African Safari – Your Complete Guide. 

Planning for an African Safari?

 

Here are 10 Steps that will tell you everything you need to know before you go on Safari.

By Andrew Wager

An African Safari is for many the dream experience. It’s a holiday, vacation or experience that for many has been sitting right on the top of their travel bucket list. There are so many ways to plan your Safari and there are so many kinds of Safari experiences that one can often be overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.

 

We’ll say it now and we’ll say it again later, be very careful to plan your own Safari. In fact we wouldn’t recommend this. Find a Safari operator that you feel a connection with and that understands your dream experience and plan it with them. We would recommend smaller, privately owned operators that have grown up in Africa and have personally lived on or worked at the specific lodges or reserves. All that to said, there’s never been a better time to plan a safari to Africa and in particular South AFrica. However, unlike other trips where you can’t just pack a bag and book a plane ticket, this one takes some planning. With an increase in lodges and opetarors its so important that you navigate your way throug this with an expert and someone who knows the terrain and can give you the right advice.

 

Here are a few suggestion’s from us to help you on planning your dream safari experience.

african safaris

Let expectations create your perfect Safari

This is such an important place to start. First you need to define your expectations. Any Safari is possible as long as you have the budget for your dream trip. We all have these images of Safaris that include game drives with incredible sightings, taking images of Leopards right next to your vehicle, watching Lions kill antelope freely in front off you and of course stunning lodge decks with rim flow pools and endless views of plains teeming with game. This is realistic but only really applies if you have a budget of $1000pp per day.

Be practical about what it is exactly that you want to achieve on your Safari. Do you want see remote and untouched regions in Africa, is relaxation as important as seeing Africa’s wild animals, do you want to walk in the bush or are you happy to enjoy the savanna from a vehicle, do you have a specific interest like photography or birding that needs to be core to your journey, are you a keen naturalist and want to see and learn as much as possible?

All of these questions need to be defined because each one potentially changes the destination, the itinerary, the experience and the budget. So try and define the Safari that you have dreamed of capture it so that you can share it with your travel advisor so that they can begin with the end in mind.

The origins of Safari:

Safari was never really about luxury, fine dining, your daily gin and tonics and endless sightings of Leopards. It’s wonderful that this has become part of today’s quintessential experience but in truth this was not the origin of Safari. The reason I’m sharing this is because todays “Safari” industry offers a wide variety of experiences and which have evolved from the traditional journey. In the beginning Safari was all about long hot days in the savanna, searching, finding and enjoying unique moments with Africa’s big game. It was about appreciating diversity of species and terrain and spending evenings around a crackling fire with simple necessities but fulfilled by the destination and it’s wildness. This is an important point because with so many lodges, private reserves and national parks to choose from, if you don’t marry your ideal experience with the correct destination, you will loose the charm and authenticity in your experience. Lets talk destinations.

african safaris

Safari destination – Private Reserves vs National Parks ?

Private Lodges and Reserves

Personally we would only take advise from locals on this one. Operators that have grown up living in Africa and have traveled and experienced these destinations extensively themselves and know the history, heritage and geographical locations well. A South African who knows the area and the finer details would be able to give you the best advise. Most international based travel agencies have done selective educational’s to very specific lodges (usually the pricy ones) but wont be able to giver you the bigger picture on value and experience. Its easy to punt the big names and they all offer amazing accommodation and great guides but at a cost.

So, lets start with why all of the best South African Safari destinations are found on the east coast of South Africa north of KwaZulu Natal in an area know locally as the “Lowveld”. Well it’s because of the Biome. It’s a combination of geology, altitude, rainfall and climate. As a result of this we have the perfect conditions and at the heart of it all we have the world famous Kruger National Park. This opens up in the Greater Kruger National Park region and within this hotspot, we have some of the finest Safari lodges and destinations the continent has to offer. The region offers wonderful infrastructure with 3 main public airports as well as many private airstrips and endless road access. From Johannesburg it’s a 4-hour drive or a 45-minute flight with 4 flights daily from OR Tambo Airport.

The Private Reserves need no introduction, their offering is luxurious, their locations are exclusive and every detail is thought-of. They offer guests close encounters with game and unrivalled photographic opportunities. There is however a bit of a cookie cutter approach with the large majority offering the same product and this is where you need an expert to advise you on the subtle differences and how they can change your experience.

Here are some of our Pro’s and Con’s of Private Reserves:

Up side of Private Lodges & Reserves

  • Exclusive locations
  • Private game viewing experiences
  • Ability to drive off road
  • Very close encounters with game
  • Luxurious rooms
  • Fine dining

Down side of Private Lodges & Reserves

  • There’s a lot of cookie cutter
  • Affordability
  • Limited diversity
  • Only 2 game drives daily
  • Exposure only to that Lodge and location

Lets now talk about National Park’s and namely the grand father of them all, the iconic Kruger National Park.

The National Parks – Kruger National Park

Immediately when you hear National Park one thinks “public space” and you are absolutely correct. It’s important however that you put this in context. This is a very particular destination and unless you enjoy nature and the wilderness your unlikely to find random people walking around. So the guests you find there, are there for a reason, with a majority 80% South African visitors who absolutely love and adore this Park. Where the Private Reserves occupy 4,000 to 15,000 hectares, the Kruger National Park occupies 2 million hectares. It’s so big you can’t drive from North to South in a single day. It offers the greatest bio diversity and will take you on a true Safari journey. It explores more than 9 eco systems and has exponentially more game than any Private Reserve. The only thing that impacts the Kruger National Park is traffic, particularly in the South. What does however make the Kruger National Park special is that it is an untouched environment, which has been protected for over 100 years and offers guests a timeless safari ambience and a experience, which is truly authentic.

Kruger has 22 Camps of which 12 are main camps and each have a shop, restaurant, fuel station and banking atm. The accommodation is between 3 and 4 star with family cottages offering wonderful self-catering accommodation, all with en-suite bathrooms and kitchenette. All of Kruger’s accommodation is serviced daily. Kruger is all about local knowledge and knowing which camps to occupy and when. Kruger’s wilderness and bio diversity is incomparable and one can explore endlessly, you just need to know where to go. Exclusivity is available in Kruger with Private concessions and 5 star lodges found throughout at very competitive “high-end” rates. Undoubtedly the best way to experience the Park is with a Private Guide and Open Safari vehicle on a 4, 5 or 6 day journey into the far northern region. What Kruger lacks in exclusivity it by far makes up for in ambiance, budget and experience.

Here are some of our Pro’s and Con’s of Private Reserves:

 Up side of Kruger National Park

  • The quintessential journey
  • Timeless ambiance
  • Greater diversity of species and terrain
  • Wide variety of camp accommodation
  • Friendly on the pocket
  • Full days on safari so you see more

Down side of a public park like Kruger National Park

  • Accommodation is simple
  • No fine dining
  • Cannot drive off road
  • Traffic and congestion at sightings near camps

So in summary both destinations have their ups and downs but cater for incredible experiences it’s just the budget that really differs.

# Top Tip : We all like to see the words “Experience, Luxury, and Adventure” in the overviews describing a destination. As a guideline on how to really interpret these and understand what they mean on Safari, we have tried to spell them out for you:

  1. Experience – this is what you get from your guide and the wildlife around you. It’s different to ambience, which you would get from the feeling in the lodge. This is your personal moment of connection.
  1. Luxury – fancy décor and rooms that are accompanied by fine dining and a all inclusive bar. This mean Private Reserve exclusivity.
  2. Adventure – authentic accommodation, full day journeys with greater diversity on a reasonable budget. Typically in a National Park.

african safaris

What determines the Safari experience?

Having conducted many safaris privately in our own personal capacity and also with clients across Southern Africa, here are our key factors, which for us will most directly contribute to your safari experience.

We use these 3 criteria to measure the safari experience:

  • Your Bed
  • The Food
  • You Guide

In our opinion these 3 factors will determine the experience you will have. Whilst budget certainly does determine the standard, you can stay at the most expensive places but feel completely disconnected and like a regular resident at any hotel across the world. Luxury doesn’t equal experience and so for us the most important aspect of any Safari is your Guide. Its their ability to connect with you, understand your expectations and create your own unique story board that you will remember and keep you coming back for years to come.

You are probably asking yourself why we haven’t included “location” or “game viewing”. For us these are obvious. If you are going on Safari its expected that you want to see game and any serious African Safari will be to destinations that have Big 5 species and great diversity.

All the key destinations in the Greater Kruger National Park include high quality Lodges and Big 5 game viewing.

The reason we don’t include it, is because if you are being correctly advised then these will be a standard. For example every lodge in the Sabi Sands Reserve offers luxury in an environment that offers and shares the same wildlife game viewing possibilities. These lodges all occupy the same private reserve, which is home to all of the same species that traverse it. All of these Lodges will guarantee you big 5 experiences, off road driving and countless pictures of Leopard. So how do you differentiate when you all occupying the same space and offering the same thing? You have to know the subtle differences and ultimately the best guides will create far more with the same tools. Their ability to deliver wonder-filled experiences is what creates life long memories. Its their passion that translates into your experience. So great Guides are worth every cent and you really owe your experience to their skills, knowledge and passion for what they do.

So by way of example we look at our client’s request (and budget) and using our criteria we find the best possible safari experience to match.

Most popular are our tailor Kruger National Park Safaris with a Private Guide and Open Safari Vehicle. The combination of affordable accommodation and an expert guide offers arguably the best value for money safari experience you can have in South Africa.

#Top Tip: Great guides are worth every penny. If you looking for an adventure then we recommend a 4 Night Safari in the Kruger National Park that will take you all the way to the Far Northern reaches where there is little public activity. It will feel like your lost in the savanna and come at a good price. Good value private reserves safaris can be found in the Timbavati and if its absolute exclusivity that you want and price doesn’t matter then the Sabi Sands is your destination. Ask us and we can help you.  

african wildlife safarisYour Safari Planner

 Here’s the good news, in todays Safari market there is an operator or online platform for every traveller. With so many options available guests really do have an opportunity to be very selective. Where the risk lies though is in the standards. So if you are planning your own Safari trip and self drive, it’s very important that you seek advice and reference destinations and accommodation. Trip Advisor is a great resource and generally does offer solid advice and ratings. Another is bookings.com and trust pilot. The online bookings platforms like bookings.com do offer great deals if you are planning your own itinerary but we wouldn’t suggest booking safaris and services via platforms such as trip advisor because they load a commission and usually the price is higher. Our best advice is to Google and go straight to the source and use these sites as a ratings reference. If we haven’t heard of a destination or operator we like to see where they organically rank on Google as this is a good indication of how serious they are in positioning themselves in the market. Paid Google ads don’t count!

To find the best Safari planner and advisor this is what we would recommend you look for in a partner to help you realize your Safari dream:

  1. How fast they reply to your first request.
  2. The personal touch is critical.
  3. Look for a regional specialist not a continent generalist.
  4. Owner operated is always best. Owner guided is better !
  5. Read their reviews, good and bad!
  6. Quality and uniqueness of their standard itineraries.
  7. Trawl their websites to understand their style and personal touch.

#Top Tip: Accreditation is critical! Do not go on Safari in South African with anyone or agent, who isn’t a member of the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA). This ensures that the correct checks and balances are in place and that they are recognized as a legitimate operator.  african wildlife safaris

Where to go on Safari in South Africa ?

South Africa is blessed with endless Safari opportunities and offers guests the best infrastructure on the continent. South Africa has one of the most stable democracies and top 3 African economies whilst being a predominantly English speaking nation. As a result of our European and Western influences we are able to provide guest with global standards. From airports to banking as well as medical facilities we do offer a near first world solution and guests can be rest assured that a Safari in South Africa affords them high quality experiences, guaranteed destinations and well managed infrastructure.

Most importantly South Africa has a well-developed Safari tourism industry and has been one of the best global safari destinations for the past 25 years. Here are a few of our favourite Private Reserves and National Parks in South Africa.

South African National Parks to Visit:

Kruger National Park – The undisputed king of Parks in South Africa and one of the biggest and most respected Parks on the continent, Kruger offers you everything from a backpacker’s budget all the way to high end luxury. It has extensive infrastructure but maintains a timeless feel and allows you to get lost in the wilderness. With 22 Camps, 6 luxury concessions, 3 airports to access and only a 4hour drive from Johannesburg it really is the one you shouldn’t miss. Book your own private safari experience through Kruger and you will have the most affordable, world class safari experience that money can buy.

Pilanesberg National Park – The Pilanesberg is a wonderful story of rehabilitation, patience and success. Although in size it can easily be traversed in a single day, it still offers wonderful game viewing and experiences. Its real trump card is the surrounding lodges and infrastructure with over 14 destinations to choose from and best of all its malaria free. Another advantage is that it’s only a 1h30min drive from Johannesburg.

Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park – formerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, its considered to be the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa. It consists of 960 km² of hilly landscape and is roughly 280 kilometres north of Durban in central KwaZulu-Natal. Similar to the Kruger in infrastructure but with limited accommodation its offers spectacular diversity and is well regarded in South Africa for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts.

Addo Elephant Park – Now the 3rd largest National Park in South Africa, Addo provides guests a unique Safari experience with unusual bio diversity and terrain. Not your typical savanna scene addo opens up a world into the rare fynbos biome. With 8 self catering camps to choose from its definitely worth visiting if you are travelling up the garden route.

Private Reserves to Visit:

Sabi Sands – The unrivalled capital of Luxury Safari lodges in South Africa, the Sabi Sands game reserve is world renowned and famous for its high quality accommodation and regarded as the best places to see wildlife up close, particularly Leopards. With over 20 luxury safari lodges to choose from, easy road access from Johannesburg, many private airstrips and Skukuza airport near by, its no wonder that trying to get a booking at some of the lodges is near impossible. If you have the budget this is the most luxurious destination that you can visit on Safari. It provides incredible experiences with wildlife, amazing photographic opportunities and there is no limit to the experiences that you can create. It does however demand a higher budget and whilst there are a few lodges that are trying to offer a more cost effective mid-stream option, we recommend this private reserve and the lodges that put it on the map. Ask us and well tell you who we recommend.

 

Timbavati Game Reserve – A destination that is fast growing into one of the most popular Safari destinations in South Africa. With the same exclusive game viewing, wide diversity of wildlife and comparable to the Sabi Sands, this cost effective destination offers a variety of wonderful private lodge to visit. The Timbavati is an easy destination to access by both road and air and is fast turning into the go-to private reserve because it caters to a much wider budget. Whilst the lodges may not be as plush as that of the Sabi Sands in truth you don’t need it. The quality of accommodation and service is of a very high level and more importantly the experiences offered are wonderful.   This is a great all round Safari destination that offer a wide variety of wilderness activates and great lodges and accommodation. Get in touch and we’ll tell you which ones we really like and why.

 

# Top Tip : We recommend that you focus on a single game reserve, private reserve or National Park. Invest yourself deeply into that one experience and make the most of it. Again we advocate a Private Guide and the most affordable would be to book a private tour of the Kruger National Park. This combines adventure with authenticity, amazing game viewing and affordability. If it’s your first Safari, don’t rush around trying to experience everything, leave something for your second trip because you will be back.  

What’s the right budget for your South African Safari?

Fortunately South Africa has a wide variety of Safari lodges to offer that range from entry level to absolute luxury. Whilst this means there’s something for everyone it can also complicate it if you’re trying to decide for yourself. For that reason we recommend you send us an email to help guide in your planning. Budget is influenced by many factors like how luxurious you’d like your accommodation to be, whether you fly in or drive to your destination, private vs shared safari, the time of year you travel, and what activities you may decide to add to your itinerary, like walking safaris, panoramic tours or cultural engagements.

Having used and partnered with many of the best destinations throughout the Greater Kruger National Park region we have a good idea of price, comfort, accessibility and what works and what doesn’t. Heres our guidline destination pricing scale to help guide you :

Budget Guidline :

The below guidline is based on a per person per day sharing rate and includes breakfast and dinner but not beverages

#Top Tip: We recommend including breakfast and dinner in your budget as well as your transfer from the airport. Lunch can often be subsidised for a light snack and beverages are generally only included in a luxury lodge, fully inclusive rate. Don’t forget that if you have a guide a gratuity of 10% and upwards would be greatly appreciated.

 What types of Safaris are available ?

 

There are a wide variety of Safari options available and guests can choose something specific to their need or interest. Here are a few examples of Safaris that are offered throughout the Kruger National Park. 

Honeymoon – these are best suited to the more exclusive private reserves that afford a finer touch. Guests can request private dining, honeymoon suites, private game drives and an exclusive overnight tree house to name a few of the options available. Basically as creative as you can be, they can generally deliver, but remember this all comes at a cost.

Family – these Safaris are usually for large family groups that are looking for exclusive usage or family’s with young children and babies. We recommend that if you have small children you have itinerary that doesn’t include log periods in the vehicle and has loads of fun and exciting bush activities. Choosing the right destinations are very important and we suggest you get some help to plan this kind of trip.

Walking Safaris – this kind of safari turns you into a participant and really connects you to the savanna. You need to ensure that you get the Guide on who has heeps of information and knowledge as this will make of break your experience. Walking safaris wont get you closer than a vehicle but they will expose you and allow you to touch and feel your way through the savanna. These Safaris are usually done in conjunction with mobile tented camps are traditionally more rustic and adventurous.

Photographic Safaris – These have of course a dedicated focus and are for the enthusiast who wants to learn and practically use their safari for getting the perfect shot. You can do this on a budget or at a high-end exclusive lodge that will provide you with professional tutorial, rentals and post production advice. For this we suggest you get in touch.

Birding Safaris – This style of safari in our opinion is one of the best ways to go on Safari. There are itineraries for the novice all the way up to the twitcher and offer a fairly dedicated to completely obsessive focus. What makes birding safaris so rewarding is that you are always encountering a new species and the slow approach and safari styles always means that you will see great mammals. So the trick is to get the right guide who can guide you through the rights eco systems and you will have the best wildlife sightings ever. Balance is key for not so extreme birders but this is easily achieved by collaborating with your guide. In South Africa the best time to bird is between November and March.

Adventure Safaris – Kruger National Park offers the best example of a adventure safari. This style of safari is focused on exploring and will cover vast distances and expose you to incredible diversity. This is the most authentic and probably best value safari experience that you could have. With your own private guide and open safari vehicle you can cover half of the Kruger National Park in 4 or 5 days and see more and experience more than you could imagine. Best of all this offers a great value for money safari as you stay overnight in Kruger camps and dine at their restaurants.

Privately Guided – Nothing beats a Private Guide on your Safari. To book a privately guided safari you need to choose the correct operator. You are looking for a expert guided who is also an operator that can personally plan your trip for you and take you. When it comes to the experience of any safari, you cant have it any better than with your own personal guide. He will plan your itinerary, manage all your admin and then guide in the savanna. Its their personal experience and understanding of both you and the destination that will make for one of the most memorable trips in your lifetime. We highly recommend this and can help with plan this adventure.

Safe travelling to your safari destination

South Africa is an exhilarating country filled to the brim with some of Africa’s most extraordinary wonderful land mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and of course landscapes. It has a climate which is great for year round travel and offers a beautiful variety of cultures. It’s a country that has a very colourful past and a is magnificent future ahead. A country that blends old ancient Africa with a first world economy and tourism infrastructure that delights. Whilst it leads the African race its beauty is not without its risks and dangers and like all places in the world visitors need to be aware.

Here are some things to remember:

Crime

Crime is not exclusive to South Africa or Africa and is something which happens all round the world. South Africa has been given a bad reputation but actually shows continued improvement in managing the scourge. Our large suburban walls and electric fencing might give off the wrong sentiments but this is a South African thing and shows commitment to managing safety. Whilst we don’t advocate walking around town at night, our lifestyle focused environments are no different to any throughout the world and all our tourism destinations are the same. The most important that its that ravellers remain vigilant, stay observant and look after their personal items such as credit cards, cash and passports. Choose the right travels partners, don’t do everything yourself and you should have a wonderful in South Africa.

Diseases & Illness

Go on Safari does expose you to diseases such as Malaria and travellers are advised to take the necessary precautions and see their GP before they leave. For anything else our South African private hospitals are incredibly well equipped and with high quality medical staff. Nation wide visitors have access to well stocked drug stores or pharmacies as we call them and with a script can gain access to any medication. We recommend that guests travel with insect repellents to avoid those annoying bites and any allergic reactions. A good old hand sanitiser for everything else will do just fine. We seriously suggest a nasal vaseline for your flight over as we find its always in the plane that one picks up a sniff that leads to a cough!

Personal Belongings

When travelling through the urban areas of any African country, take extra care to safeguard belongings and always make copies of your travel documents. Do not carry large amounts of cash – most resort areas with hotels and shops will accept credit cards.

Your safety of Safari

Game viewing on safari is safe whether you are in a vehicle or on a walking safari. Its important to remember that wild animals are unpredictable and impossible to predict for any tour guide. Its always advised that you take extra care and if you are travelling with children, keep an eye on them at all times. Remember to always listen to your guide’s advice and guidelines be aware of your surroundings.

South African Safari Climate (Weather and Location)

Situated on the tip of the African continent South Africa enjoys a variety of weather conditions but is typically a warm weather climate. With a summer that lasts roughly 7 months of he year and a winter that doesn’t attract snow, it’s a great climate and destination for any northern hemisphere traveller and offers a relief from most equatorial countries.

South Africa is a summer rainfall climate with much of the rain falling between November and April and temperatures that range between 16 degrees and 40 degrees. The South African autumn begins in May and and winter follows until August. Winter temperatures on Safari range from 8 degrees to midday highs of 28 degrees. Heres a quick look at what to expect.

Quick safari facts :

  • Summer: from October to April
  • Winter: from May to August
  • Rainy season in Greater Kruger Park : about November to April
  • High season in Greater Kruger Park : about July to October

When is the best time to book your safari?

On the eastern side of South Africa we find the Greater Kruger National Park region found in an area known as the “Lowveld”. This is perhaps one of the last iconic wilderness places on earth that is protected. Its an area that attracts over 2 million visitors annually and is also home to the iconic Kruger National Park.

Since its formal establishment in the late 1920’s the Park has seen sustainable development turn it into one of the most accessible wildlife experiences in Africa. Reaching nearly 2 million hectares with an inspiring heritage, incredible species diversity and variety of camps to stay, the Kruger National Park has become a renowned bucket list destination.

Here are a few FAQ’s to help you plan your trip.

When does the Kruger National Park have a Peak Season?

There certainly are times of year that would be referred to as “Peak Season”. With nearly 80% of the annual visitors being local South African’s, months between June and September as we well as December and January can be very busy as well as public holidays. It is advised that you book in advance and let us know so we can help secure your accommodation.

When is the Best time of year to visit the Kruger Park?

The warm sub tropical climate of the Kruger National Park makes it a destination that can be visited all year round. Be aware that the summer months from October to April encourage Malaria but the winters are for many Europeans still temperate enough for shorts and a t-shirt. For game viewing the dry winter months are considered best when visibility greater. With less thick scrub and a high dependance on water, the winter months offer wonderful game viewing opportunities. Our favourite months are between July and September

When is the best Game Viewing in the Kruger National Park? 

Seasons are important as they do effect the vegetation and for that reason game viewing can be at its best during the dry winters months. With less vegetation there is greater visibility and guests are able to see deeper into the savannah. Also with less water in the bush and fewer running rivers and streams the game will regularly visit the same waterholes, which enhances sightings.

As an alternative the summer months create lush green vegetation that flowers and produces a beautiful green blanket that covers the savannah. During the summer months the Greater Kruger National Parks bird life explodes with all its migrants returning providing guests with just over 500 bird species to find.

The summer months also see an increase in reptile activity as well as insect life. Summer in the Kruger Park is a period of abundant life.

 How do the Seasons change on Safari in the Greater Kruger National Park? 

The Greater Kruger National Park climate is predominantly a hot, sub-tropical climate with an average year round temperature of above 22 ° C.

Visiting the Kruger National Park in summer? 

Summer safaris in the Southern Hemisphere are between October and March and this is regarded as the rainy season with an average rainfall of 450ml. The combination of high rainfall and temperature make this time of year humid and temperatures often exceed 40° C. This does affect the game viewing with game avoiding sunlight between 11h00am and 15h00pm daily. On cooler overcast days with rain it’s also sometimes harder to view game.

Summer Safaris are a time of abundant new life with many of the mammals producing their new-borns and in particular the Impala. Seeing this new life is very exciting and also provides predators with an abundant food source creating the possibilities of seeing a kill. Summer is al known as the emerald season safari and whilst its incredibility beautiful the heat and humidity can sometimes have np escape so it’s critical to have a room with air conditioning.

For guests planning a trip to the Greater Kruger National Park region in the summer, we recommend travel transfers in a air-conditioned SUV vehicle and accommodation that has air-conditioned rooms or a fan at least.

What is Safari like during the winter months ?

The winter months between May and August are the best months in the Gretaer Kruger National Park for observing Big 5 and all other general mammal species. With the lack of rain and reduced availability of water, the plant vegetation is not as abundant making the savannah less dense and providing greater visibility. During the winter months in the Kruger Park, water is isolated and game frequent to annual water sources increasing the opportunity to see more species. 

Safari temperatures during the winter months are very pleasant but the mornings and evenings can be cool with lows reaching 5°C. Midday Winter temperatures in the Kruger National Park for example can average around 22°C so its important to pack warm clothing that can be layered on a removed as necessary. The best safaris are on Open Safari Vehicles so we recommend that during the winter month’s guests have warm jackets and headgear. 

What are the Kruger National Park Seasonal Temperatures?

The Kruger National Park forms part of an extensive Savannah Biome, which is predominantly Sub-Tropical with high temperatures in summer and greater rainfall. 

January to March: Late Summer Season 

January to March still sees patches of rainfall but this reduces towards the end of March into April. This is the end of the summer season but malaria is still present and guests are advised to take precaution. 

January Temperature:  Betw 16 – 35 °C

February Temperature: Betw 16 – 33 °C

March Temperature:      Betw 16 – 30 °C

Autumn Safari in the Kruger National Park 

Autumn in the Kruger Park is period of transformation and guests will start to see a change in vegetation with shades of red and orange starting to appear. The average temperatures begin to cool with early morning and evening staring to get cooler. 

April Temperature: Betw 14 – 26 °C

May to June: Winter Begins 

In the Southern Hemisphere, the beginning of May sees the onset of and begins the season of cooler temperatures. The early morning and evening temperatures are notably cooler and the effect on the vegetation is evident with many plants turning yellow-ish brown and starting to loose their leaves. During this period there is generally no rain experienced but with the changing of global climates we are starting to see occasional showers.

May Temperature: Betw 11 – 24 °C

June Temperature: Betw 09 – 23 °C

July to August: Middle of Winter in the Kruger Park 

June and July are considered to be the middle of winter with the cool temperatures and lack of rain extending into August. This is a dry period in the Kruger National Park with traditionally no rain occurring and guests experiencing the lowest temperatures. At this time of year the game sightings are abundant with greater visibility allowing guests to see deeper into the bush. Water is at lowest in the savannah and dams and water points with water provide a hive of activity. This time of year sees many of the predators denning and giving birth in anticipation of the calving season in November and December. 

July Temperature: Betw 8 – 22 °C

August Temperature: Betw 10 -24 °C

September to October: Spring in the Kruger Park 

Springtime brings with it an explosion of new life. At the end of the dry season between September and October the savannah is brown and dry with limited grassland cover and naked trees. As the savannah starts to warm it attracts large cumulus clouds and the rains begins to fall mid to end of October bringing with it a cacophony of sound as new life erupts. Water brings life and new sustenance and guests start to see the first migrant birds return. 

September Temperature: Betw 12 – 26 °C

October Temperature: Betw 14 – 32 °C

November and December: Summer in the Kruger Park 

November heralds the hot African summer days and nights. This time of year can be very hot with high humidity and regular rain. December is the rainy season and attracts afternoon thunderstorms or days of slow rain and drizzle. This is a wonderful period for new-borns and many of the antelope give birth to their young. This is also regarded as the Malaria season and victors must take precautions. 

November Temperature: Betw 16 – 34 °C

December Temperature: Betw 18 – 36 °C

And finally what will you need to take with to make sure that you are prepared for your Safari. Here is a list of things to pack on you Safari.

What are the best things to pack for Safari ?

Packing for an South African Safari can be a bit daunting but in truth is really very simple and every operator will assist on recommended luggage, what to wear and whats really a necessity. Here are a few tips from the necessary tech and gear to packing for all weather conditions.

Your Luggage (Bags)

Travelling to South Africa means that you probably not only doing a Safari but also visiting destinations like Cape Town and possibly the Garden Route. For this reason we recommend the usual hard shell suite case and inbound flights allow for a weight of 30kg per person.

We recommend that you pack all your clothing and toiletries in your hard shell but add you medication and personal items including tech to your carry on bag. Having a back pack would be perfect as it can double up on your safari drives and walks.

The right clothing

We recommend that you pack simply with a lightweight mentality and clothing that has earth tones. If you are in a Private Lodge or a National Park Camp they all offer laundry services if required.

The right colours are khaki and tan for the obvious reasons that they hide the dirt, lend into the surroundings and good for game walks. When you are travelling by Open Safari Vehicle you can wear similar but also include jeans. We do however recommend that you avoid shirts that are bright in colour with unusual patterns, theres no point scaring the animals and other guests.

Here is a list of the general safari attire must-haves for your South African safari:

  • Comfortable walking shoes and a pair of sandals or flip flops
  • A decent hat or cap which can take direct sun and protect your face
  • Waterproof windbreaker
  • Fleece jacket for layering during morning and evening game drives
  • Jeans (one or two pairs depending on length of stay and destinations)
  • Chino or cotton pants/slacks in khaki for dinner time and day time
  • Earth tone t-shirts for daytime ( moisture managing T’s are the best)
  • Button-down long-sleeve sport shirts (technical material best)
  • Long-sleeve and mid-sleeve shirts for layering
  • Shorts or cut-off cargo pants that can be stripped away midday
  • Swim suit
  • Sports bras for the ladies are recommended for game drives
  • Socks and of course under wear

In the Medicine Kit:

  • Malaria tablets are advised and be recommend you see you GP for this
  • Antihistamine tablets
  • Anti-nausea tablets
  • Anti-acids
  • Eye drops
  • Earache drops
  • Flu antibiotic for just in case
  • Basic medicines like aspirin, band-aids, Imodium, valoid, antiseptic and anti-histamine creams, probiotics and IBS tabs.
  • Sun screen lotion—SPF 40 and higher
  • Insect repellent (30 percent DEET recommended)
  • Tissues and wet wipes
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Nail scissors/file/clipper/tweezers

Your technical gear should include :

  • Chargers for all your electronics that fit wall SA sockets and usb cables for vehicles
  • Photographic equipment
  • Binoculars
  • Ipad or music device
  • Laptop if necessary

The real necessities are your plane ticket, your passport and credit card (note that VISA, Mastercard and Diners Club are all widely accepted), and some U.S. dollars for visas, tips, and souvenirs, etc.

 

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