Africa and wild life are almost inextricable entities, and where game viewing and safaris are concerned, South Africa definitely does the continent proud. Furthermore, South Africa’s safari destinations put a new spin on winter. Finally there is something to look forward to in the cold months between May and August!
Many people fervently claim that if it’s animal sightings you want, the winter months are not just good months to visit a game reserve, but arguably the best time to spot game! Here’s why.
In South Africa, the majority of the game reserves are concentrated in the northern interior of the country, in areas like Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern KwaZulu Natal and North West Province. Much of these areas experience a subtropical climate, which translates into hot and humid summer months, and cooler, drier winter months. So how does this translate into better game viewing?
If you visit areas like Kruger Park and surrounds between September and April, rain will be a guaranteed part of your experience. Importantly, rain contributes greatly to the growth of vegetation, and conversely, when there is less rain, the vegetation is sparser, making it less easy for animals to disappear into a clump of bush. Apart from the fact that they are less camouflaged, there are also fewer physical vegetation barriers for them to hide behind.
Another significant point is that in the winter months, many water sources dry up, leaving only a few permanent watering holes. And animals need water, so heading to a watering hole in winter is almost guaranteed to provide some good sightings.
Higher level of comfort
In the aforementioned subtropical climes, the months between September and April are characterised by day time temperatures of 30°C and upwards, combined with rain – not ideal for spending hours at a time in a car or open safari vehicle, never mind on a walking safari!
In the winter months temperatures are still warm, hovering in the mid-twenties, but it is by no means unbearably hot. Getting wet or having your spirits dampened is not an issue either as there is very little rain in winter.
Lower chance of contracting Malaria
Mosquitos, which carry the malaria virus (as well as being a huge buzzing irritation when you’re trying to fall asleep), breed in standing water and with less water to be had, their breeding grounds dry up, and thus so does their population. With less malaria carriers about, it stands to reason that your chances of contracting the disease are a lot less (but by no means non-existent).
Here are some Bush escapes which make great starting points for your winter safari trip:
>Morokolo Game Lodge – Pilanesberg
>Gooderson Bushlands Game Lodge – Hluhluwe
>Sausage Tree Safari Camp – Greater Kruger National Park
>Mopane Bush Lodge – Soutpansberg
>Thornhill Safari Lodge – Timbavati Game Reserve