The smell of the fresh outdoors as you traverse rustic bush paths; the feel of crisp grass crunching beneath your feet as you climb aboard the open-topped 4x4 vehicle; the anticipation of what’s to come and what sights may be waiting around the curve... It can only be - a South African safari.
There’s nothing quite like a safari, it’s one of those experiences that is impossible to put into words, a well-earned bucket-lister and something that you just have to do at least once in your life. Nothing could quite describe the feeling of awe as you marvel over the sheer enormity of an African elephant flattening a tree with his trunk, or hear the piercing roar of a mighty lion making his presence known.
Lion ● ●
Elephant ● ●
Buffalo ● ●
● Easier to spot in Greater Kruger region and up in Africa ● Plentiful in Garden Route or Addo Reserves
The Big Five are undeniably some of the biggest stars of Southern Africa. There’s just something about getting off the beaten track to spot local wildlife in their natural habitat with the aroma of the dreamy African bush overwhelming your senses. But the Big Five is not all that’s on offer. South Africa has a countless number of national parks and game reserves offering unparalleled game spotting opportunities, unique luxe and glamping lodges and plenty of dusty roads where you can bundu-bash to your heart's desire. Keep on the lookout for the African Big Five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and the elusive leopard) strutting their stuff in the wild, the African Small Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, antlion and rhino beetle) and other wildlife that will steal your heart.
Get ready to get out your binoculars and go wild.
where 2 safari
Here in South Africa, we are blessed with a number of world-class safari locations, each boasting something a little different and promising an experience you will never forget. A little further on, beyond our borders, is an even larger wealth of safari destinations waiting to be explored.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park and surrounding areas offer a plethora of safari encounters that can fit any preference and every budget. From exquisite 5-star safari lodges, to authentic rondawel huts, glamping tents and even rustic campsites, the Greater Kruger area is your go-to spot to indulge in some seriously sensational safaris. Kruger National Park, which is the largest national park in South Africa (almost as large as the whole of Belgium!), offers wildlife viewing that is second to none and is a favourite among travellers and locals alike. Visitors to the park can drive in their own vehicles and explore the rugged roads as they please, or join a guided 4x4 game drive.
The Kruger National Park is also surrounded by a concession of private reserves who share borders with the Park. These private reserves take the concept of luxury to a whole new level and offer a variety of all-inclusive, opulent safari expeditions.Think private plane transfers, luxury lodges like Singita and Kapama with infinity pools that flow out into the open reserve, high teas, buffet meals and every creature comfort you could ever imagine. These reserves also include guided 4x4 safari game drives in your daily itinerary, so you won’t have to lift a finger other than to snap away, testing out your wildlife photography skills.
Garden Route & Addo
One of our personal favourites is the splendour of the Garden Route and Eastern Cape, and the array of private and national reserves that litter the scenic malaria-free region. Addo Elephant National Park, the third-largest national park in South Africa, is home to all of the Big Five including, as the name suggests, hundreds of majestic elephants. This wildlife paradise offers incredible animal viewing opportunities and even the chance of seeing some of the Marine Big Five! The Park sports some amazing accommodation within the reserve, or the option to stay nearby and enter as a day visitor; either way, it comes highly recommended. If you’re after something a little more intimate, the great number of private reserves along the Garden Route offer even more safari options and are a delight to the luxury safari seeker, with world-renowned reserves such as Sanbona, Shamwari, Gondwana, Botlierskop and more. The reserves in these areas also display a unique and intriguing range of vegetation, most of which is found nowhere else in the world! So whether you’re a seasoned safari expert, a birding enthusiast, a budding botanist, or just an animal lover, the Garden Route is most definitely the place for you! And for those looking to add a little big city glam, many of these game parks are within driving distance of Cape Town, the perfect option to balance out your bush breakaway.
For a completely different experience, the multitude of reserves in Southern Africa offer an exotic and unspoiled wildlife affair. From the vast dunes of Namibia, to the dense jungles of the Congo; from the riverbanks of the Zambezi, the sensational landscapes of Zimbabwe and Botswana, to the famous lions of the Masai Mara plains; there is a deep beauty in the diversity of Africa’s offerings.
Each of these locations could warrant an entire blog of their own, and the choices might seem quite overwhelming, but with our expertise, we’d love to help you find the safari that is perfect for you.
when 2 go
Looking to enjoy the thrills of safari but not quite sure when to go? The great news is, the diversity of Africa means that there’s a spectacular safari destination waiting for you all year round!
The Greater Kruger and higher Southern Africa regions offer their best animal viewing during the dry winter months of May to August when the bushveld vegetation is less dense and the animals are easier to spot. The lack of water also means that most animals seek out waterholes, so you’ll surely see some gems if you stick around areas with water. The cooler days mean the animals are much more active than during hotter months. All perfect aspects for a successful safari. While these months are great, other times of the year have their own perks and a trip during October to April allows you the chance to see the multitude of youngsters that arrive with the rainy season, and the beauty of the bush bursting into a kaleidoscope of colours from the fresh rains. If you can, try to avoid the sweltering summer months of December to February.
The Eastern Cape is a definite all-rounder with some areas showing no distinct rainy season - however, the temperatures have a tendency to drop during the winter months, making morning and evening safari game drives quite a “refreshing” and sometimes rainy experience. The Garden Route area is at its prime during November to April when the temperatures are moderate to high, however lower rainfall from May to September allows for the best game viewing conditions in Addo Elephant National Park. There really isn’t a bad time to visit this region, but if you can book a specific time to add a visit to the Garden Route from Cape Town, try to avoid the rainy months of June and July or the crowded December holiday season.
how 2 stay
Our secret? Safari is not just about the wildlife but about the whole experience. There are many different ways to experience safari, and where or how you stay during your journey plays an enormous role in the excitement. Our years in the industry have given us insider knowledge into some of the best and most unique gems, which we’d love to match to your specific needs.
Fancy a touch of glamping? If you’re after a more immersive experience in nature but still love those homely comforts, then glamping may just be for you. The convenience of a permanent canvas tent, with all the touches you would expect from luxury accommodation, perfectly situated within a game reserve - Botlierskop's tented camp for example - will put you right in the centre of the action allowing the rustic sounds of the bush to waft in unobstructed.
Going full luxe? Afive star safari lodge like Gondwana's Kwena Lodge will leave any discerning traveller in awe; expect sparkling pools overlooking wild reserve, deep baths with views to kill, four-poster king beds and the sweet sound of pure tranquillity. There is a wide range of these lodges offering varying degrees of luxury to suit a variety of budgets.