Long gone are the days of a big adventure trip to colonial Africa for game-hunting safaris. In the past, the debonair safari suits and sun helmets of Hemingway’s Hollywood era dominated; nowadays, it’s normal to escape on a long weekend safari with little more than casual clothes thrown in a rucksack.
Meanwhile, though Kenya and Tanzania remain popular options, Africa’s previously political no-go zones are rapidly emerging as new safari destinations, now that more national parks are being designated and protected while tourism is increasingly welcomed.
And there are exciting new safari options. So, to help you plan ahead and have an adrenaline pumping experience, here we present you the best safaris in South Africa. Do check them out.
When To Go
When planning your African holiday it’s wise to do a bit of research on when to go for the experience that you want. You don’t want to start your beach holiday in cyclone season or find that the migrating herds you’ve arrived to see have moved on!
As a general rule, Africa is warm and sunny throughout most of the year but certain countries and even regions within a country experience a variety of climates. The key thing to remember if you’re planning a safari is the difference between the dry and wet seasons.
Best Safaris In South Africa
1. Hwange National Park
Unrivalled guides and unique backdrops are Zimbabwe’s assets, amidst low-lying semi-desert to lush highlands strewn with lakes and forests. Hwange National Park in the Northwest is the largest.
The elephants are world-famed and, here, you’ll find one of the world’s largest populations. The mighty Zambezi River, from Victoria Falls, creates waterholes for thirsty wildlife. Emerging from recent troubles, tourists are flocking in.
2. Kruger National Park
Kruger is a classic. One of Africa’s oldest and best-maintained parks typifies the highest variety of wildlife. It’s renowned as the easiest spot to see the Big Five, aided by its unfenced borders with Africa’s finest game reserves.
Sophisticated lodges offer the ultimate in lavish luxury and intimate bush hideaways.
3. Volcanoes National Park
The landlocked beauty of Rwanda stuns visitors. Misty moody rainforest, forested volcanoes, undulating grasslands, and tranquil lakes are ideal for trekking and dugout canoeing.
The upper slopes of Virunga volcanoes conservation area comprise three national parks, encapsulating Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo—the most famous residents being 350-strong mountain gorillas.
4. Serengeti National Park
Arguably the most magnificent park in Africa, the Serengeti basks in prolific amounts of game and is invigorating in its sheer vastness and dramatic staging. Annually, 1.5 million wildebeest and some 250,000 zebras migrate through.
Pride of lion thrive here, upwards of 3,000, spotted lazing on ‘kopje’ outcrops. Grumeti River houses some of the largest Nile crocodiles in the world.
5. Addo Elephant National Park
Home to Sylvester, Addo’s celebrity lion, and an enormous herd of mighty elephants that can be easily spotted congregating near the Hapoor Dam of the park. Your safari will also take you on a game hunt in search of their elusive leopard.
Other than these, rhinos and buffaloes can easily be seen in the open. The park has strict measures for monitoring behaviour patterns of the Big 5 so that it can ensure you’re able to spot all on your tour, which is why it is the among best safari in South Africa. The park also offers Marine Eco Tour for spotting whales and sharks.
6. Marakele National Park
Marakele is a delightful sanctuary housing an impressive variety of wildlife. Nestled in the heart of Waterberg Mountains, the park is a must visit for all who wish to spot the Big 5 of Africa. In fact, this park is an ideal getaway from those visiting the charming cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria located close by.
While here, you’ll be able to spot the Tuli elephants brought into the park in 1999. Other than indulging in exciting game drives in open safari vehicles across the park, or engaging in bush walks with professionally trained field guides.
7. Camdeboo National Park
Other than a diverse wildlife, the Camdeboo Park offers unique landscapes, ecosystem, and tremendous scenic beauty. When here, tourists can indulge in night safaris and camping with a bonfire for an invigorating experience.
The joy of camping in the fierce South Africa jungles is unmatched and a must for all adventure lovers. The best accommodation here is the Lakeview Tented Camp, which are four rustic and fully furnished tents designed to provide a relaxed nature experience to visitors.
The double sharing tents have a braai unit, fridge, table, chairs, a communal kitchen with a microwave, apart from comfortable bedding and towels.
8. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi is one of the best South African safari parks to beat! Sprawling with red dunes, and rare animal species like gemsbok, springbok, eland, and blue wildebeest lurking around in herds. The park is a fascinating haven for wildlife and nature lovers.
The Kalahari Tented Camp at Kgalagadi is perfect for night camping and for immersing in the best of what nature has to offer here at Africa. Situated high up on a red sand dune, the tents overlook a waterhole in the dry bed of the ancient Auob River.
This exclusive campsite boasts 15 desert tents tastefully decorated tents with rustic finishing, offering guests complete seclusion and the best of the luxury safari in South Africa.
9. Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve
At Inkwenkwezi, you can not only spot a number of wild animals like antelopes, giraffes, zebras, and other predators but also get a chance to interact with elephants, one of the world’s most amazing animals.
Elephant safaris here are more of hands-on learning experiences which include lots of one-on-one interactions with these graceful beings, something that’s utterly enjoyable for both kids and elders alike. Cuddle and play with baby elephants, and ride the bigger ones while spending time at this sanctuary.
10. West Coast National Park
Bordering the Langebaan Lagoon which attracts an enormous influx of wetland migratory birds every year. The West Coast National Park is an invigorating bliss to the bird lovers and bird photographers of the world. Summer is the best time to visit the lagoon, as most birds have just arrived, fatigued, from their transcontinental travel.
While here, one can spot birds like – Osprey, Knot, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed and Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Spurfowl and Grey-winged Francolin, Southern Grey, Cape Penduline Tit, Ant-eating Chat, White-throated and Yellow Canary, Karoo Lark, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Bokmakierie and Cape Bunting, and more.
Excited already? Plan your trip to South Africa right away. Indulge in thrilling safaris in South Africa to experience its wild side.