Typical Day on Safari in SA

What To Expect On A Typical Day On Safari in South Africa

A typical day on safari in South Africa is an unforgettable blend of adventure, relaxation, and breathtaking encounters with nature. From the moment you wake up to the sounds of the wild, to the thrill of spotting a lion on the prowl, each moment will immerse you in the magic of the African bush. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect on a typical day on safari in the Klaserie Game Reserve or any other reserve in the Greater Kruger area.

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Early Morning Wake-Up

Your safari day starts before dawn with a wake-up call around 5:00 AM. The early start might be a challenge, but trust me, it’s worth it. I remember my first morning in Klaserie – the excitement of hearing the bush come alive with the calls of distant hyenas and the morning calls of South African birds. A quick coffee or tea will prepare you for the day ahead. 

One early morning, as I was getting ready for the safari, I heard hyenas calling outside my rondavel which was so cool! Shortly after, I heard sniffing at my door. I thought – oh my god – they are at my door. I initially freaked out, then I thought “if I opened up that door quickly, it would scare them.” But alas, I did not. It turned out to be a honey badger, which was a surprise. I’m glad I didn’t see that animal – one of the most dangerous animals in Africa!

hyena in south africa

Morning Game Drive

By 5:30 AM, you’re off on your morning game drive. Early mornings are prime time for spotting predators like lions and leopards, as they are most active during these cooler hours. One of my most memorable experiences was seeing a pair of lions hunting right outside our camp at Africa on Foot. It’s exhilarating to witness these magnificent creatures up close.

About half way through your morning game drive, you will stop for a break at a local watering hole. Don’t worry, it is safe. You can enjoy some morning beverages and a small snack – possibly some rusks.

Lion in Klaserie game drive

Breakfast and Mid-Morning Rest

After a few hours of tracking wildlife, you return to your lodge around 9:00 AM for a hearty breakfast. The meals are often a delicious mix of local flavors and traditional breakfast staples. At Africa on Foot, the food was outstanding – just what you need after an early start.

Post-breakfast is a time to relax. You can choose to take a nap, enjoy the lodge’s amenities, or join a walking safari, depending on your lodge and when they offer them. Some may do them in place of a game drive or a separate activity.

Guided bush walks are a fantastic way to experience the flora and smaller fauna up close. The rangers are incredibly knowledgeable, sharing fascinating insights about the ecosystem. On one walk, I learned about the medicinal properties of various plants and spotted tracks of elusive nocturnal animals. If you are lucky you may get to see one of the Big Five. Don’t worry – the guides will provide you with all the safety requirements you need while in the bush.


Lunch and Afternoon Leisure

Lunch is usually served around 1:00 PM, offering another chance to savor local cuisine. The afternoons are generally reserved for leisure, allowing you to unwind and enjoy the lodge’s facilities. Some lodges offer spa treatments, cultural visits, or swimming pools to cool off during the heat of the day.

Afternoon Game Drive

Around 4:00 PM, it’s time for your afternoon game drive, after your afternoon tea and snacks. This drive often includes the sundowner, a beloved safari tradition. Watching the sun dip below the horizon while sipping on a refreshing drink is pure magic. It’s also a great time to spot wildlife, as many animals become more active as the temperature cools. I never saw any wildlife during a sundowner, so don’t worry – your safety is a top priority.

Sundowner in Klaserie

Dinner and Evening Activities

You return to your lodge by 7:00 PM for dinner. These meals are often a chance to share stories with fellow travelers. The food is consistently excellent, with a mix of local and international dishes. And don’t worry, most lodges do not serve any exotic meat. I asked them why and they said “we don’t want to feed you something you just saw on a drive.” Makes sense.

Some lodges may offer evening drives or star gazing sessions after dinner. I remember one night when we had turned in for the evening. Around 9:30pm, the guide knocked on the door and said ‘there’s lions close to the camp, let’s go!” So I hopped into the jeep with a blanket and we were off to find the lions. Which we did.

Lion at Night

What is an African Safari Like?

An African safari is a blend of adventure, education, and relaxation. You’ll experience the thrill of seeing wildlife up close, learn about the intricate ecosystems from knowledgeable guides, and enjoy downtime in luxurious lodges. Every safari is unique, but the common thread is the deep connection you’ll feel with nature. It was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life!/

How does a safari in South Africa compare to a safari in Tanzania?

I personally found both of these safaris to be quite different. A safari in South Africa followed the above schedule. However when I went on a safari in Tanzania, it was usually filled with full days of driving. It is definitely worth determining what type of an experience you want when deciding between a South Africa and Tanzania safari.

What to Do on Safari

Besides game drives and walking safaris, many lodges offer additional activities like:

  • Cultural Visits: Learn about local communities and their traditions
  • Spa Treatments: Relax with a massage or other treatments
  • Swimming: Cool off in the lodge’s pool during the hot afternoons
  • Bird Watching: Spot a variety of bird species, especially during guided walks – fun for experienced or beginner birders
nthambo tree camp

How Many Days Should You Spend on Safari in South Africa?

The ideal duration for a safari in South Africa varies, but most experts recommend at least 3-5 days. This allows you to experience multiple game drives, relax and enjoy the lodge’s amenities, and increase your chances of seeing a wide range of wildlife. Longer stays also give you the flexibility to explore different areas within a game reserve. I spent 3 days there and I could have stayed for more!

Are Morning or Afternoon Game Drives Better?

Both morning and afternoon safaris have their advantages. Morning drives offer the best chance to see predators like lions and leopards when they are most active. Afternoon drives, on the other hand, are perfect for enjoying the beautiful African sunsets and spotting animals as they prepare for the night. Ideally, you’ll experience both during your stay.

Should I Do a Self-Drive Safari in Kruger or a Guided Safari in one of the Greater Kruger Reserves?

Deciding between a self-drive safari in Kruger National Park and a guided safari in Greater Kruger depends on your preferences:

  • Self-Drive Safari: Offers flexibility and the freedom to explore at your own pace. You’ll need to be comfortable navigating and spotting wildlife on your own.
  • Guided Safari: Provides the expertise of experienced rangers who can track and find animals more effectively.

From my experience, a guided safari in Greater Kruger, such as the one I did in Klaserie, is incredibly rewarding. The guides’ knowledge and the added safety of being with professionals made my solo trip both thrilling and comfortable. If it wasn’t for the guides we had, we would not have seen a leopard. They left the jeep to track the leopard and rewarded us with an amazing sight.

leopard in Klaserie

Will I Be Safe on a Safari?

Safety is a top priority on all safaris. Lodges have strict protocols in place to ensure guests’ safety during game drives, walks, and while at the lodge. Rangers are trained to handle encounters with wildlife and provide clear instructions to guests. During my stay at Africa on Foot, I felt completely safe. The lodge staff are always on hand to assist and ensure your safety.

Wondering what to pack for your safari?

It is essential to be well-prepared when traveling to South Africa. You detailed packing list your vacation in South Africa is crucial! You can just jump right to it and download the list below.

A typical day on safari in South Africa is a blend of adventure, relaxation, and awe-inspiring encounters with nature. From the early morning game drives to the tranquil sundowners, each moment is crafted to offer an amazing experience. Embrace the early starts, savor the delicious food, and soak in the beauty of the African bush – it’s an adventure like no other. Whether you’re planning your first safari or your next, I hope this guide will help you to make the most of your trip.

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