Besides being a land of varied landscapes and great scenic beauty, South Africa is also home to an abundance of wildlife, birdlife and marine life. Many visitors travel to South Africa to experience the Big Five namely lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo - but in addition to the 'big beasts' of Africa, wildlife also includes a variety of smaller animals such as an array of buck, warthog and wild dogs, and the tiny bushbaby and dassie.

There are 20 national parks within South Africa's borders each representing not only wildlife but the flora, landscapes and cultures of the particular areas. Fourteen of the national parks offer overnight accommodation in a variety of settings from lush coastal vegetation to the dry bushveld. National parks offer the visitor a true outdoors and adventure experience with activities such as game viewing, bush walks, hiking, canoeing and more.

The national parks are: Kruger, Cape Peninsula, Marakele, Golden Gate, Vaalbos, Mountain Zebra, Addo Elephant, Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness, Bontebok, Agulhas, West Coast, Karoo, Namaqua, Richtersveld, Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Vhembe Dongola and Tankwa Karoo.

Covering large areas of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga, the Kruger National Park is the largest park in South Africa and offers one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa. Encompassing nearly 2 million hectares, the park offers visitors a choice of accommodation ranging in both price range and accommodation type. Accommodation varies from bungalows to family cottages, bush lodges and safari tents. In addition there are a number of privately operated lodges within the park.
Set in the bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park where over 350 elephant as well as Cape buffalo, black rhino and a variety of antelope species can be viewed. The park has become a succeddful sanctuary where in 1931 only eleven elephant remained. Various rest camps are available within the park, and there are a variety of guesthouses and lodges outside the park that are within easy reach of the park for day trips.
On the border of the Northern province and Botswana where the red dunes and scrub fade into infinity lies the Kgalagadi Transfontier Park. Herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons and camel thorn trees provide shade for huge black-mane lions and vantage points for leopards.Together with the adjacent Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, this park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares – one of few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world. The sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob provide excellent photographic opportunities and the park is also a favourite for birders interested in birds of prey.

In addition to South Africa's national parks there are also a wide variety of privately owned game reserves offering luxury accommodation and 5-star service and facilities in the heart of the South African bush. These private parks are usually small and exclusive and offer an all-inclusive safari experince incorporating game drives, meals and accommodation. Accommodation is often in luxurious private lodges or tented camps, and its not unusual to find your very own plunge pool or jacuzzi on your private deck.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape
Mabula Game Lodge


Copyright to About South Africa 2003-2004. Photographs on this website courtesy of South Africa Tourism.