Until fairly recently, there were no luxury lodges within the boundaries of Kruger National Park itself. In the last few years, however, the park authorities have decided that in an area roughly the size of Texas there is probably room for about a dozen widely scattered luxury lodges. They all have pools. Here I have chosen five which offer very different experiences, in no particular order.
For more lodge choices within the park boundaries, visit the SA National Parks Web Site. For luxury lodges in the Sabi Sand Reserve, a private reserve that is a continuation of the Kruger Park, see Five Top Game Lodges in the Sabi Sand.
01 of 05
There are two small and extremely upmarket lodges on the Singita concession near Nwanetsi, about three hours drive from Hoedspruit in the central region of the Kruger. The striking main lodge, Lebombo is set into the cliff, with each of its loft-style suites, built with clean lines of steel, glass, and wood, offering superb panoramic views. The more intimate Sweni Lodge is in a secluded area down beside the river. The complex includes an art gallery, gym, health spa and wine boutique.
Tel: +27 (0)21 683 3424
Price: from US$1745 per person per night all-inclusive
No of rooms: Lebombo 15; Sweni 6
Star rating: *****
02 of 05
Every suite has its own plunge pool and private viewing deck at this private concession between the Sabie and Sand Rivers in the southern Kruger Park. Rare black rhino and wild dogs are both present in the area, along with an exceptionally large number of leopards. There are two lodges, the classic thatched Legends, its wooden built around an ancient jackalberry tree, and the stilted Narina, tucked in amidst the leadwood trees on the riverbank.
Tel + 27 13 735 8400
Price: from US$867 per person per night sharing; all inclusive.
No of rooms: Legends: 9; Narina: 9
Star rating: *****
03 of 05
The largest of the lodges, Shishangeni, on the 15,000 ha (58 sq mile) stands on Mpanamana Concession in the far south of the park, on the banks of the Crocodile River. The individual thatched chalets all have their own viewing decks and there are plenty of communal areas where you can sit around a roaring boma fire and swap stories of your day’s game viewing and listen to traditional African tales.
Tel: +27 (0)31 310 6900
Price: from US$325 per person per night sharing; all inclusive; National Parks gate fee additional.
No of rooms: 22
Star rating: ****
04 of 05
Named after Sir Percy Fitzpatrick's classic weepy book, Jock of the Bushveld, this 6,000ha concession on the southern boundary of the Kruger stands at the confluence of the Biyamiti and Mitomeni Rivers, on the old wagon route to the Delgoa gold fields. Historic references, including old wagons, decorate the lodge and traditional thatched chalets. Along side the Big 5, with 34 species of amphibian locally, they offer special frog safaris!
Tel: +27 41 407 1000
Price: from US$640 per person per night sharing; all inclusive; National Park fees and Skukuza airport arrival tax payable in addition. Spa treatments extra.
No of rooms: Main Jock: 12; Little Jock: 3
Star rating: *****Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
On the banks of the Mluwati River in the Imbali Concession in the central region of Kruger Park, Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga Lodge is based around the traditional 'bee-hive' reed architecture of the local Shangaan people. The theme runs through the décor and the food, with a boma banquet hosted by the local chief, with traditional storytelling and dancing. All this and animals too.
Tel: + 27 (0) 13 735-8915/7/8
Price: from US$351 per person per day sharing; all inclusive.
No of rooms: 6 huts, 6 double rooms
Star rating: *****