How many of you were inspired by watching The Lion King when you were younger? I know I was. Even though it was just a cartoon, it really made me want to explore the African animal kingdom from a young age. (Not to mention that I still have “hakuna matata” stuck in my head.) Later, National Geographic’s wildlife documentaries solidified my dream of one day going on an African safari. And when I finally got to do it a few years ago, it completely lived up to my expectations.
During my time travelling around Southern Africa, I went on safari game drives in South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana. I saw a lot of wildlife everywhere I went, but my favourite drives by far were in Pilanesberg Game Reserve and Kruger National Park, both of which are located in South Africa.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve
This 212-square-mile park has an abundance of wildlife. Most notably, it’s home to what are called the ‘Big Five’: the lion, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the leopard, and the buffalo. The luckiest safari goers will get to see all five while in Africa, and Pilanesberg provides a great chance to do so. Plus, it offers particularly breathtaking scenery, as it is located in the crater of a long extinct volcano.
Kruger National Park
Kruger is simply epic. At 7,523 square miles in size, it is not only the biggest national park in South Africa, but one of the largest on the continent. It’s also home to the ‘Big Five,’ as well as hundreds of other animal species. If you want to get closer to the wilderness than the inside of a car, Kruger offers biking, hiking and walking trails with knowledgeable, armed guides. (Yes, that means they carry rifles. There are lions and other dangerous animals in this park, remember?) Kruger also has numerous campsites with great facilities, including swimming pools and internet access.
Safari on Any Budget
There is no denying that Africa can be a very expensive travel destination. There are many amazing luxury and comfort tours that can give you an unforgettable, high-class experience. However, you may not know that there are also budget-friendly trips targeted at young travellers looking for an adventure. Sure, your money doesn’t stretch as far as it would in South-East Asia or South America, but it’s worth it for the trip of a lifetime–which you’ll realize the first time you see a majestic elephant from as close as 15 feet away. So, my advice for young, budget travellers is to see Africa by going on an overland trip. This involves travelling in a large overlanding truck and staying in national parks through participation camping, which requires putting up your own tent and helping out with food preparation using the truck’s mobile kitchen.
When I went to Africa, I did an overland trip through GAP Adventures (now called G Adventures) and it truly changed my life. Not only did I fall in love with the African continent and make a few great friends, but I also met the love of my life. You just never know what’s going to happen on these kinds of trips. Take a look at the awesome Africa trips that G Adventures currently offers: http://www.gadventures.com/trips/africa/
I hope you enjoy looking at my gallery of safari photos below. And if reading this post has sparked your interest in African safaris, check out my follow-up post: TOP 5 Tested Safari Tips.
As always, happy travels!