What makes Safaris so exciting in South Africa

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Male lion on safari

Safaris in South Africa

As the loyal readers among you know, I have spent many years as a tour guide in Southern Africa and traveled a lot in South Africa. One of my favorite activities on these tours were my South African safaris in the Kruger Park, through the Hluhluwe Park with its beautiful landscape or the excursions to the penguins in Simonstown near Cape Town. Observing animals in Africa is a highlight of every trip to Africa. On our photo tour to the south of Dublin before the TBEX in Dublin we met Dawn from The Incidental Tourist, who lives in Cape Town and reports about Africa and various travel destinations there. Reason enough for me to dig through my photos and memories of Africa and show you some photos of my safari experiences with African animals and answer the question: What makes safaris so exciting?

Hammerhead on Safari
A hammerhead fishing in the water on a safari

 

Hammerhead on Safari
A hammerhead is rarely seen on safari

 

Safaris in your own car

I prefer to go on safari myself, that is, with my own car. There are mutliple reasons for this. For one thing, I can organize my time with the animals myself and stay with a lion, a hammerhead or a niala as long as I want. On the other hand, I find this type of safari more exciting than when I'm on an organized tour. There, reports of animal sightings are transmitted by radio to all other vehicles in the park. These then come from all directions to the place where the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo, the lion or the rhino was last seen. With these Safari tours the aim is usually to see as many of the Big Five - the aforementioned animals - on one tour so that paying passengers can tick them off their lists.

Impala on Safaris
Impalas are often seen on safaris

 

Why are safaris so exciting?

When I set out on a safari adventure through Kruger Park on my own, I don't know what I will see along the way. It's a matter of luck whether a lion moves just when I happen to be observing the region where it is lazily lying in the shade. How many times have I driven past lions without seeing them? I don't know it. But there were definitely many times. If I slow down accordingly, I often discover very shy animals and birds in the undergrowth that rarely show themselves. One of the safari highlights for me is always the uncertainty of what I will see on the way. Then I often get the “hunting fever” – not to shoot animals, no. If so, then at most with my camera. But to discover as many animals as possible that I have only seen once or not at all.

Kudu on safaris
Encountering a kudu on safari is impressive

 

Safari – observing animals in the wild

And I'm always looking for wildlife sightings when I go on a safari on my own. These can be very exciting on a wildlife safari. What could be more exciting than a bull elephant blocking the way to the camp, which will close its gates in just ten minutes. Or when a whole herd of elephants marches as quietly as a mouse through the bush on the way to the next waterhole, and I don't hear a loud noise even with the window open, even though the animals are only walking through the bushes meters away from me. Or when dozens of vultures sit on a zebra carcass and drive away sneaking jackals. These are the experiences with the safari wildlife that will remain in your memory. I look for them on safari. The more the better.

South Africa
South Africa Photo: Photo by Maurice Gort on Unsplash

 

The best safari locations in South Africa

South Africa is a paradise for safari fans. The country offers impressive wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. Safaris are the perfect way to experience nature up close and observe wild animals in their natural habitat.

Safari destinations offer you different safari experiences. Whether you're looking for the big animals or enjoying nature, South Africa's safari parks offer you unforgettable experiences. We present the best safari locations to you below:

Buffalo on a safari in Kruger National Park
Buffalo in Kruger National Park Photo: Photo by Charl Durand on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the most famous safari destinations in South Africa. It is located in the northeast of the country and borders Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The park extends over around 20.000 square kilometers and therefore offers an impressive biodiversity. In Kruger National Park you will find the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. The park is also home to over 500 species of birds, numerous reptiles and many different plant species. Every safari is therefore a unique experience.

Best time to travel

The best time to go on a safari in Kruger National Park is during the dry season from May to September. During this time the animals are easier to see as they gather around waterholes. The temperatures are more pleasant and the risk of malaria is lower.

Accomodation

In the accommodation in Kruger National Park* (Advertisement) you have many options. There are simple campsites for adventurers and luxurious lodges for comfort seekers. The campsites offer you the opportunity to spend the night in the middle of nature. They are well equipped and safe. The lodges, on the other hand, offer guided tours and more amenities. We recommend booking your accommodation early as the park is very popular. You can also book guided tours to plan your safari. 

Elephant safaris in Addo Elephant Park
Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park Photo by Allan Rohmer on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in Addo Elephant Park

The Addo Elephant National Park is located near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province. The park was founded in 1931 to protect the region's last eleven elephants. Today over 600 elephants live here. In addition to elephants, there are also buffaloes, lions, rhinos and leopards. A highlight in Addo Elephant National Park are the herds of elephants that gather at the waterholes. Seeing these huge animals up close is a unique experience. In addition to elephants, there are many other animal species to discover. Zebras, antelopes and numerous species of birds roam the park.

Activities

At Addo Elephant National Park you can take part in various safari activities. There are guided tours where experienced rangers bring you closer to the wildlife. Self-drive safaris are also available, allowing you to explore the park at your own pace. Horse-riding safaris and hikes are also offered.

Accomodation

For the overnight stays at Addo Elephant Park* (Advertisement) there are different options. You can stay in one of the camps, which offer simple but comfortable accommodation. There are also luxurious lodges that offer more comfort and often include guided tours. Campsites are available for those who want to be closer to nature. We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance, especially during high season. The Addo Elephant National Park offers you many opportunities to experience South Africa's wildlife.

Rhino Safari
Rhino Safari in Hluhluwe National Park Photo by Fa Trinca on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is the oldest national park in Africa. It was founded in 1895 and is located in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The park has a long history of conservation. This is where the white rhino rescue project began, which saved many animals from extinction. The park is known for its biodiversity. In addition to the Big Five, there are also giraffes, wild dogs, zebras and numerous species of birds. The rhinos are particularly impressive and are present in large numbers thanks to intensive protective measures. Rangers and researchers are constantly working to protect the animals from poaching.

Activities

You can take part in various safari options at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. There are guided tours where rangers show you the wildlife. You can also go on safari yourself and explore the park by car. In addition, boat safaris on the Hluhluwe River are also available, offering a different perspective.

Accomodation

For the overnight stays in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park* (Advertisement) there are many options. You can stay in one of the camps, which offer simple yet comfortable accommodation. There are also luxurious lodges that offer more comfort and often include guided tours. There are also campsites available for those who want to be closer to nature. We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance, especially during high season. The Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park offers you many opportunities to experience South Africa's wildlife.

Oryx Safari
Oryx safari photo by Travel Explore Protect on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lies on the border between South Africa and Botswana. This unique desert landscape consists of red dunes, vast plains and acacia forests. The special location and the harsh climate together create an incomparable setting for safaris. You can observe many fascinating animals in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Black-maned lions, leopards and cheetahs live here. There are also large herds of oryx and springbok. The harsh environment offers you special safari experiences that you won't find anywhere else. The night safaris are particularly exciting, where you can see nocturnal animals.

Travel time

You should be well prepared for your trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The best time to travel is during the dry season from May to September. During this time the animals are most active and the weather is pleasant. You should bring enough water and supplies as supplies in the park are limited.

Accomodation

You have various options when it comes to overnight accommodation. There are camps that offer simple yet comfortable accommodation. There are also campsites available where you can spend the night in the middle of nature. For more comfort, you can stay in one of the lodges, which often offer guided tours. We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance, especially during high season. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers you many opportunities to experience the fascinating wildlife and impressive landscape of South Africa.

Safari in Pilanesberg National Park
Safari in Pilanesberg National Park Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park is only about two hours drive from Johannesburg. This proximity makes it a popular destination for weekend trips. The park is located in an extinct volcanic crater and therefore offers an impressive landscape. The Pilanesberg National Park is known for its diverse flora and fauna. Here you will find the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. There are also giraffes, zebras, hippos and many species of antelope. Bird lovers will also get their money's worth, as over 360 species of birds live in the park.

Activities

In Pilanesberg National Park you can take part in various safari experiences. There are guided tours where rangers bring you closer to the wildlife. You can also go on safari yourself and explore the park in your own car. Hot air balloon rides are also available, giving you a unique perspective of the park.

Accomodation

For your overnight stays in Pilanesberg National Park* (Advertisement) there are different options. There are camps in the park that offer simple yet comfortable accommodation. Additionally, there are luxurious lodges that offer more comfort and often include guided tours. You will also find many accommodations in the area around the park, from guesthouses to hotels. We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance, especially during high season.

Rare wild dogs on safaris in the Madikwe Game Reserve
Rare wild dogs on safari in Madikwe Game Reserve Photo by Marlin Clark on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve offers exclusive and luxurious safari experiences in South Africa. The park is on the border with Botswana and is malaria-free. This exclusivity and luxurious safari experiences make Madikwe a special destination for safari fans. In the Madikwe Game Reserve you will find an impressive biodiversity. In addition to the Big Five, there are also rare animals such as the black rhinoceros and the African wild dog. These species are difficult to find in many other parks. The combination of rare and common animal species makes every safari an exciting experience.

Accomodation

The luxurious lodges in the Madikwe Game Reserve* (Advertisement) offer you first-class comfort and service. Many lodges have private terraces from which you can observe animals. Some also offer private pools and spa services. The guided tours are led by experienced rangers who can tell you a lot about the wildlife and nature. There are various luxurious lodges to choose from for your overnight stay in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Each lodge has its own charm and offers different amenities. Some are family-friendly, others offer romantic retreats for couples. Therefore, booking your accommodation in advance is recommended, especially during high season. We also recommend that you plan your safari in Madikwe Game Reserve well in advance to secure the best accommodation.

Safaris in Shamwari Game Reserve
On safari in Shamwari Game Reserve Photo by bert b on Unsplash

 

  • Safaris in Shamwari Game Reserve

The Shamwari Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, about an hour from Port Elizabeth. This private reserve, for example, is known for its strong focus on conservation and rehabilitation. In the Shamwari Game Reserve, animals are not only protected but also rehabilitated. Injured or orphaned animals are cared for here and then released back into the wild. This work is a central part of the park and therefore makes it special.

Activities

You can take part in various safari offers at Shamwari Game Reserve. There are guided tours where experienced rangers introduce you to the wildlife and nature conservation. You can also go on walking safaris where you can experience nature from a different perspective. Additionally, special photography safaris are also offered that focus on the best moments for great shots.

Accomodation

For your overnight stays in Shamwari Game Reserve* (Advertisement) there are many accommodation options. There are luxurious lodges that offer you a high level of comfort and often include guided tours. Some lodges are family-friendly and also offer special programs for children. There are also exclusive villas for couples looking for romantic retreats. We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance, especially during high season.

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Practical tips for a successful safari in South Africa

With these safari tips you are well prepared for a safari in South Africa.

The best travel time

The best time to travel on a safari in South Africa is from May to September. During this dry season the animals are easier to see as they gather at waterholes. The temperatures are also more pleasant and the risk of malaria is lower.

Safety

Safety precautions are important on a safari. Always remain in the vehicle and follow the ranger's instructions. Keep your distance from the animals and avoid loud noises. Find out in advance about any necessary vaccinations and take a small first-aid kit with you. Mosquito nets and mosquito repellent are also useful, especially in malaria areas.

Equipment and clothing

The right equipment and clothing are crucial for a successful safari. Wear comfortable, breathable clothing in neutral colors. A hat and sunglasses protect you from the sun. Good hiking boots are also important. Take binoculars and a camera with you to better observe and photograph the wildlife.

Reservation and booking

There are also some tips for booking safaris and accommodation. Book early, especially during high season. Many safari lodges and camps fill up quickly. So find out about the different safari offers and choose the one that best suits your interests. Also, check the reviews of the accommodations to make sure they meet your expectations.

Conclusion on safaris in South Africa

A safari in South Africa offers unforgettable experiences, and the variety of parks ensures varied adventures. Each park has its own highlights and special moments. In the Kruger National Park you can experience the Big Five and discover an impressive biodiversity. The Addo Elephant National Park is known for its large herds of elephants and many other animals. The Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, for example, impresses with its history and the protection of rhinos. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers a unique desert landscape and special animal species. In Pilanesberg National Park you can see the Big Five in an extinct volcanic crater. Madikwe Game Reserve offers exclusive and luxurious safari experiences with rare animals. Shamwari Game Reserve places great emphasis on conservation and rehabilitation. Our personal recommendation is a combination of several parks because this way you can experience different landscapes and animal species. We always look forward to the next safari and the opportunity to see new animals and experience adventures. We therefore invite you to share your experiences and questions with us. Have you already gone on a safari in South Africa? Which animals have you seen? Which parks did you like the most? Share your experiences with us. We look forward to your stories and pictures!

Questions and answers about safaris in South Africa

What animals can I see on a safari in South Africa other than the Big Five?

You can see many other animals on a safari in South Africa. These include giraffes, zebras, antelopes and hippos. There are also many species of birds.

How long should a safari in South Africa last?

We recommend at least three to four days. This gives you enough time to experience the different animals and landscapes.

Do I need special equipment for a safari?

Yes, it's good to be prepared. Comfortable, breathable clothing in neutral colors is important. Binoculars and a camera are also useful.

Can I go on a safari with my family?

Yes, many parks and lodges are family friendly. They offer special programs for children and have family-friendly accommodations.

What should I consider when planning my safari?

Book your accommodations and tours in advance, especially during peak season. Also find out about necessary vaccinations and safety precautions.

Testimonials from safari travelers

Other sources:

 

Safaris South Africa
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Source: Research on local safaris

Text Safaris: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs as well as TravelWorldOnline and Unsplash

What makes Safaris so exciting in South Africa

Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Slow Travel and Enjoyment travel blog TravelWorldOnline Traveller. You have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Your topics are Trips to Savor and wine tourism worldwide and Slow Travel. During her studies, Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she traveled to the USA and Canada - sometimes together with Petar Fuchs - and spent a research year in British Columbia. This strengthened her thirst for knowledge, which she pursued for 6 years Adventure Guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as Study tour guide for Studiosus Reisen tried to breastfeed all over the world. She constantly expanded her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: “What is beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do you eat in this region?” These are the questions she is now trying to answer as a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), among others. travel writer and travel blogger answers in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is below Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021 Other Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs. Recommendations on LinkedIn from tourism experts Further recommendations from cooperation partners and tourism experts Professional experience Monika on LinkedIn

2 thoughts too "What makes Safaris so exciting in South Africa"

  1. What a great job you did! Tour guide in Africa! WOW! <3
    A safari on your own is also at the top of my list :)

    You do not happen to know providers from your time who offer safaris on horseback in South Africa?

    1. A safari on your own is usually only possible by car - in Kruger Park, for example. Whether safaris are offered on horseback, I dare to doubt more. I have heard of none. And if so, then something is certainly not possible on your own. Lions, leopards, elephants and other wildlife are just too dangerous for that.

      Best regards,
      Monika

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