The Africa safari is a dream vacation for the adventurer, the naturalist, the eco-tourist and photographer (amateur or professional) looking for the Big 5. Safari travel to South Africa often begins by flying into Johannesburg.
Those more adventurous travelers that opt to pass on the organized tours and strike out on their own will often rent a car from there. The drive to Kapama Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s popular game parks, takes about eight hours. It’s well advised to make a couple of stops on the way.
The Drive from Johannesburg
It’s a leisurely three-hour drive northbound from the Johannesburg Airport to Dullstrom, said to have the best views in the high veldt, and a great place to take a break and stop for a little fly fishing. The drive then takes travelers through the mountains with a stop for lunch overlooking Blyde River Canyon and on into Nelspruitt town where many decide to stay the night at a local bed & breakfast. There are many to choose from but the one with the most spectacular view of the mountains is La Roca Guest House which features a gorgeous Eggs Benedict over local smoked trout for breakfast.
After an early breakfast, Kapama Game Reserve, located on the southern edge of Kruger National Park, is just a short two-hour drive away. Kruger Park is 20,000 square kilometers of protected wildlife preserve on the border of Mozambique. Visitors can drive themselves through Kruger Park but a private safari lodge often offers a closer look into the natural habitat of the African wildlife.
Accommodation at Kapama
Accommodation options at Kapama vary from the elegant River Lodge overlooking the reserve to individual chalets. For the more adventurous, the tents of the Buffalo Camp on stilts in the very heart of the park offer 24/7 contact with the animals in addition to the two game drives a day.
A guide picks those staying at Buffalo Camp up at the safari lodge and escorts campers to the interior of the bush veldt. There the warden, rangers and trackers wait to lead visitors on the sunset safari in an open air Land Rover with stadium seating so all can have an unobstructed view from any seat.
The Guided Game Drive
The most common sights to see on every game drive are buffalo, wart hogs and guinea fowls and a good tracker will eventually find the herds of giraffe, zebra and elephant. A lucky few get a glimpse of the nocturnal leopard. The park is home to all of the legendary “Big 5” which includes the elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopard and lion. Guides will also point out the smaller creatures like chameleons and even dung beetles.
At Buffalo Camp, guests are treated to four-course, gourmet meals which are served by the ranger (the small staff at the camp wear many hats which minimizes the impact too many people can have on the natural environment). The camp only accommodates 16 guests at a time. The rangers also double as bar-tenders as diners finish their meals and meander over to the lounge for a night cap.
Visitors tend to retire early as the wake up call for the morning game drive comes at five a.m. It’s the best time to capture the animals on film as they start their day before the heat of midday when they hide from view in the shade of the bush to keep cool.
The Cheetah Research Center
As the daily game drives are usually scheduled for six a.m. and four p.m., the recommended midday entertainment is taking in the Cheetah Research Center close by. The center takes care of injured cheetahs as well as other animals that have been mistreated in zoos or circuses. The ultimate goal is to reintroduce them into the wild but those that have had too much human contact have to remain at the center as they wouldn’t have the ability to fend for themselves in the wild.
Learn more about vacationing in South Africa at Trip Advisor where more than 43,000 visitors have posted reviews.
Originally published with suite101