Thursday, December 27, 2007

South Africa Weather & When to Go

Summer in South African lasts from October to February. It is generally hot, often with convection thundershowers in the late afternoon, which clear quickly to reveal pleasant evenings.
Autumn or fall in South Africa is February to April. It is generally warm and dry with days getting shorter and the temperature cooling as it gets closer to winter.
Winter in South Africa is May to July. It is generally dry and cool, with light snow falling in the Drakensburg mountains. The Cape is however wet as it gets most of its rain in winter.
August to October is spring time and the weather can be good, although rain is common.

Best time for various activities:
The best time for beach weather is late spring to early Autumn. Mid summer has the hottest weather, but is also the busiest time. Kwa Zulu Natal is the best place to spend a beach holiday in winter because of the Mozambican current flowing down the Eastern Coast.

Namaqualand flowers in the Western and Northern Cape are best seen in Spring - September

Whale watching season is from June to the end of October.

The best seasons for hiking are spring and autumn as the weather is the mildest. Summer can be very hot and have violent thunder storms while winter snowstorms can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Most people agree that winter is the best time to go on Safari as the foliage is sparse and the animals are easier to spot. Being the dry season the animals also need to go to the waterholes offering better game viewing, it is also more comfortable for us humans as it is not hot.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gourmet dining by rail

Romantic five-star dining on rails at Victoria Falls is now possible with Bushtracks Africa’s Victoria Falls Steam railways.
Guests will be picked up from the Royal Livingstone Hotel in luxury vehicles and be taken to the railway siding to board the train.The 15km journey begins in Livingstone through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, and continues along one of the most historic railway lines in Africa to a viewing point above the Zambezi River. Passengers can disembark to enjoy traditional entertainment while viewing the sunset over the river.Guests have pre-dinner drinks in the lounge or observation cars before enjoying a six course meal, prepared and served by Sun International’s Royal Livingston, in the dining carriages. This superb dining experience should not be missed.
The five carriages of the Royal Livingstone Express have been renovated by Rovos Rail.The cost per person of R985.00 includes the six course meal with wines, beers and soft drinks. The train will be available for private hire.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Travel Insurance Tips.

  1. Ensure medical coverage and emergency medical evacuation insurance are included in the travel insurance policy.
  2. Insure against the unexpected. Trip cancellation insurance will pay for any non-refundable travel costs.
  3. Shop around to get the travel insurance policy that best fits your needs.
  4. Don’t just compare the prices of travel insurance policies, also compare the benefits of the cover, what it excludes and product features.
  5. Keep the international helpline number and a copy of the policy with you at all times.
    Check what the reimbursement terms are.
  6. Does the insurance require you to pay upfront for medical bills then reimburse them, or does the policy kick in immediately?
  7. When deciding on a policy make sure you know what activities it doesn’t cover, e.g. certain sports.
  8. Ensure you understand what you can expect in terms of reimbursement. In particular, look out for the maximum amount you can claim on individual items.
  9. Check whether you are covered for loss as well as theft.
  10. Keep records (receipts) of any expensive items you are planning to take with you, e.g. cameras, expensive jewellery, etc.
  11. Report all theft or loss quickly. You should report any lost or stolen goods immediately to the local police, hotel management and travel representative. If a bag is lost or stolen at the airport, report it immediately get a receipt from the airline or baggage handler.
    Natalia Thompson TNW

Thursday, December 13, 2007

World Travel Awards

THE winners of the 14th World Travel Awards have been announced and several Southern African products are featured on the list.

South African Tourism's website, was named the World's Leading Tourist Information Website. (on which Go Safari is listed)

Other awards for Southern African operators included:
The Saxon Boutique Hotel and Spa (Johannesburg)- World's Leading Boutique Hotel

Rovos Rail's Pride of Africa - World's Leading Luxury Train
Shamwari Game Reserve (Eastern cape) – World's Leading Safari & Game Reserve

To view the full list of winners, visit

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Malaria Helpline

IGNORANCE and misinformation about malaria as well as delays in seeking appropriate treatment inspired GlaxoSmithKline, a leading pharmaceutical and healthcare company, to fund an independent Malaria Helpline
0861 MOZZIE (0861 66 99 43) for local travellers or +27 861 MOZZIE for international travellers.
The launch of 0861 MOZZIE is aimed at providing information about malaria based on current local and international malaria recommendations. “It's not only tourists and visitors to the African continent who need information about malaria, it's the vast majority of travelling South Africans as well”, said Elvis Mokoena, corporate affairs manager at GSK.
Says Dr Jaco Folmer, medical director at SAA Netcare Travel Clinics: “The hotline will provide a platform to travellers from where they can get the correct information and take the necessary precautions or alternatively seek the correct medical advice when showing symptoms”, said Folmer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SA Beaches are best

It's no secret that we in South Africa have some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. Well, the rest of the world also knows it now as recently 18 South African beaches were awarded international Blue Flag status for 2007!The Blue Flag is an exclusive eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas in 36 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean. There are 29 criteria that Blue Flag candidates are required to meet regarding water quality, safety, services and environmental education, information and management.South Africa's 2007 Blue Flag beaches are:

EASTERN CAPE Dolphin Beach, Jeffrey's Bay; Humewood Beach, Port Elizabeth; Kelly's Beach, Port Alfred; Kings Beach, Port Elizabeth; Wells Estate, north of Port Elizabeth.

KWAZULU-NATAL Addington Beach, Durban; Hibberdene Beach, South Coast; Margate Main Beach, South Coast; Marina/San Lameer Beach, South Coast; North Beach, Durban; Ramsgate Main Beach, South Coast.

WESTERN CAPE Bikini Beach, Gordon's Bay; Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town; Grotto Beach, Hermanus; Hawston Beach, near Hermanus; Kleinmond Beach, near Hermanus; Lappiesbaai Beach, Stilbaai; Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein.

Ahead of 2010, it's fantastic to hear that, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, a further 21 SA beaches are piloting the Blue Flag Programme, with the aim of achieving full accreditation in 2008 or 2009. Congratulations to all of the 2007 SA Blue Flag beaches.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2010 FIFA Worl Cup

The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be staged at 10 venues across nine South African cities. With two nd a half years to go we are set to host the world's biggest sporting event outside the Olympic Games. South Africa offers the visitor a variety of attractions. From the metropolitan cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, one can easily travel down the N1 Highway to the central city of Bloemfontein with its beautiful flora. If breathtaking coastline is what you are after, journey from the "friendly city" of Port Elizabeth, along the spectacular Garden Route, arriving in Cape Town, one of the most spectacular cities in the world! Want to take a safari? Then Nelspruit and Rustenburg offer everything including the "Big 5"! From Polokwane which is a vibrant city, rich in cultural heritage, a “Big 5” safari can also easily be arranged. Durban has a great climate and is a surfer's paradise. Visitors will find our country positively inviting, with excellent infrastructure, transport and accommodation! If you only have a few days between the games then it will be a good idea to explore the various cities and plan a decent 5 or 6 day safari after or even before the games.
To keep abreast with all plans and proceedings please visit the FIFA website for information about the tournament and click on the Destination Tab for information on SA. For all you safari, garden route and Cape Town travel requirements contact Go Safari or visit our website

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Drinking Water in SA

In South Africa, we're lucky to have good-quality drinking water, we are one of only 12 countries in the World that it is safe to drink tap water.
But that doesn't mean that all our tap water is always 100% safe.
As a general rule, it's best to get your drinking water from the cold water tap. Sometimes nasty things can get into hot water tanks and cisterns if they're poorly maintained, so rather heat drinking water up in the kettle or microwave. It's also a good idea, if you're not sure of the age or state of the plumbing, to let the cold tap run for a minute or two to flush any traces of lead or other undesirables.

From this month, for the first time, South African bottled water will be officially regulated and monitored by the Department of Health. And both here and in the United States important moves are being made to clamp down on bottled-water suppliers that don’t specify the source of the water on their labels, whether it be natural or municipal.

With water being in the news right now, we decided to dispel a few popular water myths:

Myth: Clear water is safe water
“Just because water looks clear, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing dissolved in it,” says Dr Frans Kruger, director of Purificare Water Purifiers.
Clear water may contain inorganic minerals, herbicides, pesticides, bacteria, viruses, hormones, chemicals and toxins – in other words, substances that could harm you. Municipal water quality varies from time to time and one can’t determine what’s been dumped in it just by looking at it.

Myth: Bottled water isn’t tap water
While many bottled-water suppliers get their water from natural sources, some bottlers do indeed use tap/municipal water as a source/raw material for their processed water, according to the South African Natural Bottled Water Association (SANBWA).
One example of such a product is Bonaqua, which is produced by the Coca-Cola Company.

Myth: Flavored water is a whole lot better than soft drinks
Unfortunately, flavored, sweetened water isn’t that much healthier than soft drinks. These drinks still contain a lot of sugar and have a high kilojoule content as a result.
Purely in terms of kilojoules, a 340ml can of Coca-Cola is equivalent to 2½ slices of bread, while 500ml flavored, sweetened water is equivalent to 2 slices of bread. This is bad news for your waistline and for your teeth.

• PurifiCare Newsletters, compiled by Dr Frans Kruger,
• Website of the South African Natural Bottled Water Association,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The meaning of Conservation

We would like to share an excerpt out of Kobie Krugers book called ‘All Things Wild and Wonderful’ about her life as wife of a Kruger Park Game Ranger:“
Time and time again when I would think that I was alone I would hear a strange noise or sense a movement and discover that I was being watched. But one gets used to the idea of being watched. And in time the idea grows on one until it acquires a very comforting dimension. “ I am not alone. I am now a part of nature.” I wondered about city people about their stressful lives and their loneliness. I wondered if they still recognized within themselves the longing for wilderness and solitude, if they still remembered the soothing harmonies of nature, the repetitive refrains of the seasons and sunsets, the exhilaration of each new dawn the sweet delight of making the acquaintance of a wild creature. If they have forgotten this then they might think of conservation merely as a necessary exercise to preserve the planets finite resources and to prevent our eventual extinction. And the whole effort would seem such a joyless one.
But if they remember then they will know that conservation is also about preserving the magic that nourishes our souls, a cause therefore that also holds a promise of joy.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vital Visa/Passport information

In some of the various countries in which we operate there are very stringent government regulations regarding the number of blank pages in travellers’ passports and their expiry dates, and it is vital that guests are made aware of this and ensure that they have the correct documentation. One of the stipulations which seem to have been misunderstood in the past is that at least THREE BLANK PAGES are required in your passport on departure from South Africa. These need to be VISA pages, not endorsement pages. As guests normally include more than one country in their journey (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and/or Namibia), we therefore recommend that there are at least 4-5 blank pages in the passport prior to arrival as guests can be denied entry and deported if the immigration officials do not have blank pages on which to place their entry/departure/visa stamps.

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Hotel for Cape town

One & Only Hotels has announced that the R900m luxury (6 star) hotel, is finally to go ahead at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

The seven-story, 130-room hotel is expected to be completed in two years and is the first new project by Kerzner in South Africa since he completed Sun City in 1992. The hotel will have a state-of-the-art spa and fitness centre with two of the suites offering en-suite spa treatment rooms.

Each of the guest rooms and suites will have a maximum size of 60 sqm and will include either a private terrace or balcony. The hotel will also have a 'Kids Only' clubhouse for children under 11, which will be equipped with the latest hi-tech entertainment. There will also be a 263 sqm banqueting and conference room that can host up to 200 people.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Malaria is a word many people associate with game parks in Africa. However only two of the South African National Parks are in a malaria risk area and they are the Kruger National Park and Mapungubwe National Park, although at both these venues the risk is usually low. Historically there have been incidences of malaria in other parks, but then there are recorded incidences of malaria from urban Europe and other non-risk areas. But to all intents and purposes Kruger is the only malaria risk park in the SANParks’ set-up.
Anti-malaria prophylactics are thus recommended for visitors for Kruger. The highest risk period is between December and April (end of the rainy season). A 24-hour malaria hotline is available on +27 (0)82 234 1800 to give detailed explanation on risk and advice on precautionary measures. Visitors wishing to take prophylactics should consult a knowledgeable medical practitioner or recognized travel clinic about recommended medication, as certain products cause nausea, hallucinations or other negative side effects with certain people.
Very often (particularly after periods of low rainfall) the malaria risk in Kruger is very low. Many people decide not to take prophylactics and rather try to avoid getting bitten. The most vulnerable times are between dusk and dawn. People are advised to stay indoors during these periods, or cover exposed skin with light clothing or insect repellants. The ankles are the most critical area. Burning anti-mosquito coils and ensuring netted screens are kept closed are other preventative measures.
While malaria prophylactics are recommended, no prophylactic is foolproof and any person developing flu-like symptoms 7 to 20 days (or even longer) after being in malaria areas should be tested immediately for malaria, until the symptoms clear or an alternative diagnosis is made. It is important to advise medical practitioners that you have been in a malaria area to avoid incorrect diagnosis.
On the question of prophylactics, no drug is guaranteed 100% effective, but a combination of choroquin (taken weekly first one week before) and paludrin (daily - first 2 days before) appears to be the most recommended prophylactic. Mefloquin is a single alternative. These would be available from pharmacies in Johannesburg and en route to the park. However as they should be taken a week in advance, if one chooses to use them, buying them in SA would be leaving it late, unless you will be spending time elsewhere in the country (most of which is malaria free).
The threat of malaria should not affect your decision to enjoy and experience the Kruger Park, but is just something one should be aware of and take precautions to be exposed to.
NB! Most types of mosquito do not carry the malaria plasmodium and if one is bitten it does not mean one will contract malaria. Only mosquitoes of the anopheles genus carry the plasmodium, and then only if they have previously fed on an infected host. As the presence of people with the plasmodium in their bloodstream in the park is greatly reduced compared to past times, risk is once more reduced. One reason for these reductions is that the accommodation units in the parks are sprayed periodically throughout the year. Now that international campaigns see treatment taking place in adjacent countries such as Mozambique and Swaziland, malaria occurrence has been further reduced.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Our newest National Park

"Where Endangered Species Roam..."
Mokala is South African National Parks newest park, situated approximately 80km south-southwest of Kimberley, and west of the N12 freeway to Cape Town.
Nestled in the hills, Mokala is in a unique position to offer guests a SANParks experience like no other. The unique landscape and abundance of rare game are complimented by a range of accommodation to suit group visits. Current facilities include two lodges; a restaurant and conferencing facilities. There is also a small rustic camping area as well as a private landing strip at the park.
As the park prospers under the wide Northern Cape skies, a number of activities such as mountain biking, day walks, sunset and night drives, cultural excursions, star gazing activities and bush braais will become available.
The park has a well established road network and future plans include the development of some self catering accommodation, as well as day visitor facilities.

Tour de Kruger

Tour de Kruger a success.
The 209 participants of the Tour de Kruger 2007 have all arrived back tired but exhilarated. This year was the final TDK and a great success from a fundraising point of view, as well as being an incredible experience for all who participated.
The event, a four-and-a-half day mountain bike tour through The Kruger National Park and Mozambique's Limpopo National Park raised about R700 000 for two non-profit organisations, Children in The Wilderness and Peace Parks Foundation.

Friday, August 3, 2007

How do I want to travel?

This is probably the least tangible of all the factors, but one of the most fun to determine. For example, are you the “cruise ship type” who only looks to un-pack once and be transported from one place to the next with little or no input as to what you see and do? Or are you more “hands on” and look to be more interactive when it comes to the planning of and participating in your safari?

The level of accommodation that you are expecting on safari is important to consider. Do you want unabashed luxury or 2-man dome tents or something in between? While this is very much a function of personal style, as well as budget, we prefer to design an itinerary with consistent levels of accommodation throughout. It is possible to combine different levels of accommodation on different parts of your trip; however we are adamant that you have the right expectations for each of the places you go. One of the most significant differences from one safari to another is in the degree of luxury, reflected of course in the price. High-end safaris will transport you by small plane, always with a guide, to posh lodges with every comfort. You’ll find dining and lounging facilities and a bar in a main building offering lots of African atmosphere. You’ll be accommodated in a private bungalow or permanent walled tent (complete with toilet and shower) under a thatched roof. Mid-range safaris will offer some similarities, but you’ll probably be transported by minivan not by plane; and you may be transferred from place to place without a guide. You may stay at larger lodges, with more fellow guests and less personal service or at somewhat less luxurious lodges. Budget or rustic safaris are further stripped down. Transport is a bus or minivan. Service is mostly up to you. Some budget safaris use permanent campsites with tents and showers already in place. However, at the lowest prices, you may end up pitching a well-worn tent yourself and sleeping on the ground on a too-thin mattress. You’ll make do with an outdoor latrine and shower, or none at all, and lend a hand preparing meals you won’t write home about. On the plus side, you’ll actually be camping in the bush — like a real safari — and you’ll meet budget travelers from around the world. But if budget is what you are looking for, make sure that camping is your “thing”.

The age range and makeup of your party should be taken into account. Some safari camps do not allow children under age 12; some mobile camping safaris do not allow guests over the age of 65. A family has different requirements than a honeymoon couple. While some safaris are kid-friendly, keep in mind that a certain amount of quiet, concentration, patience, and immobility is required. If you are traveling on business, this may affect our suggestion for your safari; if you are traveling alone, some safaris are better choices than others.

Most of our clients are well traveled and enjoy a combination of small group and independent travel. Group trips are generally no larger than 8 – 16 participants. Independent travel is obviously much more flexible, allowing you to depart at any time, travel for as long as you wish, to the camps of your choice. While we call it "independent travel," there is always someone to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your safari camp or hotel, so even solo travelers can feel comfortable knowing that they will be well-looked after on the ground.

Travel by road or air is an important question to consider in selecting a trip. Sometimes both options are not available – so the decision is essentially made for you. Travel by air, while generally more expensive, is the most efficient means of transportation, transferring you between safari camps easily and with plenty of time to enjoy activities at both camps, which is why you are on safari after all! Generally the planes are small, so those with difficulties with small aircraft should plan their trips accordingly. Travel by road can be exhausting, covering considerable distances on dusty roads in safari vehicles and it is definitely time-consuming. Nevertheless, overland travel affords you the opportunity to see some of the countryside and local villages between destinations, perhaps giving you a more realistic glimpse into a day in the life of the people whose country you are visiting. For some travelers, this is the only way to go.

We firmly believe that your safari guide is a critical component of the success of the overall safari experience. A great guide can make all the difference, and Go Safari endeavors to use the best guides available. You are likely to have the same guide throughout if traveling by road, which allows you to get to know him or her, and build upon each day's experiences. If you are flying or traveling in southern Africa, you will have guides from each camp who are thoroughly knowledgeable about the concessions or National Parks that they traverse on a daily basis. Safari guides each tend to have their own personal specialty or area of expertise so you can benefit from the diversity of knowledge that each of these guides will share with you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What sould I budget for my safari?

This is one of the most important questions to consider when selecting a trip. While there are some travelers for whom cost considerations are not an issue, most of our clients want to work within a budget and have a specific price range in mind. This is an extremely important criteria in helping us select an appropriate safari for you. The adage, “you get what you pay for,” probably holds true when planning a safari. There is a safari priced for just about everybody, but there are major differences in accommodations, services, transportation and food. It’s important that you consider how much “roughing it” you’re willing to do before you plan your safari. Whether you’re part of an organized tour or are interested in a custom designed tour for you and your family, will also affect the price tag. An experienced and qualified, specialty tour operator will be aware of the reputable and not-so-reputable safari companies, current prices as well as conditions in Africa that might impact on your trip. The following are factors that affect the cost of a trip:

In general, the more luxurious the safari, the more expensive the trip. Safari camps can range from $250 to $1000 per person per night, not including transfers from one region/camp to another, which are frequently by air. However, the cost at most safari camps and lodges normally includes all your meals, game drives and most other game viewing activities on offer. Sometimes drinks and laundry are also included in the rate. So when you consider the additional cost of these other components, relative to the average price for a 4-5 star hotel (room only), the safari rate is quite a bargain! Always allow for tips and souvenirs when planning your “spending money”. Exchange rates and fuel prices fluctuate, and can have an impact on the final cost of your safari in some cases. Similarly, governments periodically change visa fees, park fees, tourism levies or sales taxes, which can impact travel costs. Try to determine what you can realistically afford, and keep in mind that in general, you get what you pay for: safaris are no exception. Do not buy into the popular misconception that because much of Africa is “third world”, accommodations and services are cheap. At Go Safari, we are admittedly fussy about the quality of service and lodging we offer, and we are especially particular about the guides and operators we use, because they will determine not only the success of your game viewing, but also the value and quality of the whole experience and eventually – your memories of South Africa!

The per-day-per-person-budget is a good rule of thumb for determining how long you can travel. Simply shortening a trip by a few days can sometimes cut the cost by hundreds of dollars. Moving around less usually saves on costly transfers or regional flights and can also make for a more relaxed, focused experience. With most camps and lodges, three nights will afford you a good opportunity to see what characterizes the area, and to partake in all the activities on offer at a relaxed pace. Moving around more can often result in seeing less of what you traveled to Africa for in the first place! On the other hand, the time and expense in getting to Africa is significant, so we would encourage you to spend as much time as you possibly can in this amazing part of the world. Rushing your trip to save money is rarely worthwhile, and while many clients find themselves going back time and again, Africa is still a distant and a remote destination – and this might be one of few, if not your only opportunity to go on safari!

Go Safari has always maintained complete independence and objectivity when selecting and recommending specific safari camps, lodges and hotels for our clients. This allows us the freedom to combine whatever areas, properties and activities we believe will suit you best, without the limitations and extra cost of inbound operators or destination managers. We enjoy a great reputation and wonderful relationship with properties and ground handlers all over Southern Africa, and as our client, you share in the advantage of various preferred rates, combination packages and incentive fares, as well as preferential treatment as very important guests! Let us suggest the ideal combination of properties, venues, activities and destinations for your trip to ensure that you have not only the best possible safari experience based on your own interests and preferences, but also the best value for the money that you’re spending on this dream trip!

The safari portion of your trip is likely to be the most costly. Safari camps are generally all-inclusive, which means the cost of the accommodations, meals, guides, game activities, and park entry fees are included. Staying at a hotel or a beach resort is often less expensive than a safari camp because you pay for meals, tours and other activities, on an “a la carte” basis—as you choose during your stay. Combining a safari with a few days at the beach or with a self-drive tour along the Garden Route in Cape Town in South Africa, for instance, can make a trip more affordable.

High season prices can vary quite dramatically from the low season rates for the same safari camps and lodges. Rates for high season are applicable for a reason, as often the game viewing is at its best during these times of year and space is at a premium. However, if peak game viewing is not critical and you are flexible with your travel dates, you can still have a wonderful safari experience at a considerably lower price when traveling in low or “green” seasons. The bonus is that you will find the areas less crowded and have less difficulty confirming space.

For any assistance or information regarding your planned safari to South Africa and the Kruger Park or the many surrounding luxury camps please do not hesitate to contact the South African safari experts - Go Safari.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Londolozi re-opens

In June Londolozi had the double celebration of the opening of Private Granite Suites and Tree Camp. The three spectacular Private Granite Suites and Tree Camp’s six suites reflect the sense of style and flair that earned Londolozi its international reputation. The camps, as the visible representation of all that Londolozi stand for, required not just exquisite attention to detail but also an approach that is essentially a manifestation of the Londolozi philosophy. A lifetime of care and effort has given Londolozi soul and presence which, being neither material nor tangible, cannot be easily explained. All the camps have a sense of place, which may only be disturbed with great care. To bulldoze the old and bring in the new would, in our view, destroy her intangible spirit. So, Londolozi crafted the improvements in each room with great care, treating each as a separate entity, subordinate to but inspired by the immediate natural surroundings and leaving the lightest possible footprint on the earth.

The now fully refurbished Londolozi awaits you!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lion encounter in Kruger Park.

Have a look at this amazing video of an encounter in the Kruger National Park. This will give you an idea of what is possible to see in this fantastic reserve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FAQ regarding Game Viewing

What is the difference between the National Parks and the Private Reserves?

The national parks are administered by South African National Parks which ensures a standardised level of accommodation and facilities and the rates are usually kept low. These parks are mainly self-drive destinations with selfcatering accommodation although the larger parks like Kruger Park have restaurant facilities.
The game watching in the private parks is of an equal standard to that of the national parks, but the accommodation is far more luxurious and the service very attentive. Private game parks offer game drives in open game viewing vehicles with trained guides, bush walks, bush dinners and various activities as part of their service. The luxury comes at a price, but the private lodges are a good choice if you would like to be spoiled and experience the bush as it should be.

How far is it to the
Kruger National Park?
Johannesburg / Pretoria - about 420 km (to the southern gates)
Durban - about 752 km
Cape Town - about 1 842 km
Bloemfontein - about 834 km
Port Elizabeth - about 1 436 km

Can I visit a game park on my own?

Yes - the South African National Parks have designed all the National Parks to cater for self-drives with an excellent infrastructure of roads, hides, waterholes for easy game viewing and restcamps where you can rent a chalet.Private game parks are not open to the public.You may get more out of your stay if you opt to do one or two escorted drives - available at most National Parks. This is an activity the private parks specalise in and one of the reasons some visitors prefer the private game reserves.

Where can I see the Big Five?
The Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - is present in the Kruger Park and most of the Private Game Reserves around its borders, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park in Kwazulu Natal, but there are Private Reserves spread throughout the country that offer visitors a look at the Big Five. Even close to Johannesburg you will find reserves catering especially for the tourist, but larger reserves can be found in the Limpopo, North West and Eastern Cape.

Do I need a 4 x 4 or off-road vehicle?

No - although there are areas and routes in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari), Markele National Park and far northern Zululand where access is limited to 4-wheel drive vehicles. You may be required to drive on dirt (gravel) roads, but those are normally in a good condition.

Will I see the big five?

It is possible. Many reserves have the big five but it's not that easy to see them all, particularly leopard. Leopards are nocturnal, secretive and well camouflaged.It also depends on the length of your stay. The chances of seeing all big five increase substantially the longer you stay.However, there is a large number of other animals, reptiles and birds in the parks which are often even more exciting than a procession of lions and elephants - ensuring a wonderful experience.

What is the accommodation like?
Most of the national and provincial parks have self-catering chalets and camping and caravan sites, with electricity and hot and cold ablutions. Some also have catered accommodation or a restaurant on site. Accommodation in the private parks varies from 5-star luxury at some of the world-renowned private game reserves to budget accommodation in bush camps. Please check the various web pages on this site for details.

Which is the best time to view game?
This is not so easy to answer. The summer brings a multitude of beautiful migrant bird species and many newborn antelope species in thick green bushveld. In winter with limited water sources, activity is generally around water holes, the bush is dry and thin and visibility generally better. You'll get an excellent idea what to expect every month of the year by studying the guide prepared by Mala Mala Private Game Reserve.

What temperatures are we likely to experience?
The South African summer covers the months October through March with mid winter being May, June and July. In main game viewing areas (Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal) summer temperatures range from 16°C to 32°C and in winter from 5°C to 24°C. In isolated cases summer maximum temperatures can exceed 40°C. These areas have a summer rain season and and whilst not common, very light showers do occur in winter. Summer days and nights are generally hot outdoors and winter days are mild and comfortable with evenings and early mornings being cold.

What clothing and accessories should we bring along with us?
Dress is informal. For safaris and bush walks bring along clothing of neutral colours, a pair of good walking shoes (sandals are not recommended) and a wind proof jacket for winter mornings and evenings. A high SPF sun block should be brought with you especially if you require a specific hypoallergenic brand as well as a cap/hat.A good camera is essential and 100 or 200 asa film. On safari it is not often possible to keep the land rover dead still for those shots requiring powerful tele-photo lenses and it is suggested that the most versatile lens should be capable of ranges between 70 to 210/300. Video cameras are ideal to capture sights and sounds and a pair of binoculars is a must for keen bird watchers.

Where can I see game in a malaria-free area?
The Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, parts of the North West Province and the Waterberg area of Limpopo province are free of malaria. Of these, the best game viewing is Addo in the Eastern Cape, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, Madikwe and Pilanesberg in the North West and Limpopo’s Waterberg.

What are the wilderness trails?

The wilderness trails are escorted foot safaris deep in the wilderness areas of big game parks such as the Kruger Park Wilderness Trails and the Umfolozi Wilderness Trails in KwaZulu-Natal. Advanced booking is essential. This is the best way to experience the bush and animals.

What is an open safari vehicle?
A modified four wheel drive vehicle designed to carry between 6 and 10 guests is used to bring you to within close proximity of the game. The vehicle does not have a roof or sides and allows for maximum all-round visibility. It should not alarm you getting close to big game as long as you observe the "rules" laid down by your ranger.

How long should I stay?
A minimum of a two-night stay at any lodge is recommended to really enjoy your African bush experience.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Madikwe Game Reserve

In 1992, Madikwe Game Reserve, created from 75,000 ha of farmland, which had been extensively degraded by overgrazing, was chosen as the site of Operation Phoenix. The government-sponsored, biggest-ever game- relocation programme in Africa involved re-stocking and conserving flora and wildlife, which had long since disappeared from the region. Ten thousand animals of 27 major species, including wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, have been re-introduced to the Reserve over a six year period with animals coming from various reserves and breeding centres and game viewing is now at its prime.
(Northwest Parks has adhered to a strict policy of introducing only those species, which once occurred naturally in the area).

The name of Operation Phoenix is appropriate: like the mythical bird that burnt itself to a crisp on the pyre and then rose from the ashes to live again with new vigour, nature has regained a stronghold on the land and the programme has been hugely successful.
Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the country’s fourth largest game reserve. It is situated in the North West Province and is bordered by Botswana in the north, the spectacular Dwarsberg Mountains to the south, the Marico river to the east.
A special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone on the edges of the Kalahari, where a number of rare species occur naturally.
Madikwe is regarded as one of the finest conservation areas in Africa, offering all the major species, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, both white and black rhino along with almost all the plains antelope species. The climate is generally mild to hot, but winter nights can be cold. The birdlife is spectacular and it is also one of the few reserves in South Africa that is malaria free.

Madikwe is already seen as one of the country's new South Africa success stories in the area of upliftment and poverty eradication. 'What the Madikwe model says is that conservation is about people. You need to place people at the centre, that's the only way conservation can work'
'The development of Madikwe is all about stimulating local economic development. We need to attract investment and provide jobs and that's our aim in this part of the world.
Another exciting development on the cards for North West province is the development of the 'Heritage Park' conservation corridor that will join Madikwe and Pilanesberg.This proposed conservation estate will allow a bigger migration space for animals, creating a prime eco-tourism destination. The initiative is a 20-year project culminating in linking up with Limpopo province and Botswana.

Fully catered accommodation is offered at several world class 5 five star lodges within the reserve:

Etali Safari Lodge
Tuningi Lodge
Rhulani Safari Lodge
Tau Game Lodge

Jacki's Safari Lodge Jacki's Tree Lodge
Madikwe River Lodge
Madikwe Safari Lodge
Mateya Safari Lodge
Royal Madikwe Lodge
Mateya Safari Lodge
Madikwe Hills
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge

Impodimo Lodge

How to get there
From Johannesburg travel to the Hartebesspoort Dam, Rustenburg and continue with the N4 to Swartruggens and then Zeerust. From here take the R505 to the Abjagterskop Gate of Madikwe Game Reserve. This is approximately 350km and is a very pleasant three and a half hour drive.

There are two scheduled flights a day between Madikwe and Johannesburg International Airport. This 40 minute flight is the easiest and most popular way to get to Madikwe. Because the flight is so short chartering aircraft is another popular and convenient way to get to madikwe.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kruger National Park - No: 1 of the top 10 destinations in South Africa

The Kruger National Park, which measures a whopping two million hectares, is approximately the size of the whole of Wales and is slightly larger than Isreal. Most of the park is situated in the Lowveld. Restricted to broad valleys below 1 000m above sea level, the Lowveld is what many people consider to be the 'real' Africa. In this low-lying subtropical climate, broad-leaved trees and thorn trees co-exist happily in relatively open woodland, interspersed with long grass - and, of course, wildlife abounds.

In the far north, it gets hotter and the vegetation changes to mopane woodland and, right in the northern part of the country, huge baobab trees dominate the landscape. The rivers here tend to be broad and slow-moving and may consist of no more than a few unconnected pools at the end of the dry season but that's when the game congregates around the few known water sources - so it all evens out. You may have heard the cynical remark that Kruger is 'too developed' with loads of town-like camps and other infrastructure. Well, yes. The park does have a number of good accommodation options - more than 20 SANParks camps and a few 5 star private luxury lodges as well. That may sound like a lot - but remember that Kruger is the size of Wales - and in all that space there is one town - the main camp, Skukuza, is virtually a small town - about a dozen tiny hamlets with less than a hundred families and a few out of they way camps that would probably relate to a small farmstead. That leaves an awful lot of real wilderness. There are huge open spaces (wilderness area) left for the animals, as this is their home and we are just visitors. If you drive along every single road in the Kruger National Park (3500km) and only take 100 meters either side of the road, which you can see clearly you will only see 3.5% of the park.

Room at Bongani Mountain Lodge

You can do Kruger as a self-drive or as a guided tour. Other exciting options include
walking safaris, mountain bike trails and a self-drive 4x4 trail. The nearest airport to the central section of the park is Hoedspruit (or Eastgate) Airport. The southern, more popular, part of Kruger is about four hour's drive from Johannesburg, and a little less from Pretoria. The drive to the more remote, far less utilised, northern part, takes a few hours longer, but it's not on the same route. You could do a great circular tour if you had ten days or so to spare. Enter the park in the south, drive very slowly to the north, spending a day or two at different camps en route, and then drive back to Johannesburg. (Or the other way round, of course.)

Strangely - and contrary to expectations - the northern part, which is truly wild, has less animals than the south so don't feel you're missing out if you've only got a few days in the more busy part of the park. As well as the Kruger National Park, the lowveld is well endowed with private nature reserves, most of which have luxury lodges, where guests are subjected to an outrageous level of pampering and taken on fantastic game drives
and optional walks by very knowledgeable and attentive guides. Many lodges even have attached wellness centres where you can fill in the time between morning and evening game drives with a massage, facial or some other indulgent treatment. You can even fly directly from Johannesburg to many of these luxury 5 star lodges - these lodges may be a bit on the expensive side but offer a real "African Safari" experience, atmosphere and well worth the cost.

Note: If you are planning to travel to the Kruger National Park or Lowveld please be aware that this is a malaria region. Consult your doctor or travel clinic for advice.
For any assistance or information regarding your planned visit to the Kruger Park or the many surrounding luxury camps please do not hesitate to contact the Kruger Park Safari experts - Go Safari.


Welcome to sunny South Africa. At least we could still say this. But today we had to add "a very cold" before sunny, it was the first time since 1981 that it actually snowed in Johannesburg. Even though it was not a huge amount of snow, less than an inch, it was how ever a very exciting morning for a city who has not seen snow for 26 years and most of Johannesburg's population saw and touched snow for the first time. We also experienced cold temperatures -2 deg C to a maximum of 8 deg C when we should be experiencing a maximum of 17 deg C so we have all got our winter wollies out, heaters and fires going at maximum - and moaning as we are not used to this weather and our homes are not built to cope with this cold weather.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Best about South Africa

There are a host of benefits in coming to Africa, but none as importantas job creation that will close the gap between the haves and have nots. Every new tourist can create up to 8 direct and in-direct entry-level jobs. This is exactly what is needed to level the playing fields. Value for money, from a personal perspective, is the best reason to consider this beautiful ''world in one country''. Your dollar(US) buys you at least R7.20, euro buys R9.60, and UK Pound buys R14.30A 12-day five star safari package that includes Kruger National Park, Cape Town, Garden Route , internal flights & all road transport arrangements costs as little as 422 US$ per day per person. Top Restaurant meals are around 30 -50 US$ (including a nice bottle of wine)! Can you believe such good value while in paradise. The diverse scenery around South Africa coupled with the wild life element makes it a winning destination. Those football fans planning to visit in 2010 for the world cup will be well advised to do a test run and pre-book your favorite venue early.I have already mentioned 12 days as a package and there is a good reason for that! Getting value for money when you visit this long-haul destination is essential, as well as getting a good North and South perspective. South Africa is rather large with many great places to visit, so it is important to spend 50% of the time in Johannesburg, Sun City, Pilanesberg Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, or one of the many luxury reserves surrounding Kruger before heading to beautiful Cape Town. A well balanced itinerary can fit all of these, as well as a 2 day trip down the Garden Route. There are many different ways to do it, even for the person with 7 days only! Cape Town, Garden Route & Eastern Cape malaria free safaris can be done in 7 days.South Africa is virtually a year-round destination with a window of August - May as the best selection. The north has a summer rainfall period from October to January with mainly short but powerful afternoon thunder showers. Winter days are perfect for game viewing although a bit cooler during early morning and evenings. Safari venues are perfectly geared towards making your stay pleasant with roaring camp fires and ponchos/blankets for game drives. Southern hemisphere winters are the opposite to Northern hemisphere. May, June, July & August are the colder months. It is however mild in comparison with Northern hemisphere winters, and of course, quite hot in summer. The south-western and coastal areas have winter rainfall and certain sections in the center have a mixture.South Africa is a great outdoor destination with a host of adventure activities, safaris, great birding, overland off-road destinations, good wines and excellent star gazing areas. Long distance carriers fly direct to South Africa from the US and Europe, and around peak seasons there are great packages. March, April, August and September should provide you with good opportunties. Individual airlines have special deals all the time too! Dealing direct with the in-country operator, who will be handling the complete package, is the way to go in terms of optimal efficiency and cost effectiveness.