Just Add Land: African Safaris

On Safari

Stay a little longer before or after your cruise from Africa.

By Kay Showker

Whether your Africa cruise starts from Cape Town on a northbound itinerary or ends there on a southbound one — as most Africa cruises do — high on your list should be a safari add-on.

Going on safari doesn’t mean roughing it, unless you want to. A pleasant surprise is the high level of comfort, communication, and services available in the bush. Lodges serve sophisticated European cuisine and local specialties as well as famous South African wines. Sometimes dining is set under the stars or amid the wilderness, adding that extra touch of romance.

The main season for Africa cruises is southern Africa’s summer (December to March), when accommodations and air are most in demand, so securing flights is as important as locking in accommodations. Wherever you stay, game spotting is the order of the day with at least two runs — early morning and late afternoon — when animals are most likely to be visible. They, too, like to avoid the mid-day sun.

First-timers are wise to make arrangements through one of the many Africa travel companies. The Internet has a wealth of information on safari specialists, accommodations, and packages. One place to start is www.go2Africa.com; another, www.immersionjourneys.com.

For starters, here are four very different safari suggestions.

On to Kruger
Kruger National Park is one of the largest and best-known game reserves in Africa (220 miles, north-south; 40 miles, east-west). Here, you are almost guaranteed to see the Big Five — lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant — plus other wild and wonderful creatures such as cheetah, zebra, impala, giraffe, and much more. Birdlife counts 517 species.
Within the park, choices range from budget chalets to tented camps and luxurious lodges, as do privately owned options at the edge of the park. Most lodges operate their own game runs with wildlife expert drivers and guides. Major towns in South Africa have direct flights to airports serving Kruger; some fly via Johannesburg.

Botswana Option
Even if you spend a few days on safari in South Africa, combining one in neighboring Botswana for a very different experience is easy….

Photo: iStock.com/angelika stern

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