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South Africa:

Is there any place safe?

Black rhinoceros

Strangely enough, the safest place to be in South Africa is in a game park surrounded by wild animals. It certainly is safer than walking the streets of Johannesburg. The real danger to a traveller in South Africa is not from wild animals, but from the people. So, the most harmless way to immerse yourself in the beauty of South Africa is to head directly to the nearest game park.

Edeni, Kruger, and Mkuzi are three of the many game parks in this stunning country. They offer different terrain, animals, and game park experiences.

Edeni private game reserve is 32.8 square miles and straddles four rivers. The place teems with an abundance of wildlife, birdlife, and diverse dense vegetation, which provides the perfect habitat for the most secretive of Africa's large cats, the leopard. Edeni offers a variety of accommodations options from, South Africa's version of luxury 5 star, to simpler tented camps. It is possible (and recommended) to fly to Hoedspruit and transfer from the airport to the park.

Kruger National Park is massive at 7,332 square miles. It extends 220 miles from north to south and 40 miles from east to west. Kruger has many accommodation options from well-appointed campsites to luxury lodgings. Because of its size your chances of seeing the Big Five increases with a visit to Kruger. Coined by big-game hunters the phrase Big Five refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. Most wildlife guides that discuss African safaris still use the term, but less destructive camera-toting tourists have mostly replaced big game hunters these days. The five animals in question are the lion, African bush elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and black rhinoceros.

Video from Kruger

Mkuze KwaZulu-Natal game reserve is 154 square miles, has 62 miles of tourist roads for game viewing, and is a World Heritage site. The accommodation options are basic, but adequate. Mkuze is the place to spot the black rhinoceros. If you have missed them at the other parks, you will most likely encounter them at Mkuze. The park is renowned as a mecca for bird lovers with more than 420 bird species on record.

South Africa is well worth a visit and you will be relatively safe as long as you keep in mind where the real danger lies. You do not get to be the dominant species by being mister nice-guy.


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