suites at Singita Sweni Lodge Photo Credit: Singita

Discover Singita, the epitome of luxury game lodges. Nestled alongside the Sweni River, Singita Sweni offers an intimate oasis adorned with contemporary design, architecture, and gastronomy. Immerse yourself in the allure of one of their seven exclusive suites tucked away amidst a lush canopy of trees, each boasting open-plan interiors. 

Inspired by the majestic eagle’s nests perched on the cliff face, their lodge reflects a floating structure harmoniously connecting the river and the sky.

Their dedicated team provides personalised itineraries, expert advice, and tailored services to ensure an unforgettable stay. You may even wish to visit their sister lodge, Singita Lebombo, conveniently located nearby.

Singita Sweni is committed to providing exceptional care and extraordinary game-viewing experiences. Guests leave their sanctuary enlightened and transformed, knowing they have made a meaningful contribution to Africa’s legacy.

 

Spectacular breakfast views at Singita Sweni Lodge Photo Credit: Singita

Singita Sweni Lodge highlights:

  • All-inclusive experience
  • Best wine experience. Singita is recognised as one of Africa’s most influential collectors of wine, with an extensive cellar showcasing sought-after private reserves, exclusive releases, limited single vineyards, and rare auction wines.
  • Main lodge area with a spacious swimming pool in the wild.
  • Pool suite featuring a private pool
  • Your well-being is their priority at Singita. They promote wellness by creating an environment where guests can reconnect with nature, revive their senses, restore their body and mind, and become one with the African culture. Guests’ wellness journey can be explored in the tranquillity of the Spa or on their private deck overlooking the African plains. Moreover, each suite has a yoga mat with a suggested exercise plan to guide you through a relaxing session. All the lodges offer Vinyasa and Yin yoga practices with trained practitioners.
  • Well-equipped gym with picturesque views of the bushveld, allowing you to do some game viewing while working out.
  • African-inspired boutique where you will find original treasures. 
  • Guided nature walks with expert trackers guide you on foot through the wilderness to explore magnificent fauna and flora.
  • Stargazing safaris of a crystal clear sky due to very little pollution and no city lights.
  • Art galleries supporting the Singita Lowveld Trust
  • Participate in a cooking class (with Singita Community Culinary School students, in aid of the Singita Lowveld Trust) led by a professional, qualified chef. Guests may choose to cook a popular, traditional South African dish or a trademark dish from chef Liam Tomlin’s tapas menu. Read more about the community culinary school here.
  • Outdoor sleepout on an exquisite wooden platform
  • Wi-Fi is available for those who need to work and play (intermittent)
  • The lodge warmly welcomes children of all ages. The lodge offers fun activities such as cooking classes, star gazing, arts and crafts, bush walks (minimum age 16), movies, etc.

How to reach Singita Sweni lodge:

  • Singita Sweni can be accessed by road, approximately 600 km from Johannesburg.
  • Charter flights are available upon request to Satara Airstrip, a 45-minute drive from the lodge.

Contact details: +27 (0) 21 683 3424

Email: reservations@singita.com

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

Mention TRAVEL BUDDIES LIFESTYLE and qualify for a good deal!

Singita reopened its Mara River Tented Camp in Lamai, Tanzania, on the 1st of June after an extensive redesign.  Click here to read more about this camp.

Wellness at Singita Photo Credit: Singita
Yoga at Singita Lodge Photo Credit: Singita
Singita, Sweni, Kruger Singita, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Singita, Sweni, Kruger Singita, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Join this remarkable walking safari to immerse yourself in the captivating sounds and scents of the African wilderness. With their highly trained guides, rest assured that you'll be in the safest hands as you embark on this enriching and exhilarating life experience.

The accommodation at Rhino walking Safari Source: RWS

Welcome to this exclusive trail camp nestled in the untouched wilderness near Skukuza rest camp, an experience that was previously reserved only for a privileged few. Immerse yourself in the true essence of Africa as you spend a night under the twinkling stars on their captivating Sleep-out deck. 

At Plains Camp, they prioritise your comfort, providing well-appointed tents adorned with luxurious linen, a refreshing plunge pool, and a talented chef who will prepare delectable meals in an unparalleled setting. 

For the more adventurous souls, they offer the opportunity to embark on a thrilling night under the stars by pre-booking a stay at Rhino Post Safari Lodge or the Sleep-Out Decks. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey like no other. Visit their website for more information about their sleep-outs .

Contact details: +27 (0) 13 735 8923

Email: info@rws.co.za

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

Narina Lodge views

Lion Sands is part of the More Family Collection. Lion Sands Tinga Lodge offers a classic safari experience with natural decor and open design. Enjoy unprecedented game viewing over the Sabie River.

Bushveld views from your private deck at Tinga Lodge
Bush veld views from the deck at Tinga lodge

Welcome to Lion Sands Kruger, where you can discover the twin Tinga and Narina lodges nestled near the Skukuza Airport. Are you ready to turn your dream of spending a night in a tree house into a reality, right there in the African bush veld?  Experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure by booking your lodge accommodation at Lions Sands. Their two tree houses are perfect for families and can accommodate two children aged 10 to 14.

A luxury suite at Narina Lodge
River views from the deck of Narina Lodge

Narina Lodge has nine luxury suites with glass sliding doors that invites the outside in. There is no need to go on a game drive when you can admire the abundance of wildlife from your pool deck, bed or egg bath.

Elevated wooden pathways lead to a spa, sala (thatched viewing deck) and the main lodge with a bar, lounge, library, swimming pool and boma.

A luxury bedroom at Tinga Lodge
The Guest area at Tinga Lodge

Immerse yourself in the wonders of the astral safari as you gaze at the breathtaking stars above. Plus, they have an array of exciting kiddies’ programmes, including dung tracking, bush orientation, bug CSI, spoor casting, rock painting, pizza making in bomas, cookie baking, decorating, and many more thrilling activities.

Lion Sands Kruger invites you to come and create unforgettable memories with them.

Contact details Narina Lodge: +27 (0) 13 735 8100

Contact details Tinga Lodge: +27 (0) 13 735 8400

Email: concierge@more.co.za

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

Views over the river from Narina Lodge

Step into a world of timeless grandeur and indulge in the allure of a bygone era. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey filled with vintage charm, gastronomic delights, and exhilarating encounters with the captivating wildlife.

Hamiltons Tented camp Source: Hamiltons Tented Camp

Hamiltons Tented Camp is an authentic, nostalgic lodge, where uncompromising elegance and breathtaking beauty await you. Immerse yourself in a world of luxury and enchantment, complete with a dedicated butler dressed in traditional colonial uniform.

Experience the captivating ‘Out of Africa’ ambiance, embodied by six magnificent permanent, elevated tented suites adorned with teak floors overlooking the Nwaswitsonto River

Each suite created entirely from canvas boasts a private plunge pool and offers extraordinary views across the seasonal river. The interior features traditional fittings and features such as old brass switches and steamer trunks with vintage lables. Discover the wonders of Hamilton’s, nestled in the Mluwati concession in the western region of the Kruger National Park, just a short 63km journey from Skukuza Airport. The closest Kruger National Park rest camp is Satara.

Contact details: +27 (0) 11 516 4367

Email: res@extraordinary.co.za

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

The interior of the luxury tents at Hamiltons Source: Hamiltons' website
Experience a warm 'Out of Africa' welcome at Hamiltons

African tradition is evident throughout the stylish interior of this magnificent lodge. With its rich oranges and savannah hues you are welcomed by the spirit of Hoyo Hoyo. Their unique traditional dome suites harmoniously blend into the African bushveld.

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge Source: Hoyo Hoyo website

Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge, Imbali Safari Lodge, and Hamiltons Tented Camp are in the same area. The Tsonga tradition is evident in the lavish suites with the warm African glow, adored with traditional ornaments and lamps bringing the local culture to life. Guided game drives in 4 x 4 vehicles are available twice daily; self-drive is permitted outside the concession area.

Contact details: +27 (0) 11 516 4367

Email: res@extraordinary.co.za

Resort type: All inclusive

Visit their website for bookings and more information 

Game drives with Kruger Shalati

Benefits of staying at a luxury private lodge in the Kruger National Park

Disadvantages of staying at a luxury private lodge in the Kruger National Park

Source: SanParks Private concession camps in the Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park Landscapes
Kruger National Park Landscape Photo Credit: Singita

Conclusion

When it comes to making unforgettable memories and experiencing nature in the most intimate way possible, choosing a private concession camp within Kruger National Park is worth considering. With luxury accommodations paired with breathtaking safari experiences, these private lodges offer an exclusive exploration of South Africa’s premier wildlife destination. 

Whether you’re looking for high-quality amenities or guided excursions, there is something special in store for everyone at a private lodge in the Kruger National Park. But with the vast array of exclusive lodges, it is important to do thorough research. After all, selecting the perfect lodge will ensure an unforgettable and truly unique experience you will cherish forever.

So, start your adventure confidently by looking for the best deal amongst the following lodges to launch your exclusive wildlife encounter within the Kruger National Park!

Your ultimate African Safari awaits!

If you find this article useful, please drop us a comment.

Your travel buddies, Petra and Bernie

Photos supplied by the relevant lodges.

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About Author

As a freelance travel journalist and seasoned business professional, Bernie van der Linde has made it her mission to explore the world's most unique and luxurious destinations. With a PhD in business studies from the University of South Africa, Bernie has channeled her passion for travel, web design, and writing into founding the travel blog Travel Buddies Lifestyle. Here, she shares her adventures alongside her best friend and travel business partner, Petra, who seamlessly translate and compile articles relevant to their German and European audience.

Bernie's love for exploring new places has taken her to some of the world's most exotic locations. Whether gazing out at the glittering skyline of Dubai or enjoying the tranquillity of a private beach in Mauritius, Bernie is always looking for unique experiences that will inspire and entice her readers to travel.

Through her thoughtful writing and unparalleled passion for travel, Bernie van der Linde has made a name for herself in the world of travel writing. Her knack for uncovering hidden gems and sharing her experiences with her readers has made her a trusted source of inspiration for those looking to explore the world in style.

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