South Africa offers the perfect destination for showing the family some animal magic. Few countries in Africa can provide such a diverse range of experiences in one visit. The canny traveller can combine the vibrant city life with winelands, beaches and forests with a trip on the wild side. South Africa has almost every type of safari for every level of expertise and budget. With more than 1,500 miles of coast, and 21 national parks nestled in individual ecosystems that range from mountains to mangroves, there is something for everyone. And when it is time to relax, the choice of accommodation is wider than anywhere else in Africa – from simple campsites to luxury lodges – and the staff are enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
Most travellers want to see the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) and, with the right itinerary, a stay of three nights the chances of seeing all five animals are good (although never guaranteed). A great option with the family is the Eastern Cape as it is, unlike most other safari destinations, malaria free. Most game viewing is conducted on game drives, however, getting close to nature by exploring on foot is a fantastic experience to acquaint you to smaller creatures and insects and an introduction to game tracking, great fun for children of all ages!
And to end the perfect trip? Obviously the sea side! KwaZulu-Natal beaches offer the perfect location for diving, snorkelling and boat expeditions. Between November and the end of February expect to see hundreds of leatherback and loggerhead turtles come on to the beaches to lay their eggs. The warm Indian Ocean waters here are teeming with marine life, from 8 species of whale to 1,250 species of ﬁsh. A perfect end to a sensational trip and one that will be full of memories that will make you smile for years to come.
‘At-a-Glance’ Illustrative Itinerary
DAY 1: Arrive in Johannesburg in the morning and head for the spectacular mountains overlooking Eastern Transvaal for your first night stop.
DAY 2: Continue on a scenic drive to your first game reserve, Tshukudu Private Game reserve, in the Limpopo Province stopping at several viewpoints along the way. In the afternoon go on your first game drive of the holiday.
DAY 3: Another game drive in the morning and chance to walk in the reserve with the rangers. In the afternoon visit a lion breeding and conservation project that is run in the park, for re-introduction into the wild. Return to the lodge for some leisure time and a swim in the pool.
DAY 4: After breakfast drive into the Kruger National Park. The park is now one of the most prolific animal habitats in South Africa, committed to animal conservation and home to all the Big 5 and many others. Bird life is just as impressive.
DAY 5: Shortly after sunrise you will set out for a full day game watching, stopping at various water holes to see buffalo or antelope taking a drink. Lunch will be in one of the park’s restaurants.
DAY 6: After a morning game drive you will leave the park passing through rural townships to the small kingdom of Swaziland. The drive takes you through some spectacular scenery and traditional homesteads as you continue towards Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, one of Swaziland’s best reserves.
DAY 7: The morning game viewing is on foot! As Mlilwane is a large open area of grasslands game viewing is relatively easy. You will hunt for zebra, wildebeest, impala, nyala and warthog. The afternoon is at leisure or you can take one of the many self-guided walking trails.
DAY 8: Today you leave Swaziland for the Indian Ocean at the northern settlement of Kosi Bay, near Mozambique. In the afternoon explore the pristine beach, wade among the iconic traditional Tsonga fish traps, snorkel in the estuary or go hippo spotting.
DAY 9: Day at leisure
DAY 10: Your journey continues down the coast to visit a Zulu village and learn about their lifestyles. Depending on the time of year it is possible to spot giant turtles coming ashore (November to March).
DAY 11: Day at leisure with the option to do some whale-watching (June to November) or boat trip to spot hippos and crocodiles.
DAY 12: Drive to Durban for your flight home.