South Africa is home to more than 20 National Parks, and as such is one of the best destinations in the world for those wanting to get up close and personal with the wonders of nature.
With flights to Johannesburg available at really reasonable prices, now is a great time to start planning the trip of a lifetime to discover the delights of South Africa and its unique environment.
South Africa’s Top National Parks
1. Kruger National Park – covering almost two million hectares of the country, the Kruger National Park is internationally recognised as one of the best attractions of its kind.
Established in 1898, the park is home to an exciting array of flora and fauna including the “Big Five", a collection of species whose existence were threatened after being targeted by game hunters wanting to secure the kudos of a difficult kill.
These species – the Lion, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and Rhinoceros – can all be seen thriving in their natural habitat on one of the many safari tours available in the area.
2. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – sitting, as its name suggests, on the border between South Africa and Botswana, the Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park is an exceptional example of a cross border conservation area. The park which is set in the arid Kalahari, offers excellent opportunities for mammal spotting with chances to see wildebeest, springbok and eland among other animals.
3. Table Mountain National Park – just outside Cape Town, the Table Mountain National Park sits in the shadow of this iconic landmark and its richly diverse ecological environment. The Boulders Penguin Colony is one sight not to be missed.
4. Addo Elephant National Park – this is the third largest National Park area in South Africa, and was founded in the 1930s with a population of just 16 elephants in place. The 180,000 hectare site now houses around 550 of these magnificent beasts in a protected eco system also inhabited by lions, hyenas and leopards.
5. Marakele National Park – nestled in the Waterberg Mountains the name Marakele means a place of refuge and this park offers sanctuary to a selection of wildlife. Visitors can enjoy stunning mountain vistas while searching for species including leopards, cheetah, black and white Rhino. The park is also home to reintroduced wild dogs as well as chacma baboons and vervet monkeys.
6. Mapungubwe National Park – on the banks of the Limpopo River, this park is a World Heritage site offering big game, bird and reptile spotting.
7. Golden Gate Highlands National Park – situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountain range this park offers access to animals that enjoy a highland habitat including wildebeest, springbok and zebra as well as some rare birds such as the bald ibis.
8. Augrabies Falls National Park – With a name meaning place of great noise, Augrabies Falls certainly lives up to its name when the Orange River floods causing a spectacular cascade over the 56m drop in the park’s heart. As well as the falls themselves the area offers opportunities to see all sorts of animals – from giraffe to gemsbok.
9. Garden Route National Park – a coastal park on the Southern Cape, this area is home to some amazing wildflower fields as well as offering opportunities for dolphin, porpoise and sea bird spotting. The Garden Route National Park encompasses a variety of well-known locations such as Tsitsikamma, Wilderness and the Knysna National Lake Area.
10. Mountain Zebra National Park – home to around 350 of these spectacular striped beasts, the Mountain Zebra National Park spans the plains and valleys of the Bankberg Mountains.