A country of many flourishing wilderness areas and proclaimed nature reserves, South Africa has an almost inestimable number of commercial safari lodges offering wildlife experiences and safari accommodation to visitors eager to meet our wildlife in their natural habitats. This creates something of a choice dilemma: how to choose an option wisely –  particularly for travellers attempting to make their selection unassisted, from such a plethora of options available.

Factors to take account of when choosing a safari lodge option:

  • Distance you’re prepared to travel.
  • Whether you will self-drive or use a private charter. Private charter is quicker, but a significantly more expensive option.
  • Are you wanting an extra-remote location, or one that is more readily accessible from major cities?
  • how to choose a safari lodge in south africa
    For travellers who prefer an ultra-remote safari outpost, and one where birding is outstanding, The Outpost and Pel’s Post are perfect choices. Guests would need to be willing drive at least 7 hours to reach these lodges.
  • The amount you are willing to spend. Levels of luxury and corresponding prices vary enormously.
  • For a lower spend, bear in mind that May – September is considered non-peak season, during which special rates are offered more frequently.
  • How much personal space will you need, and what level of personal service? Numerous camps offer spacious villa-type accommodation to families and small groups on an exclusive-use basis, with access to a dedicated safari guide and vehicle, and personal chef. This allows guests to create their own safari schedule and enjoy the utmost privacy.
  • Whether you prefer a catered, partially catered or self-catering safari.
  • safari advice and choices south africa
    Bush Villas on Kruger is an upmarket self-catering safari choice and a great way to enjoy a family safari on your own terms. This accommodation is 2 km away from Kruger National Park where you can do self-drive day safaris.
  • Whether or not you are willing to visit an area that carries a malaria risk. There are several areas in South Africa that carry no or negligible malaria risk, making them excellent choices for people travelling with elderly or vulnerable guests.
  • Are you requiring special amenities, such as an equipped photographic hide, spa, fitness centre? 
  • safari advice and choices south africa
    Jaci’s Lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve have the Terrapin Hide, a state-of-the-art undergound hide ideal for photographers.
  • Do you have mobility or health challenges requiring specifically enabled facilities?
  • how to choose a safari lodge in south africa
    Ximuwu is a superbly luxurious safari lodge in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, and one that has gone the extra mile to cater for guests with special accessibility requirements.
  • Would you prefer to stay in a fenced or unfenced camp in an area with large predators?
  • Would you want tented or brick-and-mortar safari accommodation? Both are available at all levels of the luxury spectrum.
  • safari advice and choices south africa
    Saseka Tented Camp is a luxury safari outpost set along a curve of the dry Monwana riverbed in Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Exquisite contemporary design makes the tents supremely beautiful havens in the wilderness.
  • Would you prefer to visit a reserve without dangerous predators, where you could walk freely?
  • safari advice and choices south africa
    Bushveld Bivouac Private Camp is a gorgeous self-catering bush camp on a farm near Hoedspruit. Set in a flourishing natural wilderness with plains game and no dangerous predators, this appealing getaway accommodates visitors in four beautiful tented hideaways and a cottage retreat. Go walking and biking on the farm, and spot animals and birds. The Kruger Park’s Phalaborwa Gate is 40 minutes away.
  • Do you have any specific dietary requirements that the lodge would need to meet? Many safari lodges provide Halaal and / or Kosher food, and are well staffed to cater to any other specific dietary requirements, but prior notice is generally required. At Ivory Tree Game Lodge in the Pilanesberg, for example, there is a separate and  exclusively kosher kitchen, with private dining and lounge area and private pool, with a private vehicle and guide for safaris. This provision is ideal for families requiring strictly kosher dining.
  • Have you considered seasonal factors? In South Africa May – Sep is the dry season in many wilderness areas. Vegetation is more sparse, which makes for easier game spotting. The weather is generally cool and dry and chilly overnight. October – April is the wet season, during which vegetation is more dense and wildlife harder to spot. The landscape is beautiful and green in this fertile season. November – February is the birthing season for many species, and this is a precious time to see young animals make their debut. 
  • safari advice and choices south africa
    A mother and her cubs having a drink at Dulini in Sabi Sand Reserve
  • What kind of terrain would you prefer? Safari areas in South Africa are mostly bushveld areas. There are also desert areas, and riverine areas and wetlands. In the latter case, water-based wildlife viewing can also be enjoyed alongside bush-based game experiences.
safari advice and choices south africa
Sibuya Game Reserve is set along the Kariega River in the Eastern Cape and offers a combination of bush and water activities, beginning with a scenic boat cruise from reception at Kenton-on-Sea, along the Kariega estuary, to your accommodation.
  • Do you have special interests for your safari? You may have a special interest in photography, astronomy, birding, frogs, or some particular type of terrain? Or you may like to include yoga, art or wellness in your safari? Horseback safaris, hot-air balloon safaris, walking safaris and golf safaris are among the various special interest safaris to be enjoyed, if you know which lodges to book.
  • Get Help to Book Your Safari: Exclusive Getaways has been booking safaris in South and Southern Africa for 33 years. You are welcome to make use of our expertise. Mail us, or speak to a consultant on +27 21 797 7122.