South Africa Safaris Guide. Where to Go, When to Go, and Things to Do?

Luxury South African safari
More than 297 species of mammals call South Africa home

South Africa. A world-class safari destination of roaming wildlife and vast landscapes. A raging beauty where beaches, big and small, abound and where culture thrives.

Here, you’ll uncover icons like the Big Five and beauties like Table Mountain which, unsurprisingly, is South Africa’s most photographed landmark. You’ll also encounter rarities like the Great white shark, the gorgeous Garden Route, and Kruger National Park, Africa’s largest park.

In this blog post, we delve deeper into the topic of the top safari destinations to visit in South Africa. We also highlight various safari experiences you should try and essential tips to make your South African safari a dream come true.

But First..

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Here’s a List of Some of our Best Safaris

Key Takeaways

  • Explore South Africa’s premier safari destinations, from Kruger National Park to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
  • Enjoy unique experiences tailored to your preferences with self-drive or luxury safaris, guided tours, and family-friendly activities.
  • Make a positive impact on wildlife conservation by supporting responsible tourism practices for an unforgettable African adventure!

South Africa safari holidays: Discovering the Best South African Safari Destinations

Kruger. Addo. And the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Yes, only three parks but best believe that the range and variety you’ll discover here is unmatched.

Kruger National Park

Safari trip South Africa
Kruger National Park houses all of the Big Five

Home to the Big 5, over 500 bird species, and 118 reptile species, there isn’t a more deserving destination for a South African holiday than the Kruger National Park. The park sits in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces and receives an astounding 950,000 visitors annually, a large chunk of whom are South Africans.

The park also houses over 336 tree species, 49 fish species, 34 amphibian species, and 147 mammal species. It is also home to an incredible variety of accommodations, ranging from budget-friendly lodges to luxurious retreats.

P.S: With the guidance of a knowledgeable tour guide, you’ll have the best chances of spotting the iconic Big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino.

Addo Elephant National Park

Safari vacation south Africa
Addo is the third largest park in South Africa

Home to the Big 7 as well as 95 other mammal species, Addo Elephant National Park offers unique and incredible safari experiences. The park was established in 1931 to protect the last remaining 11 elephants in the area and has since grown into a thriving wildlife habitat. Today, it’s home to over 600 elephants as well as

  • Lions
  • Buffalos
  • Rhinos
  • Leopards
  • Zebras
  • Hyenas
  • Warthogs
  • Various species of antelope

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

South Africa vacation safaris
There are over 147 different mammal species at the Sabi Sand Game Reserve

The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a group of private game reserves with a long and illustrious history. Sharing a border with the renowned Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand is known for its luxurious lodges and outstanding wildlife sightings. Some of these luxurious lodges include:

  • Singita Boulders Lodge
  • Lion Sands Ivory Lodge
  • Lion Sands River Lodge
  • Ulusaba Rock Lodge

The park is also renowned for sightings of the Big 5 as well as 145 other mammal species, 500+ bird species, 110 reptile species, and 45+ fish species.

South Africa Safari Experiences

South Africa safari holidays
Game drives are an incredibly beautiful way to experience the African wilderness

South Africa offers a variety of safari experiences to suit every traveler’s taste, from self-drive adventures to guided tours and luxury safaris. Each experience offers a unique perspective on the stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife that make South Africa a top safari destination.

This section presents a variety of safari experiences available in South Africa, underscoring the benefits and unique aspects of each. Whether you’re a first-time safari-goer or a seasoned wildlife enthusiast, there’s a South African safari experience perfect for you.

Self-Drive Safaris

Self-drive safaris offer the freedom and flexibility to explore South Africa’s national parks at your own pace. Most parks offer well-maintained roads, allowing you to drive through the national parks and spot wildlife from your vehicle, tailoring your safari experience.

Some of the most incredible routes for self-drive safaris in South Africa include:

  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi
  • Cape Town
  • Garden Route
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Winelands

Guided Tours

Guided tours in South Africa offer an exhilarating wildlife adventure that immerses you in the South African wilderness. One such tour is the game drive which is conducted under the guidance of a professional. These game drives allow you to spot the Big Five while gaining knowledge about the animals, their behavior, and the ecosystem they inhabit.

In addition to game drives, guided tours often include bush walks where you explore the African bush on foot while learning about the smaller creatures and plant life.

P.S. Reading South Africa safari reviews can help you choose the best tour for your adventure.

Luxury Safaris

For those seeking an indulgent and exclusive wildlife experience, luxury safaris in South Africa offer the ultimate in opulence and comfort. Luxury safari accommodations often feature:

  • Exquisitely designed suites with glass walls
  • Heated plunge pools
  • Private decks
  • Thrilling safari game drives

Some of the best luxury safari lodges in South Africa include Singita Boulders Lodge in Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Dulini Leadwood Lodge in Sabi Sand Game Reserve. No matter which luxury safari you choose, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience that seamlessly combines the excitement of wildlife encounters with the comforts of high-end accommodations.

Best Time to Visit South Africa for a Safari

The best time for a South African safari depends on your interests and preferences. Generally, the peak safari season in South Africa is from May to September, when animals congregate around reliable water sources in dry conditions. The dry winter months, especially from May to September, are ideal for visiting Kruger National Park, as the foliage thins out and animals tend to congregate around waterholes.

If you’re interested in exploring South Africa’s Whale Coast, the ideal time is from July to November. And if you’re looking to enjoy a beach holiday in South Africa your best bet is during the hot summer months running from November to March.

No matter when you choose to visit, South Africa offers a wealth of exciting safari experiences and breathtaking natural beauty for you to enjoy year-round.

Combining Safari with Other South African Attractions

Why not combine your wildlife adventure with a visit to other attractions in the country, such as Cape Town, Sun City, the Garden Route, and the Winelands? This will not only allow you to fully immerse yourself in the diverse landscapes, and rich culture of the country but it will also allow you to experience its unique and vibrant cities.

For example, this 5-Day Cape to Addo Safari Tour by Viator includes:

  • Cape Town
  • Addo Elephant National Park, located in the Eastern Cape
  • Stops along the Garden Route
  • Stops in the Cape Peninsula, Wilderness National Park, Jeffery’s Bay, and the Tsitsikamma National Park
    With it comes the chance to swim with the Great White Sharks, jump from the world’s highest bungee jump, and indulge in some whale watching, canoeing, hiking, and game tracking.

By incorporating these additional attractions into your South African safari holiday, you’ll create a truly fantastic experience.

Family-Friendly Safaris in South Africa

Family-friendly safaris in South Africa
South Africa is an amazing destination for family safaris

South Africa is an amazing destination for multi-generational family safaris, with many parks and lodges catering specifically to families. From fun children’s programs and playgrounds to activities tailored for all ages, South Africa offers a wealth of exciting sights and experiences for the whole family to enjoy.

Some of the best family-friendly safari parks in South Africa include:

  • Little Garonga in Makalali Game Reserve
  • Chitwa Chitwa in Sabi Sands
  • Kwandwe Ecca Lodge
  • The Wilds Nature Reserve in Johannesburg
  • The Morukuru Family in Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Thornybush in Kruger National Park
  • The PheZulu Safari Park in Durban
  • Sibuya Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth
  • The Homestead in Nambiti

By choosing a family-friendly safari park, you’ll ensure that every member of your family has an unforgettable and enjoyable South African safari adventure.

Wildlife Conservation and Responsible Tourism

Planning your South African safari should involve taking into account the significance of wildlife conservation and responsible tourism. You can do this by choosing accommodation and tour companies that:

  • reinvest their income into conservation efforts
  • engage in responsible safari tourism
  • ensure your safari supports wildlife conservation and local communities

You’ll contribute to the protection of the wildlife and local communities that make your safari experience possible.

P.S. South African safari parks and destinations positively contribute to wildlife conservation by channeling profits back into conservation schemes, providing income to protect threatened species, and reinvesting income into conservation efforts. By supporting wildlife conservation and practicing responsible tourism, you’ll help ensure that future generations can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of South Africa’s wildlife.

Budgeting for Your South Africa Safari

A South African safari can be an affordable adventure, with options to suit a wide range of budgets. On average, a safari in South Africa can range from $220 per person for a two-day budget lodge safari to more luxurious accommodations with higher prices. It’s important to consider factors such as accommodations, transportation, and activities when planning your budget.

To find the best value for your South African safari, research different safari options and compare prices for accommodations, transportation, and activities. This will help you find a safari experience that fits your budget and meets your expectations for the adventure of a lifetime.

Tips for a Successful South Africa Safari

Preparing meticulously is key to a successful South African safari. Be sure to pack essential items, such as:

  • Gloves
  • A scarf
  • A warm hat
  • Insect repellent
  • A zoom lens for your camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • A hat
  • Lip balm
  • A lightweight waterproof rain jacket
  • A day backpack
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Binoculars

P.S. Before embarking on your safari adventure, consult with your travel clinic or physician for advice on vaccinations and health precautions, such as malaria medication and protection from mosquito bites. Staying updated on the latest COVID-19 travel advice and following recommended health guidelines will also ensure a safe and enjoyable South African safari experience.

Comparing South African Safaris to Other African Destinations

While South African safaris offer numerous unique attractions and experiences, how do they stack up against other African destinations like Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana? Let’s begin by reiterating that each of these destinations offers remarkable biodiversity and unforgettable wildlife experiences. Kenya and Tanzania, for example, are renowned for their expansive savannahs and the Great Migration. South Africa and Botswana, on the other hand, are known to offer extraordinary landscapes and a more exclusive safari experience.

When comparing South African safaris to other African destinations, consider factors such as the type of wildlife you wish to see, the landscapes you’d like to explore, and your preferred level of exclusivity and luxury. Ultimately, each destination offers incredible safari experiences, and the choice will depend on your personal preferences and interests.


A South African safari offers a thrilling adventure through diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you choose a self-drive safari, a guided tour, or a luxury safari, South Africa has something to offer every traveler. With careful planning, responsible tourism practices, and a spirit of adventure, your South African safari will be an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Next, we look at the frequently asked questions about South Africa Safaris. 

What part of South Africa is best for safari?

For an incredible safari experience, head to the Greater Kruger Region in South Africa. As the oldest and largest area of undisturbed natural bush in the country, Kruger National Park offers visitors a stunning view of ancient migration routes and remarkable wildlife.

What is the best time to go on safari in South Africa?

The best time to go on safari in South Africa is from May to September when the east of the country experiences its dry season. This makes wildlife watching easier as there is less vegetation and animals are concentrated around water sources.

What does a safari in South Africa cost?

A safari in South Africa can cost as little as $50 per person per day, allowing you to explore its unique landscapes, wildlife, and people. Mid-range safaris start at $200 while top-end safaris can cost from $400.

What are the top safari destinations in South Africa?

Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, and Sabi Sand Game Reserve are some of the top safari destinations in South Africa.

How can I contribute to wildlife conservation during my South African safari?

Travelers can make a positive contribution to wildlife conservation during their South African safari by selecting eco-friendly lodges and tour companies, engaging responsibly in safari tourism, and supporting conservation and local communities.