6 independent reviews for 7 day big five safari in South Africa

Reviews for 7 day big five safari in South Africa

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review 2 Sep 2023

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This is hard to answer. Actually I was told I was very lucky. One afternoon trip we saw absolutely nothing which they said was quite common. We were not in a zoo but the actual home of these creatures. So why was I lucky? Because the next day I saw a lioness guarding the remains of the pride kill, until, unable to move it she drifted away. Then the vultures descended and the carcass was stipped in minutes. I saw a small herd of elephants, a mother with her young, a herd of wildebeast, a group of buffalo - two males engaged in head to head competion right in front of us, rhinos, male and female hyenas guarding their den. Oh, and a leapard, another pride of lions, with young, numerous giraffe, impala, exotic birds, a feeding eagle, hippos, crocodile and more. I took 400 photos.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't have massively high expections. Take each day as it comes. Be ready for very early rising and tiring drives - it's a real safari not a pleasure outing. You will need the truly excellent food you will be served.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All the staff employed at the lodges were excellent. The guides and drivers were highly skilled and well aware that preservation of this environment is their future.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Eleven out of ten

review 16 Mar 2020

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing lots of different leopards. Also large herds of elephants, on one occasion watching them enjoying and playing in a pan.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Rukiya lodge is more about leopard conservation rather than Big 5 game viewing - very worthwhile though. N'kaya game lodge was amazing - the hospitality, accommodation and game drives were second to none and this was our 12th safari. Our hosts Andre and Lene along with their team were outstanding both in terms of bush knowledge, cuisine and making one feel totally relaxed and at ease.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, it was evident that an effort was being made to support the ecosystem and conservation of the bush/Savannah for the benefit of both local communities and visitors

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I stayed on for an extra 2 days. Excellent value for money. Looking forward to the 10 day African experience in September.

review 7 Jun 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The night drives at Rukiya. It was the first time (after 8 previous safari holidays) that we saw an Aardvark, Honey Badger, Bush Baby and Genet. Also, sitting amongst a herd of 25+ elephants in our jeep at NíThambo.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

June is a good time of year to go but can be quite cold first thing in morning and at night. However hot water bottles were provided at Rukiya rooms as it was a river side location where temperatures were much lower than the other two lodges.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Definitely. At Rukiya they run a leopard conservation and research project.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

As good as any of our previous trips. Slightly better than expected. We spend hours researching beforehand and our expectations of quality are extremely high.

review 4 May 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Most of our trip was unforgettable. I especially liked our base camp: rukiya safari camp. The people there are very, very friendly. I've felt welcomed immediately. The safaris are very peaceful and beautiful. I have learned a lot about animals and plants. I liked it that it wasn't all about the big five but also about birds and smaller animals. I will never forget the bush walk with Warren (Ivory wilderness riversong camp). I wasn't afraid but all my senses were alert. It was fascinating to be out in the bush and see lion tracks.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

When you really love nature and familylike camps (eat together with other guests) you should go to rukiya safari camp or to ivory wilderness riversong camp. The guides there are very patient and show a lot of respect for the nature. They respect all animals and are not chasing around for the big five and predators.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

In two of the three camps (as written above) I experienced that very much. In the third camp the guide was just looking out for the big five (and predators) and drove through bushes (bulldozed them down) and little trees to chase those "important" animals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Apart from one camp, I didn't like at all (as written above), the holiday exceeded my expectations. It was an adventure and I will never forget it.

Read the operator's response here:

I can quite understand that driving off road could be seen as being destructive, especially when one isn't familiar with the reserve conservation protocols, but it is important to note the conservation ethics that are rigorously followed in all our game reserves and especially the reserve referred to. Driving off road falls under strict and very well managed protocols that limit this activity to the dry season and viewing certain species. When selecting a route the ranger takes into consideration not only the bushes in the possible path, but all other living organisms, and with that in mind picks the best route, or indeed aborts that activity. Often this has a secondary conservation benefit of eliminating alien species (bushes), that would otherwise adversely affect that environment. Through good management policies this activity has benefited that environment for over fifty years.

review 27 Mar 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Giraffes by moonlight, elephants up close and oryx at sunrise.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take some warm clothes for early morning game drives in March!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - we learnt a lot on our holiday about wildlife conservation in that particular region and we will spread the word. We felt our holiday helped to support leopard conservation and that environmental impact was limited in the the lodges we visited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent - a truly amazing holiday for all the family! We met some wonderful, dedicated people, learnt an awful lot, saw some incredible wildlife- large and small - and have returned home with some amazing memories.

review 11 Sep 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The most memorable part of our holiday was going off road at Thorny Bush enabling us to see so many different animals interacting with each other in their natural environment. It was especially amazing to see a pride of lioness' watching a crocodile partly submerged in water, while they patiently waited to drink.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Check day and night time temperatures, there is a vast variation in temperature during the winter months. Pack warm pyjamas.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We booked this holiday because we feel strongly about animal conservation. My son's dream is to have a career working with wildlife therefore, having the opportunity to visit the Ingwe Research Centre and experience first hand how scientists are making a difference in supporting leopard conservation was truly inspiring.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was one of the best holidays we have experienced. The animal sightings were brilliant, the information we received about the bush was exceptional and above all, the friendliness of all the guides and staff and their desire to consider our every need resulted in a truly memorable holiday.

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