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12-Day South Africa Safari Tours

South Africa is ideal for a 12-day safari. It’s one of Africa’s most popular destinations. The wildlife viewing is as good as anywhere, but few people come only for a safari. South Africa’s biggest attraction is its variety. The ever-changing landscapes include rugged mountains, fairy-tale forests, endemic fynbos, open savannah and arid desert. The coastline is as diverse as the country’s interior. The tropical eastern beaches are in stark contrast to the cold, wild western coast. South Africa’s 19 national parks and hundreds of reserves are dotted around the country, so visits to these are easily incorporated into a general holiday. All of which means that tours to South Africa are usually a mix of wildlife havens and other highlights.

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1-5 of 5 South Africa 12-day holidays, itineraries, trips, packages & vacations

6 Questions About 12-Day South Africa Safaris


6 Questions About 12-Day South Africa Safaris

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

Is 12 days a good amount of time for a safari in South Africa?

“Twelve days is a reasonable amount of time to get a feel for what South Africa has to offer. It is easy to spend a couple of weeks traveling around South Africa, with its varied landscapes and attractions. A typical South African holiday consists of one or several smaller safaris mixed in with other highlights. However, if you have time to spare, don’t hesitate to extend your time with some extra days. You’ll be able to slow down the pace and add one or two more stops to the itinerary. Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most popular safari destination. You can split your time here between different rest camps. Or you can go for a more exclusive safari in one of the nearby private reserves that share the same ecosystem. There are lots of other smaller parks and reserves that are worth exploring too. And then there are the endless white sandy beaches, the hiking trails, Cape Town with its colorful history and vibrant city life, and much more. You can’t do it all on a 12-day holiday, but with good planning you’re bound to have a fantastic holiday. ”


Can I combine my safari with a beach holiday?

“Yes, you can combine a 12-day safari with a beach holiday in South Africa. With its 2,850km coastline there is no shortage of beaches in South Africa. However, the South African coast is relatively unspoiled and lacking in big resorts. The tropical warm waters of the Indian Ocean along the KwaZulu-Natal coast are most suited to a conventional beach holiday. Further south, the rugged coastline of the Eastern Cape offers a more off-the-beaten-track option popular with budget travelers. The Garden Route, along the continent’s southern coastline, protects a mixture of beaches, lakes, mountains and forests. This makes it particularly attractive to adventure travelers wanting something more than just sea and sand. These beaches are best enjoyed in the South African summer months. However, if you’re looking for a true resort atmosphere and island bliss, you might want to hop on a plane to Mauritius or Seychelles. ”


Where in South Africa should I go on safari?

“There are so many options for a 12-day safari in South Africa. If your main interest is wildlife viewing, you must go to Greater Kruger. Kruger NP is both accessible and affordable, and can easily be visited on a self-drive safari. Budget permitting you could also visit one of the private reserves sharing the same ecosystem. Some of South Africa’s most luxurious lodges are located here. You’ll enjoy the close-up viewings on guided game drives that run in open-sided vehicles. You might also want to spend a couple of nights in one of the Zululand reserves. Photographers will enjoy the excellent photographic hides overlooking waterholes in uMkhuze Game Reserve, while the scenic hills of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve are one of the best places in the country to see rhino. While the Cape is not really known for its wildlife, there are some real gems to explore if you’re coming this way. You’ll see big herds of elephant in Addo Elephant National Park, and Big Five private reserves, such as Kwandwe and Shamwari Game Reserves, offer a similar experience to the better-known Sabi Sands Game Reserve, but with fewer visitors. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which straddles the Kalahari Desert across South Africa and Botswana, offers a different kind of safari. The stark open desert landscape doesn’t support as much wildlife as some more popular parks, but sightings tend to be very special. There are also very few other visitors to share it with.”


What is the best time of the year for a safari in South Africa?

“The South African winter is considered the best time of the year for a 12-day safari holiday. This coincides with the Dry season for most of the country (the exception being the Cape, which sees winter rainfall). At this time the bush thins out and animals are easier to spot. As the season progresses, temporary water sources dry out and animals congregate around rivers and waterholes. This makes September, the end of the Dry season, particularly productive for wildlife viewing. And while the middle of winter can be very cold, especially if you are doing open-vehicle game drives, September tends to be milder. If you’re planning to spend time on the beach, in Cape Town or along the Garden Route, the summer months, October to April, are more pleasant overall. ”

More about the best time to visit South Africa 4

Which animals am I likely to see?

“Due to the incredible biodiversity in South Africa’s parks and reserves, you’re likely to see a large variety of animals on your 12-day South African safari. Kruger NP is top of the list and its wide range of habitats supports a fully sustainable ecosystem with all its creatures big and small. If it’s the Big Five you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. That said, your chances of seeing a leopard is better in bordering Sabi Sands GR. Elephant, buffalo and lion are easy to spot. Southern Kruger is very good for white rhino, but the best place to see these prehistoric-looking beasts is in the Zululand reserves. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi GR is where white rhino were saved from extinction in the 1960s, when only a handful were left in the wild. The Big Five aside, it’s the antelope, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, monkey, jackal, hyena, birds and everything else that breathes that will make your safari truly special and memorable.”


How much will this safari cost?

“Compared to East Africa, Botswana and Zambia, South Africa is a relatively affordable safari destination. As a guideline, you can expect prices for a mid-range tour of 12 days including a safari to start at about US$2400 per person, while luxury tours start at around US$4500 per person. There are options for every budget, and families are catered for too. There are a lot of ways to do a safari in South Africa, and many variables determine the overall price. As South Africa is very easy to travel in, a self-drive safari is a popular affordable option. Or you can self-drive between destinations, but book guided game drives with the lodges. Group tours are usually fun and more affordable than private tours. However, the biggest price difference depends on the level of accommodation and whether you opt for private game reserves, or national parks and reserves. Domestic flights between South African cities are well priced, but high-end fly-in safaris come with a hefty price tag. I recommend shopping around and getting quotations from a few different operators, before booking a 12-day South African safari. ”


South Africa Reviews

4.6/5 813 Reviews
Anthony Ham  –  
Australia AU

Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.

South Africa: World-class Safaris

South Africa is one of my favourite places to go on safari, with all the necessary ingredients for a wildlife experience that will begin your enduring love affair with the continent. Primary among these ingredients is the wildlife....

Full Review

Emma Gregg  –  
United Kingdom UK

Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.

Where Big Five safaris are big business, there’s a wealth of choice

Glorious images of elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo parading through pristine bush are central to South Africa’s popular image. So it comes as a surprise to some first-time visitors that, in reality, the proportion of this...

Full Review

Katy  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Mar 27, 2023
It's a beautiful wonderful country

Part of our trip we stayed at the all inclusive amekena lodge. It was quite expensive to stay there but worth every penny. The game drives were brilliant and saw lots of different animals and the tour guides were very knowledgeable. The...

Full Review

Jane  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Mar 26, 2023
Amazing scenery, beautiful weather & lovely people.

Although we didn’t see a lot of South Africa, what we did see was amazing. It was a very last minute decision to travel to SA to join our daughter & boyfriend on their last two weeks of travelling. It was so much better than we thought it...

Full Review

Randy  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Mar 23, 2023
Loved it

We did two nights in Kruger with a very experienced guide. Great on details of all animals. Saw many animals, including the Big 5! Then two nights in Sabie Sands. More luxurious and closer to animals because they drove off road. Also saw a...

Full Review

Helena  –  
South Korea KR
Reviewed: Mar 22, 2023
A wonderful country to visit

We were picked up without any issues and arrived at out destination and went on game drives twice a day and it was just amazing seeing animals in their natural habitat, seeing different species of birds and animals at the watering hole was...

Full Review