Our favourite affordable self drive safaris in South Africa.

This month we had clients doing a self drive safari in Kruger. Being retired, and seasoned travellers, the small group had plenty of time to enjoy the slower pace of a self drive safari. It is one of the best ways to experience South Africa’s national parks if you have time, a sense of adventure and like to be independent. Self drive allows you to see places off the beaten path and comes at a more affordable price. 

There are over 30 national parks in South Africa. For this newsletter, I have selected my top 5 for a self drive holiday:

Kruger,South Africa’s largest and most celebrated national park,is probably my favourite. It has many advantages. You can have the full safari experience at a relatively low cost. It is a great option for novice game spotters because there will be plenty of other people around to point you in the direction of great sightings you might otherwise miss while driving. Wildlife and birdlife are abundant, from leopard, rhino and giraffe to ground hornbills and martial eagles. With 2 million hectares of park to choose from, you will need to be selective. Southern Kruger is the most popular section, and is easily accessible.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the Maloti-Drakensberg Park are best for hiking and being outdoors. Didima camp at the foot of Cathedral Peak and Highlands Mountain Retreat in Golden Gate allow you easy access to a number of excellent hiking trails. Both have camps spectacular views. They are perfect for self drive as they are off the beaten track.  

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, also known as St Lucia, is located on the east coast of South Africa. Only here can you see incredible marine life and have excellent game viewing all in one place. The park is close to Zululand, the traditional home of the Zulu people, for those interested in the cultural heritage of South Africa. I recently discovered this amazing lodge, remote and isolated, up near the Mozambique border, but in an incredible setting. 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the most remote national park on this list, tucked up between Namibia and Botswana. Since it is difficult to get there, it is ideal for those looking for an adventure away from other people. If you like red sand dunes and wide open skies you will love it here. 

Happy travelling!

P.S. We FINALLY received the online version of our feature in National Geographic Traveller! You can read the feature here

P.P.S. My clients took incredible photos of some of the 45 mammals and 200 bird species they saw in Kruger. A small selection of photos can be found below, with more here.