South Africa Safaris
When considering a South African vacation, a visit to this beautiful scenic country gives you many options. One definite option that should be included is a South Africa safari when you can come up close to the amazing wildlife that roams this part of the world. South Africa has an abundance of game reserves and Goway offers a wide selection of them. This can be experienced by staying in upscale lodges as well as less expensive communal accommodation sharing very basic dormitory accommodation. It depends on your style and budget.
The best known game reserve is Kruger National Park, one of the largest African safari game reserves in the world containing 147 different species of animals. It encompasses nearly 2 million hectares/5 million acres and fourteen different ecosystems. The game reserve naturally includes the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo). It also contains over 500 species of birds. Breaking this down by animal type to give an idea of how large the park is, there are approximately 150,000 impala, 17,000 zebra, 11,000 elephants, 5,000 white rhino, 1500 lions and 1000 leopards. This makes Kruger National Park a natural choice for game viewing. The park basically consists of two areas. There is the more public eastern section which offers, for the most part, basic accommodation plus a range of hotels outside the perimeter of the park from which game drives can be taken. The other area involves the more upscale and in many cases, luxurious accommodation in outstanding lodges domiciled in their own territories. Examples are the private game reserves of Sabi Sands, Klaserie, Timbavati and Kapamana reserves. Your choices here are upscale lodge accommodation or luxury tented camps of which some are ultra luxurious and others quite affordable. In a private game reserve, safari vehicles are allowed to go off the road into the bush whereas, in the public section, they must stick to the roads within the park.
The St. Lucia Wetlands, also known as Isimangaliso Wetland Park, is one of South Africa’s most beautiful wetland and coastal sites. Not only is it an animal sanctuary but it is also blessed with coral reefs, long sandy beaches, sand dunes, lakes with hippos and crocodiles and swamps with birdlife. It is geographically diverse with inspiring scenic vistas along its 220 kilometre/130 mile coastline. The park contains 3 major lake systems, 8 interlinking ecosystems and most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests. It is Africa’s largest estuary system with over 500 bird species. Animals which make their home here include elephant, African leopard, black and southern white rhino and buffalo. Close by, in the ocean, you will find whales, dolphins, and marine turtles. The park is also home to 1200 Nile crocodiles and 800 hippopotamus.
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal province is one of the best places in South Africa to see the endangered rhino. The reserve has both black and white rhino as well as members of the Big Five. It is the oldest game reserve on the African continent and one of South Africa's largest. In the reserve, you will also see elephant, cheetah, hippo, hyena, jackal, giraffe and wild dog.
The Madikwe Game Reserve, located in the North West Province, is situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in North West South Africa, not far from the border with Botswana. It is unique for as a game reserve, it did not exist prior to 1991. For economic reasons, it was decided by the authorities to convert low-yield cattle farmland to a high-yield conservation area. Herds of breeding animals were brought in and relocated here. Now Madikwe consists of all the major game animals one would normally see on an Africa safari. There are, in fact, a total of around 10,000 animals and 60 different species. In addition, there are 350 species of bird life. Considering its beginnings, this reserve has grown to be the 5th largest game park in South Africa.
You wouldn’t primarily go to Sun City, also in the North West Province, for game viewing as its reason for being lies in other attractions. However, if you do happen to go there, you also have the opportunity to experience wildlife viewing at the nearby Pilanesberg Game Reservewhich borders Sun City. It consists of rugged landscapes and well-watered valleys suitable for attracting animals. Since 1979, thanks to something called Operation Genesis, the largest game translocation ever undertaken at the time, brought to the park everything from A to Z (that is aardvark to zebra). The park has a healthy population of lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo. A wide variety of rare and common species exists such as the nocturnal brown hyena, fleet-footed cheetahs well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and crocodile.
If you are in the vicinity of Port Elizabeth on a South African vacation, there is a choice for a safari at one of the nearby game reserves. These include the Addo Elephant National Park with the world’s densest collection of elephants. It is the third largest game reserve in South Africa with its 600 elephants, 400 Cape buffalo plus the Big Five. There is also the Pumba Private Game Reserve, home to the Big Five as well as rare white lion, hippo, hyena, cheetah, giraffes, various antelope and more than 300 bird species and the Kragga Kamma Game Park, home to vast herds of white rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe and zebra.
The Phinda Private Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal is a unique park for more than one reason. It is a place where you can not only view wild animals and rare birds but you can also go for a swim in the Indian Ocean and be surrounded by dolphins. It was also the location for one of the biggest reintroductions of game in Africa. The area was restocked with lion, rhinoceros, buffalo, elephant, leopard, giraffe and other animals and now has some of the most popular wildlife.
The Tswalu KalahariReserve is a privately owned game reserve in the Northern Cape on the Botswana border and is South Africa’s largest private game reserve in area covering over 100,000 hectares/250,000 acres. It offers the opportunity to see four of the Big Five (unfortunately no lions). Other activities available include horseback riding, hot air ballooning and even a spa treatment.
So, on your South African vacation, do include a safari taking in at least one of the excellent game reserves available.
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