Self-Drive Safaris In South Africa Tips

Self-Drive Safaris in South Africa's Parks & Game Reserves – How to Travel Independently

South Africa Self-Drive Safaris 🇿🇦 Do you want to make a self-drive safari in South Africa’s Parks & Game Reserves? One of my last road trips was to the southern part of Africa. I traveled with a rental car through countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana.

st lucia south africa

Eephant & Hippos in South Africa

Self-Drive Safaris in South Africa

This travel article will only focus on my self-drive safaris experience in South African parks and game reserves. Undoubtedly, the best way to experience parks is to have one’s own vehicle in which to travel around.

I got my plane ticket just a couple of days before departure and had nothing organized. I only knew I would like to visit the most UNESCO World Heritage sites possible. So, I got myself a Michelin road map and circled these UNESCO sites with a marker. I quickly drew a possible and logical itinerary in southern Africa.

Ultimate Guide to Self-Drive Safaris in South Africa Parks &  Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserves

During one month I drove around 9000 km / 5590 mi, in which I experienced and got some knowledge regarding self-driving in National Parks and Game Reserves around all these countries.

south african safari

Self-Drive Safaris – how to do it Where Too Do It?

🐒 So basically it’s as simple as this:

  1. Fly to one of South Africa's International Airport
  2. Pick up your car at the rental office at the airport
  3. Go to the airport bookshop and get yourself a South Africa road map or even some guide book to South African parks
  4. Fill up the tank
  5. GO!
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🐆 TOP 6 Self-Drive Safaris South Afrcia

✅ Kruger National Park

  • Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces
  • Entrance fee for foreign visitors is R280

✅ Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve

  • KwaZulu-Natal Province
  • Entrance fee for foreign visitors is R175

✅ Addo Elephant National Park

  • Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces
  • Entrance fee for foreign visitors is R232

✅ Mapungubwe National Park

  • Limpopo Province.
  • Entrance fee for foreign visitors is R160.

✅ iSimangaliso Wetland Park

  • KwaZulu-Natal Province
  • Entrance fee for foreign visitors is R89

✅ Tembe Elephant Park

  • KwaZulu-Natal Province
  • Entrance fee for foreign visitors is R75

What To Expect On A South African Self Drive Safari

🦁 What is the Big Five

The term Big Five refers to five of Africa’s greatest wild animals: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.

🏞 Big Five Game Parks

  • Addo Elephant Park
  • Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
  • Kruger National Park
  • Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Pilanesberg Game Reserve

🏞 Big Five Private Reserves

  • Balule Nature Reserve
  • Kapama Game Reserve
  • Sabie Sand Reserve
  • Shamwari Game Reserve
  • Timbavati Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Game Reserve
  • Welgevonden Game Reserve
umfolozi self drive safaris

⁉️ Q&A: Self-Drive Safari tips and advice

Do I need a 4WD / 4X4 all terrain vehicle to make my own self-drive safari?

  1. No. You don’t need to rent a 4WD to self-drive most South African Parks & Game Reserves;
  2. Most parks only have dirt or gravel roads, so don’t expect many asphalt roads;
  3. Some parks do have a main central paved road which gives way to other smaller unpaved ones;
  4. Most parks have gravel roads which are 100% suitable for small city cars. You will not be the only one with such a car;
  5. Many parks do not have difficult itineraries;
  6. Some parks only have some roads suitable to be driven with a 4WD;
  7. If you choose to get yourself a 4WD, you can profit from those extra roads;
hluhluwe-imfolozi day safari options

Do I need a 4WD / 4X4 all terrain vehicle to make my own self-drive safari?

Where can I book a car or 4WD? Can I do it online?

  1. I paid around 17 Euros per day for a small yet reliable 2015 Chevrolet Spark;

Can I pick up my car at the airport? What are the advantages of this?

  1. I picked up my car at Johannesburg O. R. Tambo International Airport;
  2. As I didn’t have any intentions on staying in Johannesburg, the best would be to get myself on the road asap;

Is it easy to drive in South Africa and find places?

  1. South African roads are well signed. If you wish you can also stop and ask directions to people, although you’ll have to pay attention because specific neighborhoods in some cities are dangerous to stop. Good places to stop and ask for directions are petrol stations. If you feel more comfortable, get yourself a GPS for your car, this will definitely turn your trip much easier;

Safaris Overland African Adventure

This is great old self-drive safari thru Africa .

Interesting to watch how times have changed and what it was like in the old days of self drives thru Africa.

Amazing how people did these long jeneys in the equipment they did and made out alive .

Your Self drive wont be anything like this , but there will still be a huge adventure non-the less.

Hluhluwe has some many amazing sights big5 animals everywhere ..

Embarking a self-drive safari in any of South African game reserves can be an exciting experience, but good preparation, some planning and research can avoid those unforeseen events that may pop up from time and may change your fun outing into a stressful one.

One thing to note is that most popular game reserves are somewhat off the beaten track, most off the big parks will have multiple entrances and chances are that there are secondary roads leading to these, so first things first is to know where you are going and how to get there. Consult a road map or gps, although in some instances the gps directions may sometimes leave you lost as they may not be up to spec with road name changes etc.

Most game reserve entrances will have card facilities but technology may fail at the best of times or internet connections may be slow (this is Africa after all), so best carry some cash with you. Generally game parks may charge international visitors a higher entry fee than set out for local visitors, so make sure you have enough money on hand.

Positive identification and vehicle registration is often required upon entry for security reasons so be sure to have it ready to complete your entry permit. If you are planning a visit for longer than a few hours, then be sure to take some snacks and plenty of drinking water as facilities inside the really big parks may be far apart and tap water is generally not suitable for consumption. Game parks will have picnic or braai facilities for you to enjoy a breakfast or lunch in the bush if you like.

When it comes to game viewing there are a few things to know before setting off. There is a real art to finding rare animals in the bush that comes with experience and time spent in the bush, but not everyone has that luxury, so as a first time visitor without a guide there are a few pointers to follow in order to maximize your chances of finding something special.

Game viewing varies a lot from summer to winter as the seasons and rainfall or the lack thereof may see animals constantly moving around in search of better fodder so it’s good to understand what to look out for. Winters in the eastern parts of South Africa are generally dry, which results in animals concentrating around or close to remaining water sources such as rivers, so consult your map and plan your routes accordingly. Summer rainfall may see animals disperse more but higher temperatures will make game viewing difficult  in the late morning and mid-day and the bush may be quite lush and overgrown so it could affect your spotting abilities.

Sources   www.hluhluwegamereserve.com

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