If your idea of a safari is sleeping in a cramped tent trying to swipe away those pesky mosquitoes then you are doing it all wrong.
There are private game reserves dotted around South Africa, some of them very affordable, that combine a luxury experience with the chance to see elephants, lions and hippos up close and personal.
Gondwana Game Reserve outside Mossel Bay - on the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth - is the perfect spot to spend a couple of days unwinding while doing as many game drives as you feel like.
The African-style Kwena huts (thankfully with all modern comforts) are right in the middle of the reserve; so you might open your curtains in the morning to find elephants outside your door. A couple of days prior to our arrival, a pair of elephants has been seen drinking from the infinity swimming pool.
Set in 11,000 hectares of sustainably-managed African shrubland with all of the “big five” in residence (although leopards are notoriously hard to spot) you can see hippos wallowing in their mud pools and also enjoy watching endangered species like the black rhinoceros.
During our two-day stay we came within a few feet of a pair of lions that had just killed a kudu and were fat from their feast, and got nuzzled in our open-top jeep by a couple of curious elephants.
These are experiences of a lifetime – and our guides were all terrifically informative and helpful, particularly one going by the most unlikely name of Delicious.
Gondwana Game Reserve: +27 44 697 7077. www.gondwanagr.co.za.