South Africa is often referred to as “the world in one country”, for the great diversity of her people and her dramatic landscape. The country is richly endowed with 22 National Parks which cover over 37,000km sq, roughly 4% of the total land mass. The scenery is spectacular, the wildlife is thriving and the country has one of the most advanced tourist infrastructures in Africa, all just waiting for you to discover. Start your exploration in the world-famous Kruger National Park where large numbers of general game and all the Big Five are waiting to thrill you. Visit Sabi Sands for excellent Leopard encounters and then move south to the St. Lucia Wetlands for excellent birding and Turtle watching. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is the best place in Africa to see large numbers of Rhino in the wild today, while the wonderful Table Mountain National Park boasts some of the world’s most unusual plants and plenty of mischievous Baboons!
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The Kruger National Park is by far the most famous of the country’s National Parks and is one of the oldest and most-visited Parks in Africa. It occupies almost 20,000km sq and together with a string of private concessions along its unfenced western border forms the Greater Kruger Park Area. The game viewing is exceptional and this is one of the best places in South Africa to see the Big Five as well as Hyena, Wild Dog and a huge cross-section of other game. One of the adjoining Private Concession, the Sabi Sand Reserve, is hands-down the best place in the country to see the elusive Leopard.
The Addo Elephant National Park is adjacent to the coast and boasts no less than the Big Seven, including the Great White Shark and the Southern Right Whale which can be seen in the Marine Reserve. This Park is situated in a very scenic part of the country called the Garden Route for its verdant tree-clad mountains and coastal scenery.
For a complete change of scenery and habitat head for the huge Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park on the Botswana border, where the dramatic desert landscape competes for attention with the huge Black-maned Kalahari Lion and many other predators.
In addition to wonderful wildlife in her many National Parks, South Africa also boasts some pretty dramatic mountain landscapes. The Kwazulu-Natal province is dominated by the lofty Drakensberg Mountain range, so called for their resemblance to a Dragon’s undulating back. The National Park of the same name incorporated superb walking, hiking and climbing areas in an exceptionally beautiful landscape.
The Western Cape Province is home to the iconic Table Mountain, recently voted as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The top of the mountain can be reached by foot or cable car and offers unforgettable views of the spectacular coastline. The Table Mountain National Park is unique in that it exists in the centre of a cosmopolitan city!
These few Parks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wonderful National Parks to visit in South Africa – there are many more to explore and enjoy, depending on your interests. Browse through our National Park descriptions to see which of them you should combine for your next visit to sunny South Africa.