South Africa safari holidays
From headline-grabbing Big Five icons to thousands-strong roaming herds of game, South Africa’s endless swathes of protected wilderness promise exceptional wildlife viewing.
The private reserves surrounding Kruger National Park – Sabi Sands, Ngala, Thornybush and Timbavati – are the setting for some of South Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges. They also provide some of the country’s best safari experiences, with classic game drives, walking safaris and even overnight sleep-outs providing opportunities for up-close encounters with lions, leopards, elephants and more.
Close to the Garden Route, good for families, malaria free and catering to a wide range of budgets, the Eastern Cape’s reserves are another major draw. The big hitters here are Amakhala, Shamwari, Kwandwe and Kariega, all of which offer Big Five game viewing, a good choice of accommodation and easy access from nearby Port Elizabeth.
To the east, in KwaZulu-Natal, the andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve is a birder’s paradise, home to an incredible 415 species, while the neighbouring iSimangaliso Wetland Park has fewer crowds and a diversity of habitats that are home to everything from hippo and white rhino to turtles, crocodiles, whales and dolphins.
Further off the beaten track still, the semi-arid and bushveld habitats of the Northwest Province and Northern Cape include the Tswalu Kalahari, famed for its sweeping desert landscapes and large population of inquisitive meerkats.
Kruger National Park
This magnificent 20,000 square-kilometre national park and its surrounding private reserves provide some of the continents very best game viewing. Home to 147 species of mammal and more than 500 species of birds, it’s a region that offers unrivalled opportunities to see the Big Five and stays in some of the country’s most luxurious safari lodges.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Located in South Africa’s Northwest Province, which shares a border with neighbouring Botswana, Madikwe Game Reserve offers malaria-free game viewing and the chance to see rare African wild dog along with elephant, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, springbok, white rhino and more than 300 bird species.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Also malaria-free, the stark landscapes of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, just north of Swellendam in the Western Cape, have been home to the San tribespeople for centuries. Wildlife here is plentiful and includes the Big Five, but the star attraction has to be its resident pride of white lions.
Eastern Cape Game Reserves
Counting Amakhala, Shamwari, Kwandwe and Kariega in their number, the reserves of the Eastern Cape are among South Africa’s most popular, and with good reason. Here, you can combine malaria-free, Big Five game viewing with luxurious lodge accommodtion, all conveniently located at the far eastern end of the Garden Route.
andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve
In the eastern province of KwaZulu- Natal, and within easy reach of its iSimangaliso Wetland Park neighbour, this spectacular private reserve counts cheetah and black rhino among its numbers. The idyllic beaches of the Indian Ocean coast are also close by.
Tswalu Kalahari is South Africa’s largest private game reserve, and, with just 30 guests allowed in at any one time, it’s the place to go to escape the crowds.The dramatic desert landscapes provide a genuine wilderness experience. While it’s no Kruger, visitors can still expect to see black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetahs, meerkats, rare pangolins, raptors and desert black rhinos.
Top itineraries in South Africa's Game Reserves
This is the ultimate introduction to South Africa. A spectacular drive along the Garden Route's rolling greenery and coastal beauty will see you link Cape Town’s beachside charms with the country’s finest vineyards and whale watching spectacles before ending with an all-inclusive Big Five safari.
Follow in the tracks of kings and presidents with a trip aboard the stunning Blue Train, its 19th-century luxuries linking the beach-clad joys of Cape Town with an all-inclusive Big Five safari. Return from expert-led game drives in a private reserve to four poster beds and gourmet meals.
With KwaZulu-Natal perhaps the most richly diverse of South Africa’s provinces, this spectacular drive takes in everything from the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains and Durban’s beachfront charms to Zulu battlefields and an all-inclusive, Big Five safari.
Top places to stay in South Africa's Game Reserves
The luxurious safari lodge, Dulini River lodge is located in the western sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve under a leafy evergreen thicket, ebony trees and upon the banks of the seasonal Sand River.
Boasting a true and authentic feeling of African history, Kirkman's Kamp is located high on a ridge, offering incredible views that span across the Kamp.
Set in a rare and beautiful sand forest, the dense canopy ensures privacy and a calming atmosphere of Zulu Zen. Located between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, it is home to unique wildlife, over 380 bird species and the marine diversity off the nearby coast is said t…
Where to go in South Africa's Game Reserves
With an outstanding range of private concessions and award-winning private game reserves and lodges offering the opportunity to spot the Big Five, the Eastern Cape game reserves are a major draw for visitors.
African wildlife has been successfully reintroduced into the reserves of the Western Cape and they now offer an excellent safari destination, along with the beautiful flora of the Fynbos Floral Kingdom and the area's other popular attractions such as The Cape Winelands and coastal whale and shark s…
The reserves of KwaZulu-Natal boast lush green terrain thanks to the area's coastal rainfall pattern. The woods, wetlands and grasslands combine with mountains, rivers, marshes and pans to create a rich environment, abundant with diverse wildlife.
The Kruger game reserves offer some of South Africa's most prestigious game viewing, with a host of luxury lodges and plenty of free roaming wildlife - especially Big Five. Ngala Private Game Reserve was the first private reserve to be integrated in the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reser…
South Africa's Game Reserves articles
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