South Africa wildlife vacation activities

What to do on a South Africa wildlife vacation?

Walking safaris

Hiking though wilderness to spot the likes of elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, giraffes or cheetahs has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences ever, and there are trips out there that combine walking safaris with game drives, so that you can experience both. Examples of spectacular walking and wildlife vacations include hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains, Letaba Ranch Reserve and the Royal Natal National Park in the KwaZulu Natal province. It is also worth noting that you can combine a safari vacation with walking through wildflower filled terrain, particularly during the months of August and September, when the bush is transformed into a tapestry of colours around the Cape. These are the only months when the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park is open to the public, a time when you can also see antelope, ostriches, springbok, wildebeest and Cape mountain zebras bouncing among the blossoms.


Birds in South Africa really are like the jewels in the crown, with glistening colours ranging from the pink flamingoes in Isimangaliso Wetlands Park , the orange breasted sunbird of the fynbos, the red-billed quelea in Kruger National Park or everything from penguins to malachite kingfishers in Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Port Elizabeth. Buy a book before you go, or swot up on Birdlife South Africa. You won’t regret it.

Wild sleeps

The traditional safari always involved camping out in the bush, and its popularity is growing again as people realise just how valuable these creatures are now, and want to spend as many hours of the day as close to their habitats as possible. And as more of us want to experience digital detoxes, there is no better way to switch off and be fully immersed in a tranquil, timeless terrain. Your phones may be smart, but this is a much smarter thing to do, allowing yourself to really be up close to South Africa’s wildlife, separated from nature by just a sheet of canvas albeit surrounded by experts who ensure your safety, and with no notifications except a wakeup call from a hippo. Camps may be permanent or mobile, luxurious or no frills wilderness ones. Mobile camps have minimal impact – vanishing without a trace come morning.

Tribal cultures & wildlife

Not only are many local people working as guides, naturalists and conservationists or running conservancies on your wildlife vacation, but they also often host people in their homesteads, particularly in KwaZulu Natal where you can stay in traditional “rondavel” thatched huts. They give an enlightening glimpse into contemporary Zulu life, including the local food, music and dance during evening cultural programmes.
Photo credits: [Walking safaris: Pipples91] [Birding: Derek Keats] [Wild sleeps: Jon Connell] [Tribal cultures and wildlife: amanderson2]
Written by Catherine Mack
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