Hi everyone, it’s Shannon and I have just returned from an 18 night trip to South Africa and Kenya. It is not a combination that many people do when traveling to Africa. But I have to say that the experiences were wildly different, so I thought I would give you some of my thoughts on the game experience and how they differ.
We spent five nights near the Kruger National Park in South Africa. We started in the Timbavati and ended in the Singita game concession within the park. Within the National Park, there are rules as to the type of vehicle you can ride in and which roads you can use to view game. If you stay in a lodge or camp within a private game concession, the rules are more lax. I would recommend a private game concession as you can off road and follow animals into the bush. In South Africa, you have a driver/guide and tracker. The tracker on the front of the vehicle has an excellent vantage point for finding animals. The vehicles are all open which makes it easier to see the game. We had lions and leopards walk right past our vehicle. You can be so close to them that you can hear them breathing. If you want to be able to see the Big 5 within the first few game drives, a game concession near Kruger is the way to go.
You may or may not know that there are such things as White Lions. Estimates are that only 13 exist in the world outside of captivity. In the last few years, Kruger National Park started seeing White Lions being born again. White Lions are not albinos as they do not have pink eyes, it is simply a recessive gene. In the Timbavati, there are two females and one male in the Singita concession in the Kruger National Park. I was lucky enough to see two!
Then we traveled to the Mara National Park in Kenya. Kenya also has private game conservancies outside the Mara, however, these conservancies work with the local Maasai villages. The land owners are paid rent from the camps that are a part of the conservancies. Additionally, the Maasai men with herds of sheep, cows and goats can allow their herds to graze on the land of the conservancy. It is a wonderful way to allow tourism to help the local communities. In Kenya, you will only have a driver and most vehicles will have a roof. Some vehicles have full sides and a pop up lid. You do have to work harder to find game in the Mara, however, you will get great viewings of cheetah and lion. The other thing that you will get is LARGE herds of animals together, like Zebra, Gazelles, Topis and Impala. The plains are wide open for viewing. AND the Mara is home to the wildebeest migration during July through October. And if you are lucky you can get a river crossing.
Both countries are wonderful for game viewing. And truly you can get so close to animals, you will never be able to look at a zoo the same way again. Give me a call if you want to chat further about experiences in Africa.