Safari in South Africa

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South Africa is a magical place. With a coastline lapped by both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, plus a variety of landscapes inland from vineyards or sprawling savanna to majestic mountains, there’s a South Africa for every type of traveler.

What makes a safari in South Africa unique?

From its beaches to its grassy plains, there’s wildlife everywhere in South Africa. A safari isn’t just about the Big Five either, as whales can be spotted in the oceans and bird life is some of the best in Africa here. Whether you want a private safari, a self-drive experience, or to join a group tour around this spectacular country, there’s a trip to suit all budgets and needs.

The best places for a safari in South Africa

From spotting lions at the Kruger National Park to meeting penguins on a beach near Cape Town, South Africa safaris offer endless options for travelers seeking a wild adventure. Here are the best places to enjoy a safari holiday in South Africa:

Seek out the Big Five at Kruger National Park

Lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and buffalos—these are the pride of South Africa's oldest game reserve. Hop into your safari vehicle and explore the vast park during the day at dawn or dusk, when the animals are at their most active. After sunset, there are lodges and tented camps where you can listen out for the sound of elephants nearby, and enjoy a classic South African braai (barbecue).

Enjoy the views from Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

There’s no roughing it here—arrive by plane on the camp’s airstrip and settle into one of the luxurious lodges complete with four-poster beds and excellent views over the reserve. Here, on the edge of Kruger National Park’s unfenced border, you’ll get a private viewing of all the Big Five, plus cheetah and fabulous songbirds. Sabi Sabi Game Reserve is one of the most exclusive safari locations in South Africa.

Ride with kudus at Mala Mala Game Reserve​

One of the largest private game reserves sharing a border with the Kruger, Mala Mala's greatest draw is the Sand River which serves as a watering hole for wildlife of all shapes and sizes. Expect to see big game, along with the striking kudu, with its distinctive spiral horns.

Enjoy moonbows at Victoria Falls

Africa's loftiest waterfall, known as the "Smoke That Thunders", sits on the Zambezi River. During full moon, you often can enjoy a spectacular light show caused by the dispersion of moon rays on the majestic falls. The roaring waters of Victoria Falls can be seen up to 31 miles (50 kilometers) away, as spray travels upwards and around thanks to its sheer power and size.

Join the migration at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Sitting on the border with Namibia and Botswana, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is an unusual landscape with dunes and arid desert land, distinctly different to many of South Africa’s national parks. Lions roam the sands here, as well as gemsbok, springbok and the enormous eland, one of the largest antelope species in Africa.

What's the best time of year for a safari in South Africa?

The best time to go on a safari in South Africa is during the dry winter months between May and September. With short grass and a dry climate, wildlife in South Africa is easier to spot. There are also fewer travelers as many await the hot summer months between December and February.

When to go in South Africa?

South Africa is marked by two seasons: a hot and humid summer (November to March) and a dry cooler winter (April to October). The Western Cape region has winter rainfall from June to August. The good thing is that South Africa has something to offer for each season. Safari season is from April to October. From November to March, the beaches of the Western Cape are idyllic. If you come between June and September there is a fair chance you will see whales… And then there is the Kwazulu-Natal coast, perfect for bathing all year round.
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