Always dreamed of visiting Africa and discovering the joy that is a wildlife safari? Want to see elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes and all the rest – but not sure where to start? We got you covered. Here’s four equally amazing options for varying tastes and budgets. Guaranteed to change your life!
If one of these takes your fancy (or even you’re looking for something totally different) – get in touch with us and we’ll make it our life’s mission to plan the best safari you could hope for. Yes, our LIFE’S MISSION. That’s a pretty big deal.
1. Adventure and Adrenaline in the Kalahari
This option is for not for the faint of heart and probably best if you have already been on safari in Africa before. It’s great for a tighter budget because it’s best done while camping!
Milder adventure safari option: Spend a week in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, choose between comfortable chalets or more adventurous camping. For the even more adventurous you can camp in the Botswana side, or play it a bit safer and stay on the South African side. Just book ahead because it’s gotten quite tough to get bookings here these days!
Mega adventure safari option: Spend a week camping in a fully equipped 4×4 (including roof-top tent) in Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. This is perhaps the most remote and self-sufficient form of safari in Africa – at least it has definitely been that way for us! You have to take everything in with you (including all water, fuel and food) and take everything back with you. Oh and there’s no staff or people around to help you – you’re all on your own. The good news is that you tend to get sightings all to yourself… plus there’s the exhilarating feeling of being in the TRUE wilderness!
This is the best option for people who want maximum adventure and wilderness, however note that both of these parks won’t give you the full Big 5 – neither have rhinos nor buffalo. Elephants exist in the Kalahari but are not common. So if you want a traditional Big 5 safari – or if it’s your first time – read on to the other options 🙂
The cost for this option can be very cheap – as low as about USD$31 or AUD$40 per person per day if you’re happy to camp, but keep in mind car hire might be your biggest expense particularly if you’re keen to spend any time in Botswana because you’ll need a 4×4 (and probably a fully equipped one at that if you’re going to brave the Central Kalahari). Still you can’t put any price on the INSANELY AMAZING ADVENTURE YOU WILL HAVE.
Get in touch if you would like some itinerary advice for a life-changing Kalahari safari.
2. Ultimate freedom self-driving Kruger
Still want some adventure but want a more traditional “Big 5” experience? On a tight budget and happy to ‘choose your own adventure’? Plus not that fussed on having a professional guide give you all the goss on the wildlife you see? Self-driving Kruger may be the perfect option for you. In fact it’s one of my favourite safari options – so much so that one of my first ever articles on here was about why you should self-drive Kruger! It’s an amazing feeling driving around as normal when all of a sudden you have to stop to give right of way to a huge elephant bull, or male lion… or even to watch young baboons playing in the road. For people like me from super developed somewhat “nanny state” countries, the amazement never ceases – even after your 1,000th elephant sighting you still have to pinch yourself that you’re actually allowed to be there by yourself! But I won’t harp on too much about this option as you can read more in the aforementioned article!
Suffice to say this is an excellent option if you’re looking for an affordable safari where you have a good chance of seeing key African wildlife including elephants, zebras, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos and if you’re lucky even leopards and cheetahs (plus lots more). Plus you can choose a range of basic accommodation from camping to safari tents to huts to bungalows to guest houses! I would recommend a minimum of 4-5 nights staying in the park if you have the time and budget. One note though – if it’s your first ever safari I would recommend mixing this with option 4 or even 3 below to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a professional, trained guide as well. For example, stay a couple of nights at a private game lodge then come and do some self-driving in Kruger. It will also help you understand how to behave when you come across wildlife before you start driving yourself around!
The approximate cost for this varies widely depending on the style of accommodation, whether car hire is required etc. For international tourists who are staying in comfortable accommodation and hiring a small car, it would be roughly $300 for two people per day (all inclusive) – but this is only an estimate and would depend on many factors!
Get in touch or read some of my Kruger articles if you would like some advice on creating the ultimate self-drive Kruger itinerary.
3. Best of both worlds – guided Kruger tour
If you are looking for something affordable, not too bothered about luxury but still want the benefit of a trained expert guiding you then this is a good option! Not to mention the fact you’ll get to drive around in an open safari vehicle, which can be even more exciting! This is also a perfect option for the solo safari-goer, who is happy to make friends with fellow safari-goers. Still affordable, albeit a bit more expensive than self-driving, you can either stay with your guide in the Kruger National Park (recommended) or stay somewhere close by outside and come into the park each day. In a guided Kruger tour, you will have everything organised for you and be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the sightings your trained guide will find for you.
These days there are plenty of options to choose from for a guided Kruger tour but we recommend only the best operators with hand-picked itineraries and the best guides. If you only have a few days and this is your first safari you can’t afford to choose the wrong tour operator! So get in touch if you’d like some help booking your ultimate guided Kruger National Park tour. The approximate cost is from about ZAR3,000 per person per night sharing (that’s roughly AUD350, USD$275, EUR225 and 200 pounds). There are some cheaper options staying outside the park.
4. Luxury Lodge living – the 5* Safari
This is the traditional and ultimate “Big 5” safari experience if you can afford it! Here you’ll get the best of both worlds for your holiday – a truly amazing safari experience plus the ultimate relaxation of 5* resort-style accommodation, service and food. Private game lodges are the way to go if you like the finer things in life or simply want to treat yourselves while ticking off the once-in-a-lifetime bucket list safari item. Staying in a private game reserve like Timbavati, Thornybush, Sabi Sands or Madikwe, you’ll have two 3-3.5hr safari drives per day (one in the morning and one in late afternoon/evening) in open safari vehicles with a well-trained professional guide and often also a dedicated tracker who actually gets off the vehicle to track animals!
In between drives you can take a nap in your King-sized bed, read a book on your deck, go for a swim or simply watch for wildlife from the grounds of the lodge. Many lodges have spas and other activities you can enjoy during the day. Plus all meals are included in your price and in some instances, drinks too! And boy do they feed you well. Three course meals, morning teas, high teas, game drive snacks… expect to put on weight. From a game viewing perspective this is typically your best option because the lodges stay in radio contact with each other and call in sightings – that means your chances of finding the Big 5 are even greater. Plus there’s typically a maximum of 2-3 vehicles at any sighting so it can be a lot less busy than for example a lion sighting on a busy road in Kruger.
This is definitely the option to choose if your budget permits, but with popularity rising so are the prices. There are still some little gems out there that you can get for a very reasonable price (even as low as R2,350 per person per night – that’s roughly AUD$250, USD$200, EUR163 and 144 pounds) but most good lodges will set you back double that or more. There’s virtually no limit to how much you could spend if you have the budget and want to go crazy – plenty of places set you back over a thousand dollars per person per night.
Regardless of your budget, there’s definitely a safari option for you that will SERIOUSLY change your life. What are you waiting for? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you figure out the perfect itinerary for you.
DO IT. NOW.