What We Love About South Africa – Recommended Wildlife Safari Destinations And Game Reserves
The tourist industry in South Africa is massive and not without reason. There are spectacularly beautiful places to see and visit, ranging from green mountainous highlands to flatlands of beautiful unspoilt veld stretching for miles. With the spectacular scenic Garden Route drive to Cape Town, home of Table Mountain and serenely beautiful winelands and beaches, South Africa has much to offer.
Without doubt though, the biggest drawcard for tourists both locally and internationally is the exhilarating experience of driving in an open safari vehicle through the bush, seeking encounters with Africa’s wildest creatures! ‘Big 5’ hunting they call it and it feeds the soul with a sense of peace and excitement that keeps people coming back time after time.
There are a couple of Game Reserves, preferred Safari destinations, which showcase these wild animals and birds and provide the perfect, sometimes luxurious, sometimes rough and ready, Safari experiences. This article takes a look at just a handful of the best of them. They are all different and have their own unique magic.
The Kruger National Park
The largest and best known, the Kruger National Park, is an institution in South Africa when it comes to wildlife preservation and tourism on a massive scale.
The world-renowned Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and is definitely one of the must-visit destinations in South Africa. This is a wildlife sanctuary like no other, offering magical unpredictability and endless wilderness that is the true quality of Africa. This is the land of baobabs, fever trees, knob thorns, Amarula and mopane trees underneath which lurk the Big Five, and more species of mammals and birds than any other African Game Reserve.
Visitors to the Kruger also have the option of taking drives in their own vehicles as opposed to the more common traditional ‘Game drive’ with a Game ranger. Guided walks are also available.
Accommodation is plentiful in a range of camps, but so popular is this park that it is advisable to have your preferred Safari tour operators book well in advance!
Mapungubwe National Park
Located where the Shashi and Limpopo Rivers join, Mapungubwe National Park borders South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe and is unique by way of the rich fossil deposits, Bushman rock art and gold artefacts of ancient civilisations that once lived in this region. For this reason, it is a National monument. Its wildlife population is as different and diverse as its scenery, with giant baobab trees, riverine forests and associated flood plains providing an intriguing habitat for them.
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Covering over 55,000 hectares this is one of the better-known game reserves to international tourists because of its proximity to Johannesburg and the famous ‘Sun City’ tourist destination. It is substantial though, being the fourth largest in the country and also home to the ‘Big 5.’ Interestingly it rests within the zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, and so unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone.
Visitors to Pilanesberg can stay in any of the 3 to 5 star lodges that are located within the Park, including the more exclusive, private lodges.
Also host to the Big Five, this magnificent wildlife preservation area in the heart of Zululand is renowned for its extremely ‘up close and personal’ sightings. With viewing hides at pans and waterholes and trails that go deep into the bush, many rate this as one of the premier Safari destinations. This is the oldest reserve in South Africa, where King Shaka hunted and initiated the first preservation laws.
Addo Elephant National Park
Uniquely different, a favourite with tourists and located in close proximity to the Garden Route and the city of Port Elizabeth, the Addo Elephant Park is actually the third largest park in the country.
Founded in 1931, to provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining Elephants in the area, the park has proved to be very successful and currently hosts more than 600 elephants and a large number of other mammals. It is one of the very few wildlife areas very close to a City and this makes it more accessible to locals and tourists alike.
Madikwe Private Game Reserve
Regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and also offering sightings of all the Big 5 in a 750sqm park, Madikwe Game Park is the fifth largest in South Africa and offers a number of luxurious lodges as well as community lodges in a malaria- free zone. Situated against the Botswana border close to the Kalahari Desert and fairly close to Johannesburg, the park is home to approximately 66 large mammals and roughly 300 bird species.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Located between South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park boasts vast open desert spaces and endless horizons, with a truly unspoilt and special eco-system. Despite frequent drought and an extreme climate, Kgalagadi nurtures a great abundance of wildlife, including the famous black-maned Kalahari Lions, Gemsbok, Springbok and colourful raptors soaring through forever blue skies. Accommodation ranges from fully furnished cottages to modest bungalows and even camping areas.
These then are just a handful of South Africa’s best Safari and Game Reserves and we at Jewel of Africa Safaris, who pride ourselves on our tailor made tours, would be happy to ensure we include the ones that you would like to visit in your personalised package.
Take a look on our website at the various Luxury Safari and guided tour experiences available or contact us to find out why we are regarded as one of South Africa’s preferred Guided and luxury Safari tour operators. Let us help you to experience the thrill of an African bush encounter!