How to Choose the Right Safari in South Africa

February 25, 2013 by

Day Trips, Things To Do, Top Attractions, Tours & Activities, Travel Tips

Elephants on safari in South Africa.

Taking a safari trip in South Africa is one of those experiences many people have on their life lists – most people are lucky to go on one African safari in their lifetime. Not only that, the cost of safari trips can vary widely. These are a couple of the reasons why it’s important to find the right safari – and here’s how to choose the right safari for your trip.

Decide When to Go

There are safaris available in South Africa year-round, and each season offers perks for travelers. During the winter months, it can be easier to spot animals because some of the foliage is gone, but because of this the winter tends to be the high season for safaris. This results in higher prices and more people in each safari vehicle. In the summer, although animals may be more challenging to spot sometimes, it’s the low safari season. This means you’re more likely to find discounted prices and less-crowded safari vehicles. If you’d like to have a chance to spot baby animals on safari, be sure to read about when “baby season” is for the animals you’d like to see.

Decide Where to Go

South Africa is a big country, and depending on where you go you’ll see different animals. Every safari company will tell you which animals you could see during a game drive, based on the wildlife in the area – although, of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll see anything during a drive. Choosing the location for your South African safari may be based entirely on what animals are there. And don’t forget that you can sign up for game drives that include things like river cruises to see herds of hippos and midnight drives on the beach to look for leatherback turtles laying eggs.

Decide Whether You Want All-Inclusive

When most of us think about a safari trip, we picture the all-inclusive experience – staying in a lodge, having two game drives a day, and eating all your meals at the lodge. This sort of experience makes sense in many ways, considering how far from cities and towns you really need to go in order to see much of the wildlife. It’s not the only kind of safari trip available, however. You can opt instead to stay in a town like St. Lucia on the eastern coast, from which you can sign up for safari day trip excursions into Hluhluwe and other nearby game reserves, or even do a DIY safari in one of the parks where you can drive your own vehicle through.

Decide on Your Budget

Budget-conscious travelers often dismiss the idea of a safari out of hand, thinking it’s too expensive, or assume they’ll need to save up for years in order to take a safari trip in South Africa. The truth is that there are safari options for nearly every budget. As mentioned above, doing day trips from a home base you choose or doing a DIY safari cuts the cost of a safari experience dramatically. Also, there’s quite a gradient in terms of price range on the all-inclusive safaris, too – they’re not all high-end luxury safaris. Some are more rustic and budget-friendly. When you’re calculating the cost of an all-inclusive experience, keep in mind what the price includes. For the time you’re there, you won’t be paying extra for activities or meals, which may help put the price in perspective.

- Jessica Spiegel

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