There are a couple of options here when considering which areas to visit. Kruger National Park contains a number of world renowned safari lodges and it is often the first place you think of when looking at a safari in South Africa. If the safari is top of your list, this is the place to head to as it really is wonderful. However, it may cost a little more if heading here after Cape Town as it will usually involve another internal flight. It is also malarial which may not suit all travellers.
The other option is to visit one of the lodges at the end of the garden route where you can see the Big Five. You can reach these by car from Plettenberg Bay in 3 to 4 hours and you will not need to think about malarial protection here. A couple of lodges which we have our sights set on visiting are Pumba Game Reserve and Shamwari Game Reserve.
Shamwari is probably best known for being linked with the Born Free Foundation. At this reserve, you are put into groups of 6 to 10 people and assigned your own personal ranger who will plan a timetable with you. In between game drives (lasting 3 to 4 hours), you have the option to sample the spa, take a game walk, visit one of the two Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, the Rhino awareness Centre or take a dip in the pool.
You can also spot the Big Five at Pumba and in addition, its white lions which is probably what Pumba is best known for. This reserve also offers fishing, stargazing, archery, night safari drives, a spa and a gym. If you haven’t got the time to stay the night, Pumba offers day safaris which include a welcome drink, 2.5 hour game drive and lunch. We stayed here for 2 nights and loved every second and just wish we’d booked longer. We stayed at the Bush lodge but also visited the Water Lodge and loved them both. Our room really a huge thatched cottage with floor to ceiling glass windows, a warm outdoor shower (and a huge bathroom indoors) and a plunge pool. Our guide was incredible and spotted animals where we could only see savannah and he specialised in ornithology and so we got to hear and see some wonderful birds. I loved our little refreshments stops where we hopped out of the vehicles and stood on the land. A truly special experience at Pumba.