There are fantastic experiences to be loved from the wilds of South Africa’s game reserves. South African safari parks loom travelers all year round with their fascinating attractions and ever-changing phenomenon.
From the most important reserve within the nation to the oldest, and everything in between right here’s our roundup of the most effective safari and sport reserves in South Africa.
List of South African safari parks
- Addo Elephant National Park
- The /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (ARTP)
- Amakhala Game Reserve
- Augrabies Falls National Park
- Balule NR (Greater Kruger)
- Camdeboo National Park
- Djuma Game Reserve
- Dulini Game Reserve
- Golden Gate Highlands NP
- Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
- Idube Game Reserve
- Inyati Game Reserve
- Ithala Game Reserve
- Kapama Game Reserve
- Karoo National Park
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
- Kruger National Park
- Kwandwe Game Reserve
- Lion Sands Game Reserve
- Londolozi Game Reserve
- Madikwe Game Reserve
- Makalali Game Reserve
- MalaMala Game Reserve
- Manyeleti Game Reserve
- Mapungubwe National Park
- Marakele National Park
- Mokala National Park
- Mountain Zebra National Park
- Phinda Game Reserve
- Pilanesberg Game Reserve
- Sabi Sabi GR (Sabi Sands)
- Sabi Sand GR (Greater Kruger)
- Shamwari Game Reserve
- Singita GR (Sabi Sands)
- Spioenkop Game Reserve
- Tembe Elephant Park
- Thornybush GR (Greater Kruger)
- Timbavati NR (Greater Kruger)
- Ulusaba GR (Sabi Sands)
- uMkhuze Game Reserve (iSimangaliso WP)
- Waterberg Biosphere Reserve
- Weenen Game Reserve
- Zulu Nyala Game Reserve
South African safari parks
1. MalaMala Game Reserve
MalaMala is an impartial personal game reserve that shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park to the east and Sabi Sand Game Reserve on all different sides.
Having pioneered the upmarket personal game reserve expertise within the 1960s, it affords a number of the finest wildlife viewing in Africa, with simple, high-quality sightings of the Massive 5 and leopard, specifically.
MalaMala affords a number of the finest wildlife viewing on the continent.
The Big 5 is normally checked off in two days, and a leopard is simply noticed on most drives.
All sightings are unique to MalaMala guests as a result the reserve doesn’t give traversing rights to different properties, as is frequently apply within the neighboring Sabi Sand.
MalaMala is sandwiched between Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve with open borders on either side.
The vegetation consists of a woodland savannah, dense riverine forest, acacia bushveld, open grassland, and rocky outcrops.
The Sand River flows north to south by means of the reserve for 20km/13 mi and attracts ample wildlife within the Dry season.
2. Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant NP, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, has just lately been expanded and is now the third-largest national park within the nation.
It is likely one of the finest locations in South Africa to see giant herds of elephants.
The elephants are extremely relaxed, and quite a few waterholes supplies excellent alternatives to look at their social habits.
The opposite Massive 5 species are additionally current, but not as frequently seen.
Addo is a sanctuary for greater than 700 elephants, which are the main attraction of the park. It’s dwelling to the entire Big 5 together with the elusive black rhino and over 400 Cape buffalo.
Burchell’s zebra, red hartebeest, greater kudu, and yellow mongoose are noticed frequently. Algoa Bay right here has produced sightings of each nice white shark and southern proper whales.
3. Addo Elephant Park (Eastern Cape)
Simply an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, this malaria-free park affords a wide range of game viewing and is the third-largest in South Africa.
Over 600 African elephants name the park dwelling, in addition to black rhino, antelope, and Cape buffalo.
Guests can book a hop-on-guide on the reception workplace and benefit from the luxurious of trained information telling you all in regards to the park from the consolation of your automobile.
4. Sabi Sand Sport Reserve
Sabi Sands, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, shares a 50km/30 mi unfenced border with Kruger National Park and affords the most effective wildlife viewing in South Africa.
The world is split into particular person personal game reserves, all providing the last word Massive 5 expertise, luxurious lodging, nice service, and glorious meals.
Sabi Sands is the place in South Africa to simply see the entire Massive 5 in a brief interval. Even a two-day visit is normally sufficient to see all flagship species.
With good inhabitants of extremely habituated leopards, Sabi Sands is likely one of the finest locations in Africa to see these usually elusive cats.
Lions and cheetahs are additionally simply seen.
Sabi Sands is an extension of Kruger National Park and has the same comparatively thick vegetation consisting of woodland savannah.
Two rivers run by means of the reserve, offering water. The riverine vegetation makes a superb habitat for leopards and different wildlife.
5. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is justifiably probably the most well-known park in Africa. The park is the scale of a small nation and helps wildlife.
All the Massive 5 are current in giant numbers. A complete street community that’s positive for 2WD vehicles means Kruger is likely one of the finest parks for self-drive safaris.
Kruger National Park affords magnificent wildlife viewing. All the main safari animals are current together with the Big 5.
The massive cats are current in wholesome numbers, and lions, specifically, are steadily seen.
Elephants and buffalo are frequent all through, whereas white rhinos, although nonetheless quite a few, are beneath menace from poaching.
Kruger NP has all kinds of antelope together with larger kudu and the quite common impala.
Kruger’s important habitat is woodland savannah, and the vegetation is comparatively thick all through, particularly in the course of the moist season.
The gently undulating panorama has its highest peak at Khandzalive (839m), within the southwest.
Olifants Camp sitting excessively on a bluff overlooking the Olifants River is a scenic spotlight with jaw-dropping views.
Bushes to look out to embrace the baobab within the tropical north and the placing yellow fever tree close to water.
6. Pilanesberg Game Reserve
The Pilanesberg has a beautiful setting and loads of wildlife. Set within the eroded remnants of a historical volcano, the Pilanesberg is a really scenic Big 5 vacation spot.
The absolutely fenced park is nicely stocked however would possibly lack wilderness attraction to purists. Solely a two-hour drive from Johannesburg, it makes a really engaging weekend choice.
Pilanesberg GR is dwelling to the Massive 5 and affords fairly good wildlife viewing. The elephant is ample, and the white rhino is frequent.
All huge cats are current, however, you’ll need some luck to identify any. Apart from the Massive 5, you may anticipate seeing giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, and plenty of antelope species.
Pilanesberg has a sometimes sizzling summer season (October to April). However as that is the area’s Moist season, the warmth tends to get softened by afternoon rains.
Everything is reversed within the Dry season or winter (May to September) when the rain vanishes together with the warmth.
In reality, it might probably get fairly chilly when the solar disappears from the sky. The humidity stays low year-round.
7. Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park (Kwazulu Natal)
Because the oldest game reserve in Africa, Hluhluwe Umfolozi must be on each traveler’s bucket record.
It’s a Big 5 park and guests can view wildlife up shut from the numerous hides overlooking watering holes.
Hluhluwe Sports Reserve is a self-drive park however full-day, half-day, and shorter safaris may be booked making certain spectacular sightings.
Preserve an eye fixed out for the elusive leopard and African wild canine.
8. Phinda Game Reserve
Phinda is Kwazulu Natal’s finest personal game reserve. It’s on a par with a number of the finest reserves within the widespread Sabi Sands close to Kruger National Park, besides that it’s absolutely fenced and thus not a part of a larger ecosystem.
All the Big 5 are simply noticed. The reserve’s flagship species is the cheetah and sightings of this gracious cat are unsurpassed.
Phinda affords a number of the finest wildlife viewing within the nation. All huge safari animals, together with the Big 5, are normally noticed on a two-night keep.
Apart from the Big 5, their main gives attention to the cheetah, as Phinda is renowned for its sightings of this streamlined cat. Each rhino species are current and frequently seen.
You may see animals at any time of yr at Phinda, however, the drier months (May to September) have the most effective circumstances for wildlife watching.
There’s little rain, and as a consequence, the undergrowth recedes, so animals are simpler to identify.
In addition, they make their approach to native waterholes and rivers, as different water sources have dried up.
That mentioned the wet months (October to April) are whenever you’ll see migrating birds and new child animals.
9. Timbavati Nature Reserve
Timbavati, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, is a personal nature reserve with open borders to the well-known Kruger National Park. It’s a part of the Better Kruger ecosystem, which affords genuine wildlife expertise.
All the Big 5 animals are simply noticed together with the elusive leopard. The park is famed for its uncommon white lion.
Wildlife viewing tends to be excellent – Timbavati boasts all the same old giant safari animals together with elephant, buffalo, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, and their predators: lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena. Massive cats are simple to identify, however, the rhino is extra hit-and-miss.
African wild dogs are common guests to the property. The white lion is very uncommon, however, some lighter-colored lions carrying the gene are perhaps noticed.
The primary habitats within the parks are grassy plains and blended woodland.
Within the wet season, the vegetation tends to be fairly thick, however, this does not intrude a lot with the wildlife viewing due to the off-road driving permits.
10. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Northern Cape)
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, within the Kalahari Desert, presents a large ecosystem comparatively free from human interference.
The huge landscapes supply distinctive wildlife experiences that can be unmatched wherever else on the earth.
Count on herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland, and blue wildebeest, the most important black-mane lions you’ll ever see and extra.
It is a self-drive park however morning and sundown safaris may be booked at a couple of the camps.
Outdoor, Scenic, Picture Alternative
11. uMkhuze Game Reserve
uMkhuze, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, is certainly one of South Africa’s little gems. It’s seldom visited by abroad guests, however widespread with native birders and photographers.
A number of photographic shelters give close-up viewing alternatives of all kinds of animals coming to drink during the dry winter months.
Though not a typical Massive 5 reserve, all of those sought-after animals are current.
uMkhuze affords nice wildlife viewing and is dwelling to the Big 5. Each rhino species are current, and white rhino sightings are quite common.
There’s a fixed stream of animals consuming the waterholes at the entrance of the wildlife shelters.
These embrace giant numbers of zebra, blue wildebeest, warthog, and nyala. Chacma baboons usually put up a present as nicely.
The very best time to go is within the dry winter months (May to September), when clear skies and processions of wildlife at waterholes may be anticipated.
The Moist season (October to April tends to be very popular and animals may be arduous to identify as they disperse within the lush vegetation.
12. The Kruger National Park (Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces)
The Kruger National Park is probably the most well-liked safari spot in South Africa, as nicely one of many largest on the earth.
At almost two million hectares, the park affords guests a various assortment of animal species, together with the Big 5, in addition to numerous vegetation all through.
The southern portion of the park is extra lush and wooded than the drier central and northern areas and has the most important concentrations of sport.
So far as safaris go, select to self-drive (a 4×Four is advisable) or pre-book game drives through the remaining camps.
13. Lion Sands Game Reserve, Kruger National Park
Lion Sands Game Reserve, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, has 4 luxurious lodges set inside the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park.
It’s a part of an ecosystem that is dwelling to the most important focus of untamed animals within the Southern Hemisphere and is basically a safari mecca.
Dwelling to the Massive 5, many different species may even be noticed, from antelope to hyena and extra.
Safaris happen twice a day, morning and night, and they’re not confined to the principal roads, which means guests will get as near nature as doable.
About this place:
Outdoor, Conventional, Fashionable, Romantic, Distant, Relaxed, Household Pleasant, High-quality Eating
14. Madikwe Game Reserve (North West Province)
Madikwe, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, is a Big 5 game reserve located 90 kilometers north of Zeerust, towards the Botswana border near the Kalahari Desert.
Masking roughly 60,000 hectares, it’s the fifth-largest sports reserve in South Africa.
The wealthy variety of vegetation ensures a variety of game and the topography affords the very best viewing alternatives.
Day guests should not be allowed into the park, so the variety of autos within the park throughout sport drive hours is restricted to the lodges’ autos, which makes Madikwe a really unique safari vacation spot.
About this place:
Conventional, Fashionable, Romantic, Distant, Relaxed, Outdoor, Household Pleasant, Fine Eating
15. Kapama Game Reserve
Kapama is a personal game reserve with a number of high-end safari lodges providing a variety of actions, together with day and night time drives, bush walks, balloon safaris, and elephant interplay.
For those who’re eager photographers, you would possibly prefer to fine-tune your abilities in an area images workshop.
Though a part of Better Kruger, the big reserve is absolutely fenced and never half of a bigger ecosystem.
The reserve is a former cattle ranch and has been re-stocked with animals that will have beforehand occurred right here naturally.
All main safari animals are current, together with the Big 5. Lions and cheetahs are simply seen and even the shy leopard is kind of habituated.
Giraffe, wildebeest, larger kudu, and impala are all quite a few.
Because the vegetation shrinks again within the Dry season (May to September), and wildlife hangs across the few remaining water sources, that is the most effective time for viewing animals.
Actions could also be interrupted in the course of the stormy, wet season (October to April), though birders will recognize the possibility to see migratory species.
16. Mapungubwe National Park (Limpopo)
Mapungubwe National Park, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, and a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a wealthy historical past because it was as soon as dwelling to the first-ever South African kingdom to have actually thrived.
Mapungubwe National Park can also be dwelling to a big number of animals and there’s a whole lot of motion of sport between the park and its bordering international locations; Botswana and Zimbabwe.
There are additionally some very giant baobab bushes within the park, with one having a circumference of 31 meters (1,220 ft).
17. Mapungubwe National Park
Mapungubwe is a UNESCO World Heritage website and has each cultural and environmental significance.
Though wildlife isn’t as a lot of a spotlight as in different parks, the surroundings are spectacular, and Mapungubwe Hill is the location of historical civilization.
Elephants, white rhinos, and several other antelope species are frequently noticed.
Mapungubwe is dwelling to 4 of the Big 5 (buffalo absent). Lion has been noticed, however, they’re nomadic and solely often go to the world from neighboring Botswana.
Though leopard is kind of frequent, sightings of those elusive huge cats are uncommon.
Elephants, giraffes, white rhinos, eland, gemsbok, and quite a few different antelope species may be seen.
Attempt to go to Mapungubwe within the first few months of the Dry season, which stretches from May to September.
By this time the warmth and precipitation of the Moist season (October to April) have gone, however, the chilly nights of the later drier months are but to reach.
18. Marataba Safari Lodge (Thabazimbi)
Situated inside the Marakele National Park, Marataba, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, is simply three and a half hour’s drive from Johannesburg.
The malaria-free reserve is a 23,000-hectare personal enterprise on the foothills of the Waterberg Mountains.
Contrasting mountain ranges, grasslands, deep valleys, and pink mountain rock characterize the park, and the entire giant sport species, together with the large cats and a wide range of birdlife, have settled right here.
Guests can book morning and night game drives in open safari autos in addition to water safaris on the Matlabas River, bush walks, chook watching, boma dinners, and extra.
About this place:
Conventional, Fashionable, Romantic, Distant, Relaxed, Outdoor, Household Pleasant, High-quality Eating
19. Pilanesberg Game Reserve (North West Province)
Pilanesberg National Park, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, is the fourth largest in South Africa, masking roughly 55,000 hectares.
This malaria-free park is about on the eroded remnants of an alkaline volcanic crater – certainly one of solely three on the earth – and solely three hour’s drive from Johannesburg.
Pilanesberg National Park exists in a transition zone between dry Kalahari and moist Lowveld vegetation which attracts an unbelievable number of animals, wildlife that isn’t usually discovered residing in such shut proximity to one another.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve, Bojanala, North West, South Africa, +27 14 555 1600
20. Sabi Sands Game Reserve (Mpumalanga)
Sabi Sands Game Reserve is undoubtedly essentially the most unique personal game reserve in South Africa.
The 65,000-hectare game reserve is positioned on the south-western nook of the Kruger National Park and there are not any limiting fences between the 2 parks, which means wildlife roams freely.
A few of the most unique personal game lodges within the nation are located within the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and the possibility of seeing the Big 5 on safari is nearly assured.
The reserve is specifically well-known for its wonderful leopard sightings.
21. Shamwari Game Reserve (Eastern Cape)
The malaria-free Shamwari Game Reserve, which is considered one of the famous South African safari parks, is the Southern-most, huge sport, personal reserve in Africa, and stretches alongside the Bushman’s river (midway between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown) and kinds a pure extension to the well-known Backyard Route.
Within the final 25 years, 25, 000 hectares of land have been rehabilitated, and the remaining wild animal species elevated in numbers whereas species extinct in the area had been reintroduced.
The park boasts wholesome inhabitants of lion, cheetah, and leopard, so preserve an eye fixed out for them throughout your go-to.
About this place:
Conventional, Fashionable, Romantic, Distant, Outdoor, Household Pleasant
22. Tembe Elephant Park
Tembe Elephant Park hosts all of the Massive 5, however above all it’s a place for elephant lovers.
This is likely one of the few locations in South Africa, certainly wherever on the continent, the place you’re nonetheless more likely to see legendarily huge tuskers.
The park’s solely lodge affords comparatively inexpensive all-inclusive packages and is owned by the local people.
There’s a restriction on what number of self-drive guests allowed to come back into the park; solely 4×4 autos are permitted.
Tembe’s elephants are acknowledged, as giants. The bulls are large in measurement and their tusks are phenomenal.
The wildlife shelter on the waterhole is the most effective place to sit down and watch them coming and going. The park is Big 5 territory however huge cat sightings are hit-and-miss.
Tembe Elephant Park is a vital part of a deliberate transfrontier park on KwaZulu-Natal’s northern border with Mozambique and Swaziland.
It protects a tract of very uncommon sand forest, dwelling to many birding specials. Different habitats include thick woodland and wetlands.
Other Recommended Reading
- Thomson Safaris Kilimanjaro – A Guide from Tourists
- Safari near Victoria Falls: What Other Travelers Follow
- Great Migration Serengeti – A Wonder of the Wild
- Serengeti National Park Facts and Tour
- Busanga Plains – Camping and Wilderness Safaris
- Sossusvlei Camping and Trip for Adventure Lovers
- Namibia Safe Road Trip Guide for the Daredevils
- 32 Essential Tips on Namibia Guided Tours
- 11 Memorable Safari Trip Options to South Africa
- That is Why Travelers Find South Africa Safe to Travel
- 12 Great Attractions of Zimbabwe Safari Experience
- Unique Attractions of Mozambique Tours and Travels
- What to See in the Madagascar Tours and Travels
- Great Attractions of Thrilling Malawi Safari
- 11 Great Spots to Spot in Botswana Safari
- Ultimate Namibia Road Trip Itinerary
- How Much does it Cost to Travel to Zambia?
- Adventurous Kenya Safari Tours for Daredevils
- Zambia Safari Tips for the Adventure Lovers
- 13 Best Places For Safari Trip to Zambia