South Africa Nature and Wildlife
South Africa is truly a nature lover’s destination as it offers some of the most diverse landscapes in the entire African continent. Forests, mountains, deserts, grasslands and savannahs are just some of the scenes one can hope to encounter. There is an abundance of wildlife on top of the natural surroundings that host over 700 publicly owned reserves, 200 private reserves and 19 National Parks.
Over 800 bird species are found in various places around the country throughout the year. Approximately 725 of these species are residents or annual visitors and around 50 are endemic to South Africa. Bird-watching opportunities are good all year, however, spring and summer are considered by many to be the best times.
The bushveld and savannah regions are home to many of the large animals typically associated with the African continent. The “Big Five”, the lion, the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros inhabit many parks and reserves. The term “Big Five” was coined by big game hunters regarding the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. In addition to these popular creatures are more than 200 mammal species including hippopotamus, giraffes, wildebeest and zebras. Lions and leopards are not the only big cats in South Africa; cheetahs are also found mostly to the far north in places like Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Northern Cape and reserves in KwaZulu Natal. The caracal, the African wild cat and the rare black-footed cat can also be spotted.
The waters surrounding South Africa offer as much diversity as is found on dry land. There are eight whale species including the largest mammal in the world, the blue whale as well as the popular killer whale. The southern right whale is a conservation success story in South Africa. These species got their name from the fact that they are slow-moving, rich in oil and baleen and float when killed, literally making them the ‘right’ whale to hunt. They have been protected in South Africa since 1935 and numbers are on the rise.
A trip to South Africa would not be complete without a visit to a national park or reserve. Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in Africa and is considered by many to be the ultimate safari experience. It hosts 507 bird species, 147 types of mammals and 114 different reptile species. It is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that links Kruger with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In relation to this project, fences have come down to allow animals to roam freely. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park is the oldest park in South Africa. It is the only state-run park in which all of the “Big Five” are present.
The park was established in 1895 primarily to protect the white rhino. Due to its commitment to conservation, the park now has the largest population of white rhinos in the world. The Sabi Sands Reserve rounds up what is merely a sample of what is on offer in South Africa. It is the oldest of all private game reserves in the country. The main goal of the reserve is conservation as it hosts not only the “Big Five” but many endangered species. In this capacity, it serves as a sanctuary for South African wildlife.
South Africa Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to South Africa.
Learn about the history and culture of South Africa, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about South Africa's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering South Africa for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our South Africa tours today!
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