Top 5 National Parks in South Africa

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Traveling to South Africa with your family would be a wonderful school break opportunity for one of your longer vacation periods.  Highly educational, enjoyable and memorable.

Kruger National Park © by Franck Photography

When travelling to another country, it is often hard to decide what you will spend your precious time and money on once you’re there. This problem becomes even bigger when you have your precious family to consider.

One of South Africa’s greatest heritages is the wildlife, the birdlife and the rich vegetation. If you want to see all of this in one place, visiting a national park is the best option. Choosing one can be a bit of a minefield, so I have compiled a list of the best national parks South Africa has to offer, to make your decision easier. Most of these parks boast world class safari lodges as well as down to earth camps if you need to stay over during your visit to South Africa.

The Kruger National Park is arguably the most popular one in Africa. If you are only visiting the Western Cape, there are also parks that can compete with the Kruger any day. Other regions in South Africa will also be covered so that you don’t have to travel too far with the family.

1.     Kruger National Park in Gauteng

Meet the Big 5, which is Africa’s pride, consisting of the lion, the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. As these animals are both beautiful and dangerous, one of the many organised game drives available is the best option if you want to get the best of this world renowned national park.

2.     West Coast National Park

Surrounding the picturesque Langebaan Lagoon, the West Coast National Park is popular for its spring life, magical birdlife, as well as the azure waters, to mention a few. The quaint town of Paternoster is just a stone’s throw from the park, which showcases the rich culture of the West Coast.

3.     Garden Route (Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness) National Park

Described as a myriad of ecosystems, the Garden Route National Park encompasses the Tsitsikamma, Knysna and Wilderness, the Knysna Lake section, Southern Cape forest as well as Fynbos regions. The park has a variety of accommodation options and loads of fun activities for the whole family.

4.     Hluhluwe Game Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal

Zebras - Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park © by Craig Baerwaldt

Being the oldest game reserve in Africa, this reserve offers the Big 5 in all its glory with the benefit of viewing them at close range at one of the many waterholes in the reserve. Both private and joint game drives are available, as well as guided walks in the early morning and late afternoon.

5.     Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape

As vegetation is sparse in this part of the country, it is easy to spot the gemsbok, eland and blue wildebeest, providing excellent photo opportunities.

There are also other parks to take note of that are not that far away from the above-mentioned parks, which are the Addo Elephant Park outside Port Elizabeth in the Southern Cape, the Agulhas National Park in the Western Cape and the Augrabies Falls National Park in the Northern Cape.

Planning a trip to sunny South Africa? Go for that game drive, pitch that tent and grab those binoculars!

Cheréne Pienaar is an avid traveller who has a passion for the tip of the African continent. Cheréne blogs for Discover, a travel agency that makes it easy to research, plan and book an African holiday

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