Epic Africa Travel Accommodation & Safari

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South Africa Travel Tips: Budget Self-Drive Safari

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It’s been a while since I’ve been asked about the “poor man’s game drive” but this week it happened. A university student from Grahamstown in South Africa’s Eastern Cape wanted to surprise his girlfriend for her birthday. She loves safaris and wildlife but he couldn’t afford to stay in a private safari reserve so he asked for a few travel tips on budget self-drive safaris.

We love sweet gestures like this and decided to help. This area of the Eastern Cape has so many game and nature reserves that one can sometimes see the Big 5 when going for a drive on a Sunday afternoon! OK, I admit that it doesn’t happen every time but you can often get lucky.

His timing was excellent as the South African National Parks (SANParks) week is coming up and this means that all South African residents get free entrance to all national parks between 12 – 16 September. This includes free entry to the Big 5 Addo Elephant National Park too.

You can bring your wood and picnic to the Addo Elephant National Park and have a lekker braai in the Main Camp or in Jack’s picnic site. You’ll get a map when you enter the park so you can navigate your way through the park. There are over 650 elephants in this park! If you are lucky you may also see the rare aardvark (as I did last week) in the southern section of the park or the lions which often hang out there.

The beautiful picture of the aardvark was taken by Addo game guru Ayesha Cantor. I was too excited when I saw the aardvark to keep my camera steady! You can see more stunning wildlife images on her blog  Africa, this is why I live here.

Alternatively, these are great public roads where you may also spot the Big 5 and other wildlife. These are known as the “Poor man’s game drives.” We hope you have a great time!

  • From Grahamstown start on the N2 and drive towards Port Elizabeth. You’ll pass a number of private game reserves on both sides of the road.
  • Take the R342 to Paterson (dirt road between Amakhala and Shamwari).
  • In Paterson cross the N10 towards Addo. Lenmore is a great stop for lunch.
  • Just passed the turn of to the R336 and before Addo town turn left (Addo Heights road) and drive back to the N10 and N2. Nanaga is also a good place to stop for lunch.
  • On the N2 turn right onto the Karel Landman road (public road in Amakhala) to the R72. (Don’t forget to stop at the Voortrekker monument.).
  • Turn left onto the R72 towards Port Alfred.
  • Take the R343 to Grahamstown and after about 10 km take the dirt road to the right, in between Sibuya and Kariega Game Reserve.
  • Make your way back to Grahamstown.

We love to share our expertise and passion for travel and safaris in southern Africa. Get in touch with us to book your holiday.

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