| The main topic of this web site is safari, though, and this page on South
Africa is therefore mainly focused on safari destinations and safari activities in the
South Africa is a large country that can roughly be divided into three main areas: the
huge inland plateau, the Kalahari Basin in the north, and the narrow coastal plains.
Together, these areas feature many different types of landscape, ranging from sand deserts
to dramatic mountain ranges, undulating grasslands, coastal deltas and beaches. The
country has few lakes or large rivers. The 1,860 km/1,150 mi long Oranje River has its
origin in the Drakensberg Mountains on the border to Lesotho, and flows into the Atlantic
Ocean in the west. Just one percent of South Africa is covered in forest, of which most
is found close to the Indian Ocean coast in the east.
The South African flora is remarkable. Some 20,000 plant species, or 10 % of all known
species, have been recorded in the country.
The safari destination South Africa
The South African nature and wildlife suffered much from the farming and cattle breeding
brought by the colonialists. The wildlife populations quickly decreased, and some species
became extinct. Some wilderness areas survived, though, and some were protected by private
initiatives. Other areas have been restored since, and wildlife has been reintroduced.
Today's South Africa is a country with few large parks (there are some exceptions) and
a large number of small local reserves, many of these private. Fenced parks are much
more common than in for example Kenya and Tanzania.
Typical South African safaris
Two common features of the south African safari industry are the self-drive safaris
(where you rent a vehicle to drive yourself, rent bandas
or stay in camping
sites, and handle cooking etc yourself) and the private reserve/lodge
safaris (where you spend the whole safari in the lodge/ranch house of a private reserve
and take part in safari activities arranged by the lodge). This may be compared to the
most common safari concept in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania
and Uganda), where you visit a couple of different parks
in a vehicle driven by a driver-guide.
The South African national parks are also more adapted to tourism than the East African,
offering many types of accommodation, arranged activities and preset safari routes,
shops etc. Some parks have tarmac roads, and many lodges and camps are fenced.
The best parks, for example Kruger National Park, are home to
many mammal species, including all the classic African safari mammals. There are lions
and cheetahs, elephants and rhinos, zebras and buffalos, hippos and antelopes etc. Compared
to East Africa, the mammal species are roughly the same, although there are differences
in which antelopes you may see. The birding is good.
There are no natural populations of African apes, i.e. gorillas or chimpanzees, in South
Africa, and not very many monkey species. Monkeys are best found in countries with much
forest, such as Uganda.
Travelling on your own
If you visit South Africa on your own (i.e. not on a packaged tour) and are fine with
driving, you'll find a wide variety of vehicles to rent, ranging from saloons to four-wheel
drive safari vehicles with rooftop tents. You'll also find many different types of accommodation
in and outside the parks, including camping, bandas, farmhouses, hotels, tented
camp and luxury lodges. In addition to traditional game viewing in vehicles,
driving, many parks offer safari walks and night game drives. Such activities
may require you to hire an official guide.
Most packaged tours to South Africa are not safari tours, but rather round tours to
different parts of the country, offering a mix of nature, wine, sightseeing, cities,
golf etc, and often include a few days in safari areas. There are also tours where South
Africa is combined with other countries in southern Africa, for example Namibia
Parks in South Africa
South Africa has some twenty national parks and a host of other types of parks, such
as private reserves and nature protected areas. The latter parks are usually quite small.
The best known park is Kruger National Park, which matches the largest Kenyan and Tanzanian
parks in size. Another handful of South African parks can be considered large or medium
sized (50010 000 km2/2004,000 sq mi), while the remaining majority are smaller.
Self-driving is common in many national parks. This means that you drive your own vehicle,
without bringing a special driver or safari guide.
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is South Africa's most famous safari area. The area became a protected
game reserve in 1898, and was upgraded to national park in 1926. It is situated in Transvaal
in north-eastern South Africa and covers 19,633 km2/7,580 sq mi. Close to 150 mammal
species, 500 bird species, 330 tree species and 115 reptile species have been recorded.
The park also has a number of rock painting sites and Stone Age settlements, and finds
originating from the San tribe, the Iron Age and pre-human Homo erectus.
Kruger is dominated by savanna, scrubs and woodland, and the list of mammal species
found there is long. It's a Big Five park, which means that
you may see elephant, rhino (both white and black), African buffalo, lion and leopard.
The park authority SANParks has estimated that there are 1,500 lions, 12,000 elephants,
2,500 buffalos, 1,000 leopards and 5,000 rhinos in the park.
Classic safari animals
Many of the classic African safari animals may be seen, including giraffes, zebras,
antelopes, crocodiles and some monkeys. The large predators are represented by lions,
leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs and spotted hyaenas.
Kruger National Park may be divided into a number of zones. The northern half, which
lies north of the Olifant River, is a huge bushland dominated by mopane (a tree that
survives in poor soil in dry and hot climate). The northmost parts are the hardest to
access, and are therefore considered by many to be the most interesting area. There
are sausage trees, baobabs and marula trees. The latter have fruits much appreciated
by the elephants.
Fences between Kruger National Park in South Africa, Limpopo National Park in Mozambique
and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe have been removed in recent years, creating
a huge, continuous nature area called Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, where animals
may move and migrate naturally between habitats. Fences have been removed also in other
parts of Kruger, reopening former migration routes, but the long time of fencing has
caused permanent changes to nature, and the populations of for example tsessebe, eland,
sable and hartebeest have been decimated.
The best time to visit Kruger National Park, as to wildlife, is July to October. This
roughly equals the South African winter, which is the dry season, when day temperatures
are pleasant and the nights cool. Water is found mainly in rivers and waterholes during
this season, which means that the wildlife is concentrated to such areas. The risk for
visitors getting infected with malaria is also less in the dry season.
Summers (October to March) receive more rain, and the temperatures are higher. The park
is green and lush in the summer, but the denser vegetation of this season makes it harder
to spot the animals. The temperatures are around 23ºC/73ºF from September
to November, 26ºC/79ºF from December to February, 22ºC/72ºF from
March to May, and 18ºC/64ºF from June to August.
There are different forms of self-contained accommodation available in Kruger National
Park, and also lodges. There are shops, restaurants, phones, fuel stations and tarmac
roads. Kruger is generally easier to visit on your own, but also reminds less of true
wilderness, than comparable parks in East Africa, such as Serengeti
and Masai Mara. There are different routes, or circuits,
within the park, some accessible only by four-wheel drive. There are also routes for
walking and a nine-hole gold course. You can get there by road or by air from for example
Private reserves around Kruger National Park
A number of small private reserves border the western part of Kruger National Park.
These reserves generally offer wildlife similar to that in Kruger, good comfort, safari
activities and competent guiding. The below reserves are some of those best known.
Makalali Resource Reserve
Makalali Resource Reserve is situated about an hour's drive west of Kruger. It has hillier
landscape than the other private reserves described here. Makalali is known to be good
for bush walks and game tracking. There are no African buffalos in the reserve, so you
can't see all of the Big
Mthethomusha Game Reserve
Mthethomusha Game reserve covers some 80 km2/30 sq mi and borders south-western Kruger
National Park. The wildlife includes for example the Big Five, kudu, giraffe, zebra
and the beautiful sable antelope. There is a good lodge, which apart from accommodation
offers game viewing from vehicles and on foot.
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve has an unfenced border to south-western Kruger National Park,
and has, thanks to its two rivers, a stable wildlife population that includes the Big
Five. There are some 30 lodges in the reserve, some of them very luxurious. Well-known
Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi are two of these lodges.
Thornybush Game Reserve
Thornybush Game Reserve is situated just outside western Kruger National Park. It is
a 115 km2/44 sq mi fenced reserve, covered by savanna and woodland. There are seven
lodges, offering game viewing and good bush walking.
Timbavati Game Reserve
Timbavati Game Reserve borders western Kruger National Park. The fences that formerly
separated the two parks have been removed, and now the area is one of the best in South
Africa for safaris and game viewing. The reserve has eight private lodges, offering
game drives and bush walks. The Big Five may be seen.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi National Park
Hluhluwe Umfolozi is a beautiful 960 km2/371 sq mi national park, not very far from
the coast of the Kwazulu-Natal Province of eastern South Africa, 280 km/175 mi north
of Durban. Hluhluwe (pronounced 'shoushlooe') and Umfolozi were established as separate
reserves in 1895, but were combined into one park in the late 1980's.
During the 1900's, it played a vital part in a program to save the South African white
rhino from extinction. The program proved successful and has not only increased the
number of rhinos in the park (there are today some 1,600 white rhinos, which is the
largest population in the world), but has also provided many white rhinos for reintroduction
in other parks in southern Africa and East Africa. A similar program focused on the
black rhino has now started.
Big Five and many birds
Hluhluwe Umfolozi is covered by hills, low mountains covered in acacia shrub, higher
and wilder mountains in the north, forests, grass plains and savanna. The wildlife includes
the Big Five (elephant, rhino, African buffalo, lion and
leopard), cheetah, hyaena, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, nyala, kudu, bushbuck,
impalas and other mammals. There is a population of African wild dogs. Between 300 and
400 bird species have been recorded.
The subtropic climate is hot and humid, and the park is considered a malaria area. The
summer from September to April is humid, while the winter from May to August is drier
and has warm days and cool nights.
Mapungubwe National Park
Mapungubwe National Park is situated in north-eastern South Africa. It covers 280 km2/108
sq mi and protects an area along the Limpopo River on the border to Botswana
and Zimbabwe. The landscape is a mix of rocky areas, mopane, baobab, acacias, plains
and gallery forests along the rivers, offering habitats for elephants, lions, cheetahs,
leopards, spotted hyaenas, African wild dogs, black and white rhinos, zebras, elands
and other antelopes. Brown hyaena is also present but rare. Rock pythons and black mambas
are fairly common. The bird life is still not fully explored, but it is rich and includes
rarities such as Pel's fishing-owl.
This park is still under development, and doesn't have the same good infrastructure
as for example Kruger National Park. Work to improve the infrastructure
and recreate the former wildlife habitats is going on. In the future, Mapungubwe is
meant to form a part of the Limpopo Shashe Transfrontier Park, which also will include
Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana
and Tuli Circle in Zimbabwe.
There is accommodation in a luxury tented camp and a basic camping site. These and some
parts of the park may be accessed by two-wheel drive vehicles, but some game driving
routes require four-wheel drive. Bush walks escorted by armed rangers are offered.
Apart from wildlife and nature, Mapungubwe National Park has a number of interesting
archeological sites, including early Adrican Stone Age settlements, dinosaur tracks
and fossils, and San tribe rock paintings.
The winters are cool and dry, while most rain falls during the summers. It is a generally
dry area, though, with few rainy days and modest annual rainfall. Summer temperatures
may rise to 45ºC/113ºF. The park is considered a malaria area.
You get to the park by road. The nearest major city is Pretoria, some 500 km/310 mi
to the south. The nearest airport is in Polokwane some 200 km/125 mi from the park.
Marakele National Park
Marakele National Park (former Kransberg National Park) covers some 390 km2/150 sq mi
and is situated in the Waterberg Mountains in the western part of Transvaal. This is
a transition zone between the dry western and moist eastern parts of South Africa.
The park has stately mountains, grassy hills and deep valleys. Classic African safari
animals such as elephants, black and white rhinos and the large cats (lion, leopard
and cheetah) are present, as are brown hyaenas, sables, elands, kudus, impalas and other
species. The park also has one of the world's largest colonies of Cape vulture, and
generally good conditions for seeing birds of prey.
There is a self-contained tented camp and a camping site for tents and caravans. You
may get to the park in a two-wheel drive vehicle (it's 250 km/155 mi north of Johannesburg),
but many of the roads for game driving in the park require four-wheel drive. The park
is considered free of malaria.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is situated on the border to Botswana
in the North West Province, 3 to 4 hours by road or 45 minutes by air from Johannesburg
or Pretoria. It covers 750 km2/290 sq mi, and was established in 1991, when some 10,000
animals of 27 different species were introduced to recreate a Big
The park has flat grasslands and woodlands, dotted with kopjes
(or inselbergs), divided by a mountain crest and bordering more mountains to the south.
Some of the species you may see are cheetah, African wild dog, brown hyaena, sable,
eland, gemsbok and giraffe. Some 300 bird species have been observed.
The summer is the warmer and rainier season, with temperatures rising to or just above
30ºC/86ºF. The winter is dry and cooler, and has a day average temperature
of 22ºC/72ºF. Night temperatures may drop towards freezing. The park is considered
free of malaria.
Madikwe Game Reserve is enclosed by an electric fence, and has a number of comfortable
Pilansberg National Park
Pilansberg National Park is situated west of Pretoria in the North West Province. This
area is probably best known for the Sun City, a holiday destination just south of the
park. Pilansberg covers some 500 km2/195 sq mi in the only mountains within the area.
They are the remains of a former volcano that was created through eruptions about 1.3
billion years ago. The highest peek reaches 600 m/2,000 ft above the artificial Mankwe
Lake, centrally situated in the area. This was farmland until 1979, when the work to
recreate the nature and reintroduction of animals began.
There are today about 10,000 animals of some 20 species in Pilansberg National Park.
There are kopjes (inselbergs), ravines covered in dense forests, lakes, scrubs, gentle
grasslands and woodlands. The animals include eland, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, white
rhino, hippo, elephant, African Buffalo, red hartebeest, kudu, impala, sable, roan and
tsessebe. The mammal predators are represented by lions, leopards, cheetahs, brown hyaenas
and jackals. The bird watching is fairly good, not least as to birds of prey.
Pilansberg National Park has well-kept roads for game driving. Balloon safaris are offered.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Golden Gate Highlands National Park (116 km2/45 sq mi) is situated in the Maluti Mountains
in the north-eastern part of the Orange Free State. It is a highland area of grasslands
and afro-montane forests, where the wildlife includes oribi, white-tailed gnu, eland
and other antelopes. There are also black-backed jackals and Cape foxes, but none of
the large predators. Some interesting and rare birds recorded in the area are bald ibis,
lammergeir and black eagle.
There is both basic and more comfortable accommodation, and activities such as game
viewing, trekking and horse riding. The park has tarmac roads. It is 320 km/200 mi south-west
of Johannesburg, and 390 km/240 mi west of Durban. Summers are cool, while winters are
chilly and may receive some snow.
Vaalbos National Park
Vaalbos National Park (200 km2/77 sq mi) is a nature area along the Vaal River,
close to the eastern border of the Northern Cape Province. It is a transition zone where
dry and moist areas meet. The park has the largest South African population of roan
antelope. There are also black and white rhino, African buffalo, eland, red hartebeest
and tsessebe. A tourist route, built from materials from the diamond mines of nearby
Kimberley Town, crosses the park.
Accommodation is available in basic camping sites and in bandas. The temperatures may
reach 40ºC/104ºF during summers, and drop below freezing during winters. Most
rain is received during the summers.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana
form the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, covering 38,000 km2. The South African part (10,000
km2/3,860 sq mi) is found in the northmost part of the Northern Cape Province, 260 km/160
mi north of Upington and 900 km/560 mi west of Johannesburg. It was the first transfrontier
park established in Africa. Its name comes from the language of the San tribe, and means
'the place of thirst'.
The Kgalagadi part of the Kalahari is a dry area of scrubs and red sand dunes, receiving
an annual rainfall between 150 mm/6 in (in the south-west) and 350 mm/14 in (in the
north-east). Surface water is available in some few waterholes, and many animals eat
wild melons for water. The vegetation is sparse, and the wildlife concentrated to areas
along the usually dried-out riverbeds of the Auob and Nossob Rivers. Most roads follow
these rivers. Herds of gemsbok, springbuck and wildebeest migrate through the park,
and you may see predators such as cheetahs, leopards, brown and spotted hyaenas, and
the black-maned Kalahari lions. Suricates, or meerkats, are found throughout the park,
and you may see honey badgers, pangolins, bat-eared foxes, giraffes, kudus, chacma baboons
Some 280 bird species have been recorded, including many birds of prey, such as eagles,
vultures, goshawks and kestrels. Kgalagadi is known as a good place to see the African
The Kalahari climate can be harsh. The air temperature in the shade may exceed 40ºC/104ºF
during the summer (November to April), while ground temperatures may reach 70ºC/158ºF.
During winter night, the temperature may drop as far as -10ºC/14ºF. The rainfall
is erratic, and often comes in rainstorms with heavy winds, mainly between November
and April. Green grass and flowers follow rains, but soon dry out again.
Accommodation of different standard is available in self-contained bandas, camping sites
and tented camps. Many camps are situated by waterholes. All roads within the park are
dust or gravel roads, and some of them are one way only. Vehicles should travel at least
two and two in the Botswana part of the park.
Augrabies National Park
Augrabies National Park is 120 km/75 mi west of Upington in central Northern Cape Province.
It covers some 500 km2/195 sq mi. The Khoi tribe name for the area is aukoerabis,
meaning 'the place of the great noise', which describes the sound of the 56 m/184 ft
high Augrabies Waterfall when the flow of the Oranje River peaks after the rains. The
local names of places and features in the area give an idea of what it looks like: Moon
Rock, Ararat, Echo Corner. The barren rocky landscape has some wildlife, like klipspringers,
gemsboks and reptiles. You may walk the area, or view the scenery and animals by car.
The mammals of Augrabies have to manage the harsh climate, which has hot summers and
cold winters. Some species that do are slender mongoose, yellow mongoose and hyrax.
Other animals that may be seen are giraffes, steinbucks, springbucks, kudus and elands,
and predators such as leopards, black-backed jackals, caracals, bat-eared foxes and
African wild cats. The birds include black stork, rosy-faced lovebird, fairy flycatcher,
black eagle and pale chanting goshawk. A noticeable tree is the quiver tree (Aloe
dichotoma), an up to 5 m/16 ft aloe that survives in extreme temperatures and poor
The summers are hot, while the winters are cooler. Winter nights may be cold. The weather
is most pleasant from March to October, while most rain falls from January to April.
The park has accommodation in bandas, bungalows and camping sites. The park roads are
all dirt roads. There is a private airstrip just outside the park, and Upington has
a domestic airport with connections to South Africa's international airports.
Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park
This park, which is situated 875 km/545 mi north of Cape Town, consists of Richtersveld
National Park in the north-western part of Northern Cape Province in South Africa, and
of Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park in southern Namibia. The landscape is dry, barren and
sometimes very hot; summer temperatures may exceed 50ºC/122ºF). Scorpions
and many insects may be seen, while the mammal wildlife is sparse. It includes a few
antelope species, jackal, mongoose, and bat-eared fox, plus smaller species such as
rodents and bats. The park is known as one of world's richest areas in succulents, though,
and also has a rich general flora.
Namaqua National Park
Namaqua National Park in the western part of the Northern Cape Province is a hilly area
with several peaks higher than 1,500 m/4,900 ft. Few classic safari animals may be seen,
but it's an area rich in butterflies, birds and flowers. Namaqualand has the world's
richest succulent flora, and also an impressive annual flora. 1,000 of the 3,500 plant
species of this area are found nowhere else.
West Coast National Park
West Coast National Park is situated along the coast in the Western Cape Province some
100 km/60 mi north of Cape Town. Large numbers of seabirds breed in the surrounding
islands, and many waders may be seen on the beaches and in the wetlands of the park.
The birds and the landscape are the main attractions, but there is also a limited mammal
wildlife, including eland, red hartebeest, caracal and hyrax. Game viewing from vehicles
is allowed in the spring (i.e. the months preceding the summer). Passing whales and
dolphins may be seen in the ocean. Visitors that aren't very interested in birds may
still appreciate the flamingos, pelicans and penguins.
Most rain falls from May to August. The summers are dry.
Tankwa Karoo National Park
Tankwa Karoo National Park is a 800 km2/310 sq mi park that is closed to the public
(but if you have a special interest, you may still be able to get a permit to visit
from the park authority). It has been established for research, and the nature is still
being reconstructed. The area, which is one of the driest in the Karoo Province, was
badly damaged by many years of cattle breeding. The park has a good bird life, but the
wildlife is not impressive.
Karoo National Park
Karoo National Park (800 km2/310 sq mi) is some 500 km/310 mi north-east of Cape Town
and 1,000 km/620 mi south-west of Johannesburg. It has a dry, fairly barren and hilly
landscape. Much of the park is covered by the Nuweveld Mountains. Since the park was
established, much effort has been made to reintroduce animals that used to live in the
area, but disappeared as a result of local cattle breeding.
Game viewing is easy in Karoo National Park, as the vegetation is sparse. Red hartebeest,
white-tailed gnu, eland, common zebra, mountain zebra, kudu and springbuck are some
species seen regularly. Some other species are also present, but harder to see, for
example mountain reedbuck, duikers, black rhino, caracal, suricate (or meerkat) and
The dry environment suits many reptiles, and the park has for example five tortoise
species, agamas, many geckos and skinks, monitor lizards, chameleons and 18 snake species.
The bird watching is fair. The park has 20 breeding pairs of black eagle.
Accommodation is available in camping sites, bungalows and self-contained bandas. The
low altitude parts of the park are hot during summers, while the mountain areas are
cool all year round.
Camdeboo National Park
Camdeboo National Park covers 145 km2/56 sq mi in the Eastern Cape Province, and is
situated some 600 km/370 mi north-east of Cape Town and 250 km/155 mi north-west of
Port Elizabeth, which has the closest domestic airport.
Most of the park consists of scrubs and grasslands at 7401,480 m/2,430 4,855
ft altitude at the foot of the Sneeuberg mountain range. Compassberg, a 2,504 m/8,215
ft peak within the range, is found to the north, and peaks covered by snow during winters
can be seen outside of the park to the east. There is a 10 km2/4 sq mi dam in the park,
which offers many great views.
There is some mammal wildlife, which can be viewed from vehicles, including steinbuck,
springbuck, blesbok and white-tailed gnu in open land, and kudu, bush duiker and African
buffalo in denser vegetation. Mountain zebras are sometimes seen in the mountains. More
than 225 bird species have been recorded, including ostrich, lesser honeyguide, Namaqua
dove and pale chanting goshawk.
Camdeboo National Park is in an area of hot summers and winters that may get very cold.
Mountain Zebra National Park
Mountain Zebra National park is situated in Eastern Cape Province, some 800 km/500 mi
from both Cape Town and Johannesburg, and 280 km/175 mi from Port Elizabeth. The park
is dominated by the Bankberg Mountains, where the open land and deep valleys are home
to a fine mountain zebra population. Other species in the area are African buffalo,
black rhino, red hartebeest and gemsbok. The most common mammal predator is the caracal,
a small to medium sized cat. The bird life includes ostrich, blue crane, black eagle
The summers are hot, while winter nights may get cold. Most rain falls during the winter
and early summers, but not more than 390 mm/15 in per year.
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park protects the Table Mountain just south of Cape Town in
the Western Cape Province. It is an area of mixed nature and a nice flora. There is
some bird life, although it's far from overwhelming. The mammal wildlife is mainly limited
Agulhas National Park
Agulhas National Park is situated by the sea 230 km/145 mi east of Cape Town, and consists
of a windy coastal plain on the southmost point of Africa. There are many plant species,
including some 100 endemics, and the bird watching is good. Whales, dolphins and porpoises
may be seen in the ocean.
Bontebok National Park
Bontebok (35 km2/14 sq mi) is the smallest national park in South Africa. It is a flat
area covered mainly in scrubs and grassland, bordered by the stately Langeberg Mountains.
The mountains are fine for trekking, and the Breede River along the park border offers
fishing and good canoeing. The park has its name from an antelope called bontebok, and
a couple of hundred individuals of these still remain in the park, and you may see them
when visiting. Other mammal species are mountain zebra, Cape grysbok (a dwarf antelope),
rhebok and red hartebeest. 200 bird species have been recorded.
Wilderness National Park
Wilderness National Park is in the middle of the Garden Route,
450 km/280 mi east of Cape Town and 410 km/255 mi west of Port Elizabeth. It is a pretty
park with lakes, rivers, beaches, forests and mountains. It has no safari wildlife,
and is rather a recreational area, offering trekking, canoeing, paragliding etc. There
are whales and dolphins in the ocean, and the bird watching is interesting.
Knysna National Lake Area
Knysna National Lake Area is a tidal lagoon at the mouth of the Knysna River. There
are sandbanks and wetlands surrounded by lakes, beaches and forests. There is no safari
wildlife, but a rich bird life including black-winged stilt, African fish eagle and
African oystercatcher. All in all, some 280 bird species have been recorded. The park
is situated on the Garden Route, 500 km/310 mi east of Cape Town and 300 km/185 mi west
of Port Elizabeth.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park consists of both land and sea, and was the first African marine
park established. On land, the park has beaches, rocks and coastal forest, while the
sea part consists of tidal zones, reefs and deep-sea fish. Dolphins and southern right
whale are sometimes seen.
The combination of forest and coast makes the bird watching interesting. Some birds
seen are African finfoot, pied kingfisher, giant kingfisher, narina trogon and crowned
Tsitsikamma is situated 615 km/380 mi east of Cape Town and 195 km/120 mi west of Port
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is situated 75 km/45 mi north of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern
Cape Province. It is a narrow park reaching inland from the coast, covering 1,450 km2/560
sq mi of forest, scrub, grassland, succulent semi-desert, sand dunes, coastal grass
plain, and the Zuurberg Mountains.
The park has some 400 elephants, about as many African buffalos and 40 black rhinos.
Lions and hyaenas that were recently introduced have established themselves, and are
mainly seen during early mornings or during night game drives. There are also leopards,
but these are seen less often. The elephants are easiest to see by the waterholes during
hot days, where also the rhinos may appear around dusk.
Some other mammal species seen in Addo Elephant National Park are suricate (or meerkat),
hippo, eland, kudu, warthog, red hartebeest and common zebra. There are plans to introduce
cheetah and African wild dog.
A different type of wildlife may be seen in the outskirts of the park. The Zuurberg
Mountains are home to for example mountain zebras, mountain reedbucks, baboons and blue
duikers (a type of antelope), while gemsboks, springbucks and gnus may be seen in the
northern parts of the park, where the landscape is drier. The forests closest to the
coast have bushbucks, bush pigs, brown hyaenas and tree hyrax. A few hundred bird species
have been recorded.
A few of the roads through the park are tarmac roads, while the others are dust roads
good enough to allow two-wheel drive vehicles. Self-contained accommodation is available
in bandas and camping sites. There are also lodges and tented camps.
The summer temperatures may reach 40ºC/104ºF, while winters are cooler. Rain
may fall (450 mm/18 in annually) during most parts of the year, even though there are
rainfall peaks from March to April and from September to October. The park is considered
free of malaria.
Other nature areas of interest
South Africa has many nature protected areas, of which many offer visitors good
opportunities to experience wildlife, birds and nature. You may find such areas by searching
the web. You may also consult the book Guide to Southern African game & nature
reserves (ISBN 1-86825-558-1) by Chris and Tilde Stuart, which has much information
on such areas in South Africa and other countries in southern Africa.
Other destinations/activities in South Africa
Rovos Rail offers very special travelling by rail in southern
Africa. The coaches are old-fashioned and luxurious, and the comfort and service is
first class. The trains are even hauled by steam locomotives during some stages. A few
different routes are offered, including main destinations such as Pretoria, Durban and
Cape Town in South Africa, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Swakopmund in Namibia,
and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The journeys are all about
travelling slowly, very comfortably and in style. Rovos also has classic aircraft (Convair
440, DC-3 and DC-4), fitted with business class seats, for transfer flights.
Parts of the southern coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth are referred to as
the Garden Route. It is a route of pretty nature, high mountains, beautiful views of
the landscape and the sea, valleys, lakes, rivers, forests and beaches. (Some of the
parks described above are situated along the Garden Route: Wilderness
National Park, Knysna National Lake Area and Tsitsikamma
South Africa offers good golfing opportunities, on both new and old courses; there are
more than 600 courses in the country. Many of them are demanding, while others offers
antelopes and other animals for spectators. The coast has many fine seaside courses,
with good views of beaches and the ocean, and coastal winds to master. A number of courses
around Cape Town may suit visitors that want to combine the game with sightseeing or
tours into the wine districts. Many courses offer comfortable or even luxurious accommodation,
including beautiful surroundings and good food.
Most of South Africa's vineyards are found towards the coast in the Western Cape Province,
i.e. around Cape Town. The climate here is Mediterranean, with warm and dry summers
and ample rainfall during winters. Vineyards are also found in the drier northern and
eastern parts, where the climate demands different cultivation techniques and results
in other wine styles. There are many vineyards to visit, and many offer wine tasting.
South Africa is just south of the Southern Tropic, and has a mainly dry and sunny climate.
The climate generally becomes more humid the further east you go, but there are also
local humid areas, such as the areas around Cape Town in south-western South Africa.
Going north along the coast from Cape Town, the climate becomes drier and hotter, and
the landscape changes into desert when you approach the border to Namibia
in the north. The coast east of Cape Town has a temperate climate, which changes into
subtropic north-east of Port Elizabeth, and shows more and more tropic character the
further to the north-east you go.
Inland South Africa is drier and has mild or cool winters. Areas at higher altitudes
may be cold, and some even receive snowfall during winters.
Please note that 'summer' and 'winter', as used on this page, refer to the local seasons,
which may not coincide with summers and winters in other parts of the world.
This web page on South Africa is a stand-alone introduction page that comes outside
the main scope Safari in Kenya and Tanzania of www.safariguide.com. Information
found elsewhere on this site might not be fully applicable to South Africa or safaris
in South Africa.