12 great bush breaks for the December holidays

Posted on 13 August 2013

The bush is a definite winner for a summer holiday destination. However, how you experience it is entirely up to you. Maybe you prefer to leave the roughing-it-up part to the youngsters, preferring the luxury side of travel, or maybe 4x4ing and overlanding is right up your alley. Whatever makes you tick, we want to make sure you experience the bush your way. Here’s our pick of the best bush packages for the summer holidays.

1. Mobile camping in Botswana

The Savute and Chobe will come alive with the melodic notes of the fiery-necked nightjar calling, the guttural roar of lion on the hunt and the buzz of cicadas during the day as you weave your way by mokoro, boat and 4×4 in search of the animals and birds of the Botswana delta. Summer, or better known as the green season, is a great time to travel to this wilderness area. You’ll encounter fewer tourists, see a staggering amount of game, camp in prime bush and to top it all off you’ll pay out-of-season rates. A minimum of six people is required for this trip, so it’s best to round up a group of friends or family to join you. Besides, this is one trip best enjoyed in the company of others.

Cost: R9 750 a person sharing including all camping equipment, guides, three prepared meals daily, mokoro trip, boat cruise, transport in 4×4’s, entry and camping fees

Click here to book your spot on this 7-day Botswana safari

2. Nature break at Amafu

2. Nature break at Amafu, bush holiday, southern africa

Take a scenic drive along the Panorama Route and onto Amafu Forest Lodge in Mpumalanga bordering the Blyde River Canyon. Once you arrive in the land of bush, mountains and spectacular scenery you’ll be asking yourself, why didn’t I do this sooner? The area is what I call true bushveld where the smell of potato bush fragrances the air, the call of nightjars put you to sleep and fresh mountain air awakens your body. The lodge is situated in easy driving distance to the Kruger National Park, Hoedspruit and Swadini and offers an affordable holiday for families and couples. You can spend five nights on a family package for four in a self-catering cottage or as a couple in one of the super luxury tents located at the back of the property.

Cost: R5 175 a person sharing which includes five nights accommodation, activities which include one boat ride on the Blydepoort Dam, a picnic on Mariepskop, a half-day white water rafting, one educational tour to Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, a walk to the Kadishi Tufa Waterfall and a visit to the Bombyx Mori Silk Farm. A Kapama night drive can be booked at an additional R350 a person.

Click here to book an Amafu Forest Lodge break

3. Slackpacking at Bucklands

3. Slackpacking at Bucklands, bush holiday, southern africa

For those of us that don’t fancy lugging heavy backpacks on a hike, filled with everything including the kitchen sink, then slackpacking is the way to go. Hikers carry day packs and walk easy distances each day without having to worry about pitching a tent in the rain or preparing an edible meal out of bully beef and mash (been there done that). Staff will prepare tasty meals and transport your luggage to the comfy lodges, freeing you up to make the most of the outdoors. The four-day slackpacking trail in the Bucklands Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, takes you along the Great Fish River, to the San Art and fossils on the reserve and through grassland and bush.

Cost: R3 000 a person sharing including three nights accommodation, all meals, guided hiking, welcome drink and tourism levy. You can also stay at the luxury tented camp or lodge for R1 500 per person sharing per night including two activities per day (including a game drive or walking safari), early morning tea, brunch, high tea, game drive snacks and a three-course dinner.

Contact: Tel 072-736-3681, [email protected], www.bucklandsreserve.co.za

4. Houseboating on Kariba

4. Houseboating in Kariba, bush holiday, southern africa

One of the best summer vacations you’ll have is spending time aboard a houseboat on the calm waters of Lake Kariba in the Zambezi Valley. You can float around one of the most scenic areas in Africa without even being at the helm. Your guides will cruise to the best spots, prepare all your meals and assist on deck, freeing you up to claim some much deserved relaxation time. There’s something for everyone including bream and tiger fishing at Senkwe, taking the tender boat out in search of game and birds, unwinding in the jacuzzi or sunbathing on deck. A refreshing breeze and cold beer from the fridge will cool things down as you watch elephants, hippo and even lion transform into silhouettes against a fiery orange-red sunset.

Cost: R7 500 a person sharing (based on 10 people) including all accommodation, limited house wines, beers, soft drinks and water, activities, fuel and guides.

Click here to book your Lake Kariba Houseboat

5. Lake and legends in Mkuze

5. Lake and legends in Mkuzu, bush holiday, southern africa

The Elephant Coast is a wildlife mecca that has everything from mangroves to riverine bush, making it one of my favourite spots to see game and the Big 5. Ghost Mountain Inn offers a hive of activities led by informative and quirky guides that make use of this incredible diversity. Watch pods of hippo blowing bubbles on a Lake Jozini boat cruise, walk under the canopy of giant sycamore figs on the Mkuze Fig Forest Walk or visit the oldest game park in Africa, Hluhluwe for a day game drive. A comfortable 5-hour drive from Jo’burg and 2 hours from Durbs, Ghost Mountain Inn has it all: the Big 5, stunning scenery and one or two legends to keep you on your toes.

Cost: Spend three nights in a standard room with delicious breakfast daily and two dinners for R1 890 a person sharing.
Click here to book at Ghost Mountain Inn

6. Backpacking the Olifants

6. Backpacking the Olifants, bush holiday, southern africa

Doing a wilderness trail in Kruger National Park has to be one of the best experiences I’ve had in the bush. The Bushmans, Nyalaland and Wolhuter trails have allowed me to get up close to game on foot and learn about topics such as tracking, ecology and animal behavior. Although these trails are for almost anyone, there are two popular backpacking trails for the more energetic: the Olifants River and Mphongolo trails. A more recent addition is the Lone Bull Trail, which takes place in the wilderness area near Letaba. You’ll carry all your own food, cooking and sleeping equipment, picking remote spots to camp along the way. The four-day, three-night trails will take you along rivers, through bush and are led my experienced rangers. For raw, unadulterated bush, these trails are a must.

Cost: R2 050 a person sharing for the Olifants River, Mphongolo and Lone Bull Trails and R3 900 a person sharing for the three-night accommodated and catered wilderness trails.

Contact: Tel 012-426-5117, [email protected], www.sanparks.org

7. Bush package at Qambathi

7. Bush package at Qambathi, bush holiday, southern africa

There are some things in life that you have to share. Staying at Qambathi Mountain Lodge in the southern Drakensberg is one of them. Gourmet cuisine, views of the Kamberg Valley, an abundance of wildlife and welcoming hosts beckon you to your 5-day bliss-infused break. Take a trip to the Bushmen Rock Art Centre, hike to the forest waterfall or tick a few more birds of your list.

Cost: Pay for four nights and stay for five for just R5 540 per person sharing, which includes gourmet three-course dinners, scrumptious breakfasts, one game drive and a picnic lunch on the forest deck.

Click here to book at Qambathi Mountain Lodge

8. Off-road in Zambia

Considered one of the remote corners of the world, Zambia sets the scene for an epic bush experience. Witness the annual wildebeest migration that takes place on the Luiwa Plains in the west of the country during November or head to the heart of the Luangwa Valley where flocks of crowned cranes grace the landscape and lazy hippos line the riverbanks. Your experienced guide will ensure that you don’t miss the action, finding the best game-viewing and camping spots for the group. This expedition is packed full of outdoor adventure: navigating your 4×4 through thick sand, pitching camp, cooking on an open fire and getting active on a horse safari, game walk or mokoro trip. Plenty of chill time will ensure that your summer holiday in the bush returns you home rejuvenated.

Cost: R7 500 a person for the 13-day Luiwa Plains expedition (5-17 Nov 2013) and R11 500 for the 19-day Zambia with Zest (22 Aug-11 Sep 2013) self-drive safari including guide, camping and park entrance fees.

Click here to enquire now

9. 4×4 safari in Kruger

One way to broaden your ‘bush horizon’ is to drive to remoter parts of nature using a 4×4. Getting off the beaten track in the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga will allow you to find secluded and wilder bushveld that is often not accessible to normal vehicles. The Lebombo eco-trail is a relaxed route that will allow you ample time to stop and look at game, take photos and get an overall bush experience along the Lebombo Hills from south to north. Shorts, binos and beers will be a prerequisite for this summer outdoor adventure. Your experienced guide will teach you about the fauna and flora of the area and lead you on this 5-day wilderness trail.

Cost: R8 600 per vehicle (maximum of 4 people per vehicle). Guests will need to provide their own camping equipment and food.

Contact: Tel 012-426-5117, [email protected], www.sanparks.org

10. Camping in Namibia

10. Camping in Namibia, bush holiday, southern africa

Spend your days outdoors and your nights around crackling fires cooking up a tasty meal. After braaiing a few mashmallows, retire to your tent and sleep to the sounds of the bush. This tour will take you to some of the most scenic landscapes in southern Africa. You’ll get to pitch your tent along the mighty Orange River, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park and in the wild Etosha National Park. Get into the ‘thick of things’ canoeing the Fish River Canyon waters, hiking the dunes of Sossusvlei and climbing the mountains at Spitzkoppe.

This 12-day adventure will allow you to see the depth and breath of Namibia and allow you to get back in touch with nature, whilst sharing the experience with others.


Cost: R9 400 a person sharing which includes all transport, meals, guides, camping, activities and park fees. The tour starts from Cape Town and ends in Windhoek.

Click here to book your 12-day best of Namibia tour

11. Photo weekend in Chobe

11. Photo weekend in Chobe, bush holiday, southern africa

This package is sure to be a highlight on your summer calendar. Fine-tune your photography skills by using the latest camera equipment and be instructed by a top wildlife photographer in Chobe, Botswana in just one weekend. The bush is teeming with top-notch game from crocs, hippos, elephants through to the big cats. You’ll have your own window seat and you get to take your image card home at the end of it. All-in-all it makes for a great bush weekend away.

Cost: R8 796 a person sharing including transfers, dinner and breakfast, 3 nights accommodation at Mowana 4-star lodge, photographic equipment, four game activities on a boat or vehicle, daily workshops by an expert photographer, refreshments and park fees.

Click here to book your 3-day weekender Chobe photo safari

12. Overlanding East Africa

12. Overlanding East Africa, bush holiday, southern africa

This is truly one of the most affordable ways to travel and you don’t have to pay the earth to see incredible destinations like the Serengeti, South Luangwa National Park and Lake Malawi. You will have the opportunity to meet like-minded travelers, see spectacular African bush and participate in a host of activities en-route.

Spend 21 days overlanding East Africa, an amazing trip, which includes viewing spectacular wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater, spotting birds at Lake Manyara and overnighting in a local Masai hut.

Cost: R15 900 a person sharing (camping), which includes activities. The tour starts in Victoria Falls and ends in Nairobi and includes meals, two guides, transport, park fees and activities.

Click here to book your 21-day East African adventure

Check out more bush packages here at getaway.co.za/travel


Seasonal Holidays in South Africa

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