Archives for November 2012

Why you should stay in a private game reserve when you visit South Africa

Many people call and tell us they want a trip to South Africa and a visit to the Kruger National Park.

We invariably take this as they want a lodge stay on private game reserve of which South Africa has lots of choice. Some customers insist they only want a tour to take them on a drive for one day into and through the Kruger National Park itself.

This is not wrong – and we don’t by any means turn you away from something if you really want to do it but we don’t recommend it either.

You will see animals. Probably large mammals including elephant, zebra, giraffe plus kudu and ngala. At water holes you will see hippo.

If you are lucky you might catch a sighting of some cats – probably lions. It is unlikely you will see more reclusive predatory cats like the leopard, but it does happen !

See Teenage leopard attacks python in Kruger Park – footage shot from the roadside.

So why choose a private game reserve ? A private game reserve offers many many things that your safari drive in the Kruger Park doesn’t. Find out why below.

1. Off Road Tracking : The ability to travel off road and track animals offers you a far greater chance of seeing animals that otherwise shy away from roadsides unless travelling – think leopard.

2. Communication : On a private reserve you will invariably not be the only vehicle. The other vehicles on the reserve or in the case of the Sabi Sand from bordering lodges, offer more sets of eyes and ears. Communication amongst rangers on vehicles on private reserves again allows for a far greater chance of seeing rarer animals as well as the ability to spot and find animals a guest may specifically request. It also means when you have decided a buffalo is a buffalo, your ranger should be able to find a large variety of animals for you to view over a longer stay.

Picture thanks to Londolozi

3. Habituated animals = more intimate sightings : The Kruger Park itself has an open fenced border with Mozambique allowing animals to travel into and out of South Africa where they are not afforded the same level of safety they are in South Africa National Parks. What a well established, well managed game reserve can offer you is animals that although still wild and dangerous and viewed in their natural environment are habituated to game vehicles. The reason the Sabi Sand is so popular, and expensive, is its leopard viewing is the best in the world.

A lodge like Londolozi has documented history of single leopard families lineage going back 17 generations. You pay big money to conserve these leopards in their natural environment. You are charged big money because instead of capturing a glimpse of a tail as your leopard dashes into the bush to get away, you are afforded an opportunity to watch them interact with each other, hunt for prey or preen on a rock for the perfect leopard photograph.

Picture thanks to Marius Coetzee

4. The sounds and smell of the bush : You stay in the bush – literally surrounded by wild animals. When not staying in a single building main lodge with multiple rooms but in indivdual chalets or tents, before sunrise and after sunset you need to ask your chalet guard to walk you to and from the main lodge ! Animals will come into camp, you will see and hear them at all times ! The bush has a sound and smell of its own – if you are travelling all the way from another country to visit South Africa, you need to sleep a few nights in the bush !

5. Game drives in the best locations at more opportune times : Game drives on a private reserve operate early in the morning. 05:30 in summer and 06:00 in winter. Evening game drives are similarly timed. In the afternoon, 4:30 or so in winter and 5:00 in summer.

Both these timings are designed to a) avoid game drives in the hottest part of the day b) maximise viewing chances as kills happen at the turn of light – dusk to dawn and dawn to dusk and c) Enable you to enjoy a classic sundowners in the bush ! (Drinks while on a break in safari to watch the sun set )

Picture thanks to Marius Coetzee

It is a shame to hear someone say they did a drive in the Kruger National park without knowing the benefits of staying in a lodge. To travel all that way and then get only half the experience, to us seems a big shame !

There are so many choices of lodges – from the sublime to the ridiculous to the hands on really roughing it. There are choices for all budgets and styles !

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