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Cite this Email this Add to favourites Print this page. W Wikipedia Citation Please see Wikipedia's template documentation for further citation fields that may be required. You must be logged in to Tag Records. There are surely few other places where, for example, you can see hippo, leopard and humpback whale within a single day — as I have done at Cape Vidal, on the Zululand coast. At the same time, however, South Africa bears a greater human imprint than any other safari destination, with many of its wilderness areas having been severely reduced or heavily modified by development, and those that remain now under careful management.

This can make a safari feel tamer than in less developed countries to the north. The well-developed infrastructure is great news for the independent traveller, though, who can use the excellent tourist facilities and transport network to chart an inexpensive self-drive course around the country.

And there are many remote corners of the country, from the Richtersveld or Kalagadi Transfrontier Park, where you can find yourself almost completely alone. Those in search of top-end safari pampering, meanwhile, will find exclusive retreats that compete with any in Africa for style, comfort and guiding. Furthermore, while the likes of the Kruger offer classic big-game country, South Africa is about much more than just the Big Five.

Among my most memorable African wildlife experiences have been watching lammergeyers on the thermals of the Drakensberg and loggerhead turtles on the beaches of Kosi Bay. A final plus, especially for families: South Africa is the only safari destination that offers a malaria-free Big Five experience — although not in the Kruger.

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South Africa has a wonderful range of landscapes, a near-perfect climate, and the choice of destinations, activities and itineraries is virtually inexhaustible. Aside from its beautiful coastline and cosmopolitan cities — both of which I think should be a mandatory addition to any South African safari — the country is home to just about every African animal imaginable in a staggering variety of habitats.

There are more than 20 formal parks managed by South African National Parks; countless game and nature reserves run by regional conservation bodies; and dozens of privately-run game reserves, which now feature in every province and have been instrumental in restocking game that once occurred naturally across South Africa. In almost all, knowledgeable guides will take you on game-drives and walking or night safaris, some offer activities like cycling or canoeing, while others have opportunities for close encounters with animals such as elephant or cheetah. The benefit of living in South Africa as I do is that I can visit these places leisurely and thoroughly; maybe just a couple on one trip and with a few days in each to fully appreciate what they have to offer.

But there are numerous other parks and reserves that also fit this bill, while others have particularly unique environments, rarer or more unusual species, are better known for birds or trees, or feature other things to do, or absolutely nothing to do depending on your preference, then the usual racing around in a vehicle looking for the Big Five. Far more populous than other safari destinations further north, South Africa has had to take a different approach to its game areas. Parks in South Africa are mostly available to self-drivers, and hire cars are inexpensive and plentiful.

Self-driving is exciting, flexible and cheap, which makes the South African park system a big drawcard for independent travellers.

The Ultimate Guide to Safaris in East Africa (Plus Safari Packing List)

Brian is an award winning travel writer, author of safari books and regular contributor to magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa. From the Kruger to the Kalahari this spectacular country offers a world of different habitats to explore. First and foremost is the lowveld country of the far northeast. Among them are lions, wild dogs, sable antelopes and the legendary Kruger elephant bulls with tusks that almost touch the ground.

Cheap they are not, but each one comes with top-of-the-range guiding and some of the most luxurious lodges on the planet. Unique to South Africa are malaria-free game parks such as Madikwe, and the Addo Elephant Park; and if you are thinking about a beach-and-bush safari you could combine the Hluhluwe, Umfolozi and Phinda game reserves of KwaZulu Natal with a relaxing stay beside the Indian Ocean at somewhere like Rocktail Bay Lodge.

Or, better still, combine a safari in the Kruger or the Sabi Sands with a short flight across the Mozambique border and a barefoot beach lodge in the Benguerra archipelago. Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

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South Africa is my home. The depth and variety of wildlife places is staggering.

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There is no way you could fit it all in a single safari. South Africa is your best choice for a self-drive safari. Good roads, self-catering accommodation and good value for money make it easy for those that prefer an independent holiday. I love Kruger Park with its amazing diversity of habitats and species, but for fantastic photo opportunities of the big five including the elusive leopard , the private reserves of Sabi Sands are hard to beat.

The lush Zululand parks, which offer great sightings of black and white rhino, have a very different feel. Many small parks, each with a different appeal, dot this beautiful province. One of my favourites is Mkhuze Game Reserve, where I love to spend time in one of the excellent hides waiting for animals to come and drink. A trip out to the remote desert of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is probably not the ideal first safari, but it is a great reason to come back. Wildlife densities are lower here, but there is something magic about seeing one of the big cats walking in solitude through this stark environment.


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  • South Africa is the land of variety and it is easy to combine a safari with other attractions like beautiful mountains and beaches, vibrant city life and historical wine farms. In contrast to other Southern African countries, the thing that South Africa offers in safari is variety. There are a plethora of parks, and many especially Kruger have excellent facilities and infrastructure meaning that an organised, or self-drive, tour is easy. There is also variety in the type of park from the rocky landscapes of Augrabies, the mountains of Royal Natal, and the wetlands of Greater St Lucia, to the wilderness of Richtersveld, the wildlife-rich volcanic remnants of Pilanesberg and the enormous expanses of Kruger.

    And that barely scratches the surface of a country which has an enormous number of protected areas. Blessed with a great diversity of landscapes and flora, the setting is often as impressive as the range of animals in South Africa. Kruger, despite the huge number of visitors is big enough to absorb them and offers great opportunity to see wildlife due to the number of animals elephants are almost in plague proportions and the excellent infrastructure.

    The Ultimate Guide to Safaris in East Africa (Plus Safari Packing List)

    Christopher is a British travel writer and has contributed to various Fodor's guidebooks and a range of travel magazines. With excellent infrastructure, roads and transport links, good value for money, beautiful landscapes, low malaria risk and an abundance of the Big 5, South Africa is the perfect destination for first-time safari goers and self-drivers, and for those on a tighter budget or timeframe.

    The famous and vast Kruger National Park, the small and family-friendly Pilanesberg both of which can be explored without a 4x4 and the exclusive Madikwe Private Game Reserve are all teeming with big game, including a number of rarer species such as African wild dogs and black rhino, and are within an easy couple of hours drive of Johannesburg; in the Eastern Cape, you could visit a few different parks or reserves within the same day if you were so inclined. You might still have time to nip down to the coast and see sharks, seals and whales too.

    The variety of different ecosystems and climate zones to be found right across South Africa is staggering. Of all the African countries people visit on safari trips, South Africa is probably the easiest to travel around.


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    Infrastructure is excellent, accommodation for every budget is abundant and wildlife-watching opportunities stretch far beyond the Big Five. Elephant lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo are present, of course, and can be viewed in numerous parks including Addo, Pilanesberg, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi and Kruger. As with every aspect of visiting South Africa though, the best thing for animal lovers is the sheer diversity.

    Whether you're seeking ultra-luxurious lodges, a rough-and-ready camping experience or anything in between, you'll find it available somewhere. Self-drive safaris abound, but everywhere that you find the option to seek out animals on your own, you'll also find guided drives on offer. And for those looking for something different to the usual safari photos, there are whales, sharks, seals and turtles off-shore, raptors to be found in the skies and in the Western Cape, even a couple of penguin colonies to admire. It was in South Africa that I saw my first rhino, that I witnessed the adorable sight of an infant elephant trying to trumpet us away, that I watched meerkats playing in the dust and that I saw a zebra chase a hyena through the undergrowth.

    For these — and so many other reasons — I chose to make South Africa my home. James is a travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guides, including senior author of the guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. South Africa's main drawcard is the accessibility and convenience of its wildlife-watching opportunities. Not only are the Big Five here, in environments from Kruger's bushveld to Pilanesberg's extinct volcano crater, but you can see them from a hire car on tarred roads. Many of South Africa's well-organised national parks also offer one-off guided drives and walks - great ways to pick up tracking tips.

    Written and illustrated by wildlife experts who have been leading safaris in the region for over 20 years, each species is illustrated with a full-colour photograph and features a full species description. It includes information on wildlife photography such as the best type of camera, film and lenses to use, information on techniques, and codes of conduct.

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