You can have a great safari adventure in South Africa in as little as a long weekend. With game parks scattered throughout the nation, you can easily access one or more reserves close to Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, or Durban if you have only a few days to spare. Of course, a week or more is recommended for a more diverse experience across different parks and regions, including game drives, bush walks, and even a hot-air balloon “safari.” Two weeks would let you combine several distinct parks and reserves in South Africa as well as its neighbors, including Greater Kruger, Victoria Falls, and the Kalahari, plus other highlights of the region.

South Africa Safari in 2-3 Days

Lion in Kruger National Park

With just two or three days, you’ll want to maximize your interactions with wildlife. Ideally, you’ll fly in to one of Greater Kruger’s three airports, or to a private game reserve’s own airstrip. These game reserves, plus the many private concessions within Kruger National Park, offer the benefit of off-road safaris, bush walks, and night-time drives not permitted within the park proper, allowing you to truly maximize your time.

On day one, fly or drive to either Sabi Sabi or Timbavati private game reserves. Both boast the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino) and offer a wide range of accommodations for all budgets. Upon arrival, relax before your first late afternoon and early evening game drive, followed by a candlelit dinner under the night sky.

The next day, begin with an early morning game drive as animals emerge from their nocturnal hiding places. Relax away the hotter mid-day hours at your lodge or camp, then experience the thrill of a bush walk—a chance for close-up encounters with giraffe, elephants, etc. In the evening, make another sunset game drive. Every outing brings different, exciting encounters.

On day three, depart the game reserve and visit the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, near Hoedspruit (close to Timbavati).

South Africa Safari in 4-6 Days

Rhino in Kruger National Park

Four to six days provides sufficient time to combine an in-depth safari experience with a broader set of other venues and activities.  

Begin by driving to Hazyview (or fly into nearby Nelspruit and rent a car). Next morning, thrill to an early morning hot-air balloon ride over this majestic area—a chance to spot big game from a birds-eye perspective. Then, follow the “South Africa Safari in 2-3 days” itinerary above.

On day 5, depart Timbavati or Sabi Sabi and head to Hoedspruit to visit the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and learn about its animal rescue, conservation and breeding programs. Round out your day by visiting the Khamai Reptile Centre, or saddle up for horseback riding through the bushveld of the Makutsi Conservatory, which boasts buffalo, leopard, and rhino among its many wildlife species. On your last day, follow the “Panorama Trail,” beginning with the Blyde River Canyon (perhaps with time for a boat trip or hiking). Marvel at the iconic Three Rondavels as you venture south for Johannesburg via Lisbon Falls, near Graskop, and the Victorian-era Pilgrim’s Rest gold-mining town. End your journey in Johannesburg.

South Africa Safari in 7 Days

Leopard in Kruger National Park

For a week-long safari, use the South Africa Safari in 4-6 days template through Day 4.

On day 5, depart Timbavati or Sabi Sabi and enter Kruger National Park via the Paul Kruger (Skukuza) Gate. Escape the crowds and drive north to Olifants for one night at the hilltop Olifants Rest Camp, offering stunning views over the eponymous river, whose banks are thick with game. Exit the park the next day via the Phaloborwa gate and head to Hoedspruit to visit the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. There, you'll learn about its animal rescue, conservation and breeding programs. Round out your day by visiting the Khamai Reptile Centre and/or saddle up for horseback riding through the bushveld of the Makutsi Conservatory, which boasts buffalo, leopard, and rhino among its many wildlife species.

On your last day, follow the “Panorama Trail,” beginning with the Blyde River Canyon (perhaps with time for a boat trip or hiking). Marvel at the iconic Three Rondavels as you venture south for Johannesburg via Lisbon Falls, near Graskop, and the Victorian-era Pilgrim’s Rest gold-mining town. End your journey in Johannesburg.

Southern Africa Safari in 14 Days

Elephants in the Chobe River

Two weeks provides time for the ultimate safari experience, combining Kruger with Victoria Falls, Namibia's Chobe National Park, and Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta.

Follow the “South Africa safari in 7 days” itinerary, then on day 8 transfer to the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit for a flight to Livingstone Airport in Zambia. Transfer across the border to the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. In late afternoon, enjoy a dinner cruise along the Upper Zambezi—a prelude to the next day’s transfer via Botswana to Namibia to board the Zambezi Queen houseboat. Spend the next two days (10 and 11) on a thrilling houseboat safari in Chobe National Park, boasting the world's largest concentration of African elephants, plus vast herds of hippos and other animals. 

On day 12, transfer by boat to Namibian Immigration, then continue to Botswana to board your flight to the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve, with one of Africa's highest concentrations of wildlife. Spend two days exploring on game drives and bush walks, and relaxing by the swimming pool. On day 14 depart Botswana for Johannesburg and your flight home.