The difference between national parks and game reserves
As you may already be aware, there are a lot of considerations to make while planning your African safari, particularly when determining the best national parks and game reserves.
The differences between them are among the most important things to keep in mind if you want to have the experience of a lifetime. How does this impact your safari, more importantly? Many visitors to Africa are unaware of the differences between the two, which frequently leaves them disappointed because they were anticipating a particular kind of experience.
A national park is owned and managed by the government, while a game reserve is owned and managed privately. What can be confusing is that private game reserves are often located within national parks. For example, there are many private concessions and game reserves within the Kruger National Park. Wild Safari Guide has the lowdown on the national parks and game reserves, and the difference between them. Read on to find out more.
Private game reserves
National parks and game reserves
© All rights reserved | Image credit: Inyati Lodge Sabi Sands
The exclusivity and freedom that visitors will experience in a private game reserve may be the most striking difference. Privately owned game reserves give visitors the chance to avoid the crowds that are frequently associated with big national parks. Booking in a private game reserve is necessary if you want a unique safari experience.
Private game reserves only permit the use of safari vehicles from the lodges, and there are very different restrictions on where you can drive, unlike in national parks. Game-watching vehicles are permitted to travel off-road in private game reserves so that visitors can enjoy an up-close wildlife experience. Since private game reserves don’t operate on a set schedule as national parks do, visitors have the unique chance to go on a thrilling night drive. In contrast to a national park, visitors to a private game reserve can expect a full wildlife experience without many or any restrictions.
National parks and game reserves
© All rights reserved | Image credit: Walking elephants in Kruger National Park by Simone Eman Photos
National parks are government owned and managed and typically span vast geographic areas. Compared to game reserves or conservancies, national parks are larger and so include a greater diversity of wildlife and sceneries. They would therefore have to abide by laws and guidelines for wildlife protection and conservation. Public access is available in national parks, which often have an excellent network of roads, trails, and lodging options.
National parks are typically more controlled, with vehicles required to stay on paved roads. As a result, game viewing may be from a considerable distance at times. However, sometimes the action takes place right on the road.
Because of the ease of access and low cost of visiting a national park, there is a large influx of vehicles and visitors, which can make wildlife viewing difficult. National parks can be visited on a day trip. However, when going on game drives, the driver must stay on marked roads because driving off-road is not permitted. National parks follow strict guidelines, including set opening and closing times. This may imply that game viewing must take place during the day.
So, which one is best for your safari holiday?
© All rights reserved | Image credit: WL Davies
When deciding between the two, there are numerous factors to consider. First and foremost, you must determine whether you are willing to pay more for the exclusivity that comes with a game reserve holiday. If you want to have a truly unique safari experience, book a lodge in a game reserve. You’ll probably have more up-close encounters with wildlife.
Couples on their honeymoon who want to be pampered and enjoy luxury accommodation and facilities should stay at a lodge in a game reserve. This is your best bet for a romantic sunset followed by a dinner in the bush and a night drive to spot the thrilling nocturnal wildlife.
If you want to save money, cater for yourself, and possibly even prefer to self-drive, a national park is the better option.