South Africa Vacation Safari

Oh yes, a highlight was in the evening, we were following a pride of lions, they were going on a hunt. We saw them 2 or 3 different times, but that one time, there was a little cub, and it came up to the Jeep it was almost like it wanted to jump up. But it got scared, that was a moment of fear, I could say. The Jeep is open, no roof, it was just the 6 of us, so that was perfect.

Table of Contents
Food and weather
Wildlife highlights
Typical day
Tips, advice and disappointments
Highlights and rating

Could you describe the accommodation, what it was like?

First we stayed at Kings Camp (make an enquiry) in Timbavati, it was the second time we stayed there. I liked it, I still like it but not as friendly anymore as they were the first time.

And the guide, well we didn't like the guide as much as we did on our previous South Africa vacation safari. I think our expectations were too high from Kings Camp as it was perfect the first time, so that was a bit of a down-side.

The accommodation was perfect, they have big rooms, very nice surprises every evening like a bath that is filled and the leaves of the roses in the bath and candles all around. And then another night we had a bush dinner.

We didn't know anything about it, so they brought us back from safari and then entered into the bush and there was a barbeque and everything arranged there, so that was quite nice yes.

How was the cuisine on your South Africa vacation safari?

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Breakfast - you could order eggs and everything, like your normal, nothing more, but it was good. One night we had dinner at the boma, another night we had dinner in the restaurant.

And we had a special dinner, because we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary over there. So they made us a special table and we got a bottle of champagne to celebrate, so yes, it was quite good.

And weather-wise? Were you lucky with the weather?

It was the end of May, so we were lucky with the weather yes. It was cold in the mornings and the evenings, and during the day it was about 25°C, I think. No rain, no. It was the weather as we expected it to be.

And the wildlife that you saw? What would you say was the highlight there?

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Timbavati - a leopard with a kill in a tree was a highlight. And then, finding rhinos. There were different highlights, there always are on safari, I think.

We saw lion, there were a male and female lion following each other ready to mate but they didn't do it actually, but that was quite nice. And then, I don't remember - was it at Timbavati that we saw, a pride of lions laying down in the morning, resting and they had little cubs with them, it was very good. I think we saw all of the big 5 there yes.

So, would you say you were satisfied with the amount of wildlife that you saw on this South Africa vacation safari?

Definitely. We saw everything - we were very lucky. We saw more in Timbavati than we had in Manyeleti and than we had Sabi Sands Simbambili Lodge that we stayed in, and there we saw like every one, at Simbambili we saw like 6 different leopards.

We saw a male and then we saw cubs, little cubs, they were standing on the lookout in the evening. We managed to follow the female and she went straight up to the little cubs, so we were very lucky on safari.

You definitely should go to Simbambili because they really specialise in leopards - the last evening we asked the driver if we could see hippos out of the water, because my brother had never seen hippo and then we went, as we were driving to the hippo, suddenly we heard about a leopard and they made a turn to go to the leopard, and he said, "oh no, not leopards anymore, we want to see hippos" (laughs).

Describe a typical day from the moment you woke up untill you went to sleep in the evening.

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In the morning we get a wake up call, around 5:30 or 6 because it's a safari you start early.

Then you have coffee and tea. In Manyeleti we stayed at Honeyguide Camp in tents, so they brought coffee and tea that we could have on the deck, our terrace. At the other places that were lodges, we had to go over to the restaurant and have the tea and biscuits and coffee over there and then you start to go on safari and search for animals.

And I can say at the end of May it is quite cold, it was freezing outside, so you have to dress up quite warm (more tips on safari clothing). Then you go and search for animals of course. We were very lucky because we saw, like, everything.

Safari takes about 2 or 3 hours and then we had breakfast. After breakfast we'd go for a walking safari, for half an hour or something - that's quite nice to learn about birds and trees and the very small animals.

Then you have a rest, after that lunch is served, I think around 1 o'clock or something. After lunch you go on a new safari for 3 hours, then you come back and have dinner at the boma or in the restaurant or in the bush. That's about it. And then around 9 o'clock everybody is so tired, so you go to bed.

Do you have any tips or advice to people who are maybe planning to go on safari?

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Just go for it. Yes, just do it! Like Manyeleti it's so great, such a great guide, so nice to walk up to elephants. So you just go along with the Jeep, I think Manyeleti is not so well known as the private game reserves. It's very nice to go there.

What would you say was the most useful piece of equipment you took with you?

I'd say the binoculars.

Was there anything that didn't meet your expectations about the South Africa vacation trip, any disappointments or regrets that you had?

No, not really. The guide at Manyeleti was a South African speaking Afrikaans. We are Flemish so that was quite nice, I think for my parents also because they don't speak any English. In Simbambili they also spoke Afrikaans and they showed us all those leopards, so that was very nice.

Manyeleti is a private game reserve but you can not drive off-road there. At first, it was a little disappointment, but they made up by going out of the Jeep when we saw elephants or giraffe. They stopped and we just walked up to them.

That was quite nice, that's something they don't do in Timbavati or Sabi Sands - if you want to go walk there it's only to see the little things, you know the plants and everything.

But in Manyeleti if you saw elephants in the distance, I don't know how far, we walked up to the giraffe, we walked up to the elephants so that was good. We had almost a perfect safari trip.

What would you say was the highlight and how would you rate your South Africa vacation?

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The highlight was definitely in Simbambili, and not the leopard but an elephant. We were so close to an elephant it came like, you know if you put your hand out, you could almost touch the trunk of the elephant.

It took 20 minutes, but everybody was so quiet, so still, I didn't dare to take any pictures because I was afraid, you know everybody could see his heart pumping, if you do anything wrong it can push us over or something. It was so close we had to look from left to right to see its both eyes, so I would look at its one eye and then the other eye. That was incredible!

And on another night there was a pride of lions that we were following and suddenly the guy said they’re going on a hunt! They heard something and were going into the bush. So he turned off the motor and the lights, so everything was pitch dark. And we just heard noise. We heard noise of running, and another noise, and something happened but it was so dark we couldn't see anything.

It was so impressive, we just heard noises, and then in a few moments everything had gone, and then they turned on the lights again. The tracker told us it was some young lions who wanted to attack a rhino. So that was quite, although we didn't see anything we heard everything, we heard it happen. The rhino got away.

Sounds like an incredible safari. How would you rate it overall then?

I'm scared of 10! Like my brother said, they got 11. He rated it 11, so it was almost perfect!

Safari Location: Sabi Sands, Timbavati and Manyeleti reserves South Africa
Safari Company Used: Go 2 Africa
Duration: Eight nights in May
Traveller Details: Hilde Verfaillie, Belgium. Six adults in the group.
Rates & Availability: Plan your own safari. Make a South Africa vacation enquiry

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