Here at Veldskoen, we all grew up in Africa, our summer holidays (vacations) were, for the most part, spent either at the beach or going to the local game reserves. I personally had one of the biggest game farms in Southern Africa no more than 2 hours from our house in the Umfolzi valley. Needless to say, we have extended experience preparing to go on a safari and if this is your first experience going on an African game park you, no doubt have a lot of questions on how to make the experience the best it can be.
South Africa has some of the very best game parks from Ado national elephant park to probably the most well-known, Kruger national park. People from all over the world want to see the beautiful country and wildlife. The only problem is that not many know on the do’s and don’ts of Safari's – we’re here to help!
When it comes to choosing a game biggest may not always be best. South Africa is known for their safari's – especially Kruger National Park. However, and here is a top tip: The secret is that some of the smaller and less well-known game parks can be the best. The bigger game parks can get very congested with people vying for their view of the wildlife. There is nothing less exciting than having a row of cars lined up to snap a picture of a pride of lions. It takes all the mystery and African adventure out of the safari experience. Do your research before you go, there are many smaller game parks that have incredible wildlife and somewhere you might be the only guests, this makes for a truly once in a lifetime experience.
Apart from the ‘big five’, which will be mentioned below, the list of beautiful animals to see on South African safaris is endless. This list includes the hippopotamus, cheetah, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, crocodile, springbok, hyena and of course our favorite the nocturnal Leopard. The habitat of each species varies as you venture through South Africa and parts of Africa. Its also depends which part of the year you go (remember for the best viewing the dry season is your best bet) on safari, as different animals prefer different seasons and times of the year to be out and about.
Also, before you go learn about the smaller animals you are likely to see. The smaller animals may not seem to be as flashy and exciting as spotting a leopard, but take the lowly dung beetle or the hilarious meerkats or color changing chameleons, they are incredible to watch and without them, the balance of life would be upended. Once you start to notice the smaller parts of the African bush the rest really starts to come alive. We know you did not fly all that way to see a dung beetle but stop and take notice of everything around you and you’ll see how everything works in an incredible symbiosis.
The best time to visit Game farms in South Africa is from May to September, during the dry season and winter, which results in more moderate temperatures. African Temperatures can get very Hot and suffocating not only for you, but the animals too and they tend to find refuge from the heat under shade and hidden from view. There is also less vegetation during these months, so animals tend to concentrate around waterholes and rivers, making wildlife easier to spot.
The African bush can get very dense and unlike a zoo where the animals are on view, game farms are there as their natural habitat and they are not there on display behind glass ready to be seen.
As they say, the early worm catches the worm and nothing is truer in the African wild. The wildlife like to be up in the early morning and tend to be most active during this time or early evening, from 5 am or first light to around 10 am seems to be the sweet spot. During midday, they tend to find refuge from the sun. Late evening and night drives or walking safaris are also an incredible time to go as many animals in Africa are nocturnal like the very shy Leopard, inquisitive porcupine or the adorable bush baby.
The ‘big 5’; are the animals that can be found on the South African currency. There are a variety of beautiful species and wildlife throughout the country; however, these five animals hold a lot of importance and can be the reason most tourists join the safaris! The ‘big 5’ is made up of the lion, rhinoceros, buffalo, leopard, and elephant. The big five is named this by hunters singled out these species not because of their size, but because of the danger and difficulty involved in bringing them down. Today they are seen as the big five to view on a Safari game drive
When you get to your game farm the game rangers will run through on best practices while staying at their game farm, listen and follow their guidance it could save your life and remember its the smaller animals like scorpions and snakes or even the odd baboon that you are more likely to have an up close and personal run-in with than any of the big game.
In the African bush, you are not the apex predator so please act accordingly, you don’t have to look too far on YouTube to see people who think a Lion is the same as their common house cat and deserves a loving stroke, not a great idea.
As you can imagine there many things that can go wrong when it comes to interacting with wild animals, especially in the environment of a safari or wildlife nature reserves.
Animals too are wary of their surroundings and often feel threatened by the presence of humans. When attending a safari, it is important to note that you are stepping into ‘their’ territory, not the other way around – one must respect their habitat and not abuse the privilege. There should be no calling or beckoning of the animals nor should there be feeding of any sort. These are wild animals and not just your friendly pet at home that you can feed as you wish. Any shouting or screaming is also prohibited as the animals can get easily stressed or scared; this could result in a rather aggressive reaction.
When going on a safari it is always important to know what essentials to pack. It is always recommended to go on the adventure during summer time in South Africa, so it is crucial that you remember to bring protective headwear, as well as a sunscreen – the African rays of as powerful as they come! Make sure to bring your binoculars to engage with the ‘smaller’ wildlife, including the variety of birds. Lastly, to protect your feet and ensure your trip is cut short by negligent shoe choice, pack your Veldskoen. The sole of Africa was built for the dusty conditions of a safari – we even have a style of shoe to prove it; our black sole and lace (safari) edition is the perfect Safari shoe