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South African Safari

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South African Safari

Hi,

I'll be traveling to South Africa November 2-10 and am trying to come up with a way to maximize my time there. I am most focused on the safari aspect and would like to do whatever I can to assure that I see all of the "Big 5." I know that November is a little past the ideal time to go on safari, but I'm hoping its not too late. I am considering flying in to Cape Town to do a day or two there prior to flying to Kruger, but need advice on whether I'm am trying to squeeze too much in. The reason I'm looking at this is because I'd like to incorporate some active excursions into my trip such as kayaking (False Bay) and biking (Winelands).

I'd like to do the safaris provided at the private game reserves, but would also like to do a day excursion to a local village (Pondoro lists a daytrip called the Shangana Cultural Village Trip that spurred this interest). Is a cultural village visit worthwhile or completely a tourist trap?

I'd like to try to divide my time in Kruger between two reserves- sabi sans for perhaps a night or two and the rest of my time at pondoro or naledi (or any other recommendations?). Is there any migration pattern of the animals that I should be aware of in early November or is what I've read about leopards being more common in Sabi Sans and the other animals being more abundant in the northern reserve true year-round?

Thanks for any guidance!

Outlook Safaris
Nature & Wildlife Tours, Safaris
Vula Tours
Taxis & Shuttles, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Safaris
Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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1. Re: South African Safari

There really isn't any migration there for you to focus on... and whoever told you that November isn't a good time for safaris is wrong. Your 2 days in Cape Town would be pretty tight for kayaking in False Bay + cycling in the Winelands. Probably need another day.

From CPT to safari requires a day. Fly out of Cape Town at 1000AM, arrive at Nelspruit airport at 1235PM, transfer to a safari lodge just in time for the PM game drive. I endorse Naledi - Pondoro also good. If you do one of these first, then flying to Hoedspruit from CPT would be better - but the nonstop from CPT to HDS only operates Tuesdays and Thursdays. Other days of the week, you fly CPT/JNB/HDS. That cultural village might use more time than you would end up thinking it was worth. I would save Sabi Sand for the 'big finish' and if you are after leopards, I say let the budget be the guide. I cannot name a single Sabi Sand lodge where I think viewing leopards at some time (or several times) would be a problem.

Dave Patterson - Owner - The Africa Safari

Edited: 26 July 2013, 18:33
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2. Re: South African Safari

Thanks so much, Dave! Are there certain airlines we should book with for the flights from Cape Town to Hoedspruit? Or suggested websites I should look at to do so. All I can find on expedia are flights run by South African Airways.

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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3. Re: South African Safari

South African Airways is the only aIrline with those routes... and please book directly with them. www.flysaa.com. You will need to set the country up in the upper right corner to South Africa on that home page. After that it's pretty easy to figure out. Please do not buy these tickets from a 3rd party. You need to be dealing with SAA, not Expedia, in case you need to make changes, etc.

Gold Coast...
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for Kruger National Park
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4. Re: South African Safari

Hi there

Just to back up what Dave has said you have been advised incorrectly, and November is a fine time to go on safari.

In fact there are many advantages. It will not be as freezing cold on the evening and early morning game drives out on the open jeeps for one, the wind chill factor in winter can really knock you around. Of course the days will be considerably warmer than winter but not generally as hot and humid as later in summer. Unless there has been a lot of heavy rain early in the season the grass and vegetation will still be nice and low which will help with sightings. On top of all that it is impala calving season and you will hopefully get to see lots of newborns, and possibly also with other animals too. This in turn may lead to increased predator activity.

There is no migration pattern to worry about, there a no large herds of plains games in the private smaller reserves, you would have to go right into the ‘main’ Kruger Park to see these.

I too like your choice of lodges, two different areas will give you a great experience. Yes Sabi Sand is of course famous for its leopards. We have rarely had a day there without at least one or more sightings.

South Africa
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5. Re: South African Safari

I agree with Dave and thesandmans, November is one of my favorite times to visit the Kruger National Park. It is a great time to be on safari. If you have 7 or 8 nights in the Kruger area and you're only going to visit the private reserves, Sabi Sand and Balule (where Pondoro is), I personally feel that you will be missing out on the Kruger National Park itself.

I have always found that the general game viewing in Kruger itself is better than at the adjacent private reserves, probably because you cover more distance during game drives, and some of the most productive open areas for game viewing are further east, deep inside the Kruger National Park (larger herds, greater numbers and variety of animals). For this reason I often recommend doing a combination between Kruger and the private reserves. Kruger itself can easily be done on a self-drive basis if you don't mind game viewing from inside a rental car and driving yourself around, or you can book a guided open vehicle safari with an expert guide with one of the operators that offer that. A nice itinerary would be a 3-night Kruger National Park open vehicle safari, followed by 2 or 3 nights in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and finally 2 in Balule as you had planned. That gives you a total of 7 to 8 nights on safari, and a diversity of landscapes and game viewing areas.

To add 2 days in Cape Town before or after your safari should not be a problem, but it will be an expensive addition to your trip for only 2 days in Cape Town. Flights to Cape Town are usually more expensive than flights to Johannesburg, and as Dave explained you will still need domestic flights from Cape Town to Nelspruit to get to Kruger. It is also possible to fly to Johannesburg from Cape Town, which costs less and there are some low cost carriers that offer this route, if you plan on joining a guided Kruger National Park safari from Johannesburg - there are packages available with departures from Johannesburg. But Nelspruit will probably be a bit easier and cut out most of the 5 hour road trip from Johannesburg to Kruger.

Onne from Wild Wings Safaris

6. Re: South African Safari

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