“The only thing dark about Africa is our ignorance of it.” – George Kimble
Many people have preconceived ideas about Africa – often based on opinions or myths. Some of these myths have been circulating for so long that they now are in fact considered as truth or fact. Misconceptions are awful things, managing to dissuade many from visiting Africa – which is very sad! Here are our top five African safari myths debunked to convince you to finally book that unforgettable African trip.
Africa is not safe:
Safety can be an issue in some African cities as it can be anywhere in the world now, but when it comes to national parks and game reserves, they are some of the safest places in the world.
Africa is all bush:
Africa is a vast continent with diverse landscapes, environments and climates in a single area. Countries have savannahs, rainforests, mountains, beaches and deserts to accommodate different travel wishes – making it easy to find whatever it is that your heart desires!
You always need a guide:
While it would be recommended that first-time traveller’s view game with a guide – once you’ve been on enough safaris you can go on self-drive safaris. Many travellers have seen the super-seven (the Big Five, cheetahs and wild dogs) on their self-drives.
To truly experience Africa, you have to “rough it”:
There is always the option of “roughing it” in the wilderness – sleeping bag and all. But there is the more popular preference and opportunity, to experience all Africa has to offer in comfort and opulence. South Africa boasts some of the most luxurious game lodges offering unrestricted access to some of Africa’s prestigious wildlife. Most game lodges offer gourmet meals and private bungalows – kitted out with all your modern amenities – that overlook the vast plains and Africa’s vibrant wildlife. Not to mention it offers some of the world’s most affordable luxury travel!
It will be too hot:
Yes, Africa’s climate is warm, but not all the time. Some countries have a cold, wet winter and others have a rainy summer. Throughout the year, most game reserves can actually get quite chilly in the morning and at night, and you will need to layer to stay warm. This’s a nice balance between the heat of the day and the cool of the night.
Animals are likely to attack you:
Animals attacking is probably the last thing you need to worry about on your safari! The wildlife, in general, prefer to avoid the company of humans, so they won’t be hunting you down any time soon…
Only expensive cameras can take good wildlife photographs:
If you own a long lens it is of course advantageous, however it is not a necessity. Many people have photographed animals within meters of the safari vehicle with a 300mm lens. What works well – if you already have one – is the Nikon D7000 with 18 megapixels. The resolution is decent and you could crop the far-away shots.
Our suggestion is that when you embark on your trip to Africa, you leave behind all myths and legends. Once you hit the tarmac, your adventure begins and you will never look back!
From remote luxury accommodations to achievement-based travel, 2018 is set to be a year of long vacations, slowing down and learning to appreciate the world around us. Here’s what the experts have to say about the trends for the year ahead:
79% of travel research is being done on mobile phones and an increase in online bookings has begun trending with 49% of these direct online bookings being made on mobile devices.
Ever since Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was published, solo travel – especially among female travellers – has gained popularity. 2018 welcome’s our solo visitors to our safe safari destinations, where the world is at your fingertips. Our private guides and luxury transfers ensure your safety at all times.
Luxury travel is increasingly being associated with remoteness and disconnectivity. This year, people are projected to dedicate more time towards travel – willing to travel farther and into destinations often difficult to get to in order to feel like they have a small piece of the world (nearly) entirely to themselves!
‘Off the beaten track’ is one of this year’s travel themes allowing visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience nature at its fullest. An example is Tswalu Kalahari – a hidden gem set literally in the middle of nowhere!
Zimbabwe and Zambia – The two hot safari destinations for 2018:
South Africa is typically considered a favourite go-to for African safaris with Zimbabwe and Zambia as add-on destinations. On the contrary, 2017 saw an increase in demand for trips to Zimbabwe and Zambia as primary destinations. This is a trend most experts believe to continue in to 2018. These two countries have luxury accommodations and crowd-free safaris – perfect for those looking towards that remote luxury vacation. Investments in both countries from infrastructure and airports to national parks has contributed to this new destination-trend. Not to mention the fact that Zambia was recently voted “safest destination in the world by skyscanner.”
For those travellers who really want to be one with nature – but really can’t, there are endless possibilities for you to be outdoorsy without sacrificing comforts and luxuries. 2018 sees an increase in bookings at luxury tented properties for the less nature-inclined to slow down, unwind and enjoy nature without actually having to “be in nature”.
2017 was the year for experiential national and international travel; connecting the traveller closely with their country or destination. This year, we will see this taken a step further with travellers pushing themselves to achieve a lifelong goals or using travel to “find themselves.”
The goal of the year is to achieve something – whether it is climbing a certain mountain or hiking a difficult trek – built into a traveller’s trip. This trend is a reflection in the travel industry of visitors wanting more from their trips than just a standard sightseeing tour.
The last six months has seen an increase in travellers booking trips for longer than two weeks – clients often pushing for around-the-country trips. According to Jacada Travel, 50% of the trips already booked are for longer than two weeks.
Travellers not tourists:
Increasingly encouraged over the years and recently trending – visitors to foreign countries prefer immersing themselves in experiences that cannot be found in guidebooks and brochures. Meeting locals and wondering through neighbourhoods has been the best way to experience cultures, from wine tasting to learning a new crafts or languages.
For all of us getting on a bus, plane or train to somewhere new… 2018 is going to be an exciting year!
‘The Big Five of Africa’ is one of the most relentlessly searched for and often mentioned phrases.
The term “big five” began as a way of referring to the five animals most difficult to hunt on foot. The lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo were the five large African mammal species that were known to hunters as dangerous and successfully hunting them was considered an accomplishment.
However, today the expression takes a much gentler approach – referring to seeing the majestic wildlife species on safari in Africa. These friendly giants are frequently sought-after for sightings, encounters and photo opportunities.
Given the formidable five’s status and significance, here are some interesting facts about the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo that we thought you might find interesting:
The lion is Africa’s top predator and the second largest big cat in the world. Roaming the savannah grasslands and open plains of Africa, these social felines are the only cats that live in groups (prides) and need a lot of contact with each other. The lions will greet each other by rubbing their heads against one another, exchanging scents that convey information about their intentions, moods and recent activities.
Females share a particularly strong bond as they remain in the same pride for life and raise their cubs together. They do all the hunting, and the males get the first helping – even when there are cubs in the pride. The hunting is done mostly at night as lions can see in the dark. They are not completely nocturnal so their most active time is just before sunrise or just after sunset. However, they are opportunistic feeders and will hunt at any time.
A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8km) away, enabling them to communicate with each other over large distances. They spend most of their time sleeping and can sleep up to 20 hours a day!
The leopard is nocturnal, solitary and secretive, staying hidden during the day. They are the least seen of the Big Five. These antisocial cats avoid interacting with each other beyond mating and raising young cubs.
Leopards are excellent at climbing trees and will often safeguard their kill in a tree to prevent lions and hyenas from stealing it. They are also strong swimmers and occasionally eat fish and crabs. Leopards can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up into trees over 20 feet (6 meters) tall.
Leopards don’t roar, they bark and snarl. When they are happy they even purr. But this is not only what makes them unique – they are the most adaptable felines! Inhabiting some of the most diverse environments of all the big cats, such as both deserts and forests – their ability to survive across a range of habitats has enabled leopard populations to survive in far flung parts of the world.
The rhino is the most endangered species of the Big Five. The illegal trade of rhino poaching is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers. Very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves.
A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull. If it breaks off it will grow back again.
The white and black rhino have no teeth and hence rely on their lips for eating.
Rhinos have poor vision and will sometimes attack trees and rocks by accident. However, their hearing and sense of smell are excellent, thus often making up for their poor eyesight.
Many trees in West African forests – at least one third – rely on evolved seeds to pass through an elephant’s digestive tract for dissemination and germination.
African elephants communicate across large distances at a low frequency that cannot be heard by humans.
Under Africa’s scorching sun, elephants get sunburnt too! They throw sand on their backs and heads to prevent sunburn and keep insects off their skin. And even though their skins are incredibly tough, they can feel those tiny insect walking on their skin!
When baby elephants are born, they are almost blind and some individuals suck their trunks for comfort, similar to the way young humans suck their thumbs.
Elephants love to swim and are able to swim for long distances. They use their trunks as makeshift snorkels. The trunk is also used for grabbing, bathing, smelling, drinking and can pick up something as small as a grain of rice.
A buffalo’s primary predator is the lion. It will try to rescue another member who has been caught or hurt and has often been observed killing a lion after it has killed a member of the group. Unlike the water buffalo – whom has an uncanny resemblance to the African buffalo – the latter is dangerous and has never been domesticated.
Dangerous, and rightly so! Buffalo are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. They still kill over 200 people every year earning them the reputation and nickname of ‘Black Death’ and ‘Widow Maker’.
Our safari-goers from across the world are eager to spot the famous rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant combination. Contact us now to learn more about our safaris to Africa’s finest Big Five viewing reserves!
As we reflect on 2017 and share what and who we are grateful for – the good and the bad times, the funny moments, the people who have entered our lives and those who have left, it is our solemn duty to acknowledge and appreciate this week’s nomination by ladies all over the world and this month’s winner of Man Crush Monday!
Introducing… JAMES HENDRY – wildlife extraordinaire, ranger above all rangers, jack of all trades, and possibly master of all.
James Hendry has spent much of his time observing the human condition and the natural environment. However, many women would prefer to spend their time observing him – and his physical condition in his natural environment, the great outdoors and more specifically the African bushveld. What once began as a great incentive to visit luxury safari lodges has now culminated in to Google Searches and Facebook comments.
But Hendry is more than just a pretty face with what many refer to as ‘dry sarcastic wit’. While (and here we justifiably generalise) all women possibly (and should have) reacted to Hendry’s topless foot race against Brent Leo Smith with unintelligible shrieks, justice will descend upon us if we omit his intellectual charm, gentle ways and his unapologetic love for animals. He has both an Honours degree in science and Master’s degree in Human Development!
Dipping his toe in many waterholes, Hendry is a published author, musician, singer, guitar teacher, actor, Safari Live filmmaker/guide and music composer. Oh, and ‘the best safari guide’ (mostly according to women guests) and makes for good conversation too. Light-hearted and humourous, Hendry will either serenade you or charm you with some light banter. Like his comic fiction novel, he is a supernova. A zenith of intellect, charm, wit, and not forgetting, easy on the eyes. Hendry will cast a spell on all women’s hearts.
For eight years after Hendry moved to the wilderness, women were unsteady and likely to collapse as he worked as a safari guide, head ranger, guide trainer, land manager and lodge manager. And so we ask the question, “Is James Hendry married?” On behalf of all the single ladies who enjoy the African bush accompanied by the tranquillity, sounds, sunsets and sunrises as much as he does.
We thought we should let you know that our beloved James Hendry is in fact NOT married. For more on this stud of a man click here.
The leopard is without a doubt the most beautiful and most elusive member of the Big Five. It’s the most sought after sighting amongst tourists and one that safari guides across Africa spend their days in search of. If you are lucky enough to see a leopard in your life… that moment will be one that you remember and treasure forever.
Leopards are solitary and stealthy predators whose mastery of camouflage makes them very difficult to spot. To increase your chance of seeing them you need to find their prime habitats where concentrations are greatest. It also really helps if guides are able to take you on night drives as well as drive off road in the reserve to follow these magnificent predators. A leopard sighting is truly a sight to behold but unfortunately seeing them really is down to luck. However, if you go to one of the 5 places listed below you will most definitely have better odds of witnessing this definitive wildlife experience.
The Sabi Sands situated on the Kruger National Park’s western boundary has an incredibly high concentration of leopard. Within the Sabi Sands your best bet is most definitely Londolozi as this pinnacle safari destination prides itself in its incredible relationship with its leopards. The reserve contains hoards of the perfect leopard prey, its lush habitat and expanse of dense trees makes is perfect for leopards and guides are allowed to drive off road and at night in search of them.
Click here to read our five favorite stories from the famous Londolozi blog.
Moremi is a truly special place as it surrounds much of the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s wildlife hotspot. With herds of small antelope, monkeys, warthogs and the like the grassy floodplains and tall forest are prime leopard country. Most of the camps allow night and off-road driving which helps considerably too. Chiefs Camp in particular sits on the Delta’s largest island and is renowned for some of the best big game viewing in all of Africa and most notably leopard viewing.
The Samburu and Masai Mara National Reserves both have great reputations for excellent leopard sightings. Samburu a dry woodland area and the Mara an open rolling grassland are both prime leopard habitats. Leopards lie especially along the rivers, in the trees and in amongst the kopjes awaiting the arrival of their prey often which consist of the great herds that move annually into the areas.
South Luangwa, Zambia
The exquisite South Luangwa Valley in central Zambia boasts one of the highest concentrations of leopard in Africa due to its high concentrations of prey. A wide and fertile alluvial plain nourished by the Luangwa River, the park’s wildlife ranges from aardvark to zebra and it has long been known for its dense concentrations of predators, especially lions and leopards. South Luangwa camps also offer some of Africa’s best walking safaris, which enable you to prowl this big predator country on foot!
The Kalahari Desert is a large “waterless” desert covering most of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is hot and rainfall is minimal but it is also home to a large collection of leopard, which graze and cool off by the few rivers in amongst the sandy plains, mostly up North towards Namibia.
A leopard sighting is one of life’s true wonders, an experience you will never forget and one that will leave you speechless and covered (head to toe) in goosebumps! We wish you all the best on your quest to get up close and personal with Africa’s most magnificent predator.
Just in case you’ve missed out – here are some of our top #iconicmoments of 2017 caught on film. We hope that wherever in the world you are… watching these transports you into the African bush for even just a few minutes.
“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa… for he has so much to look forward to.” Richard Mullin.
For all those lucky people who haven’t yet ventured towards our exquisite shores… there is so much that awaits you. To get you just a little excited… here’s just a few snapshots from June in our #monthonInstagram.
“This Risotto features Samp as the hero ingredient – replacing risotto rice with an African staple that has a lovely al dente crunch and creaminess. I’ve also added in one of my favourite vegetables – gem squash, for a delicious gentle nuttiness. It’s perfect for our chilly African winter at this time of year, but just as delicious in warmer weather with a chilled glass of white wine. Oh, and yes it tastes even better if you cook it in a traditional South African ‘potjie’ pot :).” Sarah Graham.
3-4 gem squash, halved
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Willow Creek Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or use thyme or oregano)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup samp, rinsed and soaked for at least 2 hours
½ cup Durbanville Hills White wine (optional, otherwise use extra stock)
2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup milk
¼ cup grated Parmesan (or hard cheese of your choice)
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to serve (or oregano)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
What to do
1. Add your gem squash halves to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and the flesh can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove, drain and set aside to cool before removing the seeds.
2. Meanwhile, add your butter and olive oil to a large heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add in your chopped onion and herbs and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions have softened and are translucent.
3. Add in your garlic and samp and stir well until the samp is well coated in any remaining oil and butter. Add in your wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
4. Add in your stock gradually, ladle by ladle, and leave to simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed. Then add the milk until and the samp is cooked through and creamy. Add a little extra water or stock along the way if necessary. It should be creamy and not too dry.
5. Scoop out the flesh of the gem squash and add it to the risotto. Stir until everything is well mixed together. Add in your Parmesan, check for seasoning and serve immediately in warmed bowls with a little extra grated Parmesan and fresh parsley to garnish.
Photo from ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari Season 2’ by Ricardo de Leça.
For more of Sarah’s delicious Food Safari recipes click here.
Great friend and talented photographer @grazwoodphoto has just shared his exquisite Leopards of Londolozi Collection with us. Just in case you missed these incredible shots on Instagram, take a minute and scroll down here – they will no doubt take your breath away. Thank you Graham!
We are often asked how much safaris cost. This is because it is extremely hard to find prices for safaris online, and because there is an incredibly vast range of safari tours available—each type of safari tour obviously has its own associated costs, depending on the travel agent that you use.
Iconic Africa showcases the African destinations which best represent our values of the utmost luxury, world-beating African hospitality, delectable contemporary cuisine and most importantly an authentic commitment to wilderness conservation.
We aim to give you the most comprehensive quotations by detailing all of the expenses that you will incur during your safari adventure. We pride ourselves on the fact that our quotations have no hidden costs and no hidden surprises. Here’s what you need to know about safari costs.
Good safaris are expensive, however, you truly get what you pay for. We cater for mid- to high-end, boutique safaris which means our focus is on luxury, excellent service, and unforgettable safari experiences. It is important to remember that Africa is a huge continent. Great distances need to be covered by either cars, airplanes, or both. Therefore travel costs often make up a large portion of your safari expenses.
Because we cater for mid- to high-end safaris, the lodges that we choose are only the best of the best. Guests can expect a large staff complement at all lodges—in fact, the staff-to-guest ratio at most of the lodges that we recommend is a 3:1 ratio. This is to ensure that our clients are treated like absolute royalty. Of course, excellent accommodation and gourmet meals are world-class too. The lodges that we have on offer pride themselves on exclusivity and, of course, fewer visitors means fewer vehicles, which ultimately means a more exceptional and much more intimate wildlife experience for you.
We specialise in tailor-made safaris which ensures that our clients are not limited to pre-set itineraries or specific dates. Our clients can choose their own accommodation and they can indicate which activities they would like to experience on their safari. Our clients tell us what they want the focus to be on (for example, game viewing, birds, cats, relaxation, romance etc.), and we make sure that their expectations are not only met but exceeded. Read more in our Iconic Africa Promise
Our itineraries are perfectly planned out and drafted with each, individual client in mind. They are highly intricate and specific, so you will never be met with nasty shocks or unpleasant surprises. They contain comprehensive information about where, when, and with whom you should meet, and we set up the itineraries in such a way so that they are easy to read and the important information is easy to find. The itineraries also indicate where any costs are not covered by travel agency costs or accommodation costs.
So, what do we include in your quotation? Our quotations include all of your internal flights with specific details about each flight—such as when and where to meet, and who will pick you up to take you to and from the various airports. We also include details about all of your transfers, and all of your vehicles costs will be included. The quotation includes your day tours with specific details, and rental costs for rental cars and accommodation costs are also included in the quote.
Iconic Africa’s relationship dates back decades with the Varty family and Londolozi. After so many years of support and so many happy memories there, we are proud to feature Londolozi as our property of the month.
Terri not only has been going there for the last twenty years but she even got engaged there and John had two very memorable years there as a game ranger. Not to mention the fact that it was on one such unforgettable Londolozi safari that John drove Terri and her family and, through their mutual love and knowledge of Africa, they conceptualised Iconic Africa.
We’d like to highlight and showcase the special place Londolozi has in our hearts so that hopefully one day it will have one in yours too.
Watch the video below to get a feel for the absolute magic that awaits you at Londolozi.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
These are Einstein’s words. In Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2014, Londolozi was named the best hotel in the world! A global honour of colossal proportions. Londolozi effortlessly exceeds all expectations on a luxury, hospitality, wilderness and experiential front – however when anyone who knows Londolozi well, is tasked with describing this African wonder they are immediately confronted by the difficulty of portraying the intangible. It is this indiscernible x factor, which sets Londolozi aside from the rest!
Let us put the necessary emphasis on those last three words of the aforementioned award:
In. The. World.
Falling under the awards was another category – Top 20 Safari Lodges & Camps in Africa – and, as can be expected when you’re the World’s Best Hotel (too much emphasis? – we think not), Londolozi claimed top position. Three of Londolozi’s five lodges, namely Granite, Pioneer and Tree are Relais & Chateaux properties and these lodges are true to the elegance and attention to detail that this world-renowned signature embodies. The remainder of the five, Founders and Varty are not to be overlooked. Varty Camp is adored for its deep history and endearing charm, and Founders is equally deserving of complimentary adjectives: sophisticated, warm and classic. Awards aside – and we’ve only skimmed the surface of the property’s accolades – Londolozi’s reputation continues to soar thanks to the oldest advertising there is: word of mouth. You see, to know Londolozi is to adore Londolozi.
There remains that which is difficult to pin down with mere words. But before we address that, let us first touch on the wildlife. To delay it any longer would be to ignore why everyone is drawn to this place and when we say everyone, we meant it; both those who call it home and those who travel across continents to experience Londolozi with their own eyes, their own minds and, of course, their own hearts. It’s mandatory for us to say the Big 5. There it is, we’ve said it. But let’s crack the term open and put a magnifying glass to the one member of the quintet that Londolozi is famed for: Leopards. Anyone who has spent time in the African wilderness – besides Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve – appreciates that Leopards are elusive creatures. Some South Africans visit the bush time and time again and these graceful cats continue to elude them and then one day, let’s call it a Tuesday morning; they get up at sunrise and spot a female Leopard through their binoculars. It’s a brief and distant sighting – just an outline in the approaching day – but it’s enough to put a grin on their face for the rest of the week.
Considering this reality, it seems almost cruel to speak of the intimate leopard sightings at Londolozi. It is common for game drives to spend an hour or two with a leopard and this familiarity extends into every aspect of the cats’ lives: hunts, cubs, mating, territorial spats… When it comes to Londolozi, calling it a Leopard sighting is misleading because the word implies a fleetingness that is just not a factor. Lions too are generous with their presence; loitering in the grass, unfazed by the vehicles they allow to share large chunk of their days whether it be lazing in the grass, chasing a herd of impala through the bushveld or rearing their young. Not to be forgotten, elephants, rhinos and buffalo punctuate game drives through this beautiful reserve.
And so now, finally, let us turn to the energy that is so difficult to capture. There is no better place to start than with the name: Londolozi. Derived from the Zulu word, “to protect,” John, Dave and Shan Varty took the decision to leave the farm’s history of hunting behind them and build, instead, a sanctuary for all living things. Londolozi’s pioneers did not discard the past, they evolved it and so the charm, stories and character of the property’s previous generations was cherished and passed onto their own children.
Generations of striving for perfection
Here exists one of the pillars that defines Londolozi: it is family run. Blood is not the only determining factor of that family, it branches into friendships that were forged on the land and reaches back into eight decades, encircling those that are no longer physically present yet remain nonetheless.
We read somewhere that thoughts are infinite. That once formed they travel into space and time, never ceasing to exist. If this assertion is true, it can be used to explain Londolozi’s energy: Running back five generations are men and women who considered the land sacred, who sat together, after another perfect day in Africa, around an open fire with the people they loved most and ate and drank and told each other stories – sometimes the same one for the tenth time – and these moments gave birth to a plethora of happy thoughts and sentiments. The thoughts of Londolozi’s yesteryears are still felt today and they are affirmed by everyone who lives and visits the property in recent years. Ask any ex-ranger what the best time in his life has been and his answer will almost always be, “my years at Londolozi.
The same is true for guests. Londolozi continually shakes off other destinations to earn a position as their favourite. When everyone is, literally, having the time of their lives, the air cannot help absorb some of that liveliness. And that in itself, is the reason why you will feel, on arrival, that you instantly belong.
Londolozi is a feeling! Of course, Londolozi’s absolute luxury goes without saying, however if you are to understand this incredible place and it’s feeling, you have to visit and experience it for yourself!
If you’d like to come and see for yourself we promise you won’t be disappointed. Contact us now and we will craft a once-in-a-lifetime Londolozi safari for you! BUT heed our warning, book months and months (a full year or more to be on the safe side) in advance! Getting in isn’t easy!
If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, it is important to keep in mind the differences between game reserves and National Parks so that you can get the exact adventure that you have been dreaming of. Many travellers to Africa don’t realise that there is a huge difference between game reserves and National Parks, and this can often lead to disappointment because guests were hoping for a distinct type of experience.
What can be even more confusing is that private game reserves often exist within the target National Parks. For instance Singita Lebombo operates on a private concession within the Kruger National Park. Read on to learn more.
Perhaps the most striking difference between the two lies in the exclusivity and freedom that guests will encounter. If you are looking for a unique safari adventure, it is essential to book in a private game reserve. Because there are fewer safari tours that take place in private game reserves, guests are allowed to freely explore the African wilderness.
Private game reserves offer guests the opportunity to escape from the crowds that are associated with the larger National Parks. This means that guests can experience the true African bushveld all to themselves, and they won’t have to share their wildlife sightings with an enormous crowd of other vehicles.
The number of visitors to National Parks is not restricted so the safari experience is open to everyone. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that you will have to share your sightings with quite a large number of other people. ‘Traffic jams’ are a real thing in National Parks as visitors scramble about to view animals that have been sighted. Visiting a National Park will also mean having to share your bucket-list safari experience with all sorts of other visitors. At private game reserves, the number of vehicles that can be present at a game sighting is restricted to two or three cars which means that you are ensured the ultimate game viewing experience.
National Parks are open to everyone, so sightings are often fleeting and crowded with other visitors and tourists. Often the best photos you can get will have a car or two in the picture.
National Parks often have many tar roads that allow visitors to enjoy them in any rental car available from the airport where you arrive. Even most of the dirt roads have been well maintained and will allow you to drive on them in a regular sedan or hatchback. This makes them National Parks very accessible to visitors. Most game reserves use purpose built 4X4s in order to traverse through the wild African terrain and get you into the best possible position to view the animals.
Private game reserves are just that, private. They allow you to experience Africa’s wilderness in a more authentic fashion, where you see Africa’s animals in their natural environment, undisturbed by the vehicles around them.
Private game reserves only allow game viewing vehicles from the lodges to be used, and the rules about where you can drive are very different from the rules at National Parks. In private game reserves, game viewing vehicles are allowed to drive off-road to allow guests to search for big cats or to track specific animals. Private game reserves don’t have hours of operation like National Parks so guests are given an exclusive opportunity to experience an exhilarating night drive. This means that visitors to a private game reserve enjoy a more ‘full’ experience than visitors to a National Park.
This means that at private game reserves you get to see amazing animal interactions that often occur out of sight of main roads and would definitely be missed at most National Parks.
It is essential to have the option of going on night drive if you would like to search for nocturnal animals which won’t be visible during the day. Unfortunately, visitors to a National Park have to abide by the rules that are set by the Park. This means that game drives are restricted to certain times and to certain roads. Guests cannot enjoy night drives in many National Parks. Bush walks are another popular activity that private game reserves offer that cannot be enjoyed by guests of most National Parks.
Most National Parks generally offer self catering options like these quaint rondavels or “huts”, where luxury private game reserves are usually an all included experience, with beautifully made up rooms and sumptuous feasts waiting for you after your daily activities.
There are positives to both types of African safari, but for the ultimate luxury African safari experience we would always recommend a private game reserve.
Although it might seem that private game reserves are the way to go, it is important to remember that National Parks do offer some of the best game viewing in Africa and it is an experience that is not to be missed. Ultimately, your choice has to be based on the kind of experience you are looking for. If you are looking for exclusivity and freedom, private game reserves are your best option.