Have you been considering going on a Safari but wondering; is a South Africa Safari Worth It? The short answer… YES!
Before I booked a safari in South Africa, I always assumed that every safari was the same and there was really only one place to go. But that’s not the case at all.
South Africa is filled with lodges you can stay that provide private jeep tours through their game reserves.
Visiting Kruger National Park would be an ideal dream vacation, but Kruger is just so far away from everything else. It’s a plane ride (a few hours long) from both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
So if you don’t have time to travel to Kruger, but you want to experience a true South African Safari, check out one of the many game reserves near Cape Town. You won’t be disappointed!
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What South Africa Safari to Choose
While there are several you can choose from (and I wish I could try them all!) I ultimately chose the Garden Route Game Lodge in Albertinia, located just 3 hours away from Cape Town.
I was planning on arriving into Cape Town and spending several days exploring that area, but I only had so much time to visit a safari and not enough time to fly all the way to Kruger.
The garden Route Game Lodge was an easy drive (you can rent a car or take a tour bus) and one hundred percent worth it! This is a little about my experience at the Garden Route Lodge and my time on a South Africa Safari.
So is a South Africa Safari Worth It? Follow along and find out!
The Garden Route Game Lodge
From the moment I arrived, I was awestruck. This place was pretty affordable and you would never guess it. Every inch screamed luxury.
When you first arrive, you walk to their main lodge to the reception area. From the front door, you can see clearly onto the back patio and game reserve beyond. There was literally an elephant walking along right outside!
There is a small gift shop to the right and the main dining room to the left. Which again, was incredibly luxurious. The decor was so beautiful and they had the biggest fire place to keep you warm on cold and rainy days.
But what stood out to me were the huts I stayed in. And I say huts because ‘room’ would not accurately describe them. These were are standing huts set apart from each other and off a private path.
When staying in these huts, you felt like you were in a world of your own.
Garden Route Game Lodge Amenities and Grounds
I won’t spend too much time gushing over what the Garden Route Game Lodge looks like, because I want to get on to the main topic and discover; is a South Africa Safari is worth it?
But just go onto their website and browse a round. There are several different kinds of rooms and huts you can stay at. And the pool and hot tub area are gorgeous! J
ust walking around this lodge was so peaceful and beautiful, I would have happily stayed here even if they didn’t have a safari on site!
Going on a South African Safari
One reason to book a lodge on a private game reserve is because they take care of everything. And I mean everything! As soon as you check in, they tell you what time your safari is and where to meet.
Even if you just stay one night at the lodge, you get both a nighttime safari and another one in the morning, both about 2 hours long.
You can take longer safaris and opt for more days depending on your length of stay at the lodge.
The Safari Jeep
The jeeps used for your South Africa safari were very comfortable! They consist of 3 rows that hold about 4 people in each row. So you can go in groups of up to 12 people.
The rows are also staggered so each row gets a really good view! They are also padded which make the bumpy rides very tolerable! Each seat has a small compartment in front of it (much like an airline seat) where you can stow small valuables.
When it rained, the lodge provided us with fleece-lined ponchos to keep us dry and warm. They were heavenly!
Our driver was also our tour guide and he was amazing! You have the same tour guide for both your nightly safari and your morning safari. Which is perfect because then they know exactly what you saw one night and where to bring you to see different animals the next day.
Our tour guide had been working there for over 17 years and knew most of the animals and where they lived, slept, and hunted. His knowledge helped make our safari memorable!
The Safari Experience: Is a South Africa Safari Worth It
Onto the fun stuff!
Is a South Africa Safari Worth It? Oh my gosh yes yes yes.
We easily got to see the big 5 (African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros). Again, this was largely in part to our guide knowing these animals well and knowing exactly where to go to see them.
On our night safari, we entered the big gates into the game reserve that looked a little like we were entering Jurassic Park.
We immediately saw zebras and springboks walking around. Like dozens and dozens of them!
We continued on and right away came across a leopard who was stalking some prey. It was really exciting to watch! We sat for about 20 minutes watching her quietly move from bush to bush, silently hunting a young antelope. But the adult antelopes got scent of her and scared her away. It was like watching an episode of animal planet but actually getting to be right there!
As we left the leopard, we went to a big water hole and say 2 hippopotamuses playing in the water. It was like being at Disney World on a ride. They jumped around the water, they opened their mouths wide, they swam around and played with each other. It was an amazon site to sit and watch.
We saw a lot of other not-so-exciting animals that were still fun to see like some Ostriches, buffalo, lots of exotic birds, and more zebras (they are everywhere!).
Halfway through our nighttime safari, our guide stopped for a quick break for snacks and drinks… we got to choose between a cigar and a beer. So that was a nice surprise!
Garden Lodge Game Reserve Safari Day 2
The lodge provided us with a nice breakfast on day 2 before heading out on our jeep. They try to keep you together in the same jeep as the night before because each jeep goes out on its own and sees different things.
Some times we would see other jeeps and a lot of the time our jeep was driving around on its own.
Since our guide knew what we saw the day before and what we didn’t, he made sure to take us to the spots to see the rest of the animals.
The guides also use walkie-talkies to communicate with each other when they see an animal that normally can be hard to find like the leopard.
Our first stop was to see the Lions! The Lions are kept in a separate private area, as they have been known to kill all the other animals on the game reserve. So we had to take a little drive to their area.
When we got there, it was magical! At first, we say a pride of lions just lying around enjoying the sun. But then one of the females saw us and started walking directly to your jeep to come to check us out.
She circled us and then started roaring to the other lions. Ive never seen anything like it and to be right there and see it in person made this safari worth it for that alone.
After leaving the lions, we were notified that some elephants were playing in the water so we took off to find them. When we got there these 2 (brothers) were having so much fun jumping around the little lake, pushing each other underwater and just generally having fun.
Until one of them decided to get out and walk mere feet from our jeep. Again, seeing them up close like that in the wild… made this a trip of a lifetime for me.
Photos From My South Africa Safari
Although these photos alone don’t do this safari justice, this is just a little taste of some of the animals we saw when visiting the Garden Route Game Lodge in South Africa.
Is a South Africa Safari Worth It?
If you haven’t guessed by now, the answer is an enthusiastic YES. The nice thing about South Africa is that lodges and activities like these are not super expensive.
And with places like the Garden Route Game Lodge, you can choose to stay for just one night and still get two different safaris if you are on a budget.
I would have traveled to South Africa for the safari alone, becasue it was that incredible of an experience. But getting to visit Cape Town and explore a lot more of the Garden Route madr the vacation even better.
A trip to Cape Town and a South Africa Safari should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Do you have any questions about going on a South Africa Safari? Drop them in the comments below. In the meantime….
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