The Africa Guide -
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Africa Travel


National Parks & Game Reserves in South Africa

South Africa National Parks Game Reserves Map Bontebok NP Addo Elephant NP Karoo NP Augrabies Falls NP Pilanesberg NP Madikwe GR Kalahari Gemsbok Kruger NP

Addo Elephant Park
Augrabies Falls N P
Bontebok N P
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Kalahari Gemsbok N P
Karoo N P
Kruger N P
Mountain Zebra N P
Madikwe G R
Pilanesberg N P
Links to Private Reserves

Most visitors to South Africa will want to visit at least one of the country's protected wilderness areas, so they can experience, first-hand, the wonder of nature in an untamed environment.

Wildlife viewing is highly enjoyable throughout the year, but the ideal time to visit is from April to September, during the South African winter. In the wildlife areas most rain falls during the South African summer, encouraging lush vegetation and making wild animals more difficult to spot. In the winter the bush is more sparse, forcing the game to drink at rivers and waterholes, where it can be more easily viewed. Best time of the day for seeing the game is in the early morning or late afternoon through to dusk. This is when the animals are at their most active. In the heat of the day they will retreat to the shadows so look for them sheltering under trees or bushes.

Nevertheless, the wildlife in South Africa's parks and reserves is so prolific that an unforgettable experience is more or less guaranteed and many visitors will get the chance to see at least some of the "big five" - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, as well as cheetah, giraffe, hippo, a numerous variety of antelopes and an abundance of bird species.

South Africa's wildlife sanctuaries fall into three main categories: nature parks, private and national game reserves.


Addo Elephant National Park was originally established in 1931 to protect the huge herds of elephants that once roamed the area. Over the years that park region has been extended and it is now the third largest national park in South Africa.
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This park is located in the Northern Cape Province approx 120kms west of Upington, featuring the Augrabies Falls, where the Orange River drops into a solid granite ravine. The main falls drop 56mtrs and is quite impressive particular during the raining season. Most the mammals in the park are small and include, klipspringer antelope, squirrel, rock dassie, although recently introduced to the park, on the north bank of the river, are black rhino, eland, springbok and kudu.

consists of a camping ground and self contained chalets and advance bookings are taken by the South African National Parks .


Bontebok National ParkBontebok is located in the Western Cape Province six km south of Swellendam, and is a small plot that was specifically set aside to protect the almost extinct Bontebok antelope, that is found nowhere else. Birdlife in the park is abundant and it is home to numerous antelope. The park also has large variety grasses and other plant species..


Golden Gate National ParkSituated in north-eastern Free State, Gate Gate Highlands National Park is a small park covering an area of about 116 sq km. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp. This is a unique environment; a true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.

There is a lovely camping site situated next to Mushroom Rock and there is a restcamp with Rondavals and rooms - booking in advance is adviseable.

Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve
Hhe oldest game reserve in South Africa, which was formed for the sole purpose of saving the Rhino


This park, although not as well known as some other parks in South Africa is worth a visit. It is located in the Northern Cape Province and borders with Namibia to the north west and Botswana to the north east and covers an area of approximately 9591 sq km on the South African side and a further 1.8 million hectares in Botswana which makes it one of the largest protected areas in Africa. Although much of the landscape is semi-desert it is the territory of the majestic, rapier-horned gemsbok, the delicate springbok and the Kalahari lion as well as supporting large populations of birds, reptiles and small mammals and antelope. Much of the wildlife is concentrated around and along the Nossob and Aoub River beds and waterholes, where wildlife viewing is quite remarkable.

There are rest-camps at Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob offering a range of fully equipped cottages and camping facilities. Again, if you want to stay in the park you will need to pre-book accommodation with the South African National Parks . There are plenty of places offering accommodation on route to the park.


Located in the Western Cape Province near Beaufort West covering an area of 330 sq kms. The Karoo landscape and scenery is spectacular and the park home to 60 species of mammal, the most common being the dassie and bat-eared fox. A few rhino's have recently been introduced but not much big game is found here. There is a three day hiking trial within the park.

is available in the form of a caravan park and 2 person chalets. It is best booked in advance through the South African National Parks .


The world famous Kruger National Park was established in 1898 by Paul Kruger. It offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Home to a wealth of animals, including 147 species of mammals, including the BIG5, 500 species of bird and 33 types of amphibian.
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Located 360 km from Johannesburg, an easy 3 ½ hour drive on National roads. It is situated in the North West Province and is bordered by Botswana in the north, the spectacular Dwarsberg Mountains to the south, the Marico river to the east. The diverse habitat in the Madikwe Reserve, from acacia savannah to riverine, ensures a unique combination of species such as springbok, gemsbok, sable and impala. The birdlife is spectacular and it is also one of the few reserves in South Africa that is malaria free.

In 1992, Madikwe Game Reserve, created from 750 sq km of farmland, which had been extensively degraded by overgrazing, was chosen as the site of Operation Phoenix. The government-sponsored, biggest-ever game- relocation programme in Africa involved re-stocking and conserving flora and wildlife, which had long since disappeared from the region. Ten thousand animals of 27 major species, including wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, have been re-introduced to the Reserve over a six year period with animals coming from various reserves and breeding centres and game viewing is now at its prime. Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the country’s fourth largest game reserve.


Located approximately 30kms from Cradock on the northern slopes of the Bankberg Mountain Range offering magnificent view over the Karoo. This small park protects on of the rarest animals in the word - the mountain zebra, but it is also home to many antelope species. There are few roads and you can choose to go on a three day Mountain Zebra Trail or two short day walks.

is available at The Doornhoek, which is a restored farmhouse dating back to 1836 and located in a secluded valley. There are also camp sites and cottages available which can be booked through the South African National Parks .

PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK  -  click to view recommended Tours and Safaris

Located in the North-West province, the park adjoins Sun City and protects an area of more than 500 sq. km. It is situated on the site of an ancient volcanic crater and boasts a large diversity of plant and animal life, including the white and black rhino, elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra, leopard, jackal, hyena and wide variety of antelope and although rare, you could even be fortunate to spot a cheetah.

There are various types of accommodation available in the park: two restcamps with chalets, three restcamps with safari tents and some luxurious lodges and hotels.

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