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.