We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

5 days for amazing Safari - from Cape town - where?

Rochester, Minnesota
Level Contributor
8 posts
41 reviews
Save Topic
5 days for amazing Safari - from Cape town - where?

My husband's first trip to Cape Town, my second early Feb 2012. A safari is a must. Want to wow him with spectular game drives - lots of game, lots of variety, big five, up close and personal without crowds of other vehicles/people and exceptional accomodations. I enjoyed lions walking close enough to reach out and pet, rhinos and giraffes within 25 ft, and multitudes of other animals with 5 star accomodations, but didn't see all big five or the vast herds of the Serengti.

Have only 5 days to safari if we count one day to get to our destination and back (from Cape Town). Have been advised we do the Serengiti, but research suggests 5 days isn't enough time for it. Do we have time, or should we wait till we're retired and have more time?

Garonga is a 2011 TripAdvisor winner, but I can't get an idea about the quality of the game drives from the reviews. Are we better off in Kruger and if so, where/which lodge/group (although have heard it's so big, you can drive for hours and see nothing exceptional).

Suggestions/recommendations greatly appreciated!

South Africa
Level Contributor
1,580 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 5 days for amazing Safari - from Cape town - where?

Serengeti is too far and will be very expensive. I recommend you go to the Kruger National Park. You can either fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg (2 hour flight, very affordable) and join a guided Kruger Park open vehicle safari departing from there, or you can fly to Nelspruit (3 hour flight, costs more but it is closer to Kruger) and start your safari from there.

Apart from joining a guided open vehicle safari, you can also go to one of the private safari lodges in game reserves such as the Sabi Sand or Timbavati, which are adjacent to Kruger and share an unfenced boundary with Kruger. Typically you would pay a bit more if you go to a private game lodge, but the game drives are able to go off-road, which is not allowed in Kruger itself.

In my experience the best option for a 5 day safari is to do what we call a "combo safari" which is a combination of the Kruger National Park (guided open vehicle safari or even self-drive if you prefer that) followed by a couple of nights at a private game lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, where you have a better chance of seeing big cats up close (especially leopards). General game viewing however is usually better in the Kruger National Park itself, which is why combining the two works very well, and can easily be done in 5 days from Cape Town.

The closest decent alternative nearer to Cape Town is Addo National Park and surrounding private reserve in the Eastern Cape, but with the time and cost of getting there you might as well go to Kruger, which is a much better overall safari destination in my opinion.

Garonga is nice but how it got into the top 10 is anyone's guess (ahead of all the other all-inclusive safari lodges in South Africa). It is roughly in the same area as Kruger, but it is in a small game reserve fenced in on its own, and totally separate from Kruger. I have nothing against Garonga but I would say yes, you will be better off in Kruger.

It is possible in any game reserve to drive for hours and see nothing exceptional, or you can be lucky like our dutch guests on their last safari in Kruger, who within 5 days saw 9 leopards, 2 cheetahs, 19 wild dogs, several different lion sightings, 48 rhinos, lots of buffalo and elephant herds, fighting giraffe, fighting zebra, and tons more. I can't give you the link here in this forum but if you find our Facebook page you will see the guide's sightings reports and pictures from this exceptional Kruger Park safari. Granted, the game viewing is not always like that, you need a bit of luck, but the beauty of going on safari in a large unspoilt game reserve like Kruger is that you never know what you will find!

The central and southern camps within Kruger are usually the best from a game viewing point of view, and choice of private safari lodges will really depend on your budget (ranging from under $300 up to $1200 per person per night). Best is to contact an operator or agent who has visited many of the lodges and can make some recommendations based on first hand experience. There are several such experts who contribute regularly on this forum, giving advice and answering questions. You will also find some valuable advice regarding lodge choice by doing a search here or browsing the Sabi Sand forum, for example.

Hope this helps!

Onne from Wild Wings Safaris

Level Contributor
255 posts
118 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 5 days for amazing Safari - from Cape town - where?

You can fly direct Cape Town to Hoedspruit & we saw the big 5 on 3 of our 5 days at Umlani bush camp - a really unique experince - fabulous hosting & traditional rondavels with great rangers & great food as well as a great ethical camp. The animal viewing was amazing - our pics are here - judge for yourself & let me know if you can't click the link.



Paris, France
Level Contributor
842 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 5 days for amazing Safari - from Cape town - where?

Just a word of warning, not a good idea to reach out and pet lions in the Kruger, that would possibly be the last thing you ever did!

4. Re: 5 days for amazing Safari - from Cape town - where?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 16 November 2012, 10:23