A vacation to Africa can be an experience of a lifetime. It can also be a daunting trip to plan. The continent’s monumental size and abundance of offerings can be difficult to condense into a short trip. How can you fit all of it in when you want to do it all?
Instead of trying to pack it all in, plan an escape to Africa with a singular focus in mind. For a first trip, a place like South Africa is the picture-perfect choice. Not only will focusing on one place make a trip like this more attainable, a South African safari will be one of the most memorable trips of your life. With awe-inspiring places and unrivalled diversity of life forms, landscapes and history, South Africa makes for a perfect African adventure.
The #1 Place to Visit in South Africa – Kruger National Park
The world-renowned Kruger National Park is a must-do for any trip to Africa. If you do nothing else, make sure you go to this magnificent place. The park, which borders Mozambique and Zimbabwe to the north, is home to over 350 species of animals, flora unique to the area, and landscapes that take your breath away.
Must-see in Kruger National Park – “The Big 5”
The “Big 5” in Africa refers to a lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. The group’s nickname stems from the reverence surrounding these animals, their ferocity, and the popularity they garnish from being the most sought after species to see when traveling on an African safari. So be on the look out: the ferocity of the lions, the speed of the leopards, the scarcity of the rhinos and outrageous size of the elephants and buffalos, seeing these rare beauties is on everyone’s bucket list.
In addition to the “Big 5″, you will also be surrounded by giraffes, zebras, monkeys and countless other wildlife. Seeking out these awe-inspiring animals will prove to be the scavenger hunt of a lifetime.
While you are on the lookout for the many animals you are bound to see, there are countless types of plants and flowers native to South Africa you should lookout for. Many of these plants share a rich history with the native population, have ancient medicinal uses, or bear delicious fruit packed with vitamins and nutrients. Keep an eye out for these favorites. You never know, it may inspire you to plant your own African inspired garden at home.
Staghorn Fern: You will see this highly cultivated plant throughout the bush growing harmlessly on tree trunks, branches, or rocks. The large flat leaves seem to spread like butter and engulf the area with a bold green color, making it a favorite amongst sightseers. Once very rare, these large tropical ferns are now popular ornamental plants in homes throughout the world. Seeing this lush staghorn fern in South Africa will enrich every landscape you encounter on your trip.
Baubab: The baobab tree is known as the “tree of life” and with good reason—it can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water animals and people alike. The cork-like bark and stems are often used for making high-quality cloth and fabric. The leaves are valued for their medicinal properties. The fruit, called “monkey bread”, is edible, full of vitamins, and is now listed as one of the elite “superfoods.” Baubab’s are the largest succulent in the world and a truly exceptional tree. You will recognize these beauties by their grandiose size and trademark look that is often associated with Africa.
Once you leave your safari, use your newfound inspiration and bring a little bit of South Africa home. No, you can’t bring a lion or elephant with you no matter how tempting that sounds. You can however, create a little bit of Africa in your house by growing your own staghorn ferns and other plants you saw on your trip!