Self-Drive SA: Best of the Bush

Road to the Night, Karoo. Source: Adobe Stock.

Self-drive South Africa: Five ‘Best of the Bush’ experiences

Hit the road and experience some of South Africa’s best bush escapes; self-driven or hosted.

Self-Drive SA: Best of the Bush

Road to the Night, Karoo. Source: Adobe Stock.

It’s easy for us as South Africans to think of other African countries when considering the best safaris out there but with the allure of a crackling fire, that you’ve stoked yourself and the promise that your early morning game-drive efforts will be rewarded by the likes of steaming coffee and rusks, there’s little else better on the planet than a bush break. 

Lucky for us as South Africans, we are spoilt for choice as to which direction to roam in to find your favourite Safari hotspot, just a few hours drive from wherever you are. So this 2020, save up a few of those Randelas, set the alarm clock and let the Big 5 adventuring begin.

Discover Samara

Self-DriveSA: Best of the Bush
Samara Lodge Star Bed. Photo: Samara Lodge

Samara has a great story to tell…of a family passionate about conservation, who fell in love with the place and found a way to call it home. It happens to be one of our most-loved homes from home too and the reasons for this are as endless as the stars that come out to play in clear Karoo night sky. A slower pace paired with genuine warmth of hospitality from the Samara family and a choice of accommodation between the ‘Karoo Lodge’ for a more family-friendly, homestead option or the Manor House – for a more lux, contemporary retreat – make it the perfect escape for friendship groups, larger families or those looking for some added privacy. Don’t even get us started on the ‘star bed’- raised on a platform, overlooking the serene space that this 70 000 acre property offers. And, as if this experience needed topping…your morning coffee and rusks are delivered directly to your bed. Nothing tastes quite this good.

Perfect for those searching for a little romance or looking for an ideal escape that caters to the whole family, this is child-friendly heaven, with your garden pet being the local giant tortoise. Early morning game drives and sundowner sessions on the open-air game viewing vehicle make for memories and photo’s that are undoubtedly mantle-piece worthy.

When you see guides on foot on the estate, be sure to wave, amongst the pack will be ‘Pokkie’ one of SA’s most respected trackers. He’s something of a living legend in these parts. The Tracker Academy shares space with Samara private game reserve; further continuing their vision of a much bigger picture of conservation and all its facets, working together to preserve what we’re lucky enough to call our ‘back yard’. 

Kuier in the Karoo

Self-Drive SA: Best of the Bush
Road to the Night, Karoo. Photo: Adobe Stock.

Bearing my WP’ers in mind, the Karoo National Park in the Western Cape is another place that everyone should tick off the travel list at least once. Wide-open stretches of fynbos are dominated by the rugged backdrop of the imposing Nuweveld Mountains. Stay in Cape Dutch style chalets or if your pyjamas pack an extra punch- brave the outdoors with the option of camping, and take your pick from finding the fossil trail, 4×4 eco trails, guided drives to spot Cape Mountain Zebra and Black Rhino and walks and picnicking offering the perfect opportunity to cherry-pick from. 

Madikwe Magic

Self Drive SA: Best of the Bush
Tuningi Safari Lodge Sunset Views. Photo: Tuningi Safari Private Lodge

Family travellers- this one’s for you. Tuningi Safari Lodge showcases thoughtful touches throughout the luxury suits that elevate your stay into an experience you won’t forget. The approach here is child-friendly and this eco-tourism renowned hotspot is a definite tick for family-friendly.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park Sunset. Photo: Adobe Stock

The Kruger National Park is no more than 4 hours from Johannesburg central and depending on where you’re staying you may have a few extra hours added to that and within the park. Nothing can compare to the Kruger when it comes to wildlife. Suitable for all budgets, and with tons of camps to choose from this is a weekend or mid-week break that doesn’t need to break the bank. Self-catering lodges and tented camps will save you a few bucks and offer the chance to create the ambiance you’re after. Friends and family-friendly option, there’s nothing that bonds the family quite like patchy cellphone coverage and the call of the nearby hungry Hyena. JOKES.

Gorah Elephant Park

Boma Dining at Gorah Elephant Park. Photo: Gorah Elephant Park

Lastly, to cater to all those PE-side and closer to the coast, you can be guaranteed that the thrill of quietly watching a herd of elephants stroll by never gets old at the exclusive and only private concession within our beloved Addo Elephant park, Gorah Camp.

This is a place that knows how to deliver on 5-star adventure that ticks all the boxes; malaria-free, Big 5 and with the densest population of elephants on earth. Still needing convincing? Take it from me, this place delivers on recapturing the romantic mystique of a bygone era of safaris, combining the wonders of the natural world with a little something ‘extra’ as you sip on your afternoon tea, overlooking the waterhole.

So whether you’re after bucket list ticks with the better half, the opportunity for family bonding or just the chance to escape cellphone coverage. A bush break in SA will do the trick and spoiler alert- they don’t all break the bank so hop in the car, sort the weekend playlist and let the spotting begin!