South Africa is well known for its diverse wildlife, scenic landscapes, beautiful stretches of beaches, and luxurious hotels. The seasons in South Africa are the direct opposite of the northern hemisphere, so when it is winter in Europe and America, the summer is just beginning in South Africa! Here are some useful tips for planning your safari in this wonderful country.
There is plenty to do and see in South Africa; wildlife enthusiasts simply have to visit the Kruger National Park, which is one of the finest sanctuaries in the world. Big Five sightings are common in the Kruger, as well as landscapes ranging from dense forests to grassy plains that harbor hundreds upon hundreds of animal, plant and bird species.
Cape Town and Durban are the major cities to visit to experience the vibrant night life of South Africa and the mountains, beaches and lush, natural gardens. Do visit the cultural villages and townships in Soweto, the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range, world class golf courses in the Garden Route, the winelands of Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and the wild flowers of Namaqualand, among plenty other amazing sites in South Africa.
There are thousands of hotels, lodges and guest houses across South Africa to suit every budget. Five star hotels include the Palace of the Lost City in Sun City, The Oyster Box Hotel in KwaZulu-Natal, and the InterContinental in Johannesburg. Generally, the average price of accommodation will depend on where you would like to stay: Johannesburg and Cape Town may be a bit pricey compared to Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein.
You could also choose to backpack your way through South Africa with a friend or two. Game reserves and surrounding accommodations allow for camping and eco-lodges with your basic amenities, so you can travel off the beaten path on your South Africa safari.
Private Nature Reserves in South Africa
As you plan your South Africa safari, you will encounter a good number of tour operators offering visits to private reserves. It is the ultimate safari experience, complete with luxury lodging and personalized services, very close to wildlife, much fewer crowds and the ability to customize your safari on the fly. A private reserve safari is perfect for a honeymoon or that once-in-a-lifetime luxury experience.
However, this type of safari is very expensive compared to your regular safari through the national parks and beaches. There is also a chance of getting too comfortable, where you might end up spending days in the luxury lodges instead of out in the wilderness. Apart from these few disadvantages, a private reserve safari is worth a look.
If it is your first time on a South Africa safari, ensure that you get a guide when visiting the Kruger. The reserve is vast- almost five million acres of African wilderness- so you will need someone who knows where exactly to spot the prides of lions, leopards in trees and other wildlife that are easy to find. Finally, opt to drive through your South Africa safari as much as possible, particularly through the townships to catch a glimpse of everyday life in South Africa.