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.