18 October 2018
The culturally and environmentally diverse landscape of South Africa is the ultimate holiday destination for adventurous travellers. The untamed wilderness on offer here is something that lures visitors every year looking for that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Home to the 'Big Five' of African wildlife (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino), along with thousands of other species of plants and animals, big game safaris in nature reserves like Kruger Park and Hluhluwe National Park remain among the most popular activities in South Africa. If you’re looking to come face-to-face with such magnificent animals in their natural habitat, South Africa is the place to do this. Bring your camera, binoculars and the expectation of wildlife encounters!
Aldo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape
If you’re in love with Elephants, then this is the place for you. Rated as one of the best places in Africa to get up close with these gentle giants, this paradise also has a huge diversity of animals and natural vegetation. Home to land-based animals such as buffaloes, lions, leopards and rhinos, as well as sea-dwelling animals like Great White sharks and Southern Right whales, this means that Addo is one of the few reserves in the world that has all of the Big Seven!
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is South Africa's oldest, largest and best-known wildlife conservation area, home to a huge variety of wildlife and most famous for its 'Big Five' viewing opportunities. You’ll have an excellent chance of seeing lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino among the enormous variety of wildlife, including over 140 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Situated on South Africa's northeastern border, Kruger is a visited by more than half a million people every year who are attracted by the different safari options as well as the park's excellent range of visitor facilities and choice of accommodation, from luxurious game lodges to cottages and camping.
Kruger is a year-round destination, but the game viewing is at its best in the winter months, between June and August. The park’s landscapes are most beautiful in summer but the heat can make it more difficult to spot the animals resting in the shade.
Garden Route National Park
To experience all that this region has to offer – adventure, hiking, loafing on beaches, paddling in silver lakes – you’d need a lifetime! Tall cliffs plunge in dramatic ravines and forests merge with rocky beaches in this diverse Park. Look out for inquisitive vervet monkeys, watchful genets, blue duiker, bush pig, Cape clawless otters, and if you're very lucky, leopard. The water-based life of the Park is just as rich - lagoons and strings of shining lakes begging to be explored by canoe.
This a daring new experiment in conservation; a mosaic of protected areas sprawled along the country's south-eastern coast have been gathered under one management plan. They include the peerless Tsitsikamma National Park, Wilderness National Park and linking them, the Knysna National Lake Area, Soetkraal Wilderness and Conservation Area, and the Robberg and Goukamma Nature Reserves. No two people will experience this Park the same.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Among South Africa’s largest game reseves, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a safe haven for endangered black and white rhino, along with the rest of the Big Five, making it one of the best places in the country to see these fantastic animals.
Elephant are plentiful here and many people who visit the park rate a close encounter with the world’s largest land animal on a reserve road or at a waterhole at twilight as a highlight of their adventure.
Well-disguised viewing hides overlook pans and waterholes where birds and animals gather, so you'll be able to see plenty game at an unusually close range.
Photographers are spoilt for choice as the reserve also has cheetah, hippo, hyena, jackal, giraffe and wild dog. Keep your eyes peeled for scaly and shelled denizens of the reserve too, such as crocodile, tortoise, terrapin, snake and lizard.
Augrabies Falls National Park
With an other-worldly feel to it, The Augrabies Falls National Park is punctuated by solitary quiver trees, rocky outcrops and rock formations. The Park follows the course of the mighty Orange Riverfrom just outside Kakamas to the Namibian border, spanning more than 800km². Listen as it thinders its way through the park cascading powerfully down the 56m Augrabies Falls. Take in the spectacular views from the three viewpoints in the park: Oranjekom, Ararat and Echo Corner, all of which overlook the river and gorge. Echo Corner, as its name suggests, also has the distinction of producing resounding eerie echoes.
Expect to see springbok, gemsbok, kudu, klipspringer, African wild cat, spotted genet and giraffe – many of which are more active at night. Leopard also prowl the park, although sightings of these elusive cats are rare. The Park also has a substantial bird population that includes several raptor species and breeding pairs of Verreaux's eagles (previously known as black eagles).
This is just a taste of what South Africa has to offer those who visit. If you'd like to find out more or explore South Africa's diverse and spectacular National Parks, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor today to discuss your options and create a bespoke itinerary.