Game Reserves and National Parks: What’s the Difference?

-african-safari-rate-breakdown

When you’re planning to go on African safari, it’s likely that your main goal is to spend time in nature and see some of the most beautiful plant and animal life in the world. However, many people going on safari for the first time aren’t quite sure how to best accomplish this goal.

For instance, while researching your safari, you’ll probably see references to national parks, wilderness areas, game reserves, and conservancy, making it hard to know which you should visit for the most enjoyable safari experience possible. Here is some information to help you learn the difference between game reserves and national parks so you can easily plan an African safari.

Enjoy a National Park

If you want to enjoy nature in Africa in a more controlled environment, then your best bet is to visit a national park. As you might expect from their name, national parks are owned and operated by the government of the country where they are located, and are a great way for safari goers to safely experience wildlife in Africa.

Generally, national parks will offer a variety of activities such as guided tours and 4×4 trails, and the roads will be well-formed and easy to navigate. While there are a variety of small national parks throughout Africa, most travelers want to visit the larger, popular parks such as the Kruger National Park.

Game Reserves and Nature Reserves

Some people going on safari choose to skip the national parks and instead visit a game or nature reserve. These areas are a great place to view animals and plants in their natural environment, giving you a more authentic safari experience. However, there are some differences between the two types of reserves.

A nature reserve is designed specifically for the benefit of the animals and plants that it homes. They are intended for conservation purposes and will attempt to limit the impact that human activities have on the wildlife in the reserve. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve, which is located outside of Cape Town, is one of the most well-known nature reserves in Africa.

Game reserves, on the other hand, are focused on the preservation of animal life. In a game reserve, which is also called a game park, animals native to Africa such as giraffes and rhinoceros will be protected. Also, game parks generally allow for activities like hiking through the reserve and viewing the animals. If a game reserve specifically forbids hunting, it usually also qualifies as a nature reserve.

What About Wilderness Areas?

A wilderness area is an area that has not been tampered with by humans. In these areas, there are no roads or infrastructure of any kind, and the plants and animals are allowed to evolve without human involvement. While it is possible to visit a wilderness area while on safari, many travelers find these areas too extreme. However, if you want to experience African wildlife in its natural state, a wilderness area is the place to do so.

Now that you know the difference between national parks, game preserves, and wilderness areas, you can plan an African safari that you’ll be sure to enjoy.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui