Along the southwestern edge of the vast Kruger National Park lie a number of privately managed wildlife areas.
The best known of these, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, is a collection of former cattle ranches that have been combined into a game reserve with a single administration. The various blocks of land remain the property of individual owners and lodges. However, the fences have been removed, and the animals are free to wander as they wish, including to and from the Kruger ecosystem. On private land, safari vehicles are not confined to roads, as they are in the national park. Sabi Sands is an ideal destination for those with only a short time to spare, as it lies just an hour by scheduled flight northeast of Johannesburg. Also, the large animals, notably the so-called “Big Five” — lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo — are extremely easy to see. In Sabi Sands, it is quite possible to spot the Big Five during a single game drive.
In the northeastern game areas in and around Kruger National Park, the ideal time of year for a safari is the cool, dry season from July to October. During this period, the weather is agreeable, the bush has thinned (making game viewing easier), and the animals are forced to congregate near permanent sources of water. The rainy season from December to March should be avoided. From April to July, the bush is lush and dense, and the animals scatter, owing to an abundance of water. Visitors to South Africa from December to July should consider a safari in the malaria-free Eastern Cape or in the Kalahari Desert.