How to Safari in South Africa! - Somak Luxury Travel
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How to Safari in South Africa!

Safari game drive in the Kruger National Park. Photo: South African Tourism

South Africa beckons with its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and unforgettable safari encounters. Whether you’re an intrepid explorer or embarking on your maiden safari journey, venturing into the wilds of South Africa assures you of an awe-inspiring rendezvous with nature. Read on for essential tips to enhance your safari escapade in this captivating country.

When to visit?

South Africa is a large and diverse country. Its regions have many different climates, making the country attractive all year round. However, for safaris, the best time is usually during most of the country’s dry season, from May to September. This period offers the best opportunities to see game around water sources, while the vegetation is less dense, making animals easier to spot.

Elephant in the Kruger Park grazing in trees
Elephants in the Kruger Park eating leaves from trees. Photo: South African Tourism

Where to go?

South Africa boasts a variety of safari destinations, each offering unique experiences.

Most well-known is the Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, which is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Also popular is the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, made up of a group of private game reserves adjacent to the Kruger in the Mpumalanga Lowveld.

The Eastern Cape is a province renowned for its conservation efforts. It also has many smaller private game reserves and national parks, including the famous Addo Elephant National Park. If you are worried about malaria, the Eastern Cape has the additional benefit of being completely malaria-free!

How to choose?

Both Kruger National Park and the Eastern Cape offer remarkable safari experiences, each with its own distinct charm and allure. Amidst the plethora of opinions circulating about safari destinations being ‘overpriced’ or ‘too busy’, it’s crucial to navigate beyond popular sentiment. We recommend you focus on essential factors like wildlife diversity, accommodation options, and accessibility to tailor your safari adventure for a truly unforgettable experience.

Biodiversity

The Kruger boasts exceptional biodiversity, being home to the iconic African ‘Big Five’ lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. In addition, its extensive size and varied habitats, including savannahs, woodlands, and rivers, support a rich diversity of wildlife, including numerous bird species.

Impala in the bush in the Kruger National Park
Impala in the Kruger National Park. Photo: South African Tourism

The Eastern Cape, while not as expansive as Kruger, still offers remarkable wildlife diversity. This can be seen particularly in some of the private reserves, where the ‘Big Five’ can also be found, and increased animal numbers are the fruits of long-term conservation efforts. Visitors can look forward to encounters with elephants, buffalo, rhinos, lions, leopards, various antelope species, and diverse bird life. Coastal areas also provide opportunities for marine wildlife sightings, such as dolphins and whales.

Accessibility

Kruger is easily accessible by road from major cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria. The park has multiple entrance gates, making it convenient for visitors to access different regions. Self-drive safaris are popular in Kruger, allowing visitors the flexibility to explore at their own pace. Alternatively, guided tours and transfers are available for those who prefer guided experiences.

While slightly less accessible than Kruger for international travellers, the Eastern Cape offers a quieter and more secluded safari experience away from the crowds. The Eastern Cape is accessible via domestic flights to cities like Gqeberha, previously known as Port Elizabeth, with road transfers available to game reserves and lodges.

Accommodation

Kruger offers a wide range of accommodation options catering to different budgets and preferences. From rustic campsites to luxury lodges, visitors can choose accommodations that suit their needs. Rest camps within the park provide self-catering cottages, bungalows, and campsites, while private lodges offer exclusive luxury experiences with guided safaris and personalized service.

Giraffes at play in Pumba Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape.
Giraffes eating green leaves from thorn trees in Pumba Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape.
Photo: Pumba Water Lodge

Accommodation options in the Eastern Cape include private game lodges and luxury tented camps, providing intimate and exclusive experiences. Lodges often offer all-inclusive packages with guided safaris, bush walks, and cultural experiences. Additionally, there are options for family-friendly accommodations and eco-friendly lodges that support conservation efforts.

Last Word

No matter if you venture inland to Kruger, Sabi, or explore the Eastern Cape, your journey promises to be unforgettable. Yet, amidst South Africa’s breathtaking beauty, vastness, and diversity, one undeniable truth emerges: a single visit is never sufficient to fully embrace all its wonders.

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