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Yes, you can! Safari getaways for under R3K

A safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people, including South African’s who practically have the Big 5 at their doorsteps. Picture: Pixabay.

A safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people, including South African’s who practically have the Big 5 at their doorsteps. Picture: Pixabay.

Published Feb 21, 2022

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Nothing quite compares to the thrill of rattling over dirt roads in a 4X4 and taking in the sights, sounds, and scents of a bush coming to life on an early morning safari drive.

A safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people, including South African’s who practically have the Big 5 at their doorsteps. With costs extending beyond just the exquisite accommodation, all-inclusive cuisine, and wildlife excursions, they certainly don’t come cheap.

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Chief scientist of the National Wildlife Federation, Bruce A. Stein, explained in an interview with Travel+Leisure that a portion of the charge is often used to fund important animal and environmental protection projects. “Contributing to the preservation of these natural wonders helps guarantee that they will be sustained. And paying for a quality tour experience, which engages with and benefits local communities, helps to ensure that these places will continue to be available for other travellers to experience,” he said.

For South African’s looking to tick a bush adventure off their bucket lists, the self-proclaimed “safari-reviewer,” Mary-Jane Mphahlele (or @maryjaneexplores as she’s known to her nearly 30K Twitter followers), has put together a thread of affordable holidays under R3000 for a two-night stay. The Twitter thread shared on February 20 has already garnered over 13K likes, proving people are keen to head out to the bush on a budget.

Here are 8 South African safari stays under R3000, courtesy of a safari-enthusiast:

Leopard's Lair Bush Lodge

Visit: www.leopardslairbushlodge.co.za

A place to experience the Lowveld like never before. “Leopard's Lair Bush Lodge is situated in the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate and offers guests an exciting bushveld experience. @ R1570 (for) two nights,” said Mphahlele. The Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate is 400 hectares of beautifully maintained bushveld, with hiking and cycling trails, bird hides, and game drive routes, allowing you to enjoy the myriad natural treasures that thrive in the area. The Greater Kruger National Park is less than 1km from the resort, so you may hear lions roaring and hyenas screeching at night.

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Raptors Lodge

Visit: raptorslodge.co.za

Raptor’s Lodge is a luxurious, private, self-catering establishment. Mphahlele shared that she stayed here last year. “An absolute stunner! Raptor`s Lodge is situated on the border of Hoedspruit and 31.4 km from Orpan gate - Kruger National Park, offering an ideal self-catering getaway for safari enthusiasts at R2000 for two nights.” Each unit has two luxury bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and luxury outside showers, one room with a super king bed and the other with two single beds. They also offer a R1000 per night stay for one adult.

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Southern Sands Eco Lodge

Visit: www.instagram.com/southern_sands_ecolodge/

Glamorous camping, also referred to as ‘glamping’, describes a style of camping with at-home comforts and, in some instances, resort-style services not traditionally associated with camping. “There is something utterly enchanting and very 'real' about an African safari experienced 'under canvas' in a luxury safari tent. Southern Sands Eco tents offer the most affordable safari tents in SA at R1631 for two nights,” she said.

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Mountain View Safari Lodge

Visit: www.mountainviewsafarilodge.com

Mountain View has just two private camps within the stunning Ndlovumzi Nature Reserve., giving their guests a true sense of solitude and exclusivity. Both are totally solar-powered, have spectacular mountain views, and are surrounded by Lowveld bush with no fences.

Mphahlele had rave reviews to share with her followers: “I’d pay double the amount to stay here. Absolutely gorgeous! Mountain View Safari Lodge is a privately owned 21ha property within the stunning Ndlovumzi Nature Reserve. Ndlovumzi is situated deep in the African bush within the Olifant's river. @ R2850 for two nights.”

Moya Safari Villa

Visit: moyasafarivilla.co.za

Moya Luxury Bush Villa is situated in the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, close to the charming little town of Hoedspruit in South Africa's heartland. Commenting on the spacious lodging, Mphahlele said: “Flowing open-plan living and dining areas open out onto wooden decks with unsurpassed views of the African bush. @moyasafarivilla is Perfect base for visiting Kruger National Park, Panorama Scenic Route, Private Big 5 Open vehicle safaris, Big 5 walks at R2890 for two nights.”

Ndhula Luxury Tented Lodge

Visit: ndhula.co.za

Some bush retreats are more about peace and tranquillity than animal spotting. At Ndhula Tented Lodge, Mphahele said: “If you’re not so crazy about the big five, you can get to spot some wild animals on the property, excluding predators. @NdhulaLodge is located in White River and has a restaurant, a shared lounge, bar, garden. Rates start at R2071, including breakfast & dinner.” While on your stay, you can also enjoy more than their amazing views over the Lowveld, but fun activities like hiking, scenic drives and delicious picnics.

Muluwa Lodge

Visit: muluwa.co.za

Upon your arrival, the sounds and fragrances of the bush waft gently into a vast thatched restaurant through full-length glass sliding doors. An expansive wooden terrace leads down to a big Infinity Pool with unparalleled views of the Lowveld's rolling hills and valleys. Muluwa lodge offers superb African luxury and accommodation paired with their warm and genuine hospitality. “Another affordable stunner on the list.” Mphahlele shared that rates start from R2933 for two nights per person.

Kuwisa Lodge

Visit: kuwisa.co.za

Kuwisa Lodge is located in Bookenhoutplaats, Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, in the shadow of the beautiful Waterberg Mountains. Mabalingwe is malaria-free, unspoiled bushveld in the Bela-Bela district with undulating hills, stunning landscapes, dams, rich birdlife, and 36 kinds of wild animals, including the Big Five.

According to Mphahlele, photos don’t do this place justice as Kuwisa Lodge is one of the province’s jewels. “This is an ‘Out of Africa’ experience where you can escape to a luxurious privately owned bush lodge. Rates from R1695,” she shared, ending off the insightful thread.

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