South Africa has been a traveler’s destination for some years due to its abundance of wildlife. Indeed, this country is known for its many national parks and wildlife preserves (over 600 of them) that are home to hundreds of species of animals, which makes for some great sightseeing. And the best way to take in the natural beauty of South Africa is through a safari.
Because many of South Africa’s offerings regularly land on quite a few “best safaris in Africa” lists, tourists come in droves to take part. But before embarking on a safari adventure, newbies to the country will want to take certain considerations into account. With that in mind, here are some tips for first-timers to South Africa who would like to take in all of its wildlife in the form of a safari.
When to Visit
Those who do want to catch a glimpse of all those lions, leopards and hippos will want to plan their trip for the winter months of June-September. That’s because during this time the food supply is scarce, which means many animals are out in force foraging for food. And the lack of leaves on the trees aids in the spotting of these animals.
Conversely, those who want to take in the breathtaking scenery and lush countryside will want to arrive in the summer months of December-February. The drawback here is that the nature can often hide the animals. Also, those that visit during this time period should South Africa to be crowded with tourists, as this is the high season for vacationers.
Selecting a Safari Destination
With the aforementioned 600 parks and preserves open to the public, there is no way a person can visit them all during one trip. That’s why it is crucial for travelers to choose the national park or preserve they intend to visit ahead of time. Travelers also shouldn’t be concerned about a lack of safari options, as all parks offer wide-ranging tour packages and camping and lodging options to suit all budgets. First-timers to South Africa may want to consider these two top safari destinations:
Kruger National Park: This park covers some 20,000 kilometers and is widely considered South Africa’s main safari destination. The affordable prices offered by the park make this a hotbed for tourists, but there is more than enough land to accommodate everyone who wants to catch a glimpse of those lions and giraffes and zebras.
Hluhluwe-iMfolzi Park: This nature-lovers dream is situated along South Africa’s picturesque Elephant Coast and offers visitors the usual suspects of wild animals. The park itself showcases native Zulu culture and offers many hiking trails and camping options.
Splurge on a Visit to a Private Reserve
Private reserves don’t come cheap, hence the name “Private.” Those with many to burn who would like a bit of luxury with their wild animals and beautiful scenery can customize their own safari experience via one of the many private reserves in the country. There are very real benefits to staying at a private reserve, namely the fact there are fewer crowds and most lodgings are situated fairly close to the wildlife.
Hire a Guide
Safari guides serve two basic purposes: warning those on safari of danger and offering important information about the area and its wildlife. A good guide is also able to track animals in order to point out their specific locations.
Bring the Essentials
There’s no need to overdo it with bags upon bags of needless equipment. In fact, all the first-timer really needs is a pair of compact binoculars, a camera, a couple of good books (no Internet while camping in the bush) and warm layers for those dawn safaris.
By taking into account the above tips, those with an eye for a safari should be able to organize a South African holiday rife with memorable wildlife experiences and myriad natural wonders.
Louise Trainor is a travel writer. She enjoys sharing her experience with other travel enthusiasts around the web. If you’re visiting South Africa, consider a trip to Johannesburg.