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  • Writer's pictureGemma Fottles

On safari in South Africa: a photo journey

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

A South African safari is an experience on the bucket-list of many. And come on. It's not hard to see why. A South African game drive is one of the only ways to safely and, when done right, responsibly get up close to some of the world's most wondrous wild animals.

Throw in raw and rugged landscapes, immense thunderstorms and burning sunsets, and a safari starts to present much more than a spot of animal watching. A safari experience is a rare opportunity to fully immerse yourself in life - glorious life - on planet earth.

Pilanesberg National Park

There are plenty of famous destinations to get a taste of a South Africa safari, but for those looking for a more intimate safari experience, head to Pilanesberg National park in South Africa's Northwest Province. The entire game reserve has an area of just 572 square km. To put that figure into perspective, the Kruger National Park - probably South Africa's most famous safari spot - has an area of almost 20,000 square km. While in the Kruger you may go days without encountering the local wildlife, Pilanesbergr's relatively cosy setting pretty much guarantees game drives packed with action. And what action it is. Warthogs run aside the dirt roads with their tails pointed high in the air. Zebras, giraffes and various curly-horned boks graze peacefully in scattered herds. Elephants roam the mountains with calves trailing between the herd, eyeing up the silent game vehicle and its awe-struck passengers as they calmly thunder, unbothered, by.

Safari Game Drive: What to expect

A game drive is the name given to the actual act of going out in a game vehicle searching for animals. A typical safari experience in a South African lodge will include two game drives a day: one at the crack of dawn when the animals are waking up or slinking off to sleep. The next is usually at sunset, where the animals are most active. Each drive will last a couple of hours, with a knowledgeable safari guide tracking the animals before stopping at a safe distance to admire anything you come across.

Though, of course, you want to see everything every time you jump into that dusty 4x4 and hit the road, the chances are that you won't see every single animal on the Big Five list every single game drive. Sometimes it's as much about patience as anything else, and you should expect a bunch of time spent sitting still and in complete silence, peering out into the bush to catch a glimpse of a prowling lioness. Cheetahs and leopards are notoriously difficult to spot, but chances vary on the time of day and the time of year.

Whether you're down for a budget DIY self-tour of the Kruger camping out under the stars, or you're looking for a five-star luxury game drive experience to remember, South Africa is jam-packed with options for sustainable safari experiences throughout the country. From Pilanesberg to the Kruger National Park and beyond: a South African safari is a travel experience that delivers nature at its finest.


  • Pilanesberg safari lodge: Ivory Tree Game Lodge

  • Though game drives are very safe when led by an experienced ranger, accidents can happen. Wild animals are unpredictable. Always follow the rules laid out for you by your guide and add in a healthy dose of common sense. That extra close-up photo for the gram isn't worth anything if you get trampled to death.

  • Want to do a self-tour of the national park? Luxury safari lodges are not the only way to experience a South Africa safari. Rent a 4x4 and read the information on the park's official website.

  • Are you looking for a Serengeti safari experience in Tanzania? Head to for luxury safari experiences in Tanzania.

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