South Africa is OPEN!

South Africa is OPEN!

By Katie Wolf @KatieWolfOutdoors


John X Safaris focuses on more than just the hunt. Their goal is to provide their clients with the complete safari experience. Relocating to Woodland Safari Estate in 2016, Carl van Zyl continues to grow his safari operation in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. With a total of three different camps all within driving distance, John X Safaris is able to offer prime hunting and quality animals. With twenty years of guiding experience, Carl now runs John X Safaris while his parents are semi-retired from the family operation. “I actively guide and run the company as the outfitter,” said Carl.

With a well diverse species list, John X Safaris encourages their clients to show up with a wish list of the animals they would like to pursue. “We want to hunt what is in front of us, put ourselves in great areas, and from there we can achieve our goals,” said Carl. In season, John X Safaris employs between 50 and 60 people between the three camps. Hunting begins in March and continues through the end of September.

However, John X Safaris does not restrict themselves to hunting only South Africa. “A lot of our hunters have come to know us, trust us, and want to hunt different countries in Africa,” said Carl. “Normally, we will hunt in Cameroon and in the Congo in the early part of the season. And then we will do our late season either in Mozambique or in Zambia or Zimbabwe from July onwards.”

For John X Safaris, like many safari operations, the 2020 hunting season came to a halt in mid March. “I think the main thing that was very difficult was we had to give our staff the assurance we would stick with them through thick and thin, but what we first had to do was go to our clients,” said Carl. “We needed them to stick with us so we could stick with our staff and with our wildlife.” The first month of the hunting season for John X Safaris consisted of realigning the strategy for the year and redoing budgets cutting everywhere possible to be able to keep their staff employed. “What amazed us was the generosity of our clients and their support, without them we would never have been able to get over the line,” said Carl.

John X Safaris chose to make the best of an unfortunate situation. With new found time, Carl and his staff turned their efforts to the upkeep of their camps. By improving the lodge, working on maintenance, improving the permanent water infrustructures, and focusing on anti poaching, Carl says they are ready for clients. In addition, Carl was able to make use of what he had. “I sat with way too many black wildebeest so we would capture black wildebeest and exchange them for new species,” said Carl.

Today, South Africa is open for international clients. “We will most certainly be open and ready for any arrivals,” said Carl. John X Safaris has taken the time to better their operation and is now ready to take on clients. To book with John X Safaris visit