Picture this. You and your family are sitting around a campfire, the crackling of the flames the only sound in the still night while overhead a latticework quilt of enormous stars hangs daintily in the black sky. And suddenly, you hear something – the roar of a lion, the yelp of a jackal, the eerie barking laugh of a hyena. You shiver – it sounds like the animal is just a few feet away, perhaps behind that large clump of bushes.
The long, long journey all the way to Africa – South Africa to be exact – is more than meeting your expectations. And you are so glad that you took time to find out about the best jet lag remedies before flying across so many time zones. Thanks to what you learned about jet lag here from Review Critic, you – and the family – can enjoy every minute of your African adventure, right from the moment you step off the plane.
So you lick the last sticky vestiges of your barbequed meat from your fingers, sip your glass of chilled South African wine, or your steaming mug of coffee – or the locally brewed Rooibos tea with its earthy, tannin flavor while the children use long “braai” forks to toast marshmallows in the fire’s dying embers and enjoy their mugs of hot chocolate.
It is a big decision to choose to fly the entire family halfway around the world to the southern tip of Africa for a safari holiday. But, you can find some relatively affordable flights. That, plus the fact that the huge variety of accommodation available in the country’s many game reserves make it surprisingly easy to find something suitable in terms of both budget and meeting the needs of every member of the family.
You may consider one of the many privately owned, super-luxury game lodges. They are usually quite incredible – like something out of a Hollywood movie. They generally offer all-inclusive packages: five-star accommodation, all meals; game drives with qualified rangers and experienced trackers who will do their best to ensure you get to see the Big Five – lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and buffalo. The experience offered is not only Out of Africa, it’s pretty much out of this world.
But, it’s expensive, even taking into consideration the weakness of the South African currency – the Rand. In addition, several of the luxury lodges might not accommodate young children.
A far more affordable, and family-friendly option, is to consider one of the South African National Parks (Sanparks). Interestingly, many of the super-luxury, private game lodges are located in – or on the border of – a National Park.
Kruger National Park
The largest of these game parks (often referred to as game reserves), is the world-renowned Kruger National Park. The Sabi Sands private game reserve is located on the western boundary of the Kruger – and the game animals roam freely between the two.
There is a huge variety of accommodation available in the Kruger Park – from campsites (bring your own tent or caravan), to luxurious (but still relatively affordable) family cottages and all manner of options in between.
There are also many camps to choose from, from the larger main camps like Skukuza, which is something like a well-equipped village complete with restaurant, shops, swimming pools and children playgrounds, to more rustic bush camps.
One of the joys of the Kruger Park – and most other public game reserves – is that you can use your own vehicle to go game viewing. However, you can also opt for a guided safari drive, or bush walk as a treat, or a way to learn more about the bush and its four- and two-legged inhabitants.
Getting to the Kruger Park is relatively easy. It’s a four to five hour drive on good roads from Johannesburg’s international airport (you can hire a vehicle there); or you could fly directly from Johannesburg to Skukuza, and rent your self-drive vehicle there.
Pilanesberg National Park
If you don’t want to drive (or fly) all the way to Kruger, another big-five option close to Johannesburg is the Pilanesberg National Park (not a Sanparks park). While much smaller than the Kruger, it nevertheless offers an abundance of game. Being smaller, your chance of seeing most of the big mammals is pretty good. In addition, the diversity of Pilanesberg’s accommodation options means that there is an offering to suit every taste and budget. Whether you enjoy getting closer to nature in a Safari tent in the bush, or enjoying a glass of fine wine in a big bubble-bath as you admire the wildlife out the window of your luxury lodge, there will be something for you.
And at night, whichever Park or camp you choose to frequent, you can expect to enjoy a campfire experience complete with the never-to-be-forgotten sounds of the African bush.