Exploring the lesser-known safari regions of South Africa

South Africa, the world in one country’ with an unprecedented variety of accommodations and attractions. But how do you make the right choices for a tour in a destination where many have gone before you? Which stay guarantees a safari experience that touches you and makes you long for more? Our travel specialist Petra went out with ten independent travel agents   to let them experience the added value of a private reserve/concession versus national park itself.

Exploring the lesser-known safari regions of South Africa

South Africa, the world in one country’ with an unprecedented variety of accommodations and attractions. But how do you make the right choices for a tour in a destination where many have gone before you? Which stay guarantees a safari experience that touches you and makes you long for more? Our travel specialist Petra went out with ten independent travel agents   to let them experience the added value of a private reserve/concession versus national park itself.

The journey began with a comfortable flight ofQatar Airways   to Doha where we flew to Johannesburg after a short transfer. Some of the group’s lucky ones were upgraded to qatar airways’ Business     Class. Economy Class is fine, Business Class is an experience” according to the travel agents.

MALARIA-FREE WILDLIFE PARKS

The study trip covered three game parks,Well-found Game Reserve,Marakele National Park   AndMadikwe Game Reserve. These parks often have to compete against the big names of the private reserves adjacent to kruger park. These three game parks have many advantages such as good value for money, it ismalaria-free   – that’s often a huge plus for families – open landscapes with breathtaking views and a variety of activities, including open 4×4 safaris, on foot and even boat safaris.

WELL FOUND, THE HABITAT OF THE BIG 5!

Well-found Game Reserve is a beautiful game reserve with varied landscapes from wooded valleys to dry savannah, and great for families and couples. The big 5 is present and also the black and white rhinos can be found here. No self-drive is allowed in this park; safaris are carried out by the lodges. At Welfound Game Reserve we stayed at the lovely Mhondoro Game Lodge.   All suites have extraordinary views over the waterhole where animals can be spotted regularly. A must is a stay in the private villa with three bedrooms, private swimming pool, private chef and private safari vehicle with experienced ranger.

We started the day early with a delicious cup of coffee, went on safari during sunrise and saw the animals at their most active, then breakfast/brunch at our exclusive lodge, siesta in our private pool and a special safari in the afternoon. Enjoyed a sundowner in the park and via an exciting night safari back to our lodge. We ended the day with some conviviality around the campfire and a delicious dinner.

In Marakele National Park we were allowed to enjoy in the Marataba Safari Lodge, located in a spectacular location at the foot of the Waterberg Mountains.   This lodge has fifteen attractively decorated and spacious tented suites with terrace and outdoor shower and offers safaris per open 4×4 and boat safaris. Very special is the possibility for a Sleepout about 20 minutes drive away in Thabametsi Treehouse – suitable for two adults and two children aged 6-15 years. Unforgettable here was the sundownerstop during the afternoon safari, enjoying a Gin&Tonic with a spectacular sunset in a fantastic landscape.

THE GEMSBOK

The Madikwe Game Reserve is a special park that consists of both forest field and Kalahari which means that sandy open plains alternate with grasslands on which groups of trees stand in formation. The park therefore has animals that you can not see, for example, in kruger park, such as the gemsbok. We stayed   in three beautiful lodges: the atmospheric Tuningi Safari Lodge is ideal for   families, theMadikwe Safari Lodge which consists of three lodges – Lelapa Lodge for families, Dithaba Lodge for couples and Kopano Lodge for small groups – and the exclusive
Jamala Royal Safari Lodge
with its unique viewdeck on the waterhole.

It was fantastic in one word!

We enjoyed unique lodges, nature, the different and impressive landscapes and the animals. We have almost seen the full big 5 – unfortunately no leopard – but as a bonus the cheetah and wild dogs! Given the distances, these game parks can be combined well during a self-drive but of course it is also possible to make this trip with transfers.

In short, I and ten travel agents let myself immerse myself in the authentic safari world of the beautiful Limpopo region for a week. We are back to date to give you the right advice.

Some reactions from travel agents after the end of the study trip:

“What a fanatical trip it was, I ‘untamed’ enjoyed everything! It is very surprising how you can experience so much diversity in landscape and experience on such a relatively ‘small’ part of South Africa. Even within Madikwe there is every part of the distinction in vegetation and colours and therefore also in the wild species that live there that you realize once again: the world in one country. This together with the high-end accommodations, the hospitality and friendliness of all the locals makes this trip unforgettable.”

“Safari is often seen as very expensive, but because of this experience I can now say that when you are at your destination you only understand why it is so ‘expensive’ and that it is worth every euro! I really love Mhondoro lodge in Welfound, what I also like is that there is a lot of vegetation here and that the parks are therefore much greener. I think Madikwe is very special, because you go off road here and that is of course much more exciting than staying on the trails.”

“This was my first safari trip. I didn’t have anything to do with it, but I’m ‘om’!”

“They are beautiful lodges, special locations and beautiful private game reserves. The special locations and location of the lodges near a waterhole have stayed with me the most. Because of this you don’t even have to go on safari to see game. That’s very special.”

“I would recommend customers to include at least one private game drive lodge in their trip, then you have the ultimate safari experience.”

Petra van Seters

Since April 2015 I have been working as a travel specialist in Southern Africa at Untamed Travelling. With over 25 years of experience in the travel industry, I have already been able to visit and experience many beautiful destinations. One of the first introductions to southern Africa was during my honeymoon to Zimbabwe & Mauritius. That trip was unforgettable, partly because of the amazing nature, the beautiful animals and the special cultures. During this journey my passion for this part of the world has arisen. I have gone back many times, visiting South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya & Seychelles. I would also like to put together such an unforgettable trip for you!

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