Southern Africa Safaris - Travel Guide, Packages, Cost & More

Southern African safari tours
South Africa is home to over 297 species of mammals

Creating a definitive guide to the best Southern Africa safari destinations is no easy feat. Why? Well, the country is packed to the rafters with some of the most spectacularly diverse destinations on the planet.

For this blog post, we’ve enlisted the help of our best, most-traveled safari experts. In it, you’ll find a list of some of the top safari destinations in South Africa. We’ll also explore unique South African experiences and the best time to visit the country for an unforgettable safari experience.

But First…

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Key Takeaways

  • Explore the best safari destinations in Southern Africa
  • Visit during the dry season (June to October) or combine your safari with other attractions such as beaches, Winelands, hot air balloon rides & guided walking tours.
  • Experience responsible travel through eco-friendly lodges/camps, wildlife conservation initiatives & support of local communities.

South Africa Safaris: Exploring the Best Safari Destinations in South Africa

Southern African safari tours
South Africa is home to over 297 mammal species

From the vast landscapes of Kruger National Park to the massive elephant herds at Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa is home to some of the most diverse national parks on the planet. In this section, we guide you through some of these incredible national parks and reserves.

Kruger National Park

South Africa safari
Kruger National Park is home to approximately 12,000 elephants

Arguably one of the most renowned game reserves in Africa, Kruger National Park offers a safari experience unlike any other. For one, the park plays host to an astounding 147 mammals including all of the Big Five as well as over 517 bird species. 

The park is also home to a handsome population of predators including 2,800 lions and over 2,000 leopards (it is dubbed the most likely place in the world to spot a leopard).

Addo Elephant National Park

Southern Africa safaris
Addo houses 5 of South Africa’s biomes which is more than any other park in the country

For a memorable encounter with Africa’s gentle giants- elephants- Addo Elephant National Park is the place to be. Established in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 elephants in the area, the park has grown into a remarkable success story, now housing over 600 African elephants.

But it’s more than just elephants when it comes to Addo. The park proudly holds the title of being the only Big 7 park in the world. The Big 7? Yes, the Cape Buffalo, lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, the white shark, and the southern white whale.

And there’s still more! The park is also the third largest in South Africa and with it comes five different biomes which support a diverse array of wildlife.

P.S: Addo is a perfect starting point for exploring the picturesque Garden Route and the breathtaking Table Mountain.

Madikwe Game Reserve

Southern African safari tours
Madikwe is home to 60 lions

Experience the luxury and exclusivity of Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa’s leading malaria-free safari destination. The reserve is home to the Big Five, with lions, elephants, and rhinos particularly visible. Much like the private reserves bordering Kruger, Madikwe offers guided game drives in open-top 4x4s, providing a truly unique and unforgettable safari experience.

P.S: Visit during the dry season from May to October for optimal wildlife viewing opportunities.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

Southern Africa safaris
Rhinos grazing at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park

Step back in time at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest game reserve in Africa. Famous for its successful rhino conservation efforts, the park is also home to a wealth of other fascinating wildlife, including:

  • The Big Five
  • Giraffes
  • Zebras
  • And more

Experience the park’s history and immerse yourself in the beauty of its landscapes, all while supporting the ongoing efforts to protect these magnificent creatures.

Planning Your South Africa Safari Adventure

Optimizing your South Africa safari holidays requires careful consideration of your timing, budget, and accommodation.

In this section, we’ll help you navigate these factors and plan the perfect safari experience tailored to your interests and preferences.

Choosing the Right Time to Visit

The best time for a Southern Africa safari is during the dry season, typically from June to October when wildlife is easier to spot due to thinner vegetation and animals congregating around water sources.

Kruger National Park, for example, offers fantastic wildlife viewing in October, while Madikwe Game Reserve is best visited between May and October.

Choice of Accommodation

Southern Africa offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every taste, from luxurious lodges to budget-friendly camping options. While luxury lodges like Sun City go all out by providing personalized services and top-notch amenities, budget-friendly camps offer a more affordable and immersive experience. For those looking to make an informed decision, South Africa safari reviews can be a valuable resource when planning your South African safari holiday.

Combining Safari with Other Attractions

You could make your South African holiday more memorable by incorporating other attractions during your visit South Africa safari. From exploring the stunning beaches of Cape Point and the natural beauty of the Eastern Cape to indulging in the charm of Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands, there are countless ways to experience the best of Southern Africa beyond your safari adventure.

Unique Safari Experiences in South Africa

For those in search of a distinct safari experience, Southern Africa provides a range of exceptional options, from soaring above the savannah in a hot air balloon to embarking on a guided walking safari.

Hot Air Balloon Safaris

With hot-air balloon safaris, you get to enjoy the stunning beauty of Southern Africa from a different perspective. The balloon slowly glides above the landscape, providing a breathtaking view of its scenery and wildlife. Some of the best destinations for a hot-air balloon safari include Sossusvlei in Namibia, Hazyview, and Cape Winelands in South Africa, as well as the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Walking Safaris

For a closer connection with nature, consider a guided walking safari through the African bush. Led by experienced guides, walking safaris allow you to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the wilderness, providing unparalleled opportunities for close encounters with the region’s incredible wildlife.

P.S: Walking safaris are perfect for exploring safari destinations like Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe and Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park.

Bird Watching Tours

With over 850 bird species, South Africa is a paradise for bird lovers. Some of the top birding destinations in the country include Cape Town, Kruger National Park, and De Hoop Nature Reserve

P.S: While East Africa is known for its wildlife, South Africa holds its charm for bird enthusiasts.

Responsible Safari Travel in South Africa

As a responsible traveler, it’s important to evaluate the impact of your safari adventure on the environment and local communities. In this section, we’ll explore responsible safari practices, including eco-friendly lodges and camps, wildlife conservation initiatives, and ways to support local communities during your journey.

Eco-Friendly Lodges and Camps

Eco-friendly lodges and camps in South Africa prioritize sustainability and minimize their impact on the environment. These accommodations utilize sustainable design principles, renewable energy sources, and support local communities, all while providing a comfortable and luxurious stay.

Wildlife Conservation Initiatives

Protecting Southern Africa’s unique wildlife, including the endangered African wild dog, is paramount to ensuring the long-term survival of these incredible species. Many safari operators in the region support wildlife conservation initiatives such as anti-poaching efforts, habitat restoration, and reintroduction of endangered species.

Supporting Local Communities

Backing local communities is a significant aspect of responsible safari travel. Choose safari operators that prioritize community involvement and benefit-sharing, ensuring that your adventure contributes to the well-being of those who call this beautiful region home.

Engaging with local communities, learning about their culture, and purchasing locally-made products are just a few ways you can make a positive impact during your Southern Africa safari adventure.


From the majestic landscapes of Kruger National Park to the intimate encounters at Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa offers a safari experience unlike any other. 

As you plan your unforgettable adventure, consider the timing, safari style, and unique experiences that will make your trip truly special. And remember, by traveling responsibly and supporting local communities, you can help ensure the preservation of this incredible region for generations to come. So, what are you waiting for? Your Southern Africa safari adventure awaits!

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we answer the most frequently asked questions about South Africa safaris. 

What part of South Africa is best for safari?

Kruger National Park in the northeast of South Africa is widely considered to be the best safari spot in South Africa. With its vast expanse of wild beauty and few crowds, this park is a great destination for those looking for an exciting and unique safari experience.

Is Kenya or South Africa better for safari?

For those short on time, South Africa offers greater chances of seeing more wildlife in a shorter space of time due to the fenced-in park parameters.

What is the average cost of a safari in Africa?

The average cost of a safari in Africa ranges from $125 to $750 per person per night, with budget safaris averaging around $150 and luxury safaris coming in at an average of $750.

What is the best time of year to visit Southern Africa for a safari?

The best time to experience a Southern African safari is from June to October when the weather is dry and ideal for game viewing.

What are the different safari styles available in Southern Africa?

Southern Africa is the perfect destination for an unforgettable safari experience, with a range of safari styles to choose from such as guided game drives, walking safaris, and aerial safaris.