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South Africa Safari

The ultimate safari guide for your trip to South Africa

Get to Know South Africa

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By Andre Van Kets

Co-founder, Discover Africa

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Johannesburg and the Highveld are cool but sunny by day, very cold at night, and dry.

Cape Town and the Western Cape are warm by day, cool at night, and receive regular rainfall.

The Kruger Park and its surroundings are hot by day, cool at night, and dry.

  • June is an ideal time for beach holidays on the Indian Ocean coastline of the KwaZulu-Natal coast, which tends to be temperate to hot over the nominal winter months, and very dry. Conditions on the coast of the Eastern and Western Cape are less predictable and cooler.
  • Game viewing in the Kruger Park and other reserves tends to be good in the dry season, as animals congregate close to perennial water sources and the undergrowth clears to improve visibility making it a perfect time for a Kruger trip.
  • Hikers should be alert to the substantial risk of snow and treacherous weather on the mountain peaks in the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg over June/July.
  • Accommodation in tourist areas is usually relatively quiet in June, but try to avoid the winter school holiday that usually falls over late June and early July.

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South Africa

How it Works

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Contact us or fill out an enquiry form and one of our travel experts will help you tailor make your perfect safari

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Enjoy an authentic African experience.

Why South Africa?

  • Endless choices of breathtaking scenic hiking trails
  • Spectacular birdwatching and a diverse flora kingdom
  • Delicious selections of cuisine and wine tastings
  • Some of the best white sandy beaches
  • An incredible abundance of wildlife, adventure, and history

Where to go in South Africa

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With over 20 years of experience, our team will help you tailor your itinerary to your perfect adventure.
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When is the best month to travel to South Africa?

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What Our Guests Have to Say?

Read recent reviews from travellers who have planned and booked their trips with us
Our African Honeymoon
Absolutely amazing advice, support and execution. Susan is a superstar!

Safari Review: 28 Day Southern Africa

Mick Stephens, Australia
13 Feb 2023
Adelle was amazing, arranging our last-minute holiday and making it simply superb!

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Anna, United Arab Emirates
21 Feb 2022
We found Serenity on our amazing Kenya safari.

Kenya Safari Review in December

Cheryl, United States
07 Jan 2020
Wonderful vacation went off without a hitch!

Sabi Sabi Camps Review

Cameron, United States
22 Mar 2018
Our agent was very efficient and replied to our emails without any...

Review of our Safari to South Africa

Madeline & Raymond Goodman, Australia
13 Jun 2015

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FAQs about South Africa

Tipping on a safari in SA is not just a gesture of appreciation for the service received; it is an integral part of the safari experience, deeply embedded in the local tourism culture. Unlike the standard 10 to 15% tipping norm in city restaurants, safari tipping etiquette is more nuanced.

Tipping Amount Guideline

While tipping is discretionary and should be guided by the level of satisfaction with the service, having a benchmark helps plan your expenses. Budgeting around $25 per person per day for general staff. This amount is shared among the lodge staff. 0However, additional gratuities are encouraged for more personalized services like those of your guides or private butlers or if you're particularly impressed by an individual's effort.

Why is Tipping a Customary Practice

Tipping etiquette on safaris enhances the travel experience, ensuring that travelers and service providers have a mutually rewarding encounter. It acknowledges the behind-the-scenes effort and expertise of guides and trackers, who provide insightful wildlife encounters to lodge staff and ensure a comfortable stay. It's not just about the monetary value but the appreciation and recognition of the exceptional service provided during your safari journey.

Tipping in Relation to Safari Costs

The suggested tipping amounts should be considered in the context of the overall cost of a safari in SA. Safaris are premium experiences, and the tipping culture reflects this exclusivity. While the amounts might seem high compared to standard restaurant tips, they are proportionate to the overall safari investment and the level of service provided.
It's hard to pinpoint only one experience regarding an iconic safari destination like South Africa. If you are a first-time visitor, the Kruger National Park, the country's flagship national park, offers exceptional Big Five safari viewing. The safari menu is wide open for repeat visitors looking to go deeper after a visit to Kruger.

Madikwe Game Reserve

Located in the North West province of South Africa, this reserve boasts a sprawling 75,000 hectares of pristine, natural terrain. From the Big Five to over 350 bird species, Madikwe Game Reserve is home to luxurious lodges and promises an unforgettable safari experience.

Augrabies Falls National Park

Augrabies Falls National Park will give first-hand insight into the conservation of endangered species such as the black rhino and the sable antelope.

Addo Elephant National Park

Located in the Eastern Cape, Addo is home to a head of over 600 elephants, making it a must-do for the SA safari bucket list. If you're passionate about bird watching, this reserve will also reward you with over 400 bird species to spot.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

This stunning Big Five reserve in the North West Province spans an impressive 55,000 hectares.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi spans 96,000 hectares and plays an essential role in conserving Southern Africa's white rhinoceros population.
South Africa is one of Africa's most formidable Safari destinations. How much a safari costs across its Big Five reserves depends on various factors such as seasonality, lodge choice, transportation, conservation levies, gratuities, and additional activities. Understanding your standard safari lodge package inclusions and budgeting for extras will help you plan for a memorable and hassle-free safari experience. These are the crucial cost considerations for your safari bucket list journey.

When You Want to Go

Seasonality: Prices for your safari adventure in South Africa can fluctuate, depending on the time of year due to peak seasons and availability. Discover Africa's Best Time To Go On Safari Calendar gives you month-by-month highlights of Africa's top safari destinations. Weather conditions, crowd levels and optimal wildlife viewing windows for the Serengeti's Great Migration, for example, are key considerations for seasonality. Explore this Peak Season vs. Low Season for Safaris in Africa guide to decide which is best for you.

Where You Choose to Stay Matters: Solo, Private, or Family and Friends Group

Number of People and Length of Stay: The more people and the longer you stay, the higher the overall cost may be. Type of Lodge: The level of luxury and amenities offered by the lodge can significantly impact the price. Entry-level lodges start around R2,500 per person per night, while top-end luxury lodges can reach up to R45,000 per night. Standard Inclusions and Exclusions: Most safaris include meals and game drives, but it's essential to clarify what the package covers to avoid unexpected expenses. Try our Safari Cost estimator tools to help you shape your budget.

Try Our Safari Cost Calculator here.

What Type of Transport Suits Your Needs
Flights and Transfers: Your preferred mode of transportation to and within South Africa can affect costs. Options include: Charter Flights: Direct flights to lodge airstrips may be pricier but offer convenience and time-saving benefits. These can be booked at an estimated cost of R8,000 each way. Scheduled Flights: These can be more affordable and in South Africa you can fly into main airports like Hoedspruit's Eastgate Airport, Kruger International, and Skukuza Airport, serviced by Airlink. Operators include FlySafair, with direct connectivity between Cape Town and Kruger International at an estimated cost of R3,000 each way. Charter Flight provider Federal Air offers private charters and more bespoke scheduled service with direct connectivity to specific lodge landing strips like Sabi-Sabi or Marataba. Conservation Levies and Park Fees: These fees contribute to wildlife conservation efforts, a vital part of ensuring a credible and authentic experience. These can vary depending on the location, ranging from R250 to R450 per night. Gratuities: Tipping guides and staff is customary. On average, budget around $25 per person per day for general staff, with additional gratuities for private butlers or exceptional service. Additional Expenses to Consider: Scheduled morning and late afternoon game drives are typically included in your lodge stay, but extras like volunteer programs, excursions, and stargazing sleeping decks may incur additional charges.
Group vs. Private Safaris
Group safaris may offer cost savings due to shared expenses, while private safaris offer personalized experiences at a premium. Discover Africa's pricing calculator, as detailed above, can help determine your budget based on your group size.
  • Light, neutral-colored clothes are recommended
  • Bring layers and pack smartly
  • A rain jacket that is both light and waterproof
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and lip balm are all good options for UV protection
  • Walking shoes that are both comfortable and stylish
  • Binoculars, camera, lenses, extra batteries, and memory card
  • A medical kit for personal use

If you are planning on visiting South Africa, you may hear that South Africa is a beautiful country and that it is the most developed country in Africa. South Africa is big and if you stick to the main cities of South Africa it is safe to travel.

  • A safari in SA is a popular choice for wildlife enthusiasts. All major safari animals can easily be seen at any of South Africa's National Parks.
  • The scenic KwaZulu-Natal parks are best for seeing rhino
  • Kruger National Park offers excellent general wildlife viewing
  • The main attraction in Sabi Sand is seeing the Big Five and it is well-known for its habituated leopards
  • Safari/bucket showers are common in mobile or tented camps where there is no permanent plumbing. They are an effective yet environmentally friendly way to shower where water is at a premium and provide plenty of hot water to wash comfortably.
  • Generally, there is an en-suite private shower stall within your tent with a “rainfall” style shower head at which you can control the water flow. Outside the tent, there is a large waterproof bag or bucket which is filled with about 10 to 15 litres (5 US gallons) of hot water before being raised with a pully/rope system to either connect to the shower pipe or fill a cistern.
  • The water is delivered at the ideal temperature so it is best to use it as soon as it arrives. Staff typically fill the showers at a pre-arranged time of day, or you simply need to give them a few minutes notice so they can get it ready.
  • All game reserves in Madikwe, the Pilanesberg and the Eastern Cape are malaria-free.
  • Most lodges and hotels will have safes for your valuables either in your room or at the reception.
  • The local currency is the South African Rand (ZAR). There are numerous currency exchange outlets and the main credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners) are normally accepted everywhere.
  • Most petrol stations and toll roads take credit cards, but always have a small amount of cash on you for tips etc. Numerous ATMs can be found in all the big towns.
  • GMT +2
  • No vaccination is mandatory for entering South Africa except for yellow fever for passengers arriving from areas affected by the disease.
  • Electricity in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and in most of the continent is 220/240 volts.
  • Most safari lodges and camps are not connected to an electrical supply. Solar lighting (backed up by batteries) is common, with many lodges having a generator, which runs part of the day (morning and late evening when guests are out on their activities).
  • Lanterns also provide light at night. In many camps running on solar power, you will not be able to use a hairdryer.
  • Tipping is common practice in South Africa. Some guidelines concerning tipping are - in the bars and restaurants, the tipping is 10% minimum but preferably more.
  • The car parks are monitored by guards or watchmen, they will often ask if you want them to keep an eye on your car while you are away. If you accept - offer them a tip of R5 or more, according to the parking time.
  • In South Africa, the petrol station attendants will fill your car with petrol - they will also check your tyre pressure, oil-water levels and clean your windscreen. This typical South African service is around R5 or more at your discretion. Tipping is always welcome in South Africa.
  • Although wildlife viewing is good throughout the year, the dry winter months of May to September are the best. During this season - animals gather at the waterholes and rivers, making them easier to spot. However, the daytime temperature is comfortable.
  • There may not be many predator mammals, but the park seems to attract more than its fair share of raptors. Look out for martial eagles, and a range of vultures - including lappet-faced, white-backed and cape vultures.
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