We just got home from my personal dream trip. We had a chance to go to Johannesburg for business and were fortunate enough to add a few days to the beginning of the trip for a safari. My sister and her husband had been before and recommended Mafigeni lodge to us, what a great choice!
What we have now is from our experience and my practical guide to anyone wanting to head to South Africa. Some of my pictures are here.
- You can plan forever or just go for it. Based on our circumstances we did not have a ton of time for planning but still wound up with a great trip. Be careful not to over plan, you will regret it.
- With that said, you WILL be tired. Sleep when you’re dead. I was too tired twice and missed a newborn hippo on a morning drive and a leopard on a night-time drive.
- Drink lots of water, eat when it’s offered, sleep 6 hours or so.
- My suggestion is don’t bring kids younger than teens, even if you travel a lot with them. They will be too tired and you will worry more about them.
- We went in the summer. It was hot and the vegetation was thick, so a bit harder to see animals. However, we had tons (no exaggeration) of baby animals to see and there were no crowds. I would like a trip another time of the year, but am glad for what we saw now too.
- During the day, comfort and sunscreen are most important, at night it’s anti-mosquito all the way.
- Make sure you have plenty of clean undies and socks. The shirts/pants you bring should be comfy, fast to dry and versatile. Pants that zip off to shorts, great. It’s amazing how fresh you feel with clean drawers, socks and a fresh tooth brushing, shower or not. Comfy shoes are good, keep in mind when you are hot your feet swell, the shoes will get tighter.
- When out in the bush (away from big cities) shake it before you wear it or use it. There are creepy crawlies. A few more than in other warm places and we are not familiar with them. Shake your towel before you use it, your clothes before you dress and your shoes before you put them on. Keep your suitcases closed unless you are using them RIGHT NOW. Again, creepy crawlies.
- Be adventurous with what you eat. Unless it’s still moving or you know you’re allergic, just eat it. I would never had chosen to eat impala or wildebeest on my own, but it was dinner at different times. Impala was very yummy (had impala stew and a roast). Wildebeest, not so much my thing. We also found Oreos, waaaaay out near the Mozambique border, so they have “real” food too.
- Find a great guide/company to work with, we used Mafigeni. They took care of everything. Picked us up from the airport (5-hour drive), fed us, drove us to and around Kruger Park, laundry, overnights at their lodge and in the park itself, our own personal guide for days AND made us feel like part of their family while there. They are a small company, but nothing short of professional. (5 days 4 nights all inclusive transport, food, accommodations, guide, etc for 4 people for just over $3k, good deal too)
- What medicines to pack….anti-malaria, Advil (better than Tylenol with anti inflammatory), sunscreen (SPF 50), mosquito repellent, anti-itch/aloe/Benadryl, good all over moisturizer, lip-balm (with SPF)
- plenty of memory cards for your camera (duh, I know)
- from our experience South Africa was no more dangerous than other places we’ve been to. Just like anyplace where you are the visitor, keep your guard up, try to blend in and don’t be a loud stupid American. You are a guest, act like it.