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several short safaris vs one longer one

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I've noticed reading trip reports that people seem to book a series of short safaris in different places rather than staying put in one park/lodge. This may be a naive question but if one wanted to spend 5-6 days in safari destinations would you choose one or divide it up. And probably too large a question - but which park(s) would you recommend?

I'm thinking of focusing on the south/ the area around Elizabethtown as it would enable us to take in the Garden Route and perhaps Durban and the historical sites in that area as well. Is it a mistake to give Krueger a miss? thanks

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    You don't say when or for how long you plan to visit?

    I like to spend 3 nights per private lodge safari location. Less is too short, more than 4 can be too long. Except self driving in Kruger - I could spend weeks there at multiple camps and never feel like it's too much.

    I'm guessing you mean Port Elizabeth?

    For your itinerary, I'd choose an Eastern Cape safari lodge or a self drive in Addo Elephant National Park. Then a safari lodge in KwaZulu Natal or Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park on a self drive.

    Without a budget it's hard to give recommendations. I'm not a fan of the Eastern Cape lodges - to me they seem overpriced on small reserves but lots of people go and enjoy them. A great value is Quatermains. Just 3 tents so max 6 people and they do game drives in Amakhala and Schotia for variety. Others may have recs for the high end lodges.

    In KwaZulu Natal, Tembe Elephant Park and Rhino River Lodge are my favorites. Leopard Mountain is great too. Phinda and Thanda at the high end are very highly regarded. These KZN reserves are larger than in the Eastern Cape.

    The historical sites in KwaZulu Natal? The San Art in Giants Castle is great. The battlefields, I'm not so sure of. The history seems a bit off to me. The Zulu people/tribes were protecting their home.

    I love KwaZulu Natal. The beaches, mountains, game reserves, fun stuff to do are great. Oribi Gorge, St Lucia, Umkhuze, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, much more to do and see. And it feels more like you're in Africa than the more European feeling Eastern and Western Capes.

    I'd combine Kruger with your itinerary. It's easy to fly to from Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg. It's spectacular - 2.2 million hectares (5 million acres) of wild space with a huge variety of indigenous species. Do 3 nights in Kruger and skip an Eastern Cape safari. You can self drive or stay in a great private reserve lodge in just about any budget. Or do the entire safari there and do 3 nights in 2 lodges in different areas or a self drive and a private lodge.

    For national parks, see For KZN regional parks,

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    I've been on a number of safaris in southern Africa, the last one being to Botswana this past May, where we visited three lodges in and near the Delta, for three nights each. Both of us agreed that three nights was too short and from now on, we will do a minimum of four nights at either two or three different lodges, in regions that are at least minimally different from one another in landscape and wildlife.

    My issue is that coming from the US, it is a long way to fly for only 8 nights or so, so more likely would be 4 nights in 3 camps, or 4 nights in 2 camps with a stay in, probably, Cape Town.

    I've not been to KZN or eastern Cape but keeping that in mind I do think it might be a shame to miss Kruger or the neighboring concessions.

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    Hi lauramsgarden!

    I can appreciate your question because If you've never been on safari before, it seems like a funny thought to move around vs staying in one location since that's how most travel is predominantly done.

    Some of the reasons why people opt for shorter stays and do multiple lodges are to experience the following:
    - Different countries or different areas within one country
    - Different style of lodging from Suite/Cottage style to Tented Camp
    - Different animals or a better chance of seeing one particular animal
    - Different eco-systems from desert to sub tropical to evergreen deciduous
    - Different animal families, such as lion prides, who tend to dominate one area vs another.

    I'm sure others can chime in with other reasons too!

    I recommend to clients, depending upon budget and number of days they are traveling, to do at least for 4-6 nights on safari. Stays of more than 5 nights can be easily split into multiple stays, such as 3 nights in one reserve with an easy transfer to another lodge for an additional 3 nights.

    Everyone has their favorite reserves or places to go. The beauty of Africa is that there is so much to see and do and, because the trip will resonate with you long after you're home, you return. Some keep going back! It simply never gets old! :)

    Having said that, a good start is to stay in private reserves for your first visit. This would be my recommendation to clients so that they experience some of the perks of private reserves vs National Parks, such as the ability to do night drives and drive off-road to track or stay with an animal longer. Generally speaking, the experience feels more private and less hectic because the number of jeeps is limited to only those staying in the reserve since it is not open to the public.

    To be honest, there are so many great reserves! There's truly something for everyone! Depending upon your vision for your trip and your budget, the options unfold fairly easily. I definitely think that you shouldn't miss the Greater Kruger area, be it private reserves that abut Kruger or Kruger National Park itself! You didn't indicate when you are thinking of traveling. That certainly would help further a discussion.

    Hope this is of help!

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    I was happiest spending a minimum of four nights per lodge. Until i found my favorite camp (after multiple trips). Now I'm happy to spend two weeks at a single destination.

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    oh wow, thanks everyone, this is so helpful. Femi - courious - what is your favorite camp?

    and thanks all for your patience with my spelling (yes, I meant Port Elizabeth - I tend to do these posts late at night when my brain is fried and I'm too lazy to go get the guide book and look up the proper spelling (I almost said smelling there lol).

    We are looking at coming for a little over 2 weeks towards the end of Feb or beginning of March. A bit depends on airlines as we are using frequent flyer miles. I'm also concerned that the camps and/or lodges might be booked already - have we left it too late? and is that when South Africa is on summer holidays? Still getting my head around different hemispheres!

    What I was thinking today was:
    3 nights Capetown
    5 nights Garden route including a safari
    3 nights Addo Elephant park
    3 nights Durban/kwazulu natal
    3 nights Johanasburg

    (I was trying to work with a logical geographic progression rather than zipping here and there)

    how would you amend that? thanks

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    Too much in too short a time. You'll be zipping. Pick 2-3 destinations, not 5. FF flights are difficult! Since flights (coach) are under $1000 from NY, I don't bother any more. If using OneWorld miles, coach flights through LHR are a huge ripoff. Book flights and then firm up your plans.

    I love the game reserves in KZN and there's tons of other stuff to do. I spend a lot of time there and keep finding more fun stuff. Some lodges might be selling out but that's not high season so be flexible and you'll find nice places.

    I like Johannesburg a lot but 3 nights might be too long. You can google school holidays but Easter is the same as here.

    Even at my favorite reserves, 2 weeks would be WAY too long. Maybe because we only go for 2-3 weeks total at a time. But then I've decided to move to KZN because I love it so. Best of all worlds - oceanfront, a few hours from nice public and private game reserves and within a day drive to Kruger! Now 2 weeks in Kruger or Kgalagadi on a self drive would be great. :)

    Share a budget and we can help with lodges. No need to break the bank unless you choose to.

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    Hi lauramsgarden!

    As long as you are set on the areas that you have listed above, I'd perhaps consider a few changes as follows:

    I recommend that you do 4 nights in Cape Town. Three nights will only give you 2 full days. You will either arrive too late into Cape Town to accomplish any touring that day and you might feel a little jet lag or BOTH. Chances are that you will want a headstart on your next destination so your departure day shouldn't be necessarily included either as a day to do anything. So 3 nights or 2 full days might not be enough. You haven't indicated though what you want to do but I would still perhaps suggest 4 nights which would give you 3 full days.

    Were you planning on renting a car and driving from Cape Town up the Garden Route. Perhaps you might instead consider flying from Cape Town to George on the Garden Route. It's an inexpensive flight and you can rent a car from there and explore the wonders of the Garden Route from Knysna to Plett Bay and more! Just an idea. Still not exactly sure what sights you are interested in and whether you are self-driving.

    Lastly, I would perhaps only do 2 nights Johannesburg and put that extra night into KZN area for safari etc. Your flight to JNB will most likely get you into JNB too late to do anything on that day. Your next day could be spent on a guided full day CIty Tour. Having said that, some clients like to see Cradle of Humankind and the Lesedi Cultural Village. If that's of interest, then that would be a 2nd day and 3 nights is what you'd need. If your flight back home is in the evening, you might be able to do day of touring and then head to the airport in time for your flight.

    Just a few thoughts...

    Happy to help!

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