South Africa is now one of the most kickass places to visit here on Mother Earth. It is popular and the flights are always cheap, but signing up for a Safari can be super pricey, and in the busy season, they are always sold out. South Africa has 21 national wildlife parks. Passes to these reserves are affordable, and fully equipped cottages are widely available. Plus, the wildlife is unreal! So let’s do safari on a budget! Here is everything you need to know to plot out your very own safari without the waitlists and extreme prices.
First off, you need a vehicle. The roads are very well maintained, but getting something with four-wheel drive is ideal. This is a safari after all!
Second, make sure to snag an African animal guide. You’re gonna have a chance to see the big five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo) and the little five (antlion, leopard tortoise, elephant shrew, buffalo weaver and rhino beetle) all in the same park.
Third, choose your park!
Addo Elephant National Park
Why?: The park holds more than 450 elephants and it is located on the Eastern Cape so you can even do some whale watching on this leg of your Safari!
Stay: Addo Rest Camp. This camp is centrally located for exploring the park and the accommodations range from a luxury guest house to basic safari tents.
Pro Tip: Check out one of the guided safaris by horseback.
Kruger National Park
Why?: The park is over two million hectares (bigger than some countries) and is super biodiverse with countless species calling it home: 147 mammals, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 336 trees. You can spend weeks here ‘on Safari.’
Stay: Kruger showcases 12 main rest camps, two lodges and four satellite camps. The Skukuza camp is one of the most popular because it is adjacent to the Sabie River, which is a prime spot for animal watching. These main camps are like little Safari villages with ATMs, grocery stores, pools, etc.
Pro Tip: Plot out a journey to stay in a handful of the different camps around the park.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Why?: The terrain in this park is more like a desert and you’re sure to run into meerkats, lions and very large birds of prey. This is the most adventurous of the three parks. Roads are nearly all gravel, so four-wheel drive is required and thrill-seeking drivers can tackle special four-wheel trails.
Stay: Really go off the grid by staying in one of the unfenced camps like Grootkolk or Bitterpan. Cabins include gas and solar energy and fully equipped kitchens (they even have barbecues!). Just be sure to double check your shoes in the AM for scorpions.
Pro Tip: Driving after dark is not allowed, but sign up for one of the guided night drives through the park!
This DIY is just a starting point, check out sanparks.org for a lot more information.