Here is a full list of National Parks in South Africa for you to see wildlife and experience being totally enveloped by exquiste nature.
Table of Contents
- National Parks in Limpopo
- National Parks in Mpumalanga
- National Parks in the Northern Cape
- National Parks in the Western Cape
- National Parks in Eastern Cape
- National Parks KwaZulu-Natal
National Parks in Limpopo
Mapungubwe National Park
Part of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, this Unesco World Heritage site is situated close to where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet, at the confluence of the mighty Limpopo and Sashe Rivers.
A visit to Mapungubwe National Park is like slipping into a Ryder Haggard adventure ... Exotic, untamed, wild and beautiful. A safari here will take you deep into the territory that was once the dominion of the Mapungubwe people, now home to four of Africa's Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant and rhino).
Other rare animals that call this national park home include cheetah, hyaena, and very rare wild dogs. Take a guided morning game walk to experience the African wilderness when the animals are busily going about their morning business, and the flora is at its most beautiful.
Guides will show you around the remains of an ancient African kingdom on Mapungubwe Hill, and at the park's museum you can personally meet the world-famous Golden Rhino, the artefact that has become almost an emblem of the people who lived and traded in this area between 1200 and 1290 AD.
Or enjoy an unforgettable sunset game drive and later enjoy supper under the stars on the shore of a lake, surrounded by burning lanterns, while listening to the sounds of the wild -- think lions roaring.
Or take a walk through the riverine forest on a raised canopy walkway to the edge of the mighty Limpopo River where you'll see the legendary Boabab trees this part of South Africa is famous for. Or just relax at one of the riverside picnic sites and soak up the wild. There is accommodation, a restaurant, curio shop and other amenities at the park.
Mapungubwe National Park is one of South Africa's SANParks, which means it is pubically-run and solely dedicated to researching and conserving the flora and fauna of this beautiful country.
The Marakele National Park
Situated in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains, where the dry western and more moist easterly regions of South Africa meet, Marakele National Park boasts a wide variety of wildlife including elephant, leopard, brown hyaena, and lion.
Among the antelope population guests will find sable, kudu, eland, impala, waterbuck, and tsessebe. Another SANPark, guests can choose between one-hour and all-day long hikes in the wilderness, day and night game drives and more.
Those in the know recommend that visitors take warmer clothing in the cold months (May to August) and cool, 'breathable' wear in the hot summer months.
National Parks in Mpumalanga
The Kruger National Park
This is the real Africa -- where you'll find Africa's Big Five -- leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo on nearly two million hectares of pristine wilderness. The iconic Kruger National Park offers an unrivalled wildlife experience.
Take a real safari, stay in a rustic camp and experience Africa's wildlife on a guided walk, or enjoy a sunset game drive when the nocturnal creatures are out. Once in a lifetime experiences here, guaranteed.
National Parks in the Northern Cape
Augrabies Falls National Park
The Augrabies Falls, or Place Of Great Noise, as the Khoisan people called it, is a magnificent 18-kilometre abyss in the Orange River Gorge. Take your mountain bike into the park for the best wildlife viewing, (Verreaux’s Black Eagle, the giant Water Monitor, Cape Clawless Otter, Klipspringer and Dassies) or take the five-kilometre, self-guided Dassie Nature Trail to view the beautiful Moon Rock, stunning natural potholes, and the foreboding black Swart Rante.
Scattered across this wilderness is the iconic Shepherd's Tree, a plant so steeped in mystic spiritual and cultural value to African peoples that its destruction is forbidden by law. The more energetic can enjoy the Klipspringer Hiking Trail, a rigorous five-day hike, but please note this trail is closed from October to March because of the heat.
There is an a la carte restaurant in the park, with viewing platforms for the Falls within a short walk, as well as a lovely curio shop. While there are modern conveniences, such as a filling station in the park, South Africa's Northern Cape is best known for it's desolate beauty and unfortunately, there are no ATM machines in this true African wilderness experience.
However, the sheer natural beauty of the place, and the spiritual experience of the landscape are the rich rewards of a visit here.
For availablity, bookings and more information, see www.sanparks.org/parks/augrabies/tourism/general.php#contact
National Parks in the Western Cape
West Coast National Park
A short one-and-a-half hour drive from downtown Cape Town is the West Coast National Park. Relax on the shores of the glorious, azure Langebaan Lagoon, before enjoying a meal at the beautifully-restored Geelbek Restaurant -- where a range of traditional local dishes (think Dutch, Portuguese, Malay, Italian, and Norwegian influences) will have the gourmet in you reeling with pleasure.
Further into the reserve, cyclists, hikers and mountain bikers will find a paradise of rare Cape fynbos, verdant green wetlands, white dunes and white-tipped deep blue Atlantic waves. Or follow in the footsteps of Eve ...
This two-and-a-half day hike, Eve's Trail is a trail of unmistakable human foot prints in rock, believed to be that of a young woman who lived 117 000 years ago. Nature-lovers will fall in love with Eland, red hartebeest, Cape grysbok, Caracal, rock hyrax and African wildcat, Cape fox and bat-eared fox, while the Atlantic Ocean presents an ever-changing smorgasboard of rare marine life including African penguins, seals and passing Great White sharks, whales and dolphins.
And did we mention that once a year, every year between August and September, Nature presents her very own flower show, with enough colour and variety to easily rival Chelsea? Get more information at www.sanparks.org.
Eve's Trail is a fully portered and catered hike through the West Coast National Park. For more on Eve's Trail and how to book, visit www.capebiospheretrails.co.za.
National Parks in Eastern Cape
Addo Elephant National Park
South Africa's third largest national park by geographical area, Addo Elephant National Park has the honour of being home to Africa's Big Seven! That's The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino) plus two (the Great White shark and Southern Wright whale).
In a sentence, it's the ultimate African safari! Think game drives, hiking trails, horseback trails, and marine eco tours. The famous Addo horse trails are probably the only place in the world where you can view Africa's Big Five from horseback, while the less adventurous will enjoy a Zuurberg horseback trail through the scenic Zuurberg Mountains.
No large game encounters here, just magnificent mountain beauty. section of the park - where there are no encounters with large game, but some beautiful scenic views of the mountains.
Or take part in a once-in-a-lifetime marine eco tour, for guaranteed sightings of the perfect ocean predator, the Great White shark, and the awesome Southern Right whale, in their natural environment. Contact the park through the official website www.sanparks.org/parks/addo/tourism/contact_details.php. Marine Eco Tours can be booked via www.raggycharters.co.za.
National Parks KwaZulu-Natal
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
A Unesco World Heritage Site, this awesome KwaZulu-Natal Wetland Park stretches 220-kilometres along the Zululand coast from Maphelane in the south to Kosi Bay on the Mozambican border in the north, and includes the 60-kilometre long St Lucia Estuary, a beautiful turquoise lagoon running parallel to the coastline (Africa's largest), and inland Lake St Lucia, home to more than a thousand Hippos and Crocodiles.
The reserve protects an incredible variety of scenery, from African swamp forests (rare), 25 000-year-old coastal vegetated dunes (some of the world's most ancient and highest), Africa's largest estuary, and the magnificent Ubombo Mountains, as well as coral reefs and untouched beaches, nesting grounds of the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles, grasslands, wetlands, mangroves and forests.
In the words of South Africa's former statesman, the much-loved Nelson Mandela, "iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhino) and the world's biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world's oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world's biggest marine mammal (the whale)."
And if that isn't enough to tempt you, maybe the birding, boat cruises, kayaking, angling, turtle tracking, whale watching, scuba diving, horseback riding, game drives, hiking, or just the idea of soaking up the golden African sun on a quiet, pristine beach will.
Contact the national parks via the Sanparks website, www.sanparks.org