Travel Guide To The Perfect South Africa Safari Holiday
It’s no secret that we love animals! So, we traded in our bathing suits for safari gear and headed to South Africa for an amazing 2 weeks in the bush.
But, there was more to our South Africa safari holiday than just the beautiful African landscapes and incredible wildlife. We came to South Africa, along with EverSeenSA, to take a stand for something very close to our hearts. Keep reading to find out more about our project and why you could be joining us on our next trip to South Africa!
Would you like to come on a free trip with us? All you need to do is donate to a great cause and you will be in the running to win an 8-day all-inclusive safari adventure with us in December. Follow this link for your chance to win.
Where should you go for your South Africa safari holiday
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to game parks in South Africa. All of them are rich in wildlife and are home to most of the big 5 which include the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhino.
The northeast of the country is a popular destination for tourists as it’s home to the Kruger National Park, the largest game park in South Africa.
If you are planning a South African adventure we can not recommend Charlie and Serena from EverSeenSA enough! Not only are these guys beautiful people inside and out, they are passionate about conservation, sustainability and protecting South Africa’s wildlife. We are extremely confident these guys will design a trip for you that you will never forget. They will work with any budget. Just reach out to them and they will take care of the rest!
Why Kruger National Park?
The Kruger National Park has become a household name for animal enthusiasts and wildlife photographers. The park spans over an area of 19 400 km2 - which is pretty big!
Animals have free range to roam this area without being enclosed in cages. This also makes visiting Kruger National Park quite dangerous as you are in their territory and you need to respect the animals and their space. Throughout our time exploring the Kruger, we were constantly on edge, wondering when the next beautiful creature would appear and how they’d react to us being there.
To date, this is one of the most incredible things we’ve ever experienced and we’re so excited to be able to share this opportunity with our followers.
For our safari we wanted to make sure everything was vegan so we decided to go with a small business run by a beautiful couple. It is called Selley Safaris, they provide the best vegan BBQ’s and snacks and the guide is highly skilled and knowledgeable.
Smaller game reserves near Kruger National Park
There are other private game reserves outside the Kruger. Whilst these aren’t as big, they do have most of the Big 5 and offer some great sightings. We visited both the Kruger and Welgevonden Game Reserve and spotted all the Big 5 in both parks!
How much time do you need for your South Africa safari holiday
You’ll need at least 5 days to really enjoy your time on your safari holiday. We were lucky enough to have 2 weeks and by the end of our trip, we had seen so many animals including lions, buffalo, leopards, giraffes, crocodiles, zebras, monkeys, hippos and hundreds of buck.
Also, try to include a trip to Cape Town if you have time. It’s another one of our favorite places to visit in South Africa with great beaches.
Where to stay on your South Africa Safari Holiday
Mhondoro Lodge is a safari lover’s dream. The lodge is situated in Welgevonden Game Reserve, which is actually closer to Johannesburg than it is to Kruger National Park.
The beautiful pool opens up to gorgeous views of the park where animals are free to roam. We had elephants right in front of us during our morning swim! It was quite intimidating having these majestic creatures peacefully go about their day, oblivious to us being there.
We went on several safaris from Mhondoro Lodge and saw all of the big 5 including rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebras, wildebeest, leopards and elephants. Our highlight at Mhondoro were the amazing staff including the chefs who prepared delicious food for us and our guide, Dan, who was incredible.
After our visit to Mhondoro Lodge, we headed to the Kruger National Park where we went glamping!
Honeyguide Mantobeni luxury tented camp
Mantobeni is the ultimate glamping experience. It’s inside the Kruger National Park with no fences and no barriers between us and the animals. You can hear them at night and it’s an exhilarating feeling knowing that they could be meters away from you. On one occasion Jake was stuck in our tent unable to leave as it was surrounded by elephants!
We went on daily safaris from Mantobeni and saw the Big 5 and so many other animals.
Places to visit near the Kruger National Park
Blyde River Canyon
The Blyde River Canyon is the 3rd largest canyon in the world and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t playing its part on the morning of our visit, but it’s still a great outing in include in your South Africa safari holiday.
There are a few different viewpoints and the lush greenery surrounding this canyon makes it truly unique.
How to get to Kruger National Park.
The closest international airport to Kruger National Park is OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
From here, you can either drive or fly to Kruger which is over 500km away.
Drive: The drive from Johannesburg to Kruger is a long one, but the roads are in good condition and it's a beautiful, scenic 5-hour drive.
Fly: Kruger International Airport is located just outside Nelspruit in the province of Mpumalanga. The flight from Johannesburg is only 50 minutes but you’ll need to drive another hour or so to reach your destination. This flight can be expensive so we recommend renting a car and driving instead.
When is the best time to go on your South Africa safari holiday?
The provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in South Africa experience hot summers (December - March) and dry winters (June - August).
May to September is the best time to go on a safari as it’s the dry season and there’s little to no rain. June, July, and August are the coldest months so pack warmly!
Can you do a South African safari on a budget?
As a tourist, your money goes a long way in South Africa. But unfortunately, a South African safari holiday is not cheap. Because this is a once in a lifetime experience, we strongly recommend that you do it properly and stay in a game lodge for a few nights, and go on guided game drives through the Kruger National Park.
To keep costs down, you can stay on the outskirts of Kruger National Park as there are more affordable accommodation options available here. You can also do self-drives within the Kruger. All you need is a car to drive around and a map, which you can get from the Kruger gate. If you go this route, make sure you still do a proper jeep safari as the rangers know where the animals are and you’ll see so much more wildlife this way.
Planning your South African safari holiday: South Africa Visas
Visa requirements for South Africa vary depending on where you’re from. Check out this site for more info. Australian and German citizens don’t need a visa so we were both lucky enough to enter South Africa with no hassles.
Is South Africa safe?
We get asked this all the time and with all the crime happening in the world, it’s good to alert and ask questions about the countries you’re visiting.
We’ve traveled to South Africa twice and have never felt unsafe in the country. But there is crime, and you need to be streetwise. We wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking or going anywhere with strangers. Research the areas you’re staying in, and make sure you pre-book accommodation. Don’t walk alone at night and keep your valuables safely in your bag.
Even the locals are wary of their surroundings, so make sure you are too.
Safari travel tips
The best time to do a safari is either early morning or before sunset as the animals take shelter when it heats up during the day.
Make sure you’re properly covered when doing any outdoor activities and sleep under a mosquito net. Jake and Elliot got tick bite fever as a result of being bitten by a tick! These symptoms include headaches and high fever but are easily treated with antibiotics.
Pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock - even during winter.
Bring a camera with a good lens. The animal sightings are incredible!
Be safe whilst driving through the parks! Do not get out of the vehicle unless your guide says you can. And if you’re doing a self-drive safari, make sure your windows are closed when the animals are near.
Our South African Rhino Project
We spent months working on this project together with EverSeenSA and Omaze, who coordinated our travel and ensured that the projected was executed to its full potential.
Our aim for our trip to South Africa was to highlight and bring awareness to the rhino poaching crisis which has been on the rise for over a decade.
Yes, these beautiful animals are on the verge of extinction if we don’t do something now! In 2018 alone, over 750 rhinos were poached and killed for their horns, the majority of these killings taking place in the Kruger National Park. That's over 2 rhinos killed every single day.
These poor animals are killed for their horns which are sold on the black market. Some believe that owning a rhino horn is a symbol of wealth yet others think these horns have medicinal properties and can be an aphrodisiac. Just to make it clear - this is not true. Rhinos deserve to be left in the wild and not hunted for personal pleasure. We need you to help us in the fight against poaching.
Why we need your help
International poaching gangs are equipped with expensive equipment and tracking devices to hunt these animals for their horns. There is a strong fight against rhino poaching, with people risking their lives every single day to protect them. We actually joined these heroes during our visit to Care For Wild, and it was terrifying!
All of this comes at a cost and not for profit organizations rely on funding and donations to continue their great work. This is where you come in!
We’ve partnered with Care for Wild and Good Work Foundation in an effort to support and raise awareness against rhino poaching as well as to help empower and educate the children in the rural communities of South Africa. All you have to do is click on this link, donate to the below charities and you could win an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa, where you’ll stay with us at Mhondoro Lodge and Mantobeni Safari Camp.
Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in Hoedspruit
Care For Wild is the biggest rhino sanctuary in the world. This organization does an incredible job of rescuing animals and rehabilitating them so that they’re able to return to their natural environment. The staff are extremely passionate about what they do and they have dedicated their lives to helping these animals. They are a true inspiration to us.
Good Work Foundation
The Good Work Foundation aims to educate children in rural communities. They do this with the help of dedicated facilitators who use technology and various interactive exercises to teach and help underprivileged children. We spent a day with the kids, dancing, singing and learning with them. The positive energy was contagious!
So, by entering you will not only be contributing to a great cause, but you will also have a once in a lifetime experience exploring South Africa with us!