If a breeze blowing gently around the rim of your hat, whilst navigating across thousands of acres of breath-taking terrain on the back of an open-top 4 x 4 land rover in search of wild animals that you might have only ever encountered on the Discovery channel, calls out to your soul, then South Africa without question might be just the place for you.
This beautiful and diverse country with its range of spectacular landscapes offers some of the best chances of seeing the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), from a very close proximity amongst hundreds of other wildlife species. The variety of areas to consider paired with the many excellent accommodation types on offer, leaves one rather spoilt for choice!
Take the iconic Kruger National Park region. Here you will find a number of sought after private reserves surrounding the two million hectare national park, which share an unfenced boundary. The Kruger area is home to some of Africa’s most incredible wildlife and is simply the perfect choice for a top safari experience.
Or the achingly beautiful KwaZulu-Natal region with its diversity of habitats and rugged coastline. The terrain here is so varied that it literally changes before your eyes. You might see three or four different biomes in just one safari drive such as savannah woodlands, rare sand forests, and wide open plains of vibrant wetlands.
One might also consider the Waterberg in the North Limpopo (a malaria free option), a vast and magnificent wilderness region that is more than three million years old and that lies in an intercontinental divergence zone, again offering enormous diversity in terms of its landscapes and wildlife.
Speaking of malaria free safaris, there are the Eastern Cape and Madikwe areas, perfect for those considering experiences where one does not have to concern themselves with malaria precautions. These options are therefore ideal for families with younger children or for those who are not keen to take any form of prophylactics.
Both provide exceptional wildlife sightings, excellent guides and rangers who usually have families of their own and a journey of discovery for your children who can learn all about identifying spoor-marks to baking animal shaped biscuits and playing cricket with elephant dung!
For all of these options, one can find a range of accommodation types from authentic tented camps where the emphasis is on functionality as opposed to frills, to your only-the-best-will-do, five star, ceiling-to- floor glass suites with private plunge pools and sumptuous high tea spreads. Some offer tree house sleep outs that you can call home for a night, from a simple deck under the stars to a luxurious 50 square metre house with all of the amenities you could desire. Most have a small spa or treatment room and delight in their cuisine which ranges from humble but wholesome buffets around an open fire, to candle lit a la carte fine dining.
The dry winter months between June and September are best for clement days and nippy nights, but with maximum visibility for sightings. Photographers and bird lovers may prefer the lush summer period between November and March where everything is in an abundant state and dripping with life!
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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