South Africa boasts a huge collection of wildlife regions and game parks – both public and private – encompassing every possible landscape from deserts to forests, mountains to coasts, teeming with wildlife species – including Africa’s Big 5: Leopard, Lion, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhinoceros.
and Bush Camps:
South African Lodges are located within private game reserves, national parks and nature reserves. Accommodation offered at a South African Game Lodge ranges from rustic to 5-star luxury; from self catering bush camps to fully catered lodges, with packages including daily game activities, day and night game drives, bush walks, horse-back safaris and other eco-activities
1. Kruger Park (Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces)
The world renowned Kruger Park offers one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park
of nearly 2 million hectares is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques. The southern portion of
Kruger Park (in Mpumalanga) is more lush and wooded that the drier central and northern regions, and is where most of the camps are situated, as the largest concentrations of game occur here. This Section of the park is accessed by the southern gates, namely: Malelane, Crocodile Bridge, Numbi, Phabeni, and Paul Kruger.
This major international tourist draw card offers a wilderness experience which ranks with the best in Africa. The sight of elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo is always a thrill, especially at close range on a conducted wilderness trail. After an exciting day in the bush, sunset heralds the crackle of campfire, sundowners and shared anecdotes.
2. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Northern Cape)
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated approximately 250 km from Upington in the far northern Cape and 904 km from Johannesburg. Transfrontier parks, border parks or transboundary conservation areas are protected areas that straddle international boundaries. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is such a protected area in the southern Kalahari Desert. The southern Kalahari represents an increasingly rare phenomenon: a large ecosystem relatively free from human interference.
The absence of man-made barriers (except to the west and south of the Park) has provided a conservation area large enough to maintain examples of two ecological processes that were once widespread in the savannahs and grasslands of Africa.
3. Pilanesberg Game Reserve (North West Province)
The Pilanesberg National Park, which covers some 55 000 hectare, is the fourth largest in southern Africa. This malaria-free park is perched on the eroded vestiges of an alkaline volcanic crater – one of only three such craters in the world. Pilanesberg exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as “Bushveld”. Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone.
4. Sabi Sands Game Reserve (Mpumalanga)
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is undoubtedly the most exclusive private game reserve in South Africa. The 65,000-hectare Sabi Sands Game Reserve is located on the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park. There are no restricting fences between the Kruger Park and Sabi Sands and the wildlife roams freely between the two game reserves. Some of the best and most exclusive private game lodges in the country are in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and the chances of seeing the Big 5 animals (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) are excellent.
5. Mapungubwe National Park (Limpopo)
World Heritage Site | Mapungubwe National Park: The great ruins at Mapungubwe, in the Limpopo River Valley, show remains of the first and greatest ever South African kingdom to have flourished. Mapungubwe shows remains of human occupation in and around 850 AD (two and a half centuries before Great Zimbabwe). The most significant find at Mapungubwe was a gold rhinoceros and gold bowl dating back to around 1200 AD. The artefacts at Mapungubwe illustrate a flourishing trade and advanced social systems of African kingdoms in the 13th century. Located at the confluence of the mighty Shashi and Limpopo Rivers, this envisaged transfrontier park embracing South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe gives tangible proof by way of the rich fossil deposits, Bushman rock art and gold artefacts of ancient civilisations that once flourished here. The giant baobab trees, riverine forests and associated flood plains provide an intriguing mix of habitat for a tremendous diversity of creatures.
6. Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park (Kwazulu Natal)
Set in the heart of Zululand this is the oldest game reserve in Africa, where Zulu kings
such as Dingiswayo and Shaka hunted and put in place the first conservation laws.
Today, Africa’s ‘Big Five’ (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros) stalk the flourishing savannah. Game viewing is the principal attraction in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. Viewing hides overlook pans and waterholes enabling one to observe the wildlife at close range.
7. Shamwari Game Reserve (Eastern Cape)
Shamwari Game Reserve is the Southernmost, Big Game, private reserve in Africa – Malaria Free. This ultimate African adventure stretches along the Bushman’s river,
halfway between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, and forms a natural extension to the famous Garden Route. Shamwari is about conserving a vanishing way of life, and has
been awarded a number of International awards for its efforts in conservation coupled with tourism.
8. Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park (Kwazulu Natal)
The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park was declared South
Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site on 1 December 1999.
It is considered South Africa’s third largest park and extends from Mapelane (Cape St. Lucia) in the South, to Kozi Bay in the North. The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park incorporates Lake
St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve, and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve.
The park has 280km of near pristine coastline and comprises
of 328 000 hectares of magnificent scenery. Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park encompasses an immense mosaic of habitats ranging from marine systems (coral reefs and beaches) and coastal forests (from salt and fresh water marshes to the open estuarine waters of Lake St Lucia itself) from lush coastal plains to the drier woodland areas. This is a remarkably beautiful place in South Africa.
9. Addo Elephant Park (Eastern Cape)
Situated in a malaria free area just one hour’s drive from the South African coastal city of Port Elizabeth, our magnificently diverse national park offers a wide variety of game viewing, outdoor adventure, accommodation and cultural experiences. You will be amazed at the variety of South Africa Wildlife that can be experienced in one easily accessible destination. The obvious main attraction of the Addo Elephant National Park is the park’s 350 or so African Elephants. The Black Rhino and Cape Buffalo are also notable species, but unlike the elephant, these species are easier to see by night. Visitors should also look out for the flightless dung beetle, a species unique to the Addo region and that feeds on the faeces of the large ungulates. There are also many other large herbivores, particularly antelope species such as kudu, eland, red hartebeest and springbok.
10. Madikwe Game Reserve (North West Province)
Madikwe is a “Big Five” game reserve situated 90 km north of Zeerust. Covering some 60,000 hectare, it is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. The rich diversity of vegetation ensures a wide range of game and the topography offers ideal game viewing opportunities. Madikwe Game Reserve has the distinction of being one of the few game reserves in the world to be proclaimed purely on the grounds of being the most appropriate and sustainable land use for an area. The reserve consists of vast plains of open woodlands and grasslands, dissected by the rugged Rant van Tweedepoort, and bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The area is dotted with huge rocky hills or inselbergs (ecological description). The entire reserve has been enclosed in a 150 km perimeter fence which has been electrified to prevent the escape of elephants and the larger predators.