We bring you all the news you’ve been waiting for about travel to, in and around our beautiful country, South Africa. At the end of what feels like the most extended year in living memory, we are proud to bring you the Leisure Travel Edit– Exploring Sunny South Africa. So, pour yourself a cuppa or glass of your favorite ‘something’ and enjoy the read.
It’s nearly vacation time! There’s excitement in the air for those ready to finish the school or working year and take off for much-needed time off. It’s the perfect window to visit South Africa. Being in the southern hemisphere, summer has arrived in all its glory. The weather right now and leading up to the end of the year is ideal for the quintessential beach holiday or safari.
Covid-19 travel update for South Africa
Borders for foreign travel were re-opened on 1 October, and we celebrated with an internal elevated star jump. There may have been some air guitar involved, and definitely, a bunch of virtual high fives handed out. The details were soon made clear, and we’ve summarised them here for your convenience. Please know that this risk-adjusted approach is a fluid environment and revisited often. The countries on the ‘red’ list, for example, are reviewed every two weeks, at the moment. Remember, this is our home turf, and we’re here to help. If you have any questions at all, you’re welcome to reach out to us.
For now, passengers can only land at three international airports: Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. There are also eighteen land borders currently operational.
Countries have been allocated a high, medium, or low-risk epidemiological status. Travelers from medium and low-risk countries are allowed to enter subject to Visa requirements. High-risk countries listed here are still not permitted entry unless travelers have spent ten days or more in a low-risk country before departure.
- Travelers must produce a paper copy of a negative PCR Covid-19 test result that is less than 72 hours old at the time of departure.
- Travelers must install a government contact tracing app and show proof of a confirmed accommodation booking.
- On arrival, everyone will undergo health screening, and people showing Covid-19 symptoms will be tested. If the test result is positive, they will be quarantined in government facilities.
- Travelers must have mandatory travel insurance that covers the cost of a Covid-19 test (for those showing symptoms) and quarantine costs.
- A national curfew is still in place from 12am to 4am.
- Cloth face masks are mandatory in public areas across the country.
A Healthy Dose of Safari Inspiration
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite safari options for you. So, when the time is right for you to explore Mzansi’s treasures, you’ll be all set. Wamkelikile! You’re welcome!
Greater Kruger National Park
The Greater Kruger National Park is the most famous part of the South African bushveld, the ultimate refuge for wildlife enthusiasts. There’s no better place to experience the quintessential African safari than here. The biggest drawcard in this wondrous bushveld sanctuary is being able to catch a glimpse of a majestic variety of wildlife in their natural environment.
The area includes famous private reserves like the Sabi Sand and Timbavati, amongst others. Sabi Sand is situated in the south western area and boasts the highest leopard density of any private game reserve in South Africa. You can join Ale Olivieri in one of our most popular private guided safari covering both the Northern and Southern Sabi Sand where you too may be able to be able to experience the once in a lifetime opportunity of viewing these majestic creatures. This itinerary is available throughout the year and is a great opportunity to explore this fantastic part of the world.
Another opportunity to experience the reverence of this area is to join Tayla McCurdy once again for four nights at Djuma Vuyatela, situated in the idyllic Djuma Private Game Reserve. This safari is designed for a maximum of 6 guests, be it friends or family. The house sits within its own compound and is surrounded by landscaped gardens and overlooks the main waterhole. Guests can immerse themselves in nature in a secluded spot, experiencing the immense privilege of being alive in the African bush.
The exclusive Sabi Sands is where you are most likely to successfully track leopards. That is, other than the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Sabi Sands is situated in the southwestern area of the world-famous Kruger National Park and boasts the highest leopard density of any private game reserve in South Africa. Two other options to experience the wonder of the Kruger include a quick fly in for 3 nights at Sabi Sabi or this budget Kruger and Cape Town package where you spend three nights in Cape Town followed by three nights in the Sabi Sand. Be sure to book your spot because these are experiences not to be missed!
Madikwe and Marataba
Madikwe Game Reserve and Waterberg are two vastly different private game reserves but can easily be combined for the perfect safari and are based in a malaria-free zone and just a few hours drive from Johannesburg. Madikwe’s landscape is a unique mix of savannah and semi-arid desert offering a diverse safari experience. Located in South Africa’s North West province it is an area renowned for African wild dog sightings it has recently gained ground in sightings of the iconic five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion) too. Both are within easy driving distance from Johannesburg on good roads. Madikwe is possible to combine with Botswana by way of cross-border road transfers, making a twin-center bush break within easy reach.
Marataba, a 21, 000-hectare privately managed section of the Marakele National Park in the heart of the Waterberg mountains, is an arresting private reserve set amongst a backdrop of dramatic mountains, deep valleys, and grassy plains. Here, the bushveld meets Kalahari Sands in South Africa’s remote Limpopo Province. It is rich in animal diversity where you can witness some of the large game species such as elephant and rhino as well as the big cats. Famed for its walking safaris and photography opportunity this is a great option for those keen to unplug and recharge far away from the busy pace of life as we know it. Marataba Conservation Camps comprising Founders Camp and Explorers Camp are about enriching experiences in balance with nature. Immerse yourself in the solitude of the vast, wild spaces of Marataba whilst actively participating in essential conservation projects. Dynamic and fun, yet responsible and sustainable, the activities are entirely tailored to you with a private guide and vehicle to ensure the utmost flexibility.
You can experience the best of both reserves with our African Family Explorer package is a wonderful safari adventure perfectly suited to families. This safari not only includes animal tracking with hopeful sightings of leopard but also experiencing one of the Seven Wonders of the World with two nights stay at Victoria Falls.
Tswalu, Kalahari Desert
© Tswalu Kalahari
Tswalu is not a traditional safari option and connects you to an experience of the incredible wilderness, the Kalahari Desert. This unparalleled experience allows you to view some of the most unusual creatures South Africa offers, with sightings of some rarely sighted animals like bat-eared foxes, endangered pangolins, and aardvark. Tswalu provides you with a private game viewing vehicle with a dedicated guide and tracker for all bookings and is toted as one of the most exclusive getaways on the planet. Our Tswalu Kalahari package is excellent for anyone looking to do a private guided safari experience with our expert guides. Perfect for families, couples, or travel pods (small parties of friends traveling together).
At Tswalu, you can catch a glimpse of the Milky Way galaxy with their Malori Starbed Experience. The Malori (meaning ‘dreamer’ in Tswana) offers a unique safari sleepout experience where guests can choose to sleep entirely out in the open. The Malori is built to maximize the exquisite surroundings and has panoramic views of the Kalahari’s vast plains. An incomparable way to stay with not-to-be-missed sunsets.
Two other accommodation options within Tswalu are The Motse safari lodge and Tarkuni, the versatile typically sole-use safari lodge. The Motse offers its own spa and gym, providing relaxation and stimulation for body and mind, with inspiration from its spartan savannah views. Tarkuni is an exclusive homestead and bush camp with five individual suites. This property offers understated elegance but, above all, a sense of serene luxury, profound relaxation, and deep rejuvenation.
Phinda and iSimangaliso Wetland Park
From the Kalahari to KwaZulu-Natal, these two provinces could hardly be more different if they tried. Our top two safari options in KZN are Phinda and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. These two conservation areas offer such a diverse landscape to discover, including a variety of ecosystems. They work beautifully as a twin-center vacation offering thrilling experiences from sand forest and bushveld to coastland. Join us for a Pangolin tracking activity or the possibility of seeing turtles nesting and heading back into the water. Two life-changing activities you don’t want to miss.
As if it couldn’t get any better, should you plan a romantic getaway, honeymooners can save 50% on accommodation at Phinda Vlei and Forest Lodge. There are few places more soul-stirring than this reserve. Trust us, we’ve been.
For local South African travelers, Kosi Bay Forest Lodge and Thonga Beach lodge in iSimangaliso are perfect for your year-end deep chill session. Both lodges offer beach and water sport activities and the best that nature has to offer with birding and stargazing and a range of other activities.
Cape Town calling
The Western Cape and Cape Town, affectionately called ‘The Mother City,’ is a great way to start or end a safari. The Cape is rich in diverse and historical tourist attractions as well as internationally acclaimed cuisine. The recent Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards rate more than a few of Africa’s top thirty hotels call Cape Town ‘home’.
Spend a day out in the celebrated Winelands, Franschhoek or Stellenbosch, touring the various farms and enjoying delicious wine tastings. These pair beautifully with the wraparound mountain views and infinite rows of verdant vines stretching as far as the eye can see. Other top attractions include visiting the penguin sanctuary at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, a boat trip to Robben Island, and hiking in the spectacular Table Mountain National Park. Once you’ve finished with all these beautiful encounters, you can unwind and experience sumptuous, world-class cuisine in Cape Town’s award-winning restaurants. Before heading home, enjoy some hand-crafted shopping at one of our renowned open-air markets. Find all the soul food, fresh air, and curated curios your heart desires under the sun in our big sky country, South Africa. Insider tip: Remember to dress in layers. The reason being the Cape Doctor, the moniker given to the south-easterly breeze known to whip around the Cape in the summertime, can cool things down a touch. Be prepared for four seasons in one day.
Reach out to us today if you would like some help planning your next epic South Africa safari. We can’t wait to host you!