If you are an aspiring traveller, I am sure that your Instagram feed is filled with fancy game lodges at reserves you may not have heard of, which sneakily makes its way onto your bucket list. To peak your interest, you take a look at the rates on sites like Booking.com and realise that the property is way out of your budget. Read on as I give you the lowdown on how to book a bush break in South Africa.
Which sites do we use to book bush breaks?
- Directly with the lodge via their website or reservations team
- Via travel companies and agents offering special deals
Both Bush Breaks and Mtbeds are travel and safari specialists offering special offers and often the best rates at game lodges in South Africa. They make for a great starting point, especially if you need of a little inspiration. If you holding out for their best specials, you can always subscribe to their newsletter. Like the savvy travellers we are, we often compare these rates directly with the lodge, via their website or central reservations. And of course travel companies often run specials over select periods which you can view as well.
South African Residents / SADC residents – please note that you qualify for SADC resident rates at most private game lodges. Sites like www.booking.com cater for all tourists (including international tourists). So often you will find that the sites I listed above will be considerably cheaper than aggregator travel sites, catering for tourists across the world.
When is the best time to visit a game lodge in South Africa?
But if you budget conscious and flexible with your travel dates, we think you should be aware of the following:
- Peak periods for international tourists when lodges are in demand and rates are increased
- Avoid local school holidays
- Book early if you have to travel over peak periods
- Whilst lodges are in high demand over Winter due to the low temperatures and lack of greenery in the bush, and temperatures peak in Summer, the whole point of visiting a game lodge is the game drive, which are scheduled for early morning and late afternoon when the weather is in fact bearable, leaving you to swim or stay in an airconditioned environment for the rest of the day. So it is absolutely an option to visit lodges in Summer, if you used to the South African climate.
Is flying or a self-drive better?
We prefer to self-drive, and if we unable to drive our sedan due to the road conditions (generally gravel road, and bumpy), we just hire a SUV or vehicle with high clearance. The lodge will guide you accordingly but do ask fellow travellers or read customer reviews online if you not convinced. There are loads of car rental companies that you can choose from. Avis is our car rental company of choice, and we use our loyalty programs generally to get discounts. Another great reason to drive is to explore other South African towns and cities along the way.
It is advisable to drive during the day as areas close to lodges are generally outside of the city and not well lit, and on your way into the lodge you could find animals on the road. It is generally safer to drive during the day as you have increased visibility. Always keep the lodge number handy should you experience any difficulty. If you are an international tourists, it is advisable to get a South African sim card to be able to make calls.
If the budget allows and there isn’t much of a cost difference especially if you have a tight itinerary you can opt to fly in.