The African wild dog, scientifically known as Lycaon pictus, is an enigmatic and captivating creature native to the vast savannahs and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. Also called painted dogs or African hunting dogs, they are among the continent's most intriguing wildlife species.
One of the most striking features of African wild dogs is their distinctive coat pattern, resembling a work of art crafted by nature herself. Each individual sports a unique arrangement of black, brown, yellow, and white patches; complex patterns as unique as fingerprints, enabling personal recognition within the pack. It is also believed that their unique patterning may play a role in temperature regulation, aiding them in the harsh African climate. In East and Northeast Africa, painted dogs are known to have darker patterns than those of their Southern African counterparts.
With ears that Mickey Mouse himself would be proud of - often compared to satellite dishes - the African wild dog’s keen sense of hearing is invaluable during hunts. Their remarkably large and rounded ears serve as excellent tools for hearing distant sounds, even detecting the faintest rustling of potential prey in the tall grasses.
Their distinctive, usually white-tipped bushy tails aid in maintaining balance during high-speed chases, which are characteristic of their hunting strategy.
Pack Mentality: Social Structure and Cooperation
African wild dogs are incredibly social animals, living in packs that consist of 6 to 20 individuals, although much larger packs have been observed in rare cases. Within the pack, African wild dogs exhibit a strong sense of cooperation and hierarchy. The pack structure is led by an alpha breeding pair, typically the only members that reproduce, while the others help care for and protect the pups. This cooperative structure extends to hunting, where the dogs work as a team to secure their prey.
Painted Predators: Hunting and Efficiency
African wild dogs are renowned for their remarkable hunting prowess. They are among the most efficient predators in the animal kingdom, boasting an astonishing hunting success rate of up to 80%, far surpassing that of lions and other big cats. Their success is attributed to teamwork, strategy, and incredible stamina.
When hunting, the pack first identifies a target and chases it relentlessly, often covering vast distances at high speeds, sometimes reaching up to 37 mph (60 km/h). Their stamina allows them to keep up the chase until their prey becomes exhausted. Once caught, the dogs quickly dispatch their quarry with precision bites, usually avoiding any unnecessary harm to themselves.
Despite their remarkable adaptations and hunting abilities, African wild dogs face numerous threats to their survival. Habitat loss due to human encroachment, disease transmission from domestic dogs, and direct persecution pose significant risks to their populations. Today, African wild dogs are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with fewer than 6,500 individuals estimated to remain in the wild.
Conservation efforts are vital to ensuring the survival of these incredible animals. Initiatives focus on protecting their natural habitat, raising awareness, and mitigating human-wildlife conflicts. Captive breeding and reintroduction programs also play a crucial role in boosting their numbers and genetic diversity.
Painted Dog Conservation Progress in Zimbabwe
At the end of August, we celebrated World Painted Dog Day, in recognition of one of the most fascinating and least understood animals in Africa, the African Painted (or Wild) Dog. Also now known as the Painted Wolf since an attempted rebranding, of good but misguided intent in my opinion, to make them sound more appealing.
Call them what you like, I have been fascinated by them since I first saw one in Botswana in 2004, and have been a supporter of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe for two decades.
Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) has been operating in the buffer zone outside Hwange National Park (HNP), Zimbabwe, for more than 25 years. During this time, they had only ever monitored two packs in the area, and sometimes none! In 2007, for example, they did not see a single painted dog outside HNP.
Over the years, they have maintained a consistent anti-poaching presence and, in 2014 significantly increased this effort with the help of the Mabale Community Anti-Poaching teams. This direct-action strategy has been backed up, over the same period, by a world class education and awareness programme, and now we are seeing the fruits of their labour.
For the first time in over 25 years, they have recorded five packs of painted dogs utilising the buffer zone on the edge of HNP: namely the Mpindothela pack, Bachijwa pack, the Kingsbury pack, the Umkhonto pack, and the Thutshu pack, which has been traced all the way from Botswana.
The Kingsbury pack is the most recent pack of painted dogs that has emerged in the buffer zone outside HNP. This pack illustrates the critical importance of long-term monitoring in understanding the demography of the HNP painted dog population.
The pack consists of dispersals from the Spectrum pack, which has been monitored for more than six years, and two other dogs no record. It's incredibly rewarding to witness the increasing number of packs utilising the buffer zone, and this growth is a positive sign that the environment is becoming more attractive and conducive for wildlife once again, while also pointing to an increasing and stable population of Painted dogs in HNP.
This achievement serves as a testament to the effectiveness of the work PDC does with generous support and that of collaborative partners and authorities. Together, we are creating an environment where painted dogs can thrive, ensuring a brighter future for these incredible animals.
As work continue on the conservation frontline, celebrating this success, one should be conscious of how easily and quickly this can all be undone. The Anti-poaching and Education programmes are labour intensive, vehicle-reliant and increasingly expensive to run, with internationally high fuel and commodity prices.
Without continued generous financial support, they will have to make cutbacks that will impact negatively on their work and quite probably lead to a decline in the flourishing Painted dog population. A donation today will not only help maintain but also increase efforts to keep on this progressive conservation trajectory.
African wild dogs are a testament to the wonders of nature. Their stunning appearance, complex social structures, and unrivalled hunting abilities make them one of the most intriguing species on the African continent. However, they are also one of the most endangered, facing numerous challenges in the modern world.
By understanding and appreciating the uniqueness of African wild dogs, we can foster greater awareness and support for their conservation. Their survival depends on our collective efforts to protect their habitats and ensure that these "painted predators" continue to roam the African savannah for generations to come.
A few of the destinations where you may be lucky enough to experience a sighting of these incredible hunters include Madikwe Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, Manyoni Game Reserve, and the Greater Kruger, all in South Africa, South Luangwa National Park - Zambia, Mana Pools - Zimbabwe, Okavango Delta, Linyanti & Savuti - Botswana, Laikipia - Kenya, Ruaha, and Nyerere National Park - Tanzania.
With nearly 38% of its land safeguarded for nature's wonders, can you imagine a better African destination than Namibia? Boasting protected areas that span vast terrains, the wilderness calls out to those who seek thrill and tranquillity.
But what is it about safaris in Namibia that make them truly unforgettable? Dive into the allure of the desert-adorned landscapes, meet the captivating wildlife, and find out how to make the most of your Namibian safari experience.
The Majestic Beauty of Namibia's Wilderness
Namibia, with its vast landscapes and diverse terrains, is a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. As one delves into the heart of this country, the allure of its untouched wilderness beckons. The landscapes set the stage for some of the most remarkable safaris in Namibia.
Striking Desert Landscapes
The sight of endless dunes, their golden hues changing as the sun moves across the sky, is a sight to behold. These dunes, some of the tallest in the world, rise like giants from the ground. They form a picturesque backdrop for many safari destinations.
Namibia's deserts are not just about the dunes, though. They're home to unique flora and fauna adapted to thrive in such harsh conditions that make every safari trip in Namibia a learning experience.
Ethereal Salt Pans and Waterholes
The salt pans of Namibia, vast and shimmering under the African sun, are another testament to the country's diverse landscapes. These expansive areas, devoid of vegetation, have an otherworldly beauty.
But the true magic happens around the waterholes. Especially in dry seasons. They become bustling hubs of activity as animals gather, ensuring a vibrant display of Namibia's wildlife.
Canyons and Mountains
Namibia's topography is not just limited to deserts and salt pans. The country boasts deep canyons carved by rivers over millennia and mountain ranges that add to its varied geology.
These areas serve as excellent vantage points. From here, one can witness the vastness of the landscapes and appreciate the sheer scale of Namibia's wilderness.
Namibia's coastline, where the desert meets the Atlantic, is a realm of mysteries. The cold Benguela current brings with it a unique marine ecosystem.
Along the coast, fog rolls in, nourishing life in an otherwise arid region. This creates a hauntingly beautiful scene, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
The Power of Preservation
Namibia's commitment to preserving its wilderness is evident. A significant portion of its land is dedicated to conservation. This has led to thriving populations of wildlife and gives visitors an authentic experience.
Safaris in Namibia are not just about witnessing wildlife or soaking in the views. They're about understanding the delicate balance of nature and the importance of preserving these pristine landscapes for future generations.
Top Safari Destinations in Namibia
Namibia offers an array of stunning safari destinations that every traveler must consider. Its diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity ensure that every safari trip in Namibia is memorable. Let's explore some of the top Namibia travel destinations for those eager to embark on a journey through this captivating land.
Etosha National Park
A jewel among safari destinations, Etosha National Park stands out with its vast salt pan and diverse wildlife. This park is a haven for photographers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Elephants, lions, and rhinos are just a few of the many species that roam freely here. They provide visitors with countless opportunities for awe-inspiring sightings.
The Skeleton Coast, with its desolate landscapes and shipwrecks, offers a different kind of safari experience. While it might seem barren at first glance, this region is home to unique wildlife adapted to its harsh conditions. Seals, desert-adapted elephants, and even lions are some of the creatures that have made this their home.
Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
Nestled within the Namib Desert, the iconic red dunes of Sossusvlei are a sight to behold. Nearby, Deadvlei presents an eerie yet captivating landscape with its dead trees set against a backdrop of towering dunes. Both these destinations in Namibia offer unparalleled sunrise and sunset views which make them must-visits for every traveler.
Kaokoland is located in the rugged northwest of Namibia. It offers a truly remote safari experience where you'll find a vast expanse of undulating dunes, rocky outcrops, and unique fauna. It's home to the Himba people, one of the last semi-nomadic tribes in Africa.
Here, visitors can witness desert-adapted elephants and lions. This makes it a must-visit for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path safari destination.
Damaraland is where rugged beauty meets ancient history. The region boasts not only a unique landscape but also ancient rock art that offers a glimpse into the lives of its early inhabitants. With its desert-adapted wildlife, including the elusive desert lion and elephant, Damaraland is a top pick for those seeking both nature and culture on their safari trip in Namibia.
Captivating Wildlife Encounters
Namibia is a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts. Its vast landscapes, ranging from scorching deserts to lush wetlands, provide a habitat for a plethora of animals. A Namibia safari promises captivating wildlife encounters that are sure to leave travelers with lasting memories.
Let's delve into the heart of wildlife in Namibia and the best destinations in Namibia to witness them.
The Big Cats of Etosha
Etosha National Park, one of the most renowned Namibia travel destinations, is a hotspot for big cat sightings. The park's expansive salt pans and waterholes serve as a magnet for animals which makes it easier for visitors to spot the majestic lions, elusive leopards, and even the swift cheetahs. The thrill of watching a lion pride on the hunt or a leopard stealthily moving through the grass is an experience unlike any other.
Desert-Adapted Elephants in Damaraland
The rugged terrains of Damaraland are home to a unique group of elephants. These desert-adapted elephants have evolved to survive in the harsh conditions of the Namibian desert. With larger feet and a smaller body size than their savanna counterparts, these elephants trek vast distances in search of water.
Witnessing these gentle giants navigate the rocky landscapes is a testament to the resilience of wildlife in Namibia.
The Rich Birdlife of Caprivi Strip
For avid birdwatchers, the Caprivi Strip is a paradise. This lush region boasts over 450 bird species, making it one of the top destinations in Namibia for birding.
From the vibrant Carmine Bee-eaters to the regal African Fish Eagles, the variety is truly astounding. The melodious calls and vibrant plumage of these birds add an enchanting aura to the safari experience.
The Mysterious Brown Hyenas of Skeleton Coast
While the Skeleton Coast is often associated with its eerie landscapes and shipwrecks, it also hosts one of Africa's lesser-known carnivores, the brown hyena. Often overshadowed by their spotted relatives, brown hyenas are solitary creatures with a shaggy appearance.
Catching a glimpse of these elusive animals against the backdrop of the desolate coast is a highlight for many on a Namibia safari.
Rhinos at the Palmwag Concession
Where to go on safari in Namibia to see rhinos? The Palmwag Concession is the answer. This region in northwestern Namibia is a sanctuary for both black and white rhinos.
With dedicated conservation efforts, the area offers guided rhino tracking safaris. Walking on foot and tracking these magnificent beasts is both an adrenaline-pumping and humbling experience.
Planning the Perfect Safari Trip
Embarking on a Namibia safari is a dream for many. The vast landscapes, mesmerizing dunes, and diverse wildlife in Namibia make it a top destination for nature lovers. However, the success of your trip largely depends on your planning.
From choosing the best Namibia travel destinations to understanding the best times to witness wildlife, every detail counts.
Know the Best Times
Namibia's unique climate can greatly influence your safari experience. The dry season, typically from May to October, is generally considered the best time for wildlife viewing. Water sources become scarce, drawing animals to specific areas, increasing the chances of encounters.
On the other hand, the wet season breathes life into the landscapes, providing a completely different, but equally mesmerizing, visual treat.
Choose Your Destinations Wisely
Namibia is vast, and not all destinations may suit everyone's interests. If you're keen on spotting the big cats, Etosha National Park is a must-visit. For those intrigued by the desert-adapted wildlife, Damaraland is a top choice.
Knowing where to go on safari in Namibia can make a significant difference in your experience. It's essential to research and select destinations that align with your interests.
Consider the Duration
The duration of your Namibia safari plays a pivotal role. A short trip might limit you to one or two destinations, while an extended visit allows for a broader exploration. However, even if your time is limited, make sure to optimize your itinerary to get a wholesome experience of the wildlife in Namibia.
Get Expert Advice
While planning independently can be rewarding, seeking advice from safari specialists can offer invaluable insights. They can guide you on the lesser-known gems of Namibia, ensuring you don't miss out on any unique experiences. They have first-hand knowledge of the terrains, best spots, and even the behaviors of the animals to make sure your trip is both safe and rewarding.
Your choice of accommodation can make or break your safari experience. Namibia offers a range of options, from luxury lodges to rustic campsites. It's essential to choose accommodations that offer both comfort and strategic locations.
Proximity to waterholes or animal migration routes can enhance your chances of wildlife sightings right from your room!
Stay Conscious and Respectful
A safari is not just about ticking off animals from a checklist. It's an immersive experience where you're a guest in the wild's domain.
Always be respectful of the environment and the animals. Avoid making loud noises or trying to attract animals. Respect the guidelines provided by your guides or local authorities.
Your consciousness ensures the well-being of the wildlife and maintains the sanctity of their habitats.
Why Choose Expert Advice For Your Namibian Adventure
Embarking on a Namibian journey is undoubtedly exciting. The allure of the vast landscapes and diverse wildlife draws many travelers each year.
With so many options and places to explore, knowing where to go on safari in Namibia can be overwhelming. This is where expert advice becomes invaluable.
Experts in Namibian travel have an in-depth understanding of the region. They're aware of the subtle nuances of each destination. Whether you're a bird-watching enthusiast or on a quest to see the Big Five, they can guide you to the most suitable locations.
The result? A journey tailored to your unique interests and desires.
While many destinations in Namibia are popular, there are hidden gems often overlooked by the general public. With expert advice, you gain access to insider knowledge. This means you could find yourself in a secluded spot, away from the crowds, enjoying a serene and undisturbed wildlife encounter.
Researching and planning a trip can consume a lot of time. The sheer volume of information available can be daunting. An expert, with their vast experience, can quickly point you in the right direction.
They can provide insights on the best times to visit, ideal durations at each spot, and much more. In short, they streamline the process, allowing you to focus on the anticipation of the adventure.
Namibia is wild and untamed. While this is a significant part of its charm, it also poses certain risks. Travel experts ensure you're informed about the necessary precautions.
Whether it's advice on safe camping practices or understanding animal behaviors, they prioritize your safety.
Discover the Safari of Your Dreams
Venturing into Namibia's wild, you'll uncover nature's artwork and its mesmerizing inhabitants. But the beauty of this destination isn't just in its landscapes or wildlife. It's also in the curated experiences crafted by safari specialists.
At Indigo Safaris, our seasoned team has traversed these terrains to ensure that every safari experience meets and surpasses your dreams. So, if the call of the wild resonates with you, isn't it time you answered? Explore our tailor-made safaris in Namibia today.
On September 16, Zambia is set to host its inaugural Kafue Wild Trail Run, dedicated to supporting the wildlife rangers of Kafue National Park. The 10- or 21-km race, now open to the public for the first time, has limited spots available, with only 250 places up for grabs.
The objective of the Kafue Wild Trail Run is to unite participants with wildlife rangers, promoting a conservation cause aimed at safeguarding and assisting the dedicated efforts of wildlife rangers in Zambia.
The event is coordinated by Greater Kafue Landscape Ltd - a collaborative project between the African Parks Network and the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
Spanning an impressive 22,400 square kilometers, Kafue National Park is situated at the heart of western Zambia, and holds the distinction of being both the oldest and largest national park in the country. The park's diverse landscapes of woodlands, grasslands, and aquatic habitats, provide a sanctuary for an array of wildlife, including several big cat species, 21 species of antelope, and an impressive 515 bird species.
The Kafue Wild Trail Run is a regional event for the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Challenge, the biggest global event to honour and raise funds for the ranger profession, showcasing solidarity and support. Over 100 teams of rangers from various locations across the African continent are engaging in a series of challenges, with the event reaching its pinnacle on September 16, 2023, with a synchronised 21 km race taking place across their individual protected areas.
Interested participants can register here, and contact us for accommodation in the region. Register for the virtual run from anywhere in the world or donate to support Zambia’s conservation efforts.
More than 267,000 people visited South Africa in the first quarter of 2022. This is a huge step up since the start of the pandemic, and more people are visiting to take part in some of the amazing activities South Africa has to offer.
If you're planning a safari trip to Africa, there are a lot of options in front of you. Perhaps the most well-known South Africa safari area is the Kruger National Park, but that doesn't mean it's the one you should go for. It's worth taking the time to consider other options for national parks, as you might find something that suits you a bit better.
You'll be able to find information on different national park websites, but in this guide, we're going to cover 10 of the best safari alternatives to Greater Kruger. Keep reading for more.
1. Madikwe Game Reserve
Some of the best alternatives to Kruger National Park safaris are those found in Madikwe Game Reserve. It lies against the Botswana border and is a total of 765 square kilometers.
It's made up largely of reclaimed farmland and has amassed a wide range of wildlife over the last 32 years. It's a state-owned park, but Madikwe operates as a private game reserve. This means drives can only be conducted by private lodges in the reserve with no self-driving visitors allowed.
If you're going on a South African safari, you'll want to see the Big Five, and that's possible here. There are also plenty of other animals you'll likely come across such as cheetahs, the endangered Wild dog, and the very rare Brown hyena.
The landscape has plenty of woodland and savannah, and it's a year-round destination. There are seasonal variations of course, but there's typically less rain than you'll find on Kruger National Park safaris, and it doesn't get as hot or humid.
2. Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve is considered one of the best spots for safari trips in South Africa. It's known for luxurious trips, but there are a few budget-friendly options too. Rather than being one large national park, Sabi Sand is actually made up of multiple smaller private reserves.It's right next to Kruger, and without any fences, the wildlife is free to move between the two. Freedom is very important for wildlife in Africa, so this is ideal. Sabi Sands is known for having particularly good birdlife.
If you're trying to stick to a tight South Africa safari budget, this might not be the best option for you. Bear in mind, however, that you often get what you pay for. The higher price tag ensures you'll get one of the best experiences available from a South Africa safari trip.
3. KwaZulu Natal Game Reserves
KZN hosts several reserves that have a huge amount to offer. These are more affordable options, making them accessible to more people. Visiting here will give you a chance to see some of the most impressive wildlife in Africa, including both black and white rhinos.
One of the most famous reserves among these is Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. It's 960 square kilometers, and it's well known for having the largest population of rhinos of any reserve, and was the driving force behind saving white rhinos from extinction in the 1970s, as well as the Big Five, Wild dogs, and a range of antelope, so you can knock these off of your Africa safari checklist.
There are several other reserves you can visit, such as:
In the north of KwaZulu Natal, you'll find Tembe Elephant Park. This borders Mozambique and Swaziland and is aptly named as it's home to some of the largest Elephants in Africa, along with plenty of other animals, and is incredibly budget-friendly, with 3-night packages starting at $350 USD including game drives and meals.
4. Eastern Cape Reserves
If you don't want to go too far from the metropolitan areas, this is a great option. The Eastern Cape Game Reserves sit just a couple of hours outside of Port Elizabeth and offer the full safari experience with multiple private game reserves.
To save on your Africa safari budget, you could visit Addo Elephant Park as it allows self-driving visitors. The Eastern Cape offers incredible landscapes, and many of the lodges are designed to make the most of this.
On the coast, you'll also find the Sardine Run between May and July if you want to add something a bit more unique to your trip. All the Eastern Cape Reserves are home to the Big Five, along with plenty of other animals you'll want to see such as giraffes, impalas, warthogs, and zebras.
Some of the most popular reserves here include:
5. South Africa's North West Province
Some people will have plenty of time to explore while in South Africa, but that might not be the case for you. If you're on a tight schedule, you'll want to be efficient. The North West Province can be a good place to visit if you want to start ticking off your Africa safari checklist quickly.
You can do quick safaris here, and you've still got a very good chance of seeing all of the wildlife you're interested in. The area is particularly well-known for Wild dogs, with Elephants and Rhinos also being common. Just bear in mind that the country's big cats can be a bit harder to find here than in other national parks.
It's hotter and drier than some of the other regions, so don't expect to see as much greenery here. The wildlife population is less dense as a result. For many, this might not be the first choice for a safari, but it's often better than most of the others if you need to get a lot done quickly.
6. Samara Karoo Private Reserve
This reserve is located in the Great Karoo semi-desert and offers a somewhat different experience. It's situated on former farmland, and the region has an arid landscape with flat-topped mountains.
The Big Five have recently been reintroduced, so you'll be able to see them. There's also a conservation area for cheetahs. They're incredibly relaxed, and people are able to approach them on foot. You might even be able to see the normally elusive aardvark here in the winter as it's cool enough for them to come out during the day.
7. Makalali Game Reserve
This is fairly close to Kruger National Park, being just an hour away, and has the Olpfants River as a feature. As a private reserve, it doesn't get nearly as busy as Kruger. This is ideal if you want to avoid crowds. The lodges here provide excellent comfort for a mid-range price tag.
8. Tswalu Kalahari Private Reserve
This reserve is located in the far north and is the largest private reserve in South Africa. It's over 1,000 square kilometers, so there's plenty to see.
You can go horse riding across the plains, track black-maned Kalahari lions, spend time with habituated meerkats, and you may even spot a black rhino. Just bear in mind that due to the size of this reserve, it's not ideal for shorter trips. This makes for a far better experience for those looking for longer excursions, and with a good budget, as it's a high-end destination.
Booking Your South African Safari
As you can see, there are plenty of options, which can make booking your South African safari somewhat challenging. There are plenty of national park websites that you can look at to find more detail on each.
If you still need help deciding, the team at Indigo Safaris can help. We have years of experience in organizing all kinds of wildlife adventures. Take a look to see more about why you should book with us today.
Safari tourism continues to grow as many bloggers and influencers share their experiences. With the possibility of seeing wildlife, amazing landscapes, and exploring heritage sites, it's no surprise that more people have begun booking safari tours.
A safari tour can be a life-changing experience, but planning one is not for the faint of heart. From booking your flight to following the itinerary, things can go haywire. This is where a professional safari planner comes in. Read on to learn why you should hire a safari planner for your trip.
1. Saves You Time
Planning a trip can be extremely stressful because of the many areas you must cover. Many websites offer packages and deals, but going through them can get overwhelming quickly. Remember, Africa is a continent that is home to 54 countries. Unless you have one in mind, finding your dream safari destination can take some time.
If you are new to arranging trips, this safari planning can get slow and confusing. A professional safari planner can make this trip stress-free by doing most of the work. After identifying the place you want to visit, you can leave the rest to them. They will even help you identify the place you want to go if you don't know where that is. And often, the place you think you want to go isn't really that place. A free chat with a knowledgeable specialist will enable you to accurately identify the right place for you at the time of year you want to travel.
2. Less Hassle
From arranging itineraries to transportation, having a safari planner can lift a huge weight off your shoulders. You never have to worry about destinations and accommodation. Allowing an expert to handle the work and guide you is a good decision. They can shed some light on your flight routing and manage accommodations, transfers, communicating dietary requirements and special wishes or needs.
You can seek their help when issues arise on the trip. You can guarantee a worthwhile safari experience with an expert by your side, virtually.
3. Offers Peace of Mind
Being far from home can make anyone feel uneasy, especially when you're in a foreign land. One of the benefits of using a safari planner is the peace of mind you get. Aside from taking away the work, they strive to address every concern you have.
For instance, if you have an allergy to seafood, you may be concerned about your lodging serving dishes you can't eat. You can hand in dietary requirements to your safari planner and let them handle it.
Another good example is planning for family safaris. You want the kids to have the best experience, yet you are clueless about how to adjust to the trip. Our travel experts can arrange activities for the whole family to enjoy. A safari adventure is exciting, yet the unknown can get overwhelming. Whether you are new or not to this kind of trip, having hands-on help can make all the difference.
4. Keep Yourself Updated
Surprises are inevitable even with perfect planning. Your flight can get delayed, your itinerary changed, or your lodging messed up. Regardless of the situation, how do you stay updated with the mishaps?
As the saying goes, communication is key from the beginning to the end of the trip. Your safari planner will keep you updated throughout the journey. Since they are handling all your trip details, they will be the first person to be notified about an issue.
You can count on them to pass the information to you as soon as possible. Moreover, your safari specialist prepares a detailed itinerary for your trip to ensure the best experience. It contains information about the place, its culture, and essential details.
5. Use Their Connections And Knowledge to Your Advantage
Having worked in tourism for many years, our safari specialists have a wide-ranging network of contacts. Our Africa experts have contact with other professionals across the industry and access to special deals that consumers are not aware of. Often we tell inquirers about reserves and destinations they have never even heard of, and we know the pick of the accommodations in each price range in every area. We know what type of client each one is suitable for, and who it is not good for, in terms of location, ease of access, ambiance, style, etc.
They arrange meet and greets at airports and transfer points, ensuring smooth transitions between accommodations, and are on hand to answer all your questions before you travel.
6. Reduce Travel Costs
There are many misconceptions about travel agencies and one of them is that they are expensive. People believe they have to pay more if they avail themselves of these beneficial services. However, this is far from the truth. In our case, our services are totally free of charge.
Moreover, you can get better deals for your safari trip through us. We use our connections to find the best bargains for our clients. For example, a travel planner bargains for the best African safari packages. Our network of tried, tested, and trusted service providers and accommodations keeps us in the loop with special combination and long-stay deals that the general public do not always see. Our safari specialists know where to find the best prices. They know where they can get travel packages that give the best value for your money.
By pulling all the bookings under one roof, you only have one company to pay, saving you time, but also money when booking with Indigo Safaris. We bank in most major currencies, meaning you only have to make a domestic transfer rather than numerous foreign transactions, and we convert to your currency at the most favorable exchange rate possible.
7. It's a Safety Net
Using a safari specialist and getting them to book your trip gives protection for you. Traveling anywhere, whether in your home country or a foreign land, comes with safety risks. A natural disaster can hit out of nowhere, a petty crime may occur, or an accident can happen. Without an expert's help, you can get lost and feel overwhelmed.
Remember, a travel planner strives to give you the best safari trip. Ensuring your safety is part of their service. You can contact your safari planner to help you with your concern. Even before travel, we can help you out. Should an accident befall you or a close family member, with our special relationships with our suppliers, changing booking dates is a doddle, as we look after it all. If you cannot rebook and need to make an insurance claim with your travel insurer, we provide all the documentation required for your claim. All you have to do is send it in.
Having someone knowledgeable about the course of the trip gives you a breath of relief. Aside from addressing your problems, your safari planner gives you safety pointers before leaving. You can entrust yourself and your safari journey to an expert.
8. Personal Service and Custom Experiences
Another reason you should work with a safari planner is the custom experiences you can enjoy. It’s nice to work with an African travel expert rather than a general travel agent, as they know the ins and outs and the tricks of the trade, and what is actually possible.
In the beginning, they ask you questions about your safari trip. These questions will include the activities you want to do and the places you want to visit. Based on your answers, they will create an itinerary. If you want a camping safari, your safari specialist can arrange it for you. Your safari specialist chooses the activities and places depending on what you want. You never have to stress yourself about what to do and how to book them.
9. Get Travel Tips
Going on a safari adventure exposes you to different cultures. Considering practices differ, some things accepted locally might be questionable to you, and vice-versa. Knowing and understanding these differences can make your trip easier and more enjoyable.
If you want factual information, use a safari specialist. They can share their knowledge with you to make you a well-informed traveler.
10. A Better Safari Experience
Using a professional safari specialist ensures a smooth trip. You can guarantee the best safari adventure experience knowing your guide specializes in this type of trip. Remember, they know more about traveling in Africa than the amount of research you can do for the trip.
First, a safari planner develops a comprehensive plan with custom experiences. Your planner will only be a call away from the moment you leave home until after you return. They know where you can go and what you can do within the parameters of your budget. Aside from the famous African safaris, your travel planner can suggest other places to enjoy, such as beach and city breaks.
If you want to avoid the crowds, your travel guide can help you find the perfect destination. For instance, Kwazulu Natal is an underrated safari and beach destination with much to offer.
As mentioned previously, Safari travel experts have access to various connections. You can enjoy experiences you might never have considered.
Why Should You Use a Safari Planner?
A safari tour offers some of the most exciting activities and experiences imaginable, and some that you would never even have thought existed. If you want the perfect trip, work with a professional safari planner.
Indigo Safaris offers various packages for families and solo travelers. Check out our favorite hotels, lodges, and itineraries, or contact Indigo Safaris here!
Are you considering a South Africa safari? You're making a great choice, but you need to pick the best park for your interests. Kruger National Park should be on top of your list for many reasons.
South Africa had over 5.8 million visitors last year, which continues to rise. There are many reasons to visit South Africa, but one of the top reasons is to go on Kruger National Park safaris. But what makes Kruger National Park safaris so special?
Kruger National Park is one of the renowned safari parks in South Africa and the world. Here are 12 reasons why you should visit Kruger National Park and experience this wonder yourself.
1. The Best Big Five and Wildlife Sightings
If you're considering going on a safari, the chances are it is to marvel at animals in their natural habitat. However, as the animals roam free, there is no guarantee of catching sightings, which is part of the safari adventure. It is essential to consider this factor when planning a safari trip to Africa.
The good news is that Greater Kruger safaris are known for wildlife sightings, diversity, and the amount of wildlife. It is often said to be the best place to see the iconic 'Big 5' animals: the lion, leopard, buffalo, and elephant. It is not unusual to see all five of these majestic animals in one day, especially when you use a reputable guide and team that knows the park well.
Kruger National Park is also home to over 147 species of mammals, over 50 snake species, 114 reptile species, 49 fish species, and over 508 species of birds. Along with the Big Five, keep your eyes peeled for the Little Five, including the leopard tortoise, elephant shrew, ant lion, red-billed buffalo weaver, and rhino beetle. There are also sightings of rarely-seen animals, including cheetahs, roan antelope, and African Wild Dogs.
2. Flexible Options
Kruger National Park has the infrastructure, policies, accommodation options, and professional guides to provide flexible package options that suit all needs. You can pick a package that suits your budget and just do a two-night trip to get a glimpse of the wonderful nature.
If you have longer, though, you can reap the benefits of fully immersing yourself in this park. It is the perfect park to plan options for wheelchair-friendly safaris, honeymoons, luxury safaris, families, first-time travelers, solo travelers, and safari enthusiasts.
South Africa safaris are not just for huge budgets. You can tailor your safari to smaller budgets by staying in different accommodation options and planning your itinerary with one of our safari specialists.
3. Explore Greater Kruger
Greater Kruger includes Kruger National Park and private reserves next to the park. So, not only do you get to explore Kruger National Park, but you can also choose to spend time on the private reserves. These reserves include Sabi Sand, Timbavati, Klaserie, and Balule reserves.
These reserves also cater to different budgets, but the game viewing is prolific. They also offer a more private and authentic experience, where you can experience Kruger National Park's delights in a more intimate setting.
The animals and birds in Greater Kruger are found in all the reserves as animals roam freely. However, specific habitats suit particular animals better, such as the Sabi Sand Reserve, a popular spot for leopard sightings.
4. A Year-Round Destination
Kruger National Park safaris are perfect year-round, whatever the season. The Summer months are from September to April, often with hot and sunny days, along with sporadic thunderstorms. The average maximum temperature is 34°C (93° F), but temperatures can soar to over 38°C (100° F).
The dry season is during Winter, which extends from May to August. Temperatures average between 8°- 26°C (46° - 79° F). Each season offers a different experience.
Mid-winter (June to August) can be the best time for game viewing. Water is low, so animals stay close to waterholes, and the bush is dry, which means you can spot wildlife easier.
The first rains arrive in September, so the bush slowly turns green once more, and fauna emerges. There tend to be many predators around due to the number of young animals.
Summer is when the bush is thick and abundant, meaning game drives are early morning and late afternoon. Summer is also an excellent time for bird-watching. March to May is the end of Summer, offering cooler temperatures and the need for experienced eyes to spot game with the long grass.
5. Varied Ecosystems
If you want a diverse safari experience, Kruger National Park is the place. Safari in Kruger allows you to experience zones, which means there is different vegetation, climates, and animals. You can break the ecosystems down in different ways, but in general, there are five to six systems to observe. This is why there is an abundance of species of animals and flora to observe. You will be amazed at how the zones change, with zones offering different surprises.
6. Easy Travel Logistics
Safaris in the Greater Kruger area are easily accessible, which is another reason to visit, even if you're on a tight time frame. There are several different ways to access the park, such as flying to Kruger from one of South Africa's airports. You can catch connections from cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban.
Alternatively, you could fly to the international airport close to Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga International Airport. Charter flights can also be arranged. Or, you can travel overland via the Panorama route.
The road system to and through Greater Kruger also allows for driven access, though this takes six to nine hours depending on your start and end points. Roads are well maintained, and there is a well-established network. We are specialists in planning Kruger safari logistics, so you only have to worry about packing and getting to the airport.
7. Different Accommodation Options
When searching where to stay in Kruger National Park, you will find there are reserves in and around the park in Greater Kruger. These reserves offer various accommodation options, from luxury lodges to bush camps.
The Kruger National Park has mainly government-run, self-catered camps, frequented by self-drivers on congested tarmac roads. However, there are also some private lodges with fully inclusive game drives and private tracks, offering similar experiences to the private reserves in the Greater Kruger. This means that the public is not allowed to drive in that section of Kruger, which means you can avoid the crowds.
You are guaranteed to find an accommodation option that suits your needs. Whether you want animals on your doorstep or creature comforts such as air conditioning, you can find it. Greater Kruger's accommodation fits all adventures and budgets, which is another one of its appeals.
8. Unique Safari Adventures
Despite Kruger National Park's popularity, Greater Kruger offers a wealth of off-the-beaten-track adventures to include in your safari experience. You can try a guided walking safari while visiting the Greater Kruger reserves. These can be one of the most authentic ways to experience the South African bush. The main objective is to look out for different animal species. However, the experience can help you immerse yourself in the landscape and experience safari from a different perspective.
Children are not usually allowed on guided walking safaris. However, there are many activities for them to enjoy, from game drives to star-gazing, and activities at the accommodation.
9. Kruger National Park Space
The surface area ofKruger National Park is 7,580 square miles, and Greater Kruger stretches over 8,500 square miles. Fast-paced city life quickly falls away as you enjoy Mother Nature in all her glory and expansiveness. No day is the same on game drives here, with so many parts of the park to explore. You can enjoy moments of solitude with no other safari groups around and enjoy game drives at different times of the day to experience Greater Kruger in all its glory.
Your guide will know the best spots for early morning sunrise game drives, late afternoon drives, and nighttime drives. Enjoy the star-filled sky and the sounds of nature all around at night.
Greater Kruger also is a destination where conservation efforts, advanced environmental management techniques, and policies have been implemented to protect the space. So you can also have peace of mind you are supporting tourism in a place that is working hard to manage conservation.
10. Bird-Watching Opportunities
While many people consider a South Africa safari because of the animals, you may be surprised to learn that it is also an opportunity for exceptional bird-watching. After all, there are over 500 bird species, and for some species, Greater Kruger is their only home in South Africa.
Some birds to look out for on your game drives include the Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced vulture, Pel's fishing owl, Ground Hornbill, Bateleur, Lilac-breasted roller, and Kori Bustards. Even if you are not a bird-watching enthusiast, you will be amazed at the variety of species.
If you are a bird-watching enthusiast, you can tailor your safari to cater to bird-watching experiences, although you will often see multiple species on the game drives.
A challenge of some safaris is that they are not family-friendly. Some lodges have different child policies, and some activities may not be possible for children to do. The good news is that Kruger National Park is an exception to this. Due to the infrastructure and variety of accommodation options, children are welcome. You can have peace of mind they will be safe and also have an educational experience.
Our safari specialists will help you get the best family-friendly experience at in the Kruger National Park and will know how best to tailor your trip to satisfy the whole family. They can pick the best accommodation options, activities, and game drives for an experience your family will remember forever.
12. Combine With More Exploring
Thanks to the transport connections to Kruger National Park, you can also plan to go elsewhere after your safari. Do not worry about complicated travel connections or long days traveling, as you have multiple travel connection options.
Maybe you want to explore the coast of South Africa and go diving. For example, you could fly to Cape Town and enjoy exploring the coastline. You can also travel along the Garden Route and visit the Winelands. Or, you could go to Johannesburg and spend time in the city.
Or maybe you want to go to another country in Africa for a different safari experience. Some people choose to fly to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, or Botswana; the choice is yours. We cover all of Southern and Eastern Africa.
13. Your Choice of Safari Package
When deciding where to go on a South Africa safari, you want to find an itinerary that suits your timeframe, budget, and interests. Indigo Safaris offers a variety of Kruger National Park itineraries and the option for bespoke itineraries.
For example, you can choose a four-day Kruger Walking Safari with Rhino Post and Plains Camp in the Kruger National Park in a private concession, which includes airport transfers. Or, you could create a seven-day Kruger Safari combing Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Timbavati Game Reserve. We have various packages, so you choose your ideal lodge and timeframe. Many of these packages also include long-stay discounts, for four-night stays or longer.
We recommend combining reserves if you want to spend more than four nights in the Greater Kruger. For example, we offer a seven-day Sabi Sand & Timbavati at Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge & Simbavati Hilltop Lodge with one free night included. So, no matter what your Kruger National Park dreams are, there are packages to make them come true.
Why Choose Kruger National Park Safaris
Kruger National Park safaris offer something for everyone, which means there are many reasons to choose this as your safari destination in South Africa. The next step is choosing your provider, so you can have your dream safari experience.
Indigo Safaris offers a range of Safari packages in South Africa and beyond, covering all of southern and eastern Africa. We plan and book packages tailored to each customer in order to give them the best-personalized experience. Our small team of six safari specialists has over 100 years safari planning experience between them, and four of them live in South Africa, three of them have worked and guided in different countries across our portfolio, and we visit our destinations regularly.
Contact us today to start your Kruger National Park adventure.
The African wild dog is the second most endangered carnivore in Africa, behind the Ethiopian wolf. Whilst not a member of the Big 5, like the lion or leopard, sighting a wild dog is more treasured. It is also more of a treat; wild dogs are active and playful, lazy lions lie around doing nothing 20 hours of the day.
What’s in a name?
Wild dogs are not technically dogs; they are the only living species of the genus Lycaon and differ from true canines by having four toes, not five, lacking a dew claw, and they also have different dentition. Wild dogs have a number of different names in the English language, such as Painted dog and Cape hunting dog. You might have read in other blogs, or seen on some nature documentaries that recently there has been a minor movement amongst conservationists to rename the species Painted wolf, due to the negative connotations associated with the name wild dog. Considering that wild dogs are not part of the wolf genus, this seems like a strange decision. In addition, no one appears to have asked the Wild dogs what they prefer to be called.
Wild dogs are a joy to watch should you have the good fortune to stumble across some. They live in packs and can be very boisterous and are highly sociable, communicating with squeaking noises rather than barks. Some biologists also believe that a wild dog pack is a democratic society as when it is time to hunt, each member of the pack votes on whether he/she would like to join the hunt. If not enough members vote to join the hunt, it is called off. Votes are established by sneezing.
Another curious aspect of wild dog life is that it is the females who leave the pack when they come of age, rather than the males. The males will stay with the pack they were born into. The reasons for this are not clear and it is puzzling considering that in most animal species, it is the males who are forced out of their family when they are old enough. Wild dog packs are extremely hierarchical, and in any given pack only the alpha male and alpha female will reproduce.
This is arguably a contributing factor to their decline in population over the past century. If only one female per pack is allowed to have pups, it will be difficult to sustain the population. Even if she is capable of giving birth to 10 or 11 pups at a time, it will always be less effective than allowing all the females to reproduce. The alpha female is usually the oldest in the pack, but this is not always the case for the alpha male. That said, it ensures only the best genes are used and, until human wildlife conflict and habitat encroachment decimated their numbers, this technique saw hundreds of thousands of these beautiful creatures roaming across sub-Saharan Africa. Today there are only around 6,000 left in seven countries.
Being the alpha pair obviously comes with great perks. Even though they are the only ones allowed to reproduce, they do not actually have to look after the pups all the time. The alpha male and alpha female are needed for hunts, being the biggest and smartest dogs, so the job of looking after the pups is often left to other junior females. Wild dogs are incredibly successful hunters, more so than lions. Wild dogs do not hunt like other predators you will have seen on TV. Instead of stalking and then surprising their prey, they like to chase after them in a marathon. Wild dogs are incredibly fit and are able to run their prey to exhaustion. Once this is done, wild dogs don’t suffocate their pray like other predators, but rather rip through their flesh with their sharp teeth.
This is the main reason why they have a bad reputation, because this practice has led to the belief that wild dogs eat their prey alive, which many people feel is cruel. It is also a second reason behind the decline in wild dog numbers. Wild dogs were often shot with impunity by farmers in the past because it was felt that they were excessively cruel to their prey and were seen as pests by livestock farmers.
Once the hunt is over, the prey is consumed at lightning speed, to reduce the chance of the meal being stolen by a larger, stronger predator, often hyenas. On returning to the den and the babysitters, they regurgitate a bit of the meal for the childminders and the young to eat. Whilst sharing is caring, when a poisoned carcass has been left out by a farmer, it makes spreading the toxins extremely likely to wipe out a pack.
Where to find these misunderstood and beautiful animals?
Southern Africa is the best place to find Wild dogs, particularly in Botswana and South Africa. In Botswana, we have regularly spotted wild dogs in the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai, Linyanti, Savuti and Chobe National Park. In South Africa, the best places to see them are in the Greater Kruger Park, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, Madikwe, and Manyoni. We have also had good luck seeing wild dogs in South Luangwa in Zambia, which is also home to one of the densest population of leopards in Africa. Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, has the most-publicised population, thanks to the BBC’s Dynasties episode.
Please remember that wild dogs are an endangered species and even if you visit every destination in this list, you will still need a bit of luck to find them. If you fail to spot any in the wild, the next place to go is the Painted Dog Conservation centre in Hwange, Zimbabwe, which we sponsor annually.
In our experience of travelling across Africa and selling holidays to intrepid adventurers, we have come to see that KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa is underappreciated and underbooked. It is often overlooked in favour of the big name destinations, such as Cape Town, the Kruger Park, and the Garden Route.
Yet in the province of KwaZulu Natal you will find the makings of everything you could want in an African holiday - Big 5 safaris, warm beaches, mountain hikes, and a little bit of history and culture.
What's in a name? KwaZulu Natal is a strange name, consisting of two different languages mashed together. If you translated it directly into English, just for fun, it literally means "Place of the Zulu Christmas." The area was first named Natal by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who sighted the excellent natural harbour at Durban on Christmas Day in 1497. Natal means Christmas in Portuguese. In 1994, after the end of apartheid, the prefix "KwaZulu" was added, which means Place of the Zulus. The Zulus are the biggest indigenous tribe in South Africa and KwaZulu Natal is their traditional homeland.
The biggest reason most people come to Africa is to see the wildlife and KwaZulu Natal is home to some excellent game reserves, which have the Big 5 as well as many other species. They offer superb safari opportunities, as lower costs and with less visitors than comparable lodges in the Greater Kruger Park. The most famous game reserve is probably Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, which is also the oldest game reserve in South Africa. The reserve is famous for its operation to save the white rhino from extinction. In the 1950's and 1960's, the white rhino was virtually extinct in the wild, save for a handful in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. A highly successful breeding and preservation project was launched by the park warden Ian Player which led to the recovery of the species. All the white rhinos you see in Southern Africa today can trace their lineage back to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. And for those interested in trivia, Ian Player is the brother of South Africa's most successful golfer, Gary Player.
Phinda Game Reserve is well known in South Africa for being one of the best curators of luxury safaris. It has its own private airstrip catering to flights from Johannesburg, which also makes it easy to get to. Within the reserve there are four distinct habitats, which makes it an excellent safari destination. One is able to experience woodland, grassland, wetland and forest. There are six 5-star luxury lodges interspersed through these habitats and the lodge is also in close proximity to the unspoilt beaches along the Indian Ocean. During your stay here, your every need will be looked after.
For family friendly safaris, we recommend Nambiti Game Reserve, located almost halfway between Durban and Johannesburg. Namibiti is home to over 40 species of animals, including cheetah, leopard, giraffe, hippo, hyena, impala, eland and zabra plus an array of other creatures and plants. It offers a more affordable safari experience than Phinda and is much more child friendly. Nambiti is also the only malaria-free game reserve in KwaZulu Natal.
After enjoying three or four nights on safari looking for animals, the next thing you might want to do is head to the beach for a few days of relaxation in the sun, and to do some water sports. KwaZulu Natal is roughly the size of Portugal, which means there is kilometres of coastline to choose from. Fed by the warm Agulhas current which flows from the equator, the sea in KwaZulu Natal is warm all year round and the further north you go, the warmer it gets. Durban is the most popular city South Africa for beach holidays, but we recommend heading further north into less populated areas, such as St Lucia, isiMangaliso Wetland Park and Kosi Bay. You can find fully inclusive lodges here which offer a number of activities to keep you entertained, such as snorkelling, kayaking and boat trips. The town of St Lucia is popular because its estuary is home to crocodiles, hippos and fish eagles, which makes it a fun spot to do sunset cruises. Sometimes the hippos can be seen wondering the streets of the town at night, so do be careful. And further up the coast, Kosi Bay is where you can see turtles nesting from November to January.
For the serious divers, Sodwana Bay, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks offer some world class diving. From June - July, the sardine run occurs off the coast of KwaZulu Natal when millions of sardines migrate north to warmer waters near Mozambique. The size of the sardine run has been compared to the great wildebeest migration and the sheer amount of sardines creates a feeding frenzy amongst dolphins, sharks, sea birds and humpback whales.
KwaZulu Natal still has more to offer the curious traveller. The Drakensberg Mountains is a mountain range which runs down the spine of South Africa and reaches its highest points in KwaZulu Natal, with many peaks exceeding 3000m and the highest one reaching 3482m above sea level. The Drakensberg is also home to the second highest waterfall in the world, the Tugela Falls, which is 948m high. It is possible to hike to the top of this waterfall.
Close to the Drakensberg, and for this history buffs, you will find the Battlefields. KwaZulu Natal has been the battleground for a number of important battles and wars throughout South Africa's formative history, involving the British, the Boers and the Zulus. All these historically important battlefields have been well preserved and centre around the town of Dundee. Guided tours of the Battlefields are available from a number of lodges who specialise in the events. With a two or three night stay, you can relive the Battles of Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift, Blood River, Talana Hill, Spionkop and Ladysmith.
The Battle of Isandlwana is famous for being the only time the British army was defeated in battle by an indigenous army and contributed to the Zulu tribe's fearsome reputation. Although the later he same day, the Zulus were trounced at the Battle of Rorke's Drift. The British are so proud of the latter battle that they turned into a movie starring Michael Caine.
The Battle of Talana Hill was the opening battle of the Second Anglo-Boer war, while Spionkop was its deadliest battle. Peculiarly, there is a grandstand at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium named after Spionkop. Walking through the Battlefields with an experienced guide, it is easy to be transported back to the day of the battle and to pretend that you were there.
We offer a number of safaris and itineraries to all the areas mentioned in this blog, as well as some others that we couldn't find space to write about. You can find all our itineraries as well as our favourite lodges and hotels by clicking here: https://www.indigosafaris.com/kwazulu-natal-safaris-and-holidays.htlm
Bringing your children to Africa is truly a magical experience, guaranteed to capture their imagination and maybe spur a lifelong interest in nature conservation.
On a recent safari at a family-friendly game reserve in KwaZulu Natal, it was a joy to see how excited the children were to tick off as many animals and birds as possible in their books. Many kids asked if they could sit in the front seat next to the guide so that they could ask him questions about the animals.
Africa offers something different and something new. Apart from the obvious draw of seeing wild animals, there is also the kilometres and kilometres of wide open spaces, the different people to interact with, culture, languages, and rich histories. Many parents use an African holiday as an opportunity to educate their children about different cultures and upbringings.
Now, bringing your offspring on safari requires a bit of research. Not all safari lodges are child-friendly. Some have minimum age limits, particularly the unfenced camps. They also have differing maximum age limits for child rates. For example, some lodges offer 50% off to children under 12, others offer 50% off to children under 16. You also have to think about what type of room configuration you want. Do you want to share a room with your children, or would you prefer for them to have their own room? Maybe you are even planning to make this a multi generation family adventure and need to find the best set up for grandparents, parents and children. Many lodges require children under 12 to share a room with an adult, but teenagers are often allowed to have their own rooms.
We have put together a family-friendly safari specials page, where we have highlighted the best family-friendly safari lodges in southern and eastern Africa in order to make your life as easy as possible when starting to plan your safari adventure, by showing you what the minimum and maximum age limits are for children, as well how much of children’s discount is potentially on offer.
When planning a family safari, the best way is to contact us to tell us about the size of your family, the ages of your children and what room configuration you are looking for. All of this will affect the price and we can use our expertise to find the best special and the best fit. There are a few lodges which offer children’s programmes as well, where children will be looked after by child-minders and have the chance to learn some new bush tricks and skills and become junior rangers. If you want to find out more about those then have a look at the examples of Young Explorer’s Camp in the Okavango Delta, as well as Kambaku Safari Lodge in the Greater Kruger Park.
The typical safari activities however are not the only activities available in Africa to enchant your children. They can also see the penguins in Cape Town, go quad biking in the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana, interact with meerkats on the Garden Route and go ziplining in Victoria Falls. All children love the beach and Africa has some beautiful warm beach destinations, for an add on stay, such as Zanzibar, Seychelles and Mauritius, where children can go snorkeling and kayaking, as well as sailing on a traditional Dhow. A few nights on safari combined with a few nights on a tropical island promises to be a memorable family holiday.
Well, first of all, they’re much more affordable than lodge safaris enabling a longer safari. Camping safaris also make travel affordable to many more people. Africa doesn’t have to remain a pipe dream. If you are willing to sleep in a tent, you will see the most fantastic sights and have the most incredible experiences which you will remember for the rest of your life.
However, the most compelling reason for doing a camping safari is for the sheer romance of it all. A trip to Africa for many people is almost a spiritual experience, a chance to reconnect with nature and a life we left behind. Many people have forgotten what peace sounds like. There is always the buzz of the traffic, the aircon, or the fridge in the background. When you’re camping, there isn’t any of this white noise to lull you to sleep. Instead, you will be lulled to sleep by the sound of hyenas whooping, jackals laughing, or lions roaring.
It’s also the best possible way to do a tech detox as there are many places in Africa which don’t have cellphone signal or wifi. These days, it seems like people are more scared of being disconnected from their friends for one day than they are of the lion roaring outside their tent. If you want a true break from work and from friends, and want to be assured that your boss will have no way of contacting you when you are on holiday, then a camping safari is the best way to achieve it. If you are lucky, the lion might even eat your cell phone.
Camping is good for your physical health. You’re outside in the fresh air, rising at sunrise with the birdsong rather than with the anxiety-inducing screech of your alarm clock. Plus you are more active. As well as doing some exploring on foot, if you choose to do a semi-participation camping safari, you will also help with the setting up and taking down of your tents.
But won’t it be itchy and uncomfortable and hard work?
There are different levels of camping safaris, depending on how much comfort you want. The first way to differentiate is between participation semi-participation, and non-participation safaris. On participation safaris, you are expected to help set up your tent and to chip in with the cooking and cleaning. on a semi, you help put up your tent , and on non-participation safaris, the guides will do everything for you. When you arrive at a camp site, everything will already be set up for you and you can just sit back and enjoy a cold beer or gin and tonic, or both.
There are also different types of tents. The most basic tent is a 2m x 2m x 2m dome tent, which is big enough for most people to stand up and lie down in. These are usually furnished with low stretchers and high density foam mattresses which are capable of providing a good night’s sleep. A level up from this is a Meru style tent, which is a larger rectangular shaped tent, around 4 metres long by 3 metres wide by 2.5 metres high. These Meru style tents are often furnished with proper beds and en-suite bathrooms. Dome tents will be found on all participation camping safaris, while Meru style tents are used more often for non-participation camping safaris and particularly for fly-in camping safaris.
Bathroom facilities vary and that is part of the adventure and a sure fire way to get you out of your comfort zone, if the honey badger sniffing at your tent hasn’t accomplished that already. Sometimes you will stay in established campsites with proper communal ablutions. Other times, you will be out in the middle of the bush, far away from any semblance of plumbing infrastructure. The shower will be a bucket shower, which is a actually lot nicer than it sounds. The bucket has a proper shower head at the bottom and the water will be warmed on the fire before you stand underneath it.
Toilets will either be a long drop hole with a proper toilet seat placed over it, or a chemical toilet. The scenery in the bush toilets is fabulous, although not always for the shy, as passing animals will stop and stare. Best hit the gym before your camping safari.
Where should I go?
The most popular countries for camping safaris are Namibia and Botswana. We offer a number of camping safaris in both countries, which you can find here and here. In Namibia, you will be camping in the desert underneath the stars seemingly in the middle of nowhere. You will also get to see sights such as Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon, the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park.
In Botswana, it is all about the animals. Camping on the island in the middle of the Okavango Delta will get you as close to African wildlife as you could hope to get. Most of the campsites are unfenced, so you might even have an animal wonder in to say hello. Add on the bush walks, mokoro rides, boat cruises and game drives and you have the makings of an exciting and fulfilling holiday. In addition to the wilderness, you can also camp in the Kalahari Desert where you can meet the Bushmen, or in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
You may be in places without wifi or cell phone signal, but this doesn’t mean you won’t have electricity. You will be able to charge your cameras and other devices in the cars. But if this is too much for you and you truly want to escape from any semblance of civilisation and consumer culture, then look no further than the Wilderness Primitive Trail, operating in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. This trail is aimed at the outdoors enthusiast who would like to combine a wilderness experience with backpacking and sleeping out under the stars. The trail provides the ultimate basic living experience, with a minimum of equipment but with adequate water and food. Water is collected from springs or rivers in the wilderness area, and bathing is done in the river wherever possible. A very important part of the trail is spending time alone on watch at the fire at night. In this way one gets to embrace silence and solitude, qualities that are difficult to find in today's world. Trailists are required to leave their watches and cellular phones in their cars in order to experience greater freedom from time constraints and deadlines which rule our lives today.
But I don’t like other people
Camping safaris don’t necessarily mean group safaris. We can run the Primitive Trail on a private basis and also offer this Botswana camping safari on a private basis. In addition, any camping safari which you see on our Namibia pages can be turned into a private safari with our local guide, Tulimo.
Come to Africa and do a camping safari. You will experience something you have never experienced before and you will return home feeling more refreshed and invigorated than if you had just done a spa weekend in Budapest. And you will also return home with savings in your account because there is nothing to spend money on in the middle of the African bush.
Photographer, conservationist, dive and field guide, teller of bad jokes.