Duration: 12 days
From: £ 4,234pp (excluding flights)
Duration: 10 days
From: £ 1,263pp (excluding flights)
Nothing beats the excitement of your first ever safari. It’s one of those beautiful, one-off experiences that gets under your skin, into your very bloodstream, and lures you back time and again.
The smell of log fires fills the crisp air as you embark on an early-morning game drive. In the distance rises that huge red African sun, bringing with it the promise of adventure and excitement, of the anticipation, discovery and delight to come.
Later, in the intense heat of the day, as the bush shimmers provocatively and crickets begin their deafening symphony, unwind by a pool, snooze on a shaded viewing deck or relish the extreme luxury of your room.
Head out on the afternoon game drive, and admire the spectacular sunset. While you gasp and gaze, sundowner drink in hand, listen to the roar of a lion, the call of a jackal, the hoot of an owl or the laugh of a hyena.
As night falls, head back to the lodge for a sensational dinner in an African-style al-fresco dining room – perhaps a boma, a viewing deck or even a ‘bush dinner’ beside a dry riverbed or waterhole. Wherever you are, roaring fires, star-covered skies, candles and lanterns will transform mealtimes into a romantic, unforgettable experience.
Among South Africa’s numerous parks and reserves, the headline act is Greater Kruger, with its numerous satellite private reserves offering five-star lodges and sensational game viewing. Enticing families, the exclusive Garden Route reserves and Western Cape reserves and the dramatic Madikwe are all malaria-free. The beautiful Pilansberg and Waterberg biosphere are handily near Johannesburg, while Sanbona’s close to Cape Town. All game reserves offer something unique, Addo specialises in elephants; Sabi Sand in leopards. For remoteness, try the Kalahari, where cheetahs, meerkats and lions roam desolate semi-desert. Each offers world-class accommodation and each will provide magical experiences that you will never forget.
The Eastern Cape is a warm and welcoming part of South Africa with plenty of untouched natural splendor across it. While the waters of its beaches are warm, it’s the game reserves that will remind you just how diversely beautiful South Africa really is. Located just an hour out of Port Elizabeth, the malaria-free reserves offer an abundance of big game and five star accommodations with service to match.
The Kruger National Park and its unfenced borders with Africa's finest game reserves is undoubtedly one of Mpumalanga's greatest highlight. Roughly the size of Wales, this is one of the easiest places to spot the 'Big Five' - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. The safari experience is perfected in The Kruger by sophisticated luxurious lodges offering the ultimate in luxury bush hideaways. To the north, the private reserves of Timbavati offer a completely different landscape to the popular Sabi Sands area in the south. Don't overlook Mpumalanga's other great sights: the spectacular Panorama Route, Blyde River Canyon, God's Window and Bourke's Luck Potholes.
KwaZulu Natal is the widest expanse of untouched savanna in South Africa, and its only fitting that it would be home to some of the most prestigious game reserves too. A combination of coastal and inland beauty KwaZulu Natal has all the charm of an African adventure but all the refinement one would expect from award winning luxury holiday accommodation.
Conveniently close to Johannesburg in North West Province, malaria-free Madikwe and its 75,000 hectares of wilderness hug South Africa’s border with Botswana. All the Big Five are present and correct, plus resurgent populations of zebra, giraffe, cheetah and endangered wild dog, following a huge operation begun in 1991 to rejuvenate the park’s fauna. Most of them previously poached out, over 10,000 mammals in total were re-introduced. To see them, you’ll have to stay at the one of the exclusive lodges: self-drives or day-trips amid the reddish savannah, giant boulders and ancient Tamboti trees are not permitted.
Pilanesberg occupies the crater of a long-extinct rare alkaline volcano, which enables it to support a veritable Noah’s Ark of animals – the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, black rhino), plus everything else from aardvark to zebra – successfully re-introduced three decades back. It also makes for some of the most sensational scenery in all of Africa. The clincher for safari-goers seeking a Kruger alternative? Pilanesberg is a quick 2 hour drive from Johannesburg and is malaria-free.
Though not technically a desert, the Kalahari sure looks like one: sun-baked scrub, scorched sands, bone-dry salt pans, lonely thorn trees and fossilised riverbeds. Stretching 900,000km² from South Africa’s extreme north-east into Namibia and Botswana, it’s also one of Earth’s last proper wildernesses, a place of big skies and horizon-less lands, a place far from anywhere. However, despite such stark geography, animals thrive here: blue wildebeest, meerkats, leopards, black-maned lions and hundreds of cheetahs all call the Kalahari home. And, with the desert so far off most major routes, you’ll have them all largely to yourself.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
A wonderful 7 night break to South Africa
We have just come back from a wonderful 7 night break to South Africa. We were incredibly well looking after from the second we stepped off the plane, by a lovely representative of Best of South Africa Travel - who met us and escorted us through customs and immigration literally behind the pilots. It was very efficient, and we felt very ...