What to Keep in Mind for Your South African Safari
Millions of international tourists visit South Africa every year.
They come for the sunshine, the glorious beaches, cultural attractions, and the genuine hospitality of the people. Most of all they come to see the incredible wild animals that thrive in the pristine conserved wilderness areas and game reserves.
If you’re thinking about a South African safari, read on for some tips on how to make the most of it.
The best time to embark on a South African safari is during the South African winter.
It’s the dry season at most of the game reserves. During these months water is scarce, and wild animals come out to rivers and waterholes more often to drink. The bush is also less dense, making wildlife easier to spot and photograph.
No matter when you choose to travel, you need to pack a few essentials for your South African safari.
1. Sun Protection
Like most of the continent, South Africa isn’t only hot during the summer. It’s not unusual for temperatures to reach into the high 70s during the coldest months of the year.
Sunglasses and a hat are the best defense against the hot climate. And you can slather on sunscreen for even more protection.
2. Light Clothing
Light, breathable fabric is a must-have for every safari excursion.
Despite the daytime highs, nights can still make you shiver. The cooler temperatures may be mild by normal standards but pack a jacket anyway. You’ll need it on early morning and evening game drives.
At dinnertime, guys can wear a collared shirt and tailored pants. Ladies can pack a simple dress and sandals. You’ll look elegant while still remaining relaxed.
And don’t forget your swimsuit for lazy afternoons by the pool.
3. Sturdy Shoes
Hiking boots or shoes with long socks work best for walking in the bush. Long pants will protect your legs from thorny plants and insect bites.
Save the sneakers and casual shoes for camp.
4. A Camera
Because how else will you capture all the amazing sights of your South African adventure? You don’t need the latest Nikon, just a decent zoom lens to find and photo nature’s shier creatures.
For your own sanity, everyone should have their own pair of binoculars. You’ll avoid arguing over it to make the most of a rare sighting, and never miss a thing!
Double check that you have all the necessary chargers, adapters, and memory cards you need. And bring a laptop to store the pictures – you will have a lot of them.
Shopping on Arrival
If you’re missing any of the essentials, don’t fret. When you arrive in Cape Town or Johannesburg, you can buy most of what you need (at favourable exchange rates).
Give yourself a few days to get used to your surroundings. Explore the sights of these cities before you head off on safari.
A Word on Safety
The biggest thing you have to fear on your South African safari is also the smallest – the malaria-carrying mosquito.
Talk to your doctor about getting any necessary vaccines before you leave. You should also keep a supply of bug spray handy while you’re there.
The best South African safari lodges have stringent mosquito-control programs in place. Few tourists have ever left sick, but it pays to be cautious.
You won’t have to fear much crime either, thanks to the game lodges’ remote locations.
Still, take sensible security measures. Keep your valuables locked up in your room, safe and out of sight, while you’re out adventuring.
While on safari, you will come into contact with a magnificent array of animals. As magnificent as they are, they all have the potential to be dangerous. Show them respect and always follow your game guide and ranger’s instructions to the letter – they are well-trained professionals that know how to give you the best, and safest, experience.
Most of the wild animals at top game reserves are used to people. They won’t attack you unless you give them a reason to.
Depending on where you are, public transport in South Africa can be a little unreliable. If you want to fully explore the country, hire a car.
If you’ve booked an all-inclusive safari, however, your hosts will arrange airport transfers for you. You won’t need to hire a car. In fact, you can even book a charter flight right on to the reserve.
Tipping During Your South African Safari
The waiters like tips in South Africa (who doesn’t?) and the norm is 10% as a rough guide. Tip according to how much you enjoyed your experience and the service.
If you want to leave a tip for the busboys or cooks at the game lodge, check with your host about how.
If the reserve you visit sponsors any community projects, you can visit these villages during your South African safari.
Many of these villagers live in poverty, and support is welcome. It is recommended to make any donations to a local charity that supports these communities. Those organizations will put your generosity to good use and provide the villagers with what they need.
Mealtimes and the Great Outdoors
You’ll enjoy eating outside the most during your South African safari.
Communal dining rooms extend out onto open decks, overlooking watercourses and lush, natural gardens. You can also dine in the privacy of your own accommodation.
Outdoor boma braais (barbeques) are an evening delight, taking place in a cordoned-off area under the night skies, with a blazing campfire in the middle.
Bask in the sunset with drinks and breathtaking views from your scheduled game drive. Then the next morning, feast on a picnic breakfast after sunrise!
See You Soon
Truth is, you will always be surprised on a South African safari. Every day brings new discoveries.
If you want to share your adventure or ask about one, get in touch with the Sabi Sands Game Reserve today.