9 reasons to go on safari

I don’t like to make a habit of setting my alarm at 5am, but I can make an exception on safari. In fact, on a recent trip to Greater Kruger in South Africa, I found myself bounding out of bed as soon as I heard the guide’s gentle knock at the door. A far cry from burying my head in a pillow like I normally do. It was the thought of seeing lions in the wild that made me, but there are many other reasons to go on safari besides that!

If you’re unsure whether a holiday spent spotting wildlife is the one for you, I’ve rounded up my top 9 reasons to go on safari. I’m sure there are millions more, but these are the ones that made me fulfil a lifelong dream and book one. 

Reasons to go on safari

Reasons to go on safari

1. See animals in their natural habitat

This reason should be enough, in my opinion. Where better to see wild animals than in their own environment? Granted, a safari still seems to be a bit of an invasion of their privacy but if they don’t like the look of you, they can run away. And anyway, it’s miles better than locking them away in a cage in a country that their bodies just aren’t made for. Do a solid and go to them instead. 

Reasons to go on safari

2. Learn more about animals from the people that really know them

All of the guides I have had the pleasure of meeting have been fantastic. At Africa on Foot, the trackers had all grown up in the bush and the guides dreamed of protecting animals from a very young age. This gave them a passion for their job that you just don’t see with other professions. You could ask them a question about anything and they would tell you the answer with a big smile on their face. 

Africa on Foot: Staff

3. Support conservation 

All safari lodges in designated national parks charge park fees at the end of your stay. Instead of an annoying tax, this fee directly contributes to the animals’ welfare through park maintenance and anti-poaching tactics. As you settle in to your game drives, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re helping to protect the wonderful animals you’ve come to see. 

Reasons to go on safari

4. Support local communities 

The majority of staff at safari lodges are local to the area. In fact, five of the seven staff we met at my lodge in South Africa were born within a twenty minute drive of the park gates. By going on safari, you can help these communities by funding staff wages, buying local crafts in the souvenir shops and eating and drinking local produce. 

Africa on Foot: Staff

5. Relax

When you’re not out on a game drive, a safari lodge is a great place to relax. Most lodges have communal areas where you can read a book, have a coffee or watch the wildlife go by from the verandah. All are a great way to recuperate after early mornings and too much pinotage the night before. 

Africa on Foot: Drinks around the campfire

6. Make new friends

Safaris really are for everyone, meaning you’re likely to meet a very diverse group of people at your lodge. And they always have one thing in common – a love of animals. On our three nights at Africa on Foot, our fellow guests came from Australia, USA, Germany and France and we all had a great time drinking around the campfire, reminiscing about what we had seen during our day’s activities. 

Africa on Foot: Staff

7. Unique experience

The beauty of nature is that every safari is different. You’ll never see the same thing twice, making it an incredible experience each time you go. I know I’d much rather go on safari every year than stay at the same beach resort for a second time! 

Elephant in Yala National Park

8. Good photography opportunity 

Animals make fantastic photographs. If photography is your thing, you’ll be snap happy on a safari. Plus, the landscapes in national parks are just beautiful. Even if you don’t see any animals worth capturing, you’re sure to find incredible mountain scenery, lush forests and never ending plains through your viewfinder. Depending on where you visit, of course! 

Reasons to go on safari

9. Explore more than just Africa 

Remember that safaris shouldn’t just be reserved for Africa. I’ve had fantastic trips to see tigers and elephants in Indialeopards and deer in Sri Lanka, as well as lions and giraffe in South Africa. With a safari holiday, you’re spoilt for choice as to where you go. Try them all to see which type you prefer! 

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park, India

If my reasons to go on safari have convinced you it should be your next holiday, check out my review of Africa on Foot – a boutique safari lodge in South Africa – to start planning!

Have you ever been on safari? If not, do you think you’d enjoy it? If you have, where did you go and what made you book it in the first place? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!

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Reasons to go on safari

Africa on Foot: a boutique safari lodge in review

Back home, I’m used to waking up to find my cat using me as a mattress. But, as I stirred from my bed deep in the South African wilderness, I was pleased to find the local big cats hadn’t had the same idea. I had just begun a three night stay at Africa on Foot, and I wasn’t ready to be eaten just yet.

I had dreamed of going on safari for years. My rose-tinted glasses conjured up visions of me staying in a comfy room, meeting friendly staff and encountering wildlife galore (only not in my bed). With such high expectations, whichever lodge we chose would have a lot to live up to. Luckily, this little gem in the heart of Klaserie Private Nature Reserve came up trumps on all counts. Read on to find out why.

Warning: This post contains a pretty graphic image from a game drive. Don’t look if you’re at all squeamish or an impala-lover.

Bush Walks

Of course, the main reason most people stay in a safari lodge is to spot wildlife. The opportunities to do this at Africa on Foot are second to none. As well as the traditional game drives that all safari lodges offer, Africa on Foot does what it says on the tin. The guides are trained to take you on bush walks, giving you a completely unique and close-up perspective on the wildlife.

Africa on Foot: Bush Walks

On our first bush walk, we learnt how to tell the difference between animal tracks, and all about the plants and trees around us. But of course, it was the animals themselves that we were desperate to see.

A close encounter

After about half an hour of walking through makeshift pathways and around stale elephant dung, we spotted three silhouettes moving in the distance. As we drew nearer, our tracker ducked down behind a tree and, in complete silence, encouraged us to do the same. We peered through gaps in the leaves, all vying to catch a glimpse.

And then the silhouettes came towards us.

Two young white rhino and one very pregnant mother crept up on us as silently as we had stumbled across them. We knew their eyesight was poor, but their strong sense of smell alerted them that there was something (us) hiding behind that tree. And they were determined to find out what it was.

So they came closer still.

Africa on Foot: Safari

My heart was beating faster than a cheetah can run, and I was ready to launch myself in the opposite direction. Only I couldn’t. Our group was completely surrounded by the three rhino, and there was no escape, even if I wanted to.

So I gave up worrying and decided to watch as the magnificent beasts sniffed and plodded along around us. They still didn’t know what we were, so our guides clicked their fingers to give them a clue. Yet, this seemed to intrigue them more than anything, so they took another couple of steps closer. Our guides had grown wary of how close they were, so they tapped their rifles to make an unfamiliar metallic sound.

And then they ran away.

Game Drives

That same day, we had another unforgettable experience on a game drive. Our guides had tracked a pack of wild dogs close to our camp. We followed them as the pack reunited and set off on the hunt for food. They were too fast for us to keep up, but the vultures circling overhead told us the dogs’ efforts were successful.

We caught up with them as they dragged their meal to a clearing and then let the vultures take over. Even for a vegetarian, that was a pretty special moment and one I’ll never forget.

Africa on Foot: Safari

Thanks to the abundance of wildlife in Klaserie Private Nature reserve, we managed to see all but one of the Big 5. It was only the elusive leopard that kept us guessing. That said, I know that lots of lucky Africa on Foot guests have seen one since.

Africa on Foot: Safari

Africa on Foot: Safari

Africa on Foot: safari
Africa on Foot: safari

Africa on Foot Staff

They say it’s the people that make a place, and the staff at Africa of Foot certainly made us feel welcome.

We got to know our tracker, Enoch, and guides, Luane and Chade, pretty well throughout our stay. They knew absolutely everything about the bush and the animals that called it home. Their ability to drive and spot wildlife in the distance, all while answering our questions and listening out for signals over the radio is incredible.

Africa on Foot: Staff

Unlike many other safari guides, they wanted us to have the best experience possible. They preferred quality sightings over quantity. This all helped us to see some truly incredible things rather than ticking all animals off our list. Each sighting was accompanied with an in-depth description of the animal – what they eat, how they live and how to tell the difference between male and female. I’m positively an expert now!

Africa on Foot: Staff
Africa on Foot: Staff

One of my favourite moments in the camp was when the guides joined us for dinner. They kept us entertained with their stories around the campfire. I could have listened to them for hours!

Africa on Foot: Drinks around the campfire

JD and three lovely ladies took care of everything back at the lodge. They greeted us with hot face towels and aperitifs after a chilly winter game drive. It was this attention to detail that we loved most.

Delicious Food

The food was just too enticing for me to take any photos. You’ll have to imagine the tasty, home cooked meals all served up from a tiny kitchen hut. The food is different every day, and the cooks will start the meal by explaining the menu first.

Africa on Foot: Food

After the morning bush walks, the lodge serves up cereals, fruit and yogurt, before a hot breakfast if you can manage! At about 2pm, the cooks provide a buffet lunch with salads and a yummy dessert. For dinner, there is a three course meal on offer every day at about 8pm. How they managed to find enough food to cater for a pescatarian, two vegans and a coeliac in the middle of the bush is beyond me.

Rooms & Accommodation

The majority of rooms at Africa on Foot sleep two people in rondevels: traditional African huts with thatched roofs. Only they’re a little more luxurious than that, with four poster beds, mosquito nets and little wardrobes.

I adored our room, Tjankbos. At first, I dreaded the outdoor shower, but this became its charm. We could watch the world go by while washing our armpits, and the beating sun made up for the shower’s very occasional lapse in heat.

Luckily, however, the toilet was indoors.

Africa on Foot: Accommodation

Africa on Foot: Accommodation

Each night, the lodge staff would make the bed and hide hot water bottles under the covers. They would also leave traditional African fairytales on the pillows to make going to bed even more enticing. The little touches were just adorable.

Lodge Facilities

Beyond the safari, there is plenty to keep you entertained in the lodge itself. Guests can swim in the pool (not recommended in winter!), drink at the bar or read books in the lounge. You can even head up to the treehouse for unrivalled views across the national park.

If you’re brave enough, you can even spend the night in the treehouse. Other guests raved about their experience up there. They were able to hear the animal calls throughout the night and sleeping under the stars.

Africa on Foot: Treehouse

Africa on Foot: Treehouse

Overall, our stay at Africa on Foot was the best three days of any holiday I’ve ever been on. People often ask me where I’d most like to go back to. I can hand on heart say this is it. And no, they haven’t paid me to say this. Africa on Foot is an incredible place to stay, and I’m delighted to be able to recommend it.

This visit was just the start of my 2 weeks in South Africa. Read my recommended itinerary to find out what else I got up to!

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Now tell me, what’s the one place in the world you wish you could go back to? What made it so special for you? Let me know in the comments!

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Africa on Foot - a boutique safari lodge in review