Are you ready to meet wild South Africa?
“I went to South Africa on safari and came eye to eye with a beautiful leopard. We were so close; I was staring at him for a long time and I felt a recognition with my own nature.”
— Bai Ling
Going on a South African safari is an amazing experience for both locals and tourists. It is a fantastic way to escape everyday stress and head out to a remote bush camp or, for the more conservative campers, a luxurious haven. There are different experiences available to suit any budget and preference.
One thing’s for sure: you’ll never forget your first safari in South Africa. But, I want you to remember it fondly. So, I’ve answered a few common questions many locals and tourists have about safaris. Hopefully, this article will help you enjoy an unforgettable experience in “the wild”.
Tips for an unforgettable South Africa Safari
When is the best time to go?
This depends on the purpose of your trip. For wildlife watching, anytime from April to the end of August/ beginning of September is the ideal time to spot animals. This is because, during the colder months of the year, many trees and shrubs are leafless, so the animals aren’t too hidden. During this time, animals are also out and about foraging, hunting and visiting the waterhole due to limited food and water. However, many adventurers often enjoy the lush countryside and hot weather in Summer.
Which national park should I visit?
This is a tough decision to make. South Africa has hundreds of parks and reserves. You should pick a park depending on what type of experience you want. Some parks are desolate, others are Savannah-rich – some offer guided safaris, others allow you to enjoy serenity at a campsite far away from any other people. Visit each park’s website to view prices, offerings and other facilities.
According to The Culture Club, the most popular national parks in South Africa are:
- Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape
- Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape
- Camdeboo National Park, Eastern Cape
- Garden Route National Park, Eastern & Western Cape
- Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape
- The Kruger National Park, Limpopo & Mpumalanga
- Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo
- Namaqua National Park, Northern Cape
- Table Mountain National Park, Western Cape
Should I consider visiting a private reserve?
South Africa has amazing private wildlife reserves. But, they often cost a lot more than the national parks. They are better for luxury holidays and honeymoons. You can expect mimosas and strawberries for breakfast after waking up on a comfy white-sheeted king size bed. On the plus side, you will experience close proximity to nature, fewer crowds and a comfortable stay, which is what many people want out of a holiday.
Should I use a tour guide?
Using a tour guide is a great idea, especially for your first safari adventure. Instead of aimlessly looking out for animals and plants, a guide can show you easily missed animal tracks, keep you safe from dangerous animals and explain interesting facts about the wild outdoors.
What should I wear?
Picture a person dressed in a typical safari outfit – green and khaki clothing as well as tough army-like boots. That’s what type of clothing you should wear if you’re going on bush walks. Not only because it’s fun to dress the part but because it serves a practical purpose too. Safari clothes are designed to be comfy and equipped for the outdoors while blending into the environment.
If you’re going to be spotting animals in a vehicle, you can wear whatever is most comfortable for you.
Are there other specific items I should pack?
You may face extremely hot and extremely cold weather during your safari. Be prepared for both. Gloves and beanies as well as sunblock and a big hat! Binoculars are also a great tool to help you spot distant animals.
When is the best time to see animals?
Safaris usually take place early in the morning or in the evening time. This is when the animals are the most active. They usually move around less midday as it’s too hot.
Which animals should I look out for?
If you hire a tour guide, they’ll recommend which animals you should look out for, depending on the time of day and season. Although many people go on about seeing the big 5- lions, rhinoceros, elephants, Cape buffalo and leopards- there are many other animals to see. You may get the chance to see giraffes, hippos, zebras, warthogs – and many more amazing animals.
Do I have to be quiet during the safari?
Yes, loud noises may scare and even aggravate some animals. Avoid yelling, waving around your arms or making any movements or noises that may unnerve any wild animals.
How do I stay healthy during the trip?
- Drink enough water to prevent dehydration
- Keep yourself covered and wear sunblock and a hat
- Take antimalarial medicine if the park you’re going to is a malaria infected area
- Pack along insect repellent
- Pack a small first aid kit, just to be safe
Enjoy your safari!
You will witness beautiful, raw wildlife. You don’t need to check off a list of animals you’ve seen. Just relax and enjoy the experience.
One of the best things I enjoyed about my first safari was evening sun-downers. End off the day watching the sunset and having a drink.