Mention the words ‘bucket list’ to almost anyone and if they haven’t done it already it’s highly likely that an African safari will feature somewhere on their list. That said, there is a common misconception that private safaris are a privilege of only the wealthy and although it’s true that in the context of a private safari holiday ‘cheap’ is a relative term, the truth is you won’t have to re-mortgage your house to make the dream a reality.
When it comes to perfect safari destinations in Africa, you are never short of choices, but for a truly affordable private safari option we think South Africa is a great place to start. Travel critics have been heaping awards on South Africa as one of the world’s best travel destinations and for good reason; this is a country guaranteed to get under your skin from the moment you arrive. With the added bonus of favourable exchange rates and no jet lag to worry about there really are few places better to experience your first safari adventure.
Now if you think a safari on a budget means you’ll be slumming it then think again. We’ve done a round up of some of the very best private safari destinations in South Africa for travellers on a budget.
Best Tented Safari Experience
Shindzela Tented Safari Camp is set in the Timbavati Game Reserve and offers an affordable Kruger safari experience, without compromising on excitement and thrills. There is something enchanting about staying in a tent on safari. For an extra charge real wildlife junkies can book a ‘Sleep Out’ experience at the Shindzela Hide overlooking the Main Dam at Shindzela. From here you can soak up the magic of the African night and enjoy front row seats from which to witness breath-taking night action.
Prices start from £79 per person per night, including all meals, tea/coffee and shared safari activities.
Best Alternative Safari
For a true wilderness experience few things beat a walking safari. Situated in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve in the heart of Greater Kruger, Africa on Foot specialises in walking safaris. Sharing unfenced borders with Kruger National Park means animals roam freely. Some of Africa’s most superb predators are found here and there is nothing more thrilling than walking in the open where a feeling of being in the wild is ever-present. The more adventurous can book a stay in a treehouse at no extra cost.
Prices start from £115 per person per night, including all meals, tea/coffee, game walks and shared drives.
Best for Romance
To escape the realities of daily life and immerse yourself in the true spirit of Africa look no further that nThambo Tree Camp. Situated in the heart of Southern Klaserie, this intimate and eco-friendly camp shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park, making it prime Big Five viewing territory. Each of its five private chalets are raised on stilts and come complete with a four poster bed and private veranda overlooking the plains; the perfect escape for those seeking romance and adventure.
Prices start from £132 per person per night, including all meals, tea/coffee, game walks and morning/afternoon shared game drives (prices valid for the whole of 2016).
Best for Honeymoons
Honeymooners looking for an exhilarating and alternative way to kick start married life should look no further than Garonga Safari Camp. Set in the Makalali Conservancy, this unassuming sanctuary promises a more intimate wildlife encounter in an unhurried environment. Its luxury tents each have a wooden deck complete with hammock and spectacular views. For a truly unique experience enjoy a bath in the bush followed by a night sleeping under the stars!
Prices start at £170 per person per night, including all meals and drinks (house wine), game drives, bush walks, bush baths, sleep-outs, picnics and even your laundry!
Best ‘Out of Africa’ Experience
If you want to reconnect with nature and experience the real magic of Africa then Umlani Bushcamp is for you. Located in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the heart of Big Five territory, this beautifully designed eco lodge is off the grid and the beaten track of tourists that flock to Kruger. For exclusive tranquillity there is a tree house about 2.5 km from the camp overlooking a dam, where the lodge can leave you for an hour or two with blankets, big comfortable pillows and a cooler box filled with drinks.
Prices start from £129 per person per night, including all meals, two private game drives, optional bush walk and all local brand drinks.
Best Family Safari
Forget Disney World and consider a family safari adventure, such as an authentic bushveld experience at Gomo Gomo Game Lodge. This laid-back, family-friendly lodge overlooks a waterhole, so when you’re not out in search of the Big Five you can sit and watch your kids faces light up with excitement as animals come to drink here. You might even be lucky enough to see the odd baby elephant frolicking by the water’s edge.
Prices start from £97 per person per night (adult), including all meals, tea/coffee, morning and afternoon/evening shared game drives and bush walks. Children under 13 go half price.
Has this got you thinking that a safari could be for you? If so our friendly and knowledgeable team is on hand to chat to you about planning the ultimate African adventure!