Veld Condition

If you are serious about finding animals then you need to take the veld condition into account when deciding on which park to visit and when.

Whether you just want to watch the animals or photograph them if you cannot find them you won't be able to do either, so here is our advice...

Veld Condition - The Kruger National Park and the Pilanesberg

Both these parks are very similar as the vegetation gets very dense in most areas.

We have found the winter months (June to October) to be the best time to visit the Pilanesberg as the vegetation has thinned out and visibility improves.

Many people say that the winter months are also the best time to visit the Kruger yet we have had good viewing in all four seasons. (If you follow the advice we have provided on the other pages under Game Viewing Tips you will find animals even in the summer months).

Check out our Kruger trip report where we went in December, one of the hottest months with the thickest bush, yet we saw the super-seven in four days!

The super-seven animals are simply the big-5 plus cheetah and wild dog.

Veld fires should also be taken into account when visiting these parks, especially the Kruger and Pilanesberg.

In this photograph taken in May 2009 between Orpen and Satara camps in the Kruger, you can see how the fire has burnt up the vegetation...

...but in just seven months it is lush and green again…

There is also a burn season in most parks where certain patches of grassland are burnt. These fires are managed using the 'patch mosaic' fire philosophy where the fires are ignited only at selected areas creating a natural patch mosaic of burnt and unburned patches.

In addition to these controlled fires, lightning fires occur in the rainy season and parts of each park can be heavily burnt, as happened in the Pilanesberg in 2007 where over 50% of the park was burnt. Many people then decided not to visit the pilanesberg yet this is when you can see the animals clearly and get some good photographs, such as these lions...

...notice how the lions stand out against the black backdrop of burnt grass and how there is minimal leaves to obscure your vision – ideal conditions for finding and photographing game!

If we are in one of the parks and we know there is a fire we head straight for this area as we know the veld condition will be good for visibility and photography.

Veld Condition - The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Etosha

These two parks are very similar as they are deserts. The vegetation is sparse and there are many open plains so finding animals is quite easy.

Both of these parks are great for photographers as the veld condition does not change dramatically from season to season.

Our favorite months in the Kalahari are December to April as the predators are most active then and you have the bonus of wild flowers blooming so adding interest to your photographs. December to February can be very hot so we prefer March or April.

We have found the cooler late winter and spring months (August to November) to be the best for Etosha as the animals are forced to come to the waterholes and the predators follow them. In summer Etosha is great for birding as the pan fills up and you have thousands upon thousands of water birds arriving.

Veld Condition - Madikwe

Madikwe is unique as it is located in the transition zone between the dry west and wet east of South Africa so has a combination of flora and fauna. For example, you will find both springboks and impala and you will find both types of devil's claw flowers - with the large and small seed.

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