From headline-grabbing icons to thousands-strong roaming herds of game, South Africa’s endless swathes of protected wilderness promise exceptional wildlife viewing. And, whether you're a first-time visitor hoping to tick off the Big Five or seasoned safari veteran looking to step off the beaten track in search of rare black-maned lions and pangolins, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Our safari specialists have visited all the parks and lodges we recommend, the best of which are listed below. Have browse, then give us a call to start planning your South African safari adventure.
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.
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.
Game drive from Ivory Lodge, Kruger National Park
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 accommodation, all conveniently located at the far eastern end of the Garden Route.
andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve
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.
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.