South Africa: Tips for Planning a Successful Safari on Your Own!

Camping with a viewCamping with a view
Six en Piste
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Six en Piste
16 March 2016 - 1 Comment

Behind the steering wheel of your 4×4, you’ve just seen a lion in the warm sunset light. It’s now time to head to your campsite, to light a fire for the braai (barbecue in Afrikaans). In a few moments, you’ll start hearing the hyenas in the bush…

Does this sound appealing to you? Then just head to South Africa for your next vacation!

It is totally possible to organize your safari yourself, without spending all your savings. And, one has to admit, if you spot a pack of wild dogs hunting yourself, without any help, it’s a lot more rewarding!

First, you need a 4×4

Easy, either in Cape Town or Johannesburg, you have the choice between a few companies to rent a fully equipped 4×4 (ie : , and many others).

Roof tent

You can choose between a « camper van » version (with a cell on top of the 4×4) or the roof tent version. In either case, your car will be a true house on wheels. You will sleep in a real bed, with a mattress, sheets, pillow. You will have all you need to cook : a table, chairs, a fridge, a gaz stove, all the cutlery and cooking equipment, even wine glasses!

You will also get all the basics to get your car out of tricky roads: a high lift jack, 2 spare wheels, jerricans… All you need before you embark yourself in a real adventure!

Your itinerary

Don’t be fooled by the maps… South Africa is a very big country, without any highway. Travelling long distances will take you a lot of time. You have to choose where you want to go, and only cover a small part of the country. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your vacation behind a steering wheel.

You can also book a domestic flight to get across the country a lot faster (low cost company:

If you want to see a lot of animals, the Kruger park is a must. You can spend weeks travelling from one camp to the next. The biggest ones can get very busy, but the « rustic camps » usually stay quieter, as the number of guest is limited, offering you a more « remote » feeling. If you want a little more comfort, you can also book a room in the parks ( But South Africa is not only about the Kruger. The country has dozens of national parks, from Imfolozi and its rhinos to the Kgalagadi and its black manned lions.

All the national parks offer different activities. The « nigh drive » allows you to embark in a car with a guide to try to find lions and hyenas hunting.

Walking safari

And if you want to experience the bush from closer, you can even sign up for a « bush walk ». Two armed guides take you for one to two hours in the bush. The aim is not so much to spot the big five, but rather to learn how to track them. But still, to ear the lion while on foot is really something! All these activities, when booked with the San parks are a lot cheaper than with a lodge ( or book on arrival).

If you’re going to spend a lot of time in the national parks, buy yourself a Wild card! it will be a lot cheaper.

The wild card allows you to enter any national parks for a full year. They have different prices, depending on the parks you want to access and the number of people travelling (alone, couple, family):

In many cases, it will be cheaper to buy a wild card than to pay the daily fees of each park. If you spend 7 days in the Kruger, you have to pay the fees 7 times if you don’t have a wild card.

And if you get out of the national parks, know that South Africa has a lot of very nice campsites. For South African, camping is a way of life. Over the week-ends, families and friends love to gather around the braai after they pitched their tents. The campsites often have swimming pools and jungle gyms for the kids.

Before you book your plane ticket, just check the South African school holidays. If you can, avoid them! During these holidays, the campsites, the roads and the national parks can get very busy, especially in December!

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Credits: (front page picture) and “Six en Piste”

1 Comment

  1. Good compact article. School holidays are to be avoided and is a good point to mention. SA obviously does have some highways, but these are between the mian cities and not where you’d like to be travelling as a tourist.

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