I don't know if I can take credit for starting off a very good debate, but I do take pride that at least I've brought some cheaper options in the Kruger private game reserves under everyone's attention.
And seems I am not alone in my findings. There's other people with similar experiences. But then the debate seems to have gone "families vs single travelers". I mean; it seems people are saying Kruger NP is better for families while the private reserves are better for single travelers. Again; I'm not too sure it's as simple as that. It just depends on what, where and when you book. You have to shop around, do your homework. Just one example; Africa On Foot in Klaserie does have a family room as well.
There's also some misconceptions about the game viewing quality IMHO. I assume it's because you're all Kruger NP fans here, and have (almost) never visited private reserves?
I've been doing both self drives and visiting private reserves for a number of years now, and I can assure you that the number of big 5 encounters on a private reserve is much higher than in Kruger Park, even taking into account that in the park you can be out all day.
Then there's the quality of the encounters. In Kruger, your have to be lucky to get cat sightings close to the road. In a private reserve, almost every cat sighting is a close one (as they drive up to the cat). And then; out of all the "good" sightings in Kruger NP; how many do you have to yourself? In a private reserve I've never had more than two vehicles around a sighting.
So, in my experience, taking into account the proximity of the animal, the number of vehicles around,etc... the ratio of fantastic sightings is about 5 to 1 (ic for every incredible sighting in Kruger you get 5 times as many in a private reserve).
"Then why do you still come to the park?" I hear you ask. Well, because you're right on one point; spotting an animal yourself is a lot of fun. Quite different than a guide/tracker team finding an animal for you, or driving up to a sighting that was shared on the radio. Mind you; my wife & I are FGASA lvl1 field guides, so it's even more of a drug to us to find our own animals.