As a South African living abroad, one of the things you’re likely to miss most is the bushveld but if a sunrise safari was part of your travel plans this year, you don’t have to skip it just because it’s not advisable to travel internationally for the foreseeable future. What are we talking about? Taking a virtual safari. That’s right. Even though you’re stuck at home, you can still pack a flask, bundle up in warm clothes and enjoy a game drive in the wilderness. In fact, you could even do it every day. More than once a day! Why? Because there’s nothing like the sights and sounds of the African bush to soothe the psyche, so let’s check out some of the best augmented reality safari experiences together.
Virtual Safari Tour South Africa
Homesick for the South African Bush? Take a Virtual Safari
Top 3 Virtual Safari Tours in South Africa for you to discover online
What do we do when we can’t get outdoors to the bush? We bring the bush indoors to us! With Covid-19 travel restrictions, everyone has been forced to be creative when it comes to how they enjoy the activities they love the most. Bush safaris are no different.
Safari tour operators took their game drive offering to the next level during lockdown, broadcasting their safaris live online – offering people a chance to be tourists from the comfort (and safety) of their Internet connections.
So if you’re hungry for a taste of the bush, here are some of the best South African virtual safari tours we’ve put together for your digital consumption.
1. Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge
Fancy a safari in a two-billion-year old volcano? You’ve found it! Kwa Maritane, means “Place of the Rock,” and it occupies an unparalleled position on the slopes of an ancient volcano within Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa. This park is the unlikely meeting place of two major biomes that brings together the Kalahari desert with the lowveld habitat. This unique pairing of habitats offers the opportunity to spot more than 7,000 animals and more than 360 different bird species.
This region is also home to the Big Five, as well as nearly all of the animal species native to southern Africa including wild dog, Roan, Tsessebe, Sable antelope and giraffes. With more than 290km of road in the park, it’s guaranteed that no two virtual safaris you take will be the same!
2. Tembe Elephant Park
It’s been around since 1983 and it’s best known for having over 200 of the world’s largest elephants. Home to one of the last remaining indigenous herds, there are even a few grand old tuskers (which means their tusks weigh more than 45kgs each!) at Tembe Elephant Park in KwaZulu Natal. Tembe is situated on 30,000 hectares of land which belongs to the Tembe tribe – the ancestral custodians of the region. The chief, Nkosi Mzimba Tembe donated the land for the purpose of wildlife conservation.
While this reserve specialises in elephant conservation and sightings, Tembe is also home to the Big Five and 340 bird species, all living in three key ecosystems – savanna, sand forest, and swamp. What can you look forward to seeing here? Elephants and lions aplenty, plus the opportunity to spot African wild dogs, the rare suni, rhinos, leopards, and vultures.
3. AndBeyond Safari
For a completely interactive experience, you can live stream three-hour long sunrise or sunset game drives from &BEYOND Ngala Private Game Reserve, &BEYOND Phinda Private Game Reserve. Get deeper into the experience of interacting with tour guides by making the most of the opportunity to ask questions on YouTube or via #wildearth on Twitter.
Ngala Private Game Reserve:
- Shares an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park and was the first private game reserve to be incorporated into the Kruger.
- Virtual safari sighting opportunities include breeding herds of elephant, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe, large buffalo herds, white rhino and several large lion prides.
Phinda Private Game Reserve:
- 28 555 hectares of protected wildlife land in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
- Home to Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) plus 436 bird species.
- Known for close-up sightings of the elusive cheetah and the rare black rhino.
- Contains seven distinct habitats; woodland, grassland, wetland and forest to name a few, interspersed with mountain ranges, rivers, marshes and pans, including 1 000 hectares of African dry sand forest.
Other great virtual African safari experiences you should check out if you need a nature-fix:
- The African Animals Watering Hole camera in Kenya: Streaming all day so you can watch the elephants, hippos, giraffes, Grevy’s zebras, gazelles, crocodiles and leopards all come for a drink or a dip.
- GRACE Gorilla Forest Corridor in North Kivu, DRC: The corridor connects the gorillas’ sleeping quarters with the DRC forest habitat at GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center). The best kind of reality TV, you’ll be able to watch the daily lives of these protected Grauer’s gorillas as they come and go from the forest.
- Orpen in Kruger: Uninterrupted hours of peaceful virtual safari sightings at this secluded watering hole in the Kruger National Park. You’re likely to see kudu, impala, elephant, cheetah, lions, jackals, wildebeest, zebra, giraffes and more.
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