Is it safe to go on safari?

I don’t know how far outside of South Africa this news has spread, but perhaps you have heard of the lion attack that happened here a few weeks ago. An American woman visited The Lion Park outside Johannesburg and died from the injuries she sustained when a lion attacked.

So that no one will jump to the wrong conclusions and think that it’s dangerous to go on safari, I would like to explain the situation.

The Lion Park is sometimes called a game reserve, wildlife park, nature reserve and wildlife park. It’s really not much more than a glorified zoo. You can drive around in a small reserve and see lions, among other animals. “Super Close-Up Animal Views Guaranteed” it says on the website…

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Entrance to the Lion Park

The woman had her window fully open, just like the private guide she was there with. No one can miss the signs that are everywhere, clearly telling everyone in the park to always keep windows closed. So no matter how tragic it is, it’s their own fault.

Lions are wild and dangerous animals! But this is precisely where misconceptions can arise… How can you go on safari in an open safari vehicle if it’s so dangerous to have a window down?!?

These lions began their lives in the area of the lion park where you can pet the lion cubs. And no wonder that draws people, admit it – how many of you are not thrilled by the idea? I admit, we’ve been there and cuddled with these wonderfully cute little lion cubs. It was many, many years ago – before we knew better.

Because the question is what happens to these lion cubs when they have done their 3 months as cute cuddleable cubs. According to the website, they are sent to a farm near Hartebeespoort Dam where they are housed in large enclosures.

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Lion cub cuddles

The Lion Park also says that they do their utmost to ensure that their lions are not used in so-called “canned hunting”. They donate or sell the lions to reputable zoos or wildlife parks. If the lions are not sold, they stay at the farm until they die of natural causes.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how many lions are needed in zoos and wildlife parks and how many can they keep at the farm until they die of natural causes..? With the amount of lion cubs the Lion Park must have in a year, I’m not sure the equation adds up.

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The Kruger Park

But this wasn’t really what I meant to write about… The wrong conclusions that can be drawn is that it’s dangerous to go on safari in the bush in a game reserve on an open safari vehicle. Every day, tourists in southern Africa experience the magic of sitting in an open vehicle next to a flock of wild lions. And yet nothing ever happens.

Wild lions in areas like the Kruger Park are completely wild. They haven’t been handled by people, fed, petted or photographed with people. They don’t associate humans with food. They are completely wild and have a natural fear of humans.

They also have really big areas to move around in and can easily move on if they get irritated, something that the lions in the lion park can’t. They have no choice, they can’t escape …

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Lions in Lalibela Game Reserve

In a car, whether it is a normal car or a large open safari vehicle, you are also safe since the lions see the whole silhouette as a single unit. You are significantly bigger than the lions. So before heading out on safari your guide will explain to you that you may not stand up and break this silhouette. You may of course never leave your car if you drive on your own… And you should keep the noise level down and never disturb the animals, of course.

As long as you stick to the rules, you need not worry about being attacked by lions in the African bush.

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New regulations for travelling with children

It’s been about a year since South Africa changed its immigration regulations and the rules became stricter in terms of staying for longer periods in South Africa. The idea was that new rules for travelling with children would be imposed at the same time, but due to strong protests this was postponed.

But now it’s time, as from 1st of June 2015, these new stricter rules for travelling with children to and from South Africa will be introduced and these rules apply to all children under 18 years.

The following documentation must be produced when entering and leaving South Africa:

Parents travelling with a child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.

Single parent travelling with a child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
  • consent in the form of a Parental Consent Affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with.
  • a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child.
  • where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate.

Person travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
  • a Parental Consent Affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child.
  • copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
  • the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

Here you can download the Parental_Consent_Affidavit.

All documentation must be in English and in the original or certified copies.

We hope this information is helpful, but please double-check with the South African Embassy in your country to make sure that you have the latest information and that it is completely correct 

South Africa’s winelands

One of our favorite areas of ​​South Africa (yes, there are many of them!) is the winelands in the Western Cape, they have so much to offer. Picturesque vineyards, restored farms in Cape Dutch style, excellent wine routes, fynbos and majestic mountain ranges as a backdrop, the list goes on… Many of the towns and villages in the winelands have historical buildings and monuments that tell of the area’s rich history, and during a visit you will experience so much more than just wine.

Groot Constantia

Groot Constantia

South Africa also has its very own grape variety, Pinotage, which was created in 1924 when Professor Abraham Izak Perold crossed the two varieties Pinot Noir and Cinsault. The latter was called at the time the Hermitage in South Africa, which explains the name Pinotage. However, it took many years before Pinotage received the attention it deserves, the international breakthrough came in 1989.

Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek

Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek

How much time you spend in the area, depends a lot on how interested you are – or how much you like – wine 🙂 You can choose to visit the winelands during the day with your base in Cape Town – within a radius of 100 km there is so much to see and do.

Beautiful house in Cape Dutch style

Beautiful house in Cape Dutch style

If you want to concentrate on a smaller area, make your way to charming Stellenbosch, which is considered to produce the best range of wines with hundreds of vineyards, or Franschhoek, located in one of the world’s most beautiful wine valleys. Both are within a short driving distance from each other through the beautiful Helshoogte Pass.

Harvest time at Ormonde in Darling

Harvest time at Ormonde in Darling

You can also stay at one of the many beautiful guesthouses available here and also enjoy really good food. Franschhoek is such as South Africa’s “food and wine capital” – many of the country’s hundred best restaurants are here!

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Beautiful mountains as backdrop

You can also choose to have any of the winefarms as a base. Then you’ll stay at a winery where wine is produced and work is ongoing every day. They come in size large, as for example Spier, to size small as our favorite Temple Wines. Prices vary quite a bit…

Môreson outside of Franschhoek

Môreson outside of Franschhoek

For those of you who don’t want to be self-driving, there are excellent guided tours, both as full-day and half-day options, which provides transportation (even to and from Cape Town) in air-conditioned minibuses, wine tastings, cellar tours and time to discover areas on their own and much more.

Neethlingshof

Neethlingshof

Usually, when people talk about the winelands in South Africa, it is the areas around Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek that brought to mind. But there are so many other wine routes that all offer high-quality South African wines and beautiful scenery.

Boschendal

Boschendal

Please read more about all the wine regions in South Africa on our website Destination South Africa.

When is the best time to travel to South Africa?

There’s no easy answers to the question of when the best time is to visit South Africa, as all seasons have their positive and negative elements. It simply depends on what one is looking for and what one wants to do.

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Safari is good all year round, but the best time to travel is during winter and spring, say from May to October. There’s less vegetation, which makes it easier to spot the animals, and because it doesn’t rain, there’s less and less water available for the animals, so they seek out the watering holes.

Along the west coast we are each year treated to a great show, when the first rain of spring falls and transforms this dry and rather barren landscape into a fireworks of bright colours, when the ground is covered in flowers. It’s impossible to say when this annual flower parade will occur, but the safest bet is probably August – September.

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South Africa has a long coastline and both the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean offer wonderful adventures. Beach life is perfect in KwaZulu-Natal all through the year with warm and sunny conditions, even in the middle of winter. But if sun and sea is most important to you, you should travel between November and February.

From mid-June to November is the best time for whale watching and for scuba diving the period from April to September is the best choice for most coastal areas, except perhaps for the coast off Western Cape.

Diving with Great White Sharks is something that can be done all throughout the year, but the best time is during the winter months. From when the baby seals are born in November and through to March, there is so much “natural” food for the sharks that it’s more difficult to attract them to the boat, which reduces the chances to experience sharks up close.

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And if you don’t want to travel when all South Africans have their vacation you should avoid December and January.

In short – every season has something to offer and there are of course no bad time of the year to travel to South Africa!