From penguins, whales and wine in the Cape – to magnificent wildlife and sublime safari, South Africa is perfect for first time African safari travelers, and is now again open to international travelers, upon presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.
Whilst the world was in COVID-19 lockdown, with South Africa having had among the world’s strictest rules, the wildlife has had its day in the sun, literally. Lions were sunning themselves in big, lazy prides on the roads in the Kruger Park, whilst enormous pods of dolphins are surfing the breaks along empty beaches. Penguins and hippos waddled confidently through some of the coastal villages. In fact, one hippo was seen sliding nonchalantly into a gas station. The early months of lockdown also saw fewer rhinos being poached as travel restrictions disrupted international smuggling rings. However, as lockdown restrictions have been gradually loosened, poaching is on the increase again – especially as lack of tourism revenue means there is little funding for animal monitoring and protection.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic also means that my clients who were excitedly looking forward to their 2020 safaris (a first for all of them) had to postpone their dream safari trips to 2021. I am so thrilled though, that they can still look forward to their safaris which I’ve so loved planning, with diverse itineraries specifically tailored to each family.
Postponing instead of canceling also means that Safari lodges can rely on a recuperative season in 2021, which goes a long way to support employees, local communities and anti-poaching efforts.
Africa is a dream destination in every sense – unforgettable wildlife experiences, incredible landscapes and fascinating cultures abound. The warmth, vibrancy and optimism of the African people is truly moving. It is transformative, filled with indescribable moments, like watching a herd of elephants walk right in front of you, being within a few feet of a pride of lions. Sipping sundowners overlooking a watering hole, dining under the stars and listening to the sounds of an African night or sleeping in an elevated treehouse.
From unforgettable family friendly safaris to exclusive hideaways for romantics and adventurous honeymoons, to small groups of friends and family, Africa is for everyone.
South Africa is a perfect introduction to Africa. There’s not much that South Africa doesn’t have to offer its visitors. The most developed country in Africa, it is also the most diverse, delighting visitors with a mix of culture, cosmopolitan cities, history, natural beauty, wild spaces and wildlife, adventure and fabulous cuisine.
One of the major items on any safari goer’s bucket list is encountering Africa’s iconic Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo) in the wild. South Africa is one of the world’s finest Big 5 safari destinations thanks to its outstanding conservation areas and national parks.
The Kruger Park is renowned for its safe, close-up Big 5 sightings, and is home to the widest diversity of wildlife in South Africa, and some of the finest game viewing in the world. What’s more – it offers award-winning luxe accommodation, smooth-running logistics and some of Africa’s best trackers and guides.
If you’re travelling with younger kids or older relatives on their first safari, South Africa is an excellent choice because it offers so much to see and do. Excellent private healthcare facilities are easily accessible. South Africans LOVE kids! Many hotels and safari lodges offer family suites to accommodate everyone together, whilst baby-sitting services are readily available.
On safari, age-appropriate activities such as junior guiding programs keep the younger set happily occupied and learning while adults go out on game drives (most game lodges allow kids aged 6 and up to join game drives).
For those preferring to stay out of malaria areas, South Africa delivers again: there is a wonderful selection of smaller, but equally rewarding private game reserves and parks located in malaria-free regions:
Cape Town is the perfect start to any South African safari, especially after a long flight. Spend a few days relaxing and exploring in Cape Town, adjusting to the local time zone whilst absorbing the vibrant South African culture, before setting off on safari.
Set on a rugged peninsula between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans with iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop, the city of Cape Town boasts a spectacular setting – and has aptly been named one of the world’s most beautiful cities. But the scenery isn’t restricted to the city alone: short drives take visitors to white sandy beaches, traditional fishing villages and wild mountain ranges. Must-see spots such as Cape Point, the African penguin colony of Boulder Bay, the Cape Winelands and the whale-watching capital of Hermanus are easy day trips.
South Africa boasts a huge variety of fine restaurants that serve the most exclusive gastronomical delights. From Cape Town and Johannesburg to the heart of the Kruger, South Africa is a country of culinary excellence. Framed by sun-splashed vineyards and craggy mountains, the picturesque valleys of the Cape Winelands are famous for their grand old estates, quaint historic towns, award-winning restaurants and – of course – internationally acclaimed wines. The Kruger Park is home to some of Africa’s finest luxury safari lodges offering gourmet cuisine and five-star personal service.
South Africa’s 1 550mi (2500km) of coastline is one of the world’s most varied and beautiful. Bordered by the warm Indian Ocean on one side and the cooler Atlantic on the other, South Africa’s coastline offers its visitors sun-kissed beaches, craggy shores, sweeping views from magnificent scenic roads, quaint villages and indigenous forests.
Or – fly to nearby Mozambique for a true tropical Indian Ocean experience.
July to November sees South Africa’s Whale Coast hum with activity as migratory whales arrive from the icy Antarctic to mate and give birth in warmer waters. The town of Hermanus lies at the center of the whale-watching experience and is known as the best land-based whale-watching destination in the world.
South Africa’s tourism infrastructure is outstanding. Daily commercial flights link all its major cities, while chartered airplanes can get you to the Kruger National Park and private safari airstrips. OR Tambo International Airport is a major travel hub and the gateway to the rest of Africa. Road transfers are conducted in modern and comfortable vehicles and, because of its sophisticated infrastructure, South Africa is the ideal place to rent a car. The country’s well-maintained roads and highways make it a fantastic destination for those who prefer more independence – for a self-drive vacation through the Cape Winelands and along the Eastern Cape’s Garden Route.
Botswana – to experience the pristine Okavango Delta, Chobe and Kalahari.
Victoria Falls – for a soul-stirring encounter with the world’s biggest waterfall.
Namibia– Southern Africa’s secret destination and home to our planet’s oldest desert and incredible coastlines and landscapes
Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe – for superb big game viewing and walking safaris in raw wildernesses.
Mozambique – for a pristine African beach experience
For some, a glorious Indian Ocean beach is the perfect end to a safari trip; one of my clients and her family will be heading to Bazaruto Island in 2021 – a slice of paradise in an azure archipelago off the coast of Mozambique. Daily flights and slick logistics will have them on the beach, toes in the sand – on the same day they leave the bush after a morning game drive. Or in the case of our other families – floating along the Zambezi river in Victoria Falls by sunset.
I’m Soldi, your personal travel advisor. I work with curious travelers who believe that adventures big and small lie around every corner. From transformative safaris to luxe beach escapes (and everything in between!), I custom-craft journeys that are the perfect mix of luxe + local. Indulgent + immersive. Heart-stirring + fun.
With my exclusive connections to authentic adventures, extensive personal travel experience, and meticulous itinerary design, your path is guaranteed to lead you to the extraordinary. Don’t let the long hours and intensive research it takes to plan an immersive trip stop you from taking the kind of imaginative journey you’ve been longing for.
Instead, let’s craft a customized escape that honors your explorer heart. We can do that no matter where in the world you yearn to explore or relax next—on pristine beaches or bustling city streets, luxury resorts or secluded safari lodges.
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