Many people planning a safari do not understand that there is a vast difference between going on safari in a National Park as opposed to a private concession. In this article we will focus on 3 world famous National parks namely; The Serengeti National Park, Kruger National Park and Chobe National Park.
National Parks are magnificent wildlife havens, however the regulations within these parks are often very strict and so limit the number of activities that one can enjoy on safari in these parks. Private concession areas on the other hand have less rigid regulations and so one can enjoy more safari activities. National Parks are open to the public and so stricter rules are needed as many people visiting the parks are on a self-drive safari, so in order to protect visitors to the parks as well as the wildlife, strict rules must be enforced. National Parks tend to forbid off road driving as well as night drives. Walking safaris are also restricted.
Private concession areas are not open to the public and are reserved for the guests that are staying at the camps and lodges within the private concessions. As these camps and lodges provide safari guides and vehicles they are able to relax the regulations and allow vehicles to drive off road and at night and walking safaris are often permitted. As these private concessions are not open to the public one also tends to enjoy a more exclusive safari experience in the private concessions.
A lot of the private concessions border the National Parks and so animals can traverse between the private concessions and parks and so your game viewing in terms of seeing animals is not limited by staying in a private concession area. One of the exceptions to this, is seeing the Great Migration in the Serengeti, Tanzania. There are concessions areas that border the Serengeti to the East and West, however if your focus is on seeing the great migratory herds crossing the Mara River then this is best achieved inside the Serengeti National Park.
In South Africa in the Kruger National Park, the private concession areas of Timbavati & the Sabi Sand Reserve, which share an unfenced border to the West of Kruger National Park, are exceptional private concession areas and offer a far better game viewing experience than if you were to stay in the Kruger National Park. For example in Kruger National Park you are confined to staying on the roads, so if there is a great sighting that is just off the road, but concealed behind bushes then you are unable to drive off the road to view the sighting. Another problem is the number of vehicles around a sighting. In the private concessions areas they are able to limit the number of vehicles to 2 or 3 on a sighting at any one time. This is not possible in the National Parks and so you can end up with many vehicles jockeying for position at sightings of Lion and Leopard for example. The private concessions areas also tend to have the best guides, as they are able to pay more to attract the best and more experienced guides and this alone can make the difference between an excellent and an average safari.
Chobe National Park in Botswana is similar to Kruger National Park in that the park can get very busy with high vehicle numbers. Chobe though does offer the added bonus of cruises on the Chobe River which is an awesome activity to experience. At Africa Uncovered we would still recommend the private concessions areas bordering Chobe National Park such as the Linyanti which offers the same outstanding game viewing as Chobe National Park but on a more exclusive basis and with the additional activities such as bush walks and night drives.