If you’re a first-time safari-goer it’s understandable that you might have a number of questions pertaining to finance, etiquette, meals and game viewing before you depart for your safari holiday. Given that you are travelling miles to a foreign country and have no idea what to expect, it’s understandable that you’d have a few questions in mind. Here we answer 7 commonly asked safari FAQs. Hopefully, our answers will clarify a few things before you begin your intrepid journey into the Kruger bushveld.
Why is a safari holiday so expensive?
When you book a safari holiday in a private Kruger reserve you aren’t just paying for the price of the accommodation. Many people, when looking at a lodge, might baulk at the price – whether it’s 3 stars or a premier lodge. The price of a safari includes meals, accommodation and activities. Because you are in a wild, remote and private reserve; you cannot drive to the shops or use your own vehicle. There are also no restaurants nearby. All you have is the lodge and its facilities.
A standard rate would include bush walks, morning and evening game drives, high tea, tea and coffee all day, game drive snacks and accommodation. There are rates at certain lodges that include all drinks in the cost.
What is the difference between a Kruger private reserve and the Kruger National Park?
Both the Kruger National Park and the private reserves form part of the Greater Kruger. The national park is owned by the parks board, and the private reserves are merely sections of the Kruger that are privately owned. These privately owned parts of the Kruger cannot be accessed by the general public unless they have a booking in a lodge within the reserve.
There are normally gates and entrance/conservation fees before entering the private reserve. While day-trippers can’t visit the private reserves, wildlife can wander across. Many of the private reserves share unfenced borders with the national park – this means that wildlife can roam across. Private reserves and concessions are also uncrowded and game drives are guided by a tracker and ranger. The rangers can normally go off road to get up close to sightings, which isn’t possible in the national park.
Is it customary to leave a tip?
You don’t have to leave a tip, but you really should. Your guide looks after you for the duration of your stay so it’s customary to tip your guide.
Coupled with their tip you are also welcome to tip the housekeeping. Certain lodges might have a tip box in the main section, but most lodges will supply you with envelopes and it’s at your discretion as to how much money you would like to leave the staff. South Africa is a country that tips and the staff at a lodge rely on their tips for their daily living. The recommended percentage is 10 % per night of the cost of the stay.
Food and drinks wise, what can I expect?
This depends on the lodge. Most lodges will incorporate modern cuisine and trends in cooking coupled with local fare. Local foods would include braais, potjies and a host of traditional snacks and meals. You would normally notify the lodge about your dietary requirements prior to arrival. Lodges will cater to a variety of diets and will need time to prep a menu.
What should I wear?
We recommend a range of muted colours. Steer clear of bright colours and stick to khakis, olives and the standard bushveld colours. You don’t need to arrive in full camo outfit and pith helmet – it’s not “Out of Africa”! It can get swelteringly hot in summer so please bring cool cotton and open shoes for around the lodge. Swimming costumes and poolside outfits are a must. Early mornings and winter time it gets bitterly cold so bring a windbreaker, scarf and jacket.
Can you guarantee wildlife sightings?
A reserve is not a safari park or a sanctuary. It’s a wild section of bushveld teeming animals roaming freely throughout. Private reserves have rangers and trackers who have years experience in studying patterns, animal behaviour and reading tracks. There are reserves that have a higher abundance of certain species than others, so that increases your chance of seeing a particular species. You might arrive on a Wednesday and see the big five, and then nothing the next day. We cannot guarantee sightings but rangers do their best to find your most sought after species.
Why don’t you help a dying animal or try to save a lion cub from a brutal attack?
This is the wild. We are merely onlookers and we don’t interfere. Most reserves have a zero interference policy, which means we leave the wild to play out as it was intended. By interfering, we upset the delicate balance, pride dynamics and even destroy the food chain. The only time we would ever intervene is if something man-made caused the incident.