There really is little better in the world than being able to watch the massive African sun setting while sipping a sundowner, enjoying a potjie or braai while entire herds of antelope, elephants and more trundle by.
Why to Safari
If you have never undertaken a South African safari, then there is no better time than now to do so, since specials at season’s beginning are usually amazing. There are some ridiculously beautiful lodges and cabins to stay at that are within the wildlife refuges which will make you feel as though you are a part of the land itself.
Just as Australians have the Outback, South Africans have the bushveld. This is where most of the wildlife sanctuaries are located, which is Afrikaans for bush + field. When a South African says they’re going to the bush this weekend, they’re talking about a safari. Kruger National Park is easily the most famous of them, but there are plenty of others like Addo Elephant Park and Madikwe Game Reserve, just to name a few which are equally brilliant and may not be as busy, which is a huge benefit. Booking with Cape Tours ensures you’ll get the best South African safari for your trip.
Can See for Leagues
The semi-arid land is home to bushveld, savannah, and rolling hillsides with succulents and fynbos. It is the perfect landscape for animals to be spotted even with the naked eye, there are no need for binoculars when walking where they live. They are experts at camouflage however, so picking out the difference between the grasses and a zebras stripes or the mottled spots of a leopard can be tricky.
The trees the area is most known for are the Umbrella Thorn and the Baobab trees, both of which are iconically South African. If you think back to the Lion King movie’s film case from Disney you’ll recall an Umbrella Thorn tree silhouetted by a sunset. Some amazing history there, Disney actually sent their creative team to Africa to learn about the terrain and the animals there, to draw them as accurately and truthfully as possible. No tribute to a culture would be as powerful without that element, and they did it right. Umbrella Thorns do actually have long pointed thorns that you can’t miss, don’t touch them though, they’re sharp!
No Wifi = Heaven
Some folks will spend all that time and money to take a holiday only to bring along the phone or tablet. It might make some happy to hear that out in the bush, there is no signal most places, and the only use your phone will have is as a camera. Get used to taking an epic photo of a lion or cheetah right next to you, and being unable to upload it to social media, and then ask yourself why that even matters to you at that exact moment, because …wow, you just had an encounter with a massive wild animal, and who cares about social media right then!? Not having instant access to wifi is a blessing in disguise on a safari because you don’t have people constantly playing with their phones instead of being fully present in what can only be described as a magical moment, where humankind is back to the very basics of being a mammal among others. Don’t worry though, in case an emergency does come up you won’t need wifi then either, or a cell signal – your guide is generally a game ranger, or has enough experience to know exactly what to do.
Big Five and More
South African safaris offer the Big Five as their bannermen, they are the big call to action for the area and people come from all over just to see them, but they’re not the only animals to be found on safari. The African Wild Dog (Painted Dog) is nearing critically endangered, and will be hard to see at all soon without conservation efforts, and there are some other lesser known animals that deserve to be seen as well. While you are oooh’ing and aaah’ing over the big five, spare a moment for the painted dogs, and the less popular critters. The sheer diversity of life out here is astounding and awe inspiring.
One of the greatest joys though is watching elephants knock into the Marula Trees to get at the fruit. Marula fruit is one of their favourites and one of ours too, commercially marketed as Amarula, it’s creamy and delicious, perfect as a nightcap. The elephants are hilarious when they gorge themselves on the fruit that has already begun to turn, because it gets them just as drunk as a human. Be sure you don’t approach a baby elephant calf alone however, the mother is always nearby and they don’t take too kindly to strangers approaching babies. Always remember that these animals are totally wild and we are but spectators in their midst.
Mode of Travel
You can safari by Jeep, Hiking, or some offer horseback, all of which have their own benefits and drawbacks. It is just another reason to enjoy the safari, the sense of being part of the land as you cross it, smelling the hot air and the scent of the grasslands. Be sure you bring along bug repellent however, because there can be some pretty monstrous bugs out there.
Starry Starry Night
At night, you can see the sky open and as honest as you’ll ever get. It becomes a blanket of blue-black peppered by stars and you’ll even notice the milky wash of the Milky Way. It is pollution free, and very well preserved, so the air stays crisp and clean. There is little better than star-gazing while sipping from a glass of South African wine, some of the very best in the world!
Potjie & Braais
A potjie is a three legged cauldron that you put on top of a fire, and make a stew or soup inside. Traditionally it contains cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower, potatoes, rice and some kind of meat, usually lamb or beef. A braai is cooking meat over a flame usually on wood, and usually within a stone or brick “oven” with an open chute on top for venting purposes. The most popular meat to braai is boerewors, a farmer’s sausage with hints of coriander and cloves, and absolutely delicious. This is something some of the safari location will allow if you have a campsite, and others offer as a special.