National Parks in South Africa
South Africa is gifted as one of the most wildlife abundant countries in South African with more than 20 national parks managed by South African National PAKS (SANParks). More than 37,000sq km i.e. 3% of South African land is covered by wilderness protected areas that make National parks and game reserves.
The most visited South Africa national parks include Kruger Park and Table Mountain receiving more than 2,000 South African tourists every year. However you are not to be disappointed by any of the South African parks or game reserves you will visit on South African safari holidays. Each of the South Africa national parks has something special with wild animals especially the Big Five.
Addo Elephant National Park is South Africa’s largest game park gazetted in 1931. It is a very incredible game park set to conserve the rich bio-diversity in northern South Africa area of Karoo around Darlington Dam near Port Elizabeth to the rugged mountains of Zuurberg. It occupies around 180sq km of an elephant protected area. There are now more than 550 elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lion, spotted hyenas, leopard, zebras, antelopes, red hartebeests and jackals among other wild animals that make up the rich habitat.
Agulhas National park is actually one of the first sights of African wilderness set eyes ion by the early European explorers on Cape Agulhas. The coast is a sight of wrecked ships from the mysterious storms that rocked the coast and the different archaeological remains of early man. The park was gazetted to protect the coastal marine life that include African Black oysters, Damara tern and Cape Plantana besides other attractions left by the early explorers on the beach coast.
Augrabies Falls National Park is a great place on South African Safari. The park was called Aukoerebis by the Khoi-Khoi people that settled here which translates for…The Place of Great Noise. The Orange River creates a beautiful water fall that runs over a narrow gorge forming the scenic Augrabies Falls. The park has several interesting sights that include Moon rock, Swart Ramte hills and a range of wild game that are rock hyrax, springbok, black rhino, Klipspringer, flat lizards and several birds like African fish eagles and Verreaux Eagle.
A world Heritage site from a diverse botanical spectacle is Bontebok National Park. The park is renowned for its Bontebok antelopes that numbered 30 by the time it was gazetted in 1931. There are also several unique plants species that grow in the park and not found anywhere else in the world. Although Bontebook is ranked the smallest national park in South Africa, you can enjoy distinct sights of cape zebras, hartebeest, rhebok as part of the park’s wild animals. Other interesting site in this park includes Montangu Hot springs and Breede river.
Camdeboo National Park lies in the scenic landscape of Karoo lying more than 700 -1800m above sea level on Sneeuberg hills. The park is only visited by visitors on 4X4 vehicles as martial eagles fly over the predominantly eroded rocks. The Valley of Deception is a major attraction within the park that was formed called Karoo Nature reserve. Nqweba Dam over more than 1,000ha of the park in the rainy season and is another tourist attraction within Camdeboo. Some of the wildlife in Cambedoo includes Cape mountain zebras, rodents, springbok, blesbok, wildebeest, steenbok, Cape buffalo, red hartebeest and gemsbok. The most common birds in the game viewing area are: Pale Chanting Goshawk, Rock Kestrel, Namaqua Dove and Speckled Mousebird.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park occupies around 116sq km on the hill slopes of Maluti Mountains in north eastern Free State province. Some of the game in this park includes wildebeest, eland, springbook, burchell’s zebra, oribi and blesbok while the birds include Lammergeyer’s vultures and bald ibis and many others. Other interesting sights in the park include Van Reenen grave, Brandwag buttress rock and hikes to its peaks where you have undeniably beautiful views of the Drakensburg, Generaalskop and Zuluhoek.
Garden Route National Park is another of the South Africa’s largest Game parks stretching to include Kysna lake, Tsitsikamma and Wilderness game reserves in the southern cape area. The park is predominantly made up of forested slopes, rugged coastal scenery and ranks as third in most visited South African National Parks. In Wilderness Nature reserve is home to the brightly colored Knysna lourie, and runs from Touw River delta to Swartvlei estuary where it joins with the Goukamma Nature Reserve.
Karoo National Park is home to the largest and richest eco-system in South Africa called the Great Karoo. The park only makes a small area of the entire Karoo landscape on the rolling plains of Nuweveld Mountains. The park is home to the cape mountain zebra, buffalo, black rhino, black eagle and many other animals. Much of the park’s wildlife was under great extinction threats but there are conservation drives to restore wildlife in this park.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a vast Southern Africa wilderness region that extends from Botswana Gemsbok National Park to the borders on Namibia and South Africa. The rolling red dunes, camel thorn trees, Black-Mane lion, leopards, gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest among many other sights mark the park’s scenery.
Kruger National Park is the most famed South African National park on the border with Mozambique. As one of the oldest game parks in south Africa, Kruger park extends to include some private game reserves such as Sabi Sands, Timbavati and thornybush to create one vast wild habitat for animals like lions, zebras, giraffe, buffalo, elephants, plus 500 different birds among other interesting features.
Table Mountain National Park is another famous South African National park from the every western tip of Africa covering the scenic Table Mountains and across the Cape Point Reserve to the beaches of the Cape Peninsula. The park is a rich, diverse and unique fauna and flora, truly remarkable and, historical site for South Africa. The reserve is a beautiful coastal attraction inscribed in white sand beaches, beautiful aquatic plants and with very historical attractions of Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point that date back several years before the colonial era.
Mountain Zebra National Park was gazetted as a national park in 1937 to basically protect the endangered cape mountain zebras that are unique to South Africa. Other animals within the park include black rhino, grey rhebok, mountain reedbuck, gemsbok, red hartebeest, eland and the cheetah among others. Some of its habitat birds include Denham’s bustard and the blue crane.
Mapungubwe National Park is found on the border of South Africa with Botswana and Zimbabwe in the hills of Mapungubwe. The major attraction within this park is the confluence of the river Limpopo and Shashe that make a source of life within the park. Some of the animals living in this South African National park include elephants, giraffe, eland, gemsbok, lions, leopards, hyena, white rhino and birds like fishing owl, kori bustard and the tropical boubou among others.
Namaqua National Park is a splendor as you drive through the beautiful valleys of Namaqualand, the spring flowers and more than 3,000 different plants and wildlife. The park is home to porcupine, baboons, Namaqua Speckled Padloper, klipspringer, scorpions and many other smaller mammals.
Mokala National Park is the latest of South Africa national parks from Kimberley west of Cape Town. The rolling hills of Mokala Koppieveld and the vast open plains are what make up the park’s scenery. Most of the park’s plains are dotted with Camel Thorn trees from which the park derives is name Mokala (Setswana dialect). The wildlife in the park include black rhino, tsessebe, roan antelope, wildebeest and the white rhino among others
Marakele National Park is found in the valleys of Waterberg Mountains of eastern south Africa. The area is clad in grassy hills, rare yellow wood and cedar trees, ferns and several other palnts. Elephants, rhino, vultures, kudu, reedbuck, eland among other animals are part of the scenery at Marakele South African National park
Takwa Karoo National park is found in the Northern Cape border within the boundaries of Roggeveld Escarpment and mountains. The succulent Karoo Biome marks the area’s scenery besides the rich birdlife and sheer cliffs from the mountain.
Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is situated in the north on the bend of the Orange River as it flows in the rugged mountain deserts of the Nama land occupying around 160sq km. The park has a wide variety of plant life, some species occurring nowhere else, such as gnarled quiver trees, tall aloes and the quaint 'halfmensboom' (half person tree) keeping vigil over this inscrutable landscape. You will also find a remarkable range of small reptiles, birds and mammals like rock hyrax, Hartmann’s mountain zebras and Jackal Buzzards.
West Coast National Park is a secluded wilderness on Saldanha Bayand near Langebaan lagoon to the west. The park was gazetted as a south Africa national park in 1985to protect the endemic bio-doversity if Geelbek, seeburg and Abrahamskraal birds. Other birds in the park include flamingos, waders, black harriers and many others. The summer in the park bring a boom of blossom of wild flowers that are inviting to nature lovers who are forced to explore the park by cycling, of on mountain bikes. The beach is a popular site for kayaking, kite boarding and jet skiing among other water adventure. The whale visit Saldanha bay around August to November in Tsaarsbak.