Cape Town is an eclectic and exciting city, and on many bucket lists. With its beautiful beaches, buzzing cosmopolitan centre, world-class wine country, spectacular scenery and dramatic coastlines; there is so much to do and see in South Africa’s ‘Mother City’.
BUT how do you combine Cape Town with a quintessential bush safari?
Summer is a popular and busy time in Cape Town, and for good reason. Located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, the Cape has a totally different weather pattern from the rest of Africa. It has a typically Mediterranean climate which means the summer days are long, hot and dry – perfect for lazy days on the beach and sundowner drinks with a view, followed by fine dining and world-beating wines.
And of course, no African trip is complete without that other item on the bucket-list – a bushveld safari, in pursuit of the Big 5 and plenty more exciting wildlife encounters.
But here’s the hitch: In bushveld areas, the average summer day is very hot, with thundershowers now and then. The bushveld is buzzing and alive with birds, baby animals and flowers (and mosquitoes), but animals can be difficult to see because of the thickness of the green shrubbery. Most safari enthusiasts prefer the dry cool winter months when the bushveld has thinned out and the lack of water makes wildlife concentrate near water sources and is easier to see.
So, how exactly does one combine Cape Town’s summer splendours with a wild Big 5 bushveld safari?
Here are four suggestions
The Great Wildebeest Migration is in full swing in Tanzania’s Serengeti during the first few months of the year, and you can expect exceptional sightings as the great herds are calving and the predators gorge themselves on easy pickings.
Expect high tourist volumes at predator sightings (unless you are in a private concession) and higher prices during this peak season.
Botswana’s ‘green season’ safari
Fly direct from Cape Town to Maun in Botswana in two-and-a-half-hours and step straight into your mokoro or speed boat for a spot of ‘glamping’ on a deserted Okavango Delta island paradise. Or take a short flight from Maun to any one of a number of luxury lodges.
Enjoy beautiful green bushveld and reasonable wildlife encounters (prime wildlife viewing is during the dry winter months). Expect fewer tourists and lower prices than during prime safari season.
Surrounding areas in the Cape
The Cape Game Reserves of South Africa are closer to Cape Town than any other bushveld safari, and offer great wildlife opportunities to complete an idyllic beach and bush combo trip.
Hire a car in Cape Town and drive the Garden Route and Little Karoo to end up at your bushveld destination, or fly to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) to meet your lodge transfer. Some of these bushveld lodges offer boat trips down winding rivers for a day at the nearby idyllic beaches.
Expect more tourists and higher prices during the warm summer season than during the winter, when temperatures can be a bit chilly.
Greater Kruger National Park
The Greater Kruger National Park area offers a wide variety of lodges and bush camps. Direct flights from Cape Town to Skukuza and Hoedspruit mean that you could be on safari within hours of leaving Cape Town.
Enjoy beautiful green bushveld and good wildlife encounters in the private reserves bordering the Kruger, even during the summer months (winter months always deliver more wildlife encounters). Expect a variety of prices and fewer crowds in summer if you avoid the local school holiday periods.
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