Ever since I was a little kid, I was a nature and wildlife addict. National Geographic was my jam, and it started at home. My mother not only nurtured those desires, but she shared my passion and love for animals; those above ground and underwater.
From Shark Week to really any documentary that provided insight into how the “wild” lived — I was glued to the screen. I was even a vegetarian for a few years during high school after feeling bad about eating meat. I still have my moments every one and then, but I digress. Haha. True story.
Being the traveler that I am, why have I not ventured into the wilderness to become one with the very creatures I’ ve adored all of my life? Well, had it not been for marrying the love of my life, that trip would have happened a long time ago.
Visiting Africa, in general, has always been on both of our bucket lists, so when you and your bae decide that your South African safari will be one for the books, one of your most extraordinary trips to date, and the one vacation where you’ll both experience a “first” — you wait it out for that special ceremonious occasion. And our special event is the celebration of our 10th anniversary. I would say that it is quite worthy of a party!
Before I decided on South Africa for my safari, I had to do a little research. Initially, I was torn. My final decision fell somewhere between South Africa and Tanzania and came down to when I was going and the accommodations and amenities available.
Where Tanzania offers the best game-viewing between December and May, South Africa comes alive towards the end of the dry season (July to October) when vegetation is minimal and wildlife is concentrated near watering areas.
Plus, South Africa is home to more mammal species than any other African reserve and offers a more dense elephant population (which is one of the main reasons for my visit). Some will argue that Tanzania offers a more “authentic” safari experience, but South Africa is well known for its luxurious accommodations, gastronomic delights, and Big Five sightings. So, South Africa, it is!!!
Although South Africa is also known for its beautiful beaches, captivating culture, and winemaking, I wanted to focus my journey on a place where the animals roam free, in their natural habitats, unbothered (by humans).
So, this time, I’ll be skipping the vibrant food and art scene in Johannesburg, the bargain markets and centenary tributes to Nelson Mandela in Cape Town, the rolling vineyards of the Cape Winelands, and the scenic road trip through the Garden Route. This time, I’ll be headed to Kruger National Park (one of Africa’s largest and most iconic safari destinations). June 2021 will mark the date and lucky for me, it will be winter in South Africa; the time when everything is in bloom and the perfect time for a safari adventure.
Tip: The Garden Route is also known for its marine wildlife, so if you’re into the other Big Five (whales, Great White sharks, dolphins, penguins, and seals ), you can visit there instead — or do both. Click here for a graphic on the differences between Kruger Park and the Garden Route.
Although I have yet to finalize my accommodations, I’ll have my pick of luxury safari lodges and camps located on private reserves — tranquil and remote — many settled in prime game-viewing areas of the park for the absolute best up close and personal experiences. Situated mostly on the western outskirts of Kruger National Park, these private camps don’t have fences either, which I found to be quite intriguing.
The top 5 Kruger National Park safari lodges on my list right now:
- Royal Malewane
- Singita Boulders Lodge
- Lion Sands Ivory Lodge
- Londolozi Private Granite Suites
- Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Where the kid in me is just like the one you would find in a candy store, the adult version (yeah, the one I am now), is a tiny bit terrified. I mean, we are talking about lions for goodness sake. But, my fears will be quickly replaced with unwavering joy. Most definitely.
When I’m not one with nature, ya girl does enjoy a little pampering. So, gourmet meals, spa treatments, some pool time, craft cocktails, and quality bae time will be high on my list. Have you seen how amazing the camps and lodges are???
Oh, South Africa. It’s here that I will connect with nature and venture out on game drives (lead my trained guides and local trackers) in open, four-wheel-drive vehicles. The anticipation for the very moment I spot one of the Big Five is enough to get me pumped!
Going on a daytime safari will give me a once in a lifetime opportunity to spot a pride of lions, a herd of elephants, black and white rhinos, cape buffalo, or leopards. In addition to daytime game drives, I’ll get to experience a safari by night and view the world of nocturnal animals. Oh, the excitement!
This is classic South Africa in all its glory — it’s vast, peaceful, and teeming with wildlife. Here large animals still graze and roam the land freely as they have done for millennia. This is a dream vacation, my once-in-a-lifetime adventure, the one trip I will remember for the rest of my life, the one that I got a chance to experience with one of the most important people in my life. Don’t pinch me…I want to dream a bit longer.
So, which trip are you holding off on taking and why?