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South Africa Private Safari Tours

It’s difficult not to fall in love with South Africa when you visit and explore the country on a private safari. This kind of safari (where you’ll have the guide, driver and vehicle just for you and the others in your own traveling party) means that you’re in charge of your own safari experience, without having to accommodate the wishes of others whom you don’t know. You decide when to stop and when to move on, and you’ll have an expert guide at your disposal at all times to explain what you’re seeing. Yes, it’s more expensive than a group safari, but there’s no better way to enjoy the amazing wildlife and equally spectacular landscapes that South Africa has to offer.

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1-20 of 310 private tours, packages and holidays to South Africa

5 Questions About South Africa Private Safaris


5 Questions About South Africa Private Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

When is a private trip recommended in South Africa?

“The best time for going on a South Africa private safari is during the Dry season months of May to September. Throughout this period, you can expect generally fine conditions, with mild daytime temperatures. The only downside about traveling at this time is that it can get very cold at night, especially from June to August. The Dry season is also the best time to go looking for wildlife in South Africa. That’s because as waterholes dry out, it’s easier to find the animals close to the last remaining sources of water. If you’re a birder, you may want to consider the period from November to April. This is when migratory birds from Europe and North Africa spend time in southern Africa in their hundreds of thousands. Whenever you’re planning to travel, you should always try and avoid South African school holiday periods. At such times, accommodation, roads and safari trails are often crowded to an uncomfortable level.”


Will we spend all our time with the guide on a private safari?

“On most private safari tours in South Africa, the guide will be with you whenever you need them, and you’ll be on your own for as much of the rest of the time as you’d like. Unless your private trip is a self-drive safari, you’ll need a guide and a driver when exploring the parks and reserves. Take this as an opportunity to learn about the animals and landscapes you’re seeing and ask as many questions as you like about local life. You may end up making lifelong friends with those who are looking after you. When you’re not out looking for animals, or when you’re not traveling between destinations, you’ll have lots of time to be alone. Many hours in a safari day are given over to relaxing, eating and drinking, and it will be up to you whether you want company or not.”


Which parks and reserves should we visit on a private South African safari?

“South Africa has an exceptional portfolio of parks and reserves, and which ones you visit will depend on what sort of holiday you’d like to have. A good place to start is trying to decide which animals and landscapes you’d like to see and then doing your own research to plan which places are best for seeing them. If you want wildlife to be the centerpiece of your safari, consider the country’s northeast, where there’s a good chance you can see the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), as well as cheetah, African wild dog, hyena, giraffe, zebra and so much more. Kruger National Park is rightly famous around the world for its incredible wildlife-viewing possibilities. But you can also see many of the same animals with fewer crowds and possibly even have a more exclusive safari experience in the neighboring reserves, such as Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Pilanesberg Game Reserve is similarly good, but busy, so why not consider Mapungubwe National Park in the far north, or Madikwe Game Reserve, both of which are much more intimate. These are just the start, with so many other possibilities right across the country.”


How much do South African private safari packages cost?

“There are as many different safari packages and tours as there are safari operators in South Africa. As a result, prices vary greatly, from a base of US$150 per person per day for a private budget camping safari, up to US$600 per person per day, or even more, for a luxury private safari. Factors that can affect the per-day cost of your safari include the number of days you’ll be traveling, how much of the country you wish to see, and when you plan to go on safari. Traveling in high season (which can include local school holiday periods) is usually more expensive than traveling at other times. You should always make sure that you understand what is and what isn’t included in the quoted cost of any safari. As a minimum, expect the quoted price to include a private guide, driver and vehicle, as well as all accommodation, park entry fees, guided game drives, meals and water. Apart from game drives, ask which (if any) activities are included as well.”


What type of vehicle can I expect?

“On most South Africa private safari tours, you’ll spend a large proportion of your time getting around in a 4WD vehicle. This is certainly the case for the time you spend inside the country’s parks and reserves, where your driver will take you around in a 4WD safari vehicle. These specially adapted vehicles most often have open sides (which are perfect for seeing, and feeling close to, the animals), canvas roofs (to keep out the sun and any rain) and tiered seating. For getting between the various destinations that are a part of your safari, you will most likely travel in a normal 4WD vehicle (which won’t be open-sided). This may vary depending on the size of your traveling party and whether you need a larger vehicle or extra vehicles. It is also possible that you may need to fly between destinations, either in a commercial plane (for getting between South African towns) or a small (six- to 20-seater) charter plane. The latter is used primarily for flying into the small airstrips in more remote and/or exclusive areas of some parks and reserves.”


South Africa Reviews

4.6/5 985 Reviews
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

Lucy Corne  –  
United Kingdom UK

Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.

An array of animals

Of all the African countries people visit on safari trips, South Africa is probably the easiest to travel around. Infrastructure is excellent, accommodation for every budget is abundant and wildlife-watching opportunities stretch far beyond...

Full Review

Pamela Labuda  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Feb 14, 2024

The safari was magnificent. We saw a ton of wildlife. All the guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. We roughed it and decided to do Glamping for our three nights stay. Everything was clean, safe., Staff was wonderful and made you...

Full Review

Haiyan  –  
Canada CA
Reviewed: Feb 11, 2024
Chasing colors

Beautiful vegetation everywhere. Very active bird lives. Flowers and birds are the perfect combination of colors and shapes. Magnificent coasts and mountains. Although I wish humans have not set foot in this continent, so that wild animals...

Full Review

Wayne Fisher  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Feb 8, 2024
South Africa was a beautiful, diverse, welcoming 1st world country.

Kathi at Safari bookings did a wonderful professional job of steering us to things to do and places to see in South Africa. Some highlight were: * the amazing Cradle of Human Kind * historical tours of *seeing the “Big Five”...

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Cris  –  
Italy IT
Reviewed: Feb 7, 2024
A beautiful country with complexities that you can feel. Very organized for tourism

My tour operator was Mzansi Experience. Not expensive and really very good. The parks are wonderful and full of animals, it is a very varied landscape. Tourists are welcomed with kindness and attention everywhere. Unfortunately I can't say...

Full Review