A safari in South Africa is an amazing experience that you will never forget.
There’s a reason why this is the most visited country in Africa.
There are many different types of safaris to choose from, and each one offers its unique adventure.
Whether you want to go on a game drive to see the Big Five or go on a walking safari to get up close and personal with the animals, a safari in South Africa is perfect for you.
In this article, we will cover the types of safaris, the parks, as well as when to go and what budgets to plan for.
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South Africa Basics
South Africa is an important country in Africa. The country has over 55 million people and covers an area of more than 450,000 square miles.
It is a land of incredible diversity, with 11 official languages and various cultures, religions, and ethnic groups.
South Africa is actually very old. It has a long and complex history. The first humans probably arrived in the country around two million years ago. The first kingdoms began to emerge around 1000 AD.
The Dutch East India Company established the first European settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, and British colonists arrived in the 18th century.
South Africa became a British colony in the early 1800s. It remained under British rule until 1931, when it became a self-governing dominion.
In 1948, the National Party came to power on a platform of racial segregation, known as apartheid. In 1994, apartheid ended following negotiations between the ruling party and the African National Congress (ANC).
The first democratic elections later that year led to Nelson Mandela as President.
Since then, South Africa has made great strides in overcoming its divisions and is now considered a middle-income country with a growing economy. However, it faces many challenges, including high poverty and inequality, crime, and unemployment.
South African currency is called rand and with denominations of 100 cents.
The rand has smaller units of 10 cents, 20 cents, and 50 cents. There are also R1, R2, and R5 coins.
Banknotes come in R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200.
Safari is significant here.
So, let’s learn more about that.
Introduction to Safari in South Africa
South Africa is a big business in South Africa. The largest industry in South Africa is the tourism industry.
When it comes to safari, South Africa is one of the most popular destinations in Africa.
South Africa is gorgeous and is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and wildlife in the world.
If you love animals, chances are you have seen a few of them. Some of the most photographed animals found in South Africa include lions, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that this is a great place to visit for a safari.
The good news is that several different companies offer safaris throughout the country.
A number of these companies offer safaris tailored specifically for tourists from all over the world.
From low budget to luxury, there is something for everyone.
The Cost of Your Safari
When it comes to safaris, there is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding cost.
The price of your safari will depend on several factors, and they are generally specific to you.
For example, the type of safari you want to go on, the length of your safari, the time of year you travel, and the country you visit.
These are all things that influence the cost.
Some kinds of safaris can be pretty affordable, while others can be quite expensive.
For example, a budget safari in South Africa might cost around $1,500 per person for a week-long trip.
In contrast, a luxury safari in the same country could cost upwards of $5,000 per person for the same amount of time.
The best way to get an accurate estimate of the cost of your safari is to speak with a travel agent or safari operator who specializes in South African safaris.
They will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of cost based on your specific needs and preferences.
Of course, you really want to make sure to think about insurance, too.
Luxury Safari in South Africa
A luxury safari in South Africa is an unforgettable experience.
The luxury aspect of your trip guarantees that from the moment you arrive, you will feel like royalty.
Many people book this type of experience because they know a luxury safari will give them access to the best of everything they could ever want.
You will stay in luxurious accommodations and enjoy gourmet meals. Some of the most unique hotels in the world are in South Africa, and there are chefs trained in Paris and New York that will whip up the food.
You will go on game drives in open-air vehicles and see the Big Five close.
You will also have the opportunity to go on walking safaris and learn about the bush from expert guides.
Generally speaking, a luxury safari in South Africa will give you access to professionals who are the best in the game.
So, naturally, a luxury safari is the ultimate way to experience South Africa.
If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, this is it.
Budget Safari in South Africa
Looking to take a budget safari in South Africa? Believe it or not, it’s possible here. All you have to do is learn a few tricks.
Here are some tips to help you plan an affordable trip!
1. Choose your dates wisely. Peak season (July to September) means higher prices, so plan your trip for the shoulder or low season.
For example, May is a great time to visit, as is November. Of course, the industry is slower outside of the peak season, but you will save so much more!
2. Consider a self-drive trip because this can be a great way to save money, particularly if you’re traveling as a group.
There are many car rental places all over the country. The sooner you book, the more you will end up saving.
3. Research accommodation options carefully. There are plenty of budget-friendly options available, from camping and hostels to bed and breakfasts.
4. Don’t forget about discounts. Many tour operators offer discounts for students, families, and seniors.
One way to get discounts is to talk to the hotel you intend to stay at ahead of your arrival. Sometimes, they will shop around on your behalf.
5. Plan your activities. This will help you avoid impulse spending and stick to your budget.
There is just so much to do. However, the prices are so much better with a bit of advance notice.
By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have an incredible safari experience without breaking the bank!
DIY Safari Ideas in South Africa
Looking to plan your safari in South Africa? DIY or Do-It-Yourself is a type that is even cheaper than budget travel.
And, guess what, it is doable here in South Africa!
Here are some great DIY tips to help you get started:
1. Choose your destination. South Africa is home to various landscapes, so it’s essential to decide what kind of environment you want to experience on your safari.
Do you want to see the big five animals in their natural habitat? Or are you more interested in birdwatching and plant life?
Once you’ve decided on your focus, research the best parks and reserves that suit your needs.
2. Book your accommodation. There are several options for accommodation when planning a safari in South Africa.
You can stay in a traditional lodge or camp or opt for something more unique like a treehouse or villa.
Book ahead of time, as lodges and camps, often fill up quickly during peak season.
3. Plan your activities. A safari is more than just spotting animals – it’s about immersing yourself in the African bushveld.
To make the most of your experience, plan activities that allow you to do just that. Go on game drives and walking safaris, take part in ranger-led talks and bushwalks, and spend some time relaxing between all the action.
4. Pack your bags. When packing for a safari, remember that you’ll spend most of your time outdoors.
So, pack clothes that are comfortable and suitable for the climate. Bring a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and binoculars, and don’t forget your camera to capture all the memories.
5. Budget your trip. A safari in South Africa doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are several ways to save money, from booking accommodation and activities in advance to pack your food.
Do some research and plan, and you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic safari without blowing your budget.
When to Go to Safari in South Africa
There are several things that influence your safari in South Africa. For example, the weather.
Keep in mind that South Africa is in the southern hemisphere.
So, the best time to go on a safari in South Africa is during the dry season, from May to September.
This period is also the busiest of the year, so book your trip well in advance. The weather is warm and sunny during the day but can get chilly at night.
December to February is the wet season when many animals give birth, and the vegetation is lush.
However, this is also the time when malaria is most prevalent.
If you’re planning to visit during this period, make sure to take precautions.
Regions for Safari in South Africa
There are safari parks all over South Africa, and each region has its own thing to offer.
If you’re planning a safari in South Africa, you’ll want to check out the parks in the northern part of the country.
The northern part of South Africa is landlocked. Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Botswana are the borders.
As a result, you’ll find some of the best game viewings in the world.
However, as you will see below, there are also some in other areas, too!
In other words, regions for a safari in South Africa are diverse.
Must Visit Safari Parks
There are over 900 parks for safari in South Africa.
Although it’s impossible to list them all here, there are a few that truly shouldn’t be missed.
Safari parks like Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, and Kruger National Park are simply too good to pass up.
So, here are the very best:
An excellent option for a safari in South Africa is the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park.
This park is in the northern part of the KwaZulu-Natal province and covers an area of 96,000 hectares.
It is home to the Big Five game animals (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo) and a variety of other wildlife.
Visitors can go on game drives or walks with experienced guides to see these animals in their natural habitat.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is one of the most popular safari destinations in South Africa.
This park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including lions, elephants, leopards, and rhinos.
You can also go on walking safaris and night drives to see nocturnal animals like hyenas and jackals.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Another great option is the Madikwe Game Reserve.
This reserve is in a malaria-free zone, so you don’t worry about mosquito-borne illnesses.
The reserve is also home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino) and cheetahs, wild dogs, and over 300 species of birds.
Other safari parks in the northern area include Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Polokwane, etc.
Consider booking a private game reserve if you’re looking for an even more intimate safari experience.
Addo Elephant National Park
So the Addo Elephant National Park is in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.
It covers an area of 180,000 hectares and is home to more than 600 elephant families.
If you saw elephant photos from South Africa, chances are they were taken in this park.
Visitors can go on game drives and walks to see the animals.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a unique park. This large game reserve spans two countries: South Africa and Botswana.
It covers an area of 37,000 square kilometers and is home to many predators such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards.
Visitors can go on game drives and walks to see the animals.
Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg National Park is in the North West Province of South Africa.
It covers an area of 55,000 hectares and is home to many animals such as lions, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos.
Social media influencers love photographing its many giraffes, so you will probably encounter more young people here than at any other park.
Visitors can go on game drives and walks to see the animals.
West Coast National Park
Western South Africa is traditionally not a safari region. However, there are options for some visitors!
Start your journey at the West Coast National Park, where you can explore miles of coastline and see plenty of wildlife, including seals, penguins, and flamingos.
Then, head inland to the Cederberg Wilderness Area, where you can hike through ancient rock formations and see rare mountain flowers.
Tankwa Karoo National Park
For a truly unique experience, visit the Tankwa Karoo National Park.
This vast park is home to some of South Africa’s most endangered animals, including the rhinoceros.
You can also see plenty of ostriches here and enjoy the stunning night skies.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Talk about beautiful nature!
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is in KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa.
It covers an area of 332,000 hectares and is home to many animals such as hippos, crocodiles, and turtles.
Visitors can go on game drives, walks, and boat trips to see the animals.
There you have it!
These are just some of the many safari parks located in South Africa. So, if you’re looking for an African safari experience, then one of these parks is worth a visit.
How to Book Your Safari in South Africa
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not a South African. So, we will assume you want to have this beautiful experience.
Likewise, we will assume you’ve never been there.
With that in mind, let’s get you some ideas.
If you’re planning to do this luxuriously, then all you have to do is choose an airline that has flights to South Africa and offers first-class or business class service.
Generally speaking, they will also have options to book.
Likewise, a travel agency in your home country can arrange––usually working with others in South Africa.
For mid-range individuals, there are online services you can book directly. For example, Expedia has its Africa Vacation Packages & Trips.
If you’re doing this on a low-budget, just book a flight to South Africa, and ask your hotel.
All you have to do is get in touch with them, and they will take care of the rest.
I had a fantastic time on my first safari in South Africa. As a result, my idea of a safari has been truly altered ever since.
In South Africa, I saw so many incredible animals. What made it special is that you know you’re supporting keeping the animals in their natural space.
I was so happy I decided to go on that trip and would recommend it to anyone looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.
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