South Africa Safaris Overview
South Africa has the moniker of “a world within a nation” because it has a bit of everything – beaches, mountains, cities, winelands, culture, and of course great safari areas. It also at times feels very much like the USA or a European country. The best place for safari is in private reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park. This is without a doubt the easiest quality area in Africa to see the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) and often times in one day you may see all 5 species. It is also without argument the premier location to see leopards. The area feels a bit tamer than some other safari destinations as the animals are extremely habituated and thus very easy to find and view. That said it is kill-or-be-killed animals living wild like any other destination and because of the accessible viewing the most dramatic events might actually be witnessed more often than most other locations. The lodging tends to be very upscale walled chalets and it is becoming common for lodges to have internet connections, gyms, and spas to use between game drives. Many people have taken to calling them resorts rather than safari camps. In our opinion this is not the vintage safari experience, but to see a lot of animals at close quarters and enjoy supreme luxury this may be the best location. Because of the ease of viewing this is a great choice for shorter safaris and then it is easy to take in some of South Africa’s other attractions. For those interested in winelands, city exploration (Cape Town is considered a top 5 city in the world by many and somewhat comparable to Sydney, Australia), and whale and shark watching this is the perfect destination. Due to a good infrastructure South Africa is one of the best destinations for those who want to do some self-driving. However, because the flights to any of the Southern African countries come via Johannesburg, S.A. it is easy to add on some South Africa attractions to a safari in any of the other countries.
- South Africa Safari Regions
- South Africa Safari Related Activities
- South Africa Seasons for Safari
- Cost of South Africa Safaris
- Additional South Africa Safari Information
South Africa Safari Regions
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park is an outstanding area for safari and is the easiest location in all Africa to spot the Big 5. There are other interesting safari locations but this is by far the most outstanding in S.A. Phinda Game Reserve is another very interesting area with a variety of habitats.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the best locations available for people who need to travel to a malaria-free game area. There are a large number of smaller game parks that can be good value for self-drivers.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is one of the best self-drive safari locations. It is a vast park loaded with amazing wildlife diversity and large quantities. In addition to self-driving there are excellent mobile trips available. These are great options for those looking for a cheaper options than private concession lodges.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is another outstanding self-drive safari area with excellent value options. This is a Kalahari desert area but it is a rich area for sightings, including outstanding predator sightings. A great choice for those wanting their own adventure.
Cape Town is a world class city with a spectacular location on the ocean and the backdrop of Table Mountain. Township cultural tours, a visit to Robben Island (like Alcatraz) where Nelson Mandela was held, day trip to the winelands, day trip to the Cape Point including seeing penguins, excellent food and shopping, etc. can all be done in Cape Town. In our opinion, not to be missed by any wildlife enthusiast is a trip to see the breaching great white sharks if in Cape Town between April and mid-September.
Winelands can be visited as a day trip from Cape Town but they also make an outstanding 2 to 3 day tour. Known for fine vineyards and incredible restaurants nestled in gorgeous valleys surrounded by mountains this is a relaxing and extravagant part of any vacation. For foodies spending the time actually in the Winelands is the way to go.
There are some wonderful hamlets on the coast where you can go to outstanding land viewing locations for southern right whales. Boat trips can bring you very close to these curious whales that are known to stay at the surface and come very close to viewers. Best time for whales is June through August but good viewing is still possible through October. Great white shark trips are possible from this area too but seeing breaching out of the water from this location is extremely unlikely, still wonderful though.
South Africa Safari Activities
Virtually anything is on offer in South Africa.
Safari will focus on game drives with some tamer walks available. Off road and night driving are possible too in private reserves.
All other activities are beyond what would be considered safari. Boat trips, beach time, winelands, cultural exploration, etc.
South Africa Seasons for Safari
Safaris are excellent year round but the best viewing time is July through September, which also happens to have the best pricing. Shark and whale viewing is at its best as well during that time. Unfortunately this is a cold and wet time in Cape Town and the winelands, which have better weather during the rest of the year.
Cost for a Safari in South Africa
The safari lodges in the prime area tend to be very luxurious and priced at the higher end of safari offerings. There is quite a variety and a few relatively lower cost options are available but they tend to crowd more people into a vehicle and have additional costs by not including beverages and such in the cost. Self-driving the national parks and smaller game reserves can be one of the most economical ways to safari if you want to be self-sufficient.
Outside of safari there are more choices and they tend to cost less than being on safari so one strategy for South Africa is to splurge on a top safari lodge but stay shorter and save money by doing other things within the country.
Additional South Africa Safari Information
With Johannesburg being the major hub for flights all across Africa virtually any other destination can easily be combined with South Africa