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South Africa National Parks

 


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Looking for a cheaper option?

There's a wide range of National Parks to choose from within South Africa. Most have at least one camp with a restaurant, so you don't have to self-cater every day.

Accommodation Advisor specializes in helping you choose a Big Game National Park.

Overview

Within South Africa, National Parks are operated by local Parks Boards and Nature conservation authorities.
Main Big Game National Park operators include:
SANParks - Kruger, Addo, Kgalagadi, Mapungubwe, Marakele.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife - Hluhluwe, Ithala, Mkhuze, Ndumo.
Most are now part of Tranfrontier or Contractual Parks with collaboration between parks authorities, private sector and local communities.

Self-Drive

Self-driving in the National Parks offers you the personal freedom to take your own path.
Experience close-up encounters with wild life, often with no other cars!
You also have the option of guided game-drives and walk
Accommodation

Generally caters to a reasonable mid-range budget with some camps offering camping (budget price).
There is a huge range of options.
Luxury guest houses, self-catering in thatch chalets and rondavels through to tented camps and campsites.
Kruger even has overnight hides for a thrilling African experience.
Activities

Activities in the National Parks include trails (foot and 4x4), game drives, guided walks, bush BBQs.
Some offer wildlife movies and Olifants has mountain biking.
Facilities

Facilities in the National Parks "main" camps usually include swimming pool, restaurant, cafe, shop and petrol pump
There is cell/mobile phone reception and some have an ATM.
Skukuza camp within Kruger National Park has a bank and internet cafe.
There are many smaller camps with fewer facilities.

SANParks National Parks 

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Location

  • Kruger National Park is located on the N/E border of South Africa.
  • On the boundary with Zimbabwe in the North
  • On the boundary with Mozambique in the East.

Overview

  • Kruger National Park is an untamed African wilderness.
  • Contains nearly 2 million hectares of unrivaled diversity of life forms roam.
  • It is managed by SANParks and offers a low cost, self-drive alternative to the surrounding private safari lodges.
  • The ability to self-drive offers a personal itinerary, freedom to explore your own path.
  • Experience truly exciting, close-up encounters with wild life.
  • There are a number of rivers flowing through the National Park, with small waterholes.
  • Picnic sites and viewing hides offering a wide range of game viewing experiences.
  • Restaurants operators are put up for tender on a regular basis.
  • Currently restaurants offer a daily menu with all-day breakfast, toasted sandwiches, pizza & limited options for dinners
  • Some camps offer a buffet-style dinner with home-style food (these can be quite expensive for S.A.standards).
  • Self-catering using your own BBQ/braai is recommended.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Excellent game viewing.
  • A large concentration of wildlife.
  • Predators (lion, leopard, cheetah, painted dog, hyena, jackal, crocodile.)
  • Big Game including elephant, rhino, hippos and herds of buffalo.
  • Grazers including giraffe, zebra, antelope and a wide variety of bird life.

Accommodation

  • 13 Main Camps
  • 5 Bush Camps
  • 3 Satellite Camps
  • 2 Overnight hides
  • 2 Bush Lodges (exclusively booked)

Click here for more information

ADDO ELEPHANT PARK

Location

  • Addo is found within the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.
  • Addo Main Camp is approx 72 km from the coastal town of Port Elizabeth.
  • Part of Addo Elephant Park (Woody Cape) is situated close to the Eastern coastline of South Africa.
  • Addo Main Camp is approx 72km from the coastal town of Port Elizabeth.

Overview

  • Addo is a SANParks reserve offering a unique opportunity to experience Elephants up close in an unthreatening environment.
  • Four wheel drive vehicles are not necessary within the main game area and road south to Camp Matyholweni.
  • Vegetation can be thick and bushy in parts however there are many open spaces and plains.
  • There are a number of scenic waterholes with viewing areas - some where you can get out of your car.

Wildlife Highlights

  • In the main game area there are over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, lion, and black rhino.
  • Throughout the whole park there are a variety of antelope species and a wide diversity of bird life.
  • The unique flightless dung beetle is found almost exclusively in Addo.

Accommodation

  • 1 Main Camp with pool and restaurant.
  • 1 Rest Camp
  • 1 Cottage
  • 1 Bush House
  • 2 Rustic Camps with huts
  • 1 Rustic Campsite

KGALAGADI NATIONAL PARK

Location

  • Far North Eastern Cape on the border with Namibia and Botswana.
  • Situated approximately 250 Km's from the town of Upington.
  • Desert area with hot summer days and cool nights.
  • Cold winters

Overview

Kgalagadi is a SANParks reserve which offers a true wilderness experience in the Kalahari Desert.

  • Four wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
  • There is a restaurant at Twee Rivieren only.
  • Small shops at Twee Rivieren, MataMata and Nossob.
  • Water is brackish - bring bottled water.
  • Bring groceries and liquor.
  • There are no tar roads.
  • Gravel roads can get corrugated and the area is susceptible to flooding.
  • Kgalagadi has two seasonally dry riverbeds running through it - the Auob and the Nossob.
  • Boreholes along these riverbeds allow for excellent close-up sightings of large predators and rare antelope.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Up-close encounters with a variety of game.
  • Famous black-maned Kalahari Lion.
  • Leopard, Spotted hyena, Cheetah, Meerkat (Suricate), Pangolin (Scaly Anteater), Brown Hyena, Giraffe and Pygmy Falcon.
  • Abundant birdlife.
  • Squirrels and golden mongoose scurry around the camps.
  • Superb sunsets.

Accommodation

  • 1 Main camp with air-conditioning, swimming pool,shop and restaurant.
  • 2 smaller main camps with swimming pool and shop.
  • 1 Tented camp with swimming pool.
  • 4 intimate wilderness camps within unique settings.

MAPUNGUBWE NATIONAL PARK

Location

  • Found in the far North Limpopo Province of South Africa.
  • On the borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe.
  • No fuel or shops nearby - closest town is Alldays.

Overview

  • A SANParks reserve on the Northern border of South Africa and managed by the South African National Parks board.
  • Mapungubwe is situated on the banks of the Limpopo River with breathtaking views over Botswana and Zimbabwe.
  • This is a magical park with all the mystery you would expect situated on the Limpopo River and surrounding forest.
  • The World Heritage Mapungubwe historical site depicts life in a stone age community. Tours are available.
  • Four wheel drive vehicles are not necessary within the park, however some roads can become impassable after heavy rain.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Home to the Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino).
  • Giraffe, eland, gemsbok occur naturally in the area.
  • Predators include lion, leopard and hyena.
  • Birders can tick off 400 species, including Kori Bustard, Tropical Boubou and Pel's Fishing Owl.
  • Vegetation includes Mopane woodlands, unique riverine forest and Baobab trees.

Accommodation

  • Tshugulu Lodge - a luxury lodge booked on an exclusive basis. Six en-suite bedrooms, swimming pool, serviced.
  • Tented camp - situated within riverine forest. En-suite elevated tents. Swimming pool.
  • Leokwe Camp - self-catering en-suite cottages. Alfresco showers. Swimming pool.
  • Camping site - 10 sites with power, tap and garbage bin.

MARAKELE NATIONAL PARK

Location

  • Marakele is only 3 hours North-West of Johannesburg.
  • Nearest town is Thabazimbi in the Waterberg region of South Africa.

Overview

  • A SANParks reserve meaning "place of sanctuary", Marakele is surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas.
  • Marakele is divided into two sections with a tunnel and gate separating them.
  • A narrow tar road leads up to the Cape Vulture Colony with spectacular scenery and 360 degree views from the top.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Encounter the famous Tuli elephants (released in 1999).
  • Wildlife includes: giraffe, white and black rhino, tsessebe, mountain reedbuck, eland and kudu.
  • Predators including lion, leopard and brown hyena.
  • 400 species of bird, including kori bustard, ostrich, tropical boubou and Pel's fishing owl.
  • Vegetation includes Mopane woodlands, unique riverine forest and Baobab trees.

Accommodation

  • Tlopi Tented Camp - 10 elevated tents. En-suite bathroom, fully equipped kitchen. One with disabled facilities.
  • Bontle Campsite - 38 powered sites. Unfenced. Communal facilities. Rhinos often seen near camp.
  • Marataba Concession Lodge - a privatly run lodge within Marakele. 15 stylish tented suites.

 

Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife Game Reserves

HLUHLUWE iMFOLOZI PARK

Location

  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is situated in the KwaZulu-Natal Province in the heart of Zululand.
  • It is found on the Eastern coast of South Africa.
  • 2hr30 from Durban.
  • 6hr30 from Johannesburg (there can be delays if roadworks are in progress.
  • Take groceries to the park as the shops in the park are for basics only.

Overview

  • Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
  • Established in 1895, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is the oldest Game Park in Africa.
  • It covers 96 000 ha and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora.
  • There are a number of rivers flowing through it.
  • Small waterholes, picnic sites and viewing hides offering a wide range of game viewing experiences.
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is the only reserve under formal conservation in KwaZulu Natal.
  • Home to the Big 5 - Lion, Rhino (Black & White), Elephant, Buffalo and Leopard.
  • The park is divided into 2 sections:
  • Hluhluwe game reserve in the Northern section.
  • iMfolozi game reserve in the Southern section.

Wildlife Highlights

  • The largest concentration of black rhino, per sq.km, in the world.
  • Eighty species of mammal including the Big 5, cheetah, hyena, painted dog and giraffe.
  • It is one of the best places in the world to see Nyala.
  • There are more than 300 species of bird.

Accommodation

  • Hilltop camp -  with restaurant and pool.
  • Mpila camp  - without restaurant and poo.l
  • 2 cottages -  booked exclusively.
  • 4 bush lodges - exclusively booked.
  • Nselweni bush lodge - with individually booked units.
  • Mndindini Wilderness Trails camp.

ITHALA GAME RESERVE

Location

  • In the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa, north of Richard's Bay .
  • Approximately 335km north of Durban along the main North Coast road.
  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park borders the Mkhuze Game Reserve.

Overview

  • This stunning reserve, tumbling a thousand meters down into a deep valley, is a must-see paradise.
  • Ithala is home to some of the oldest rock formations in the world, dating back 3 000 million years
  • It has a huge diversity of habitat from riverine valleys to high-lying grassland plateaus, ridges and cliff faces.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Big 4 (no lion), zebra, giraffe, blue wildebeest and a wide variety of antelope.
  • With no lion on the reserve, the animals are more relaxed and offer excellent close encounters.
  •  
  • Predators range from the reclusive leopard, spotted hyena and brown hyena.
  • Large birds include black eagles, vultures, ostriches and secretary birds.

Accommodation

  • Ntshondwe Resort - 66 chalets terraced within bush surrounds. Pool, hide, playground, restaurant, shop, museum.
  • Ntshondwe Lodge - luxury self-cater lodge sleeps 6 with 3 en-suite bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, deck, plunge pool. Cook.
  • Mhlangeni Bush Camp - Set high amoungst boulders. Central lounge, kitchen, deck. 5 traditional chalets, outdoor communal bathrooms.
  • Mbizo Bush Camp - 2 traditional bush chalets with 2 bedrooms, private lounge, kitchen, outdoor dining. 2 outdoor communal Bathrooms.
  • Thalu Bush Camp - 1 traditional bush chalet with 2 bedrooms, lounge, kitchen, outdoor dining. Outdoor shower and toilet. River views.

MKHUZE GAME RESERVE

Location

  • In the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa, north of Richard's Bay .
  • Approximately 335km north of Durban along the main North Coast road.
  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park borders the Mkhuze Game Reserve.

Overview

  • Great diversity of habitats.
  • From mountains, swamps, woodlands, to riverine forest and wide stretches of acacia savannah.
  • 3 pans with hides attract wildlife.
  • Zulu cultural village in the reserve

Wildlife Highlights

  • A bird-lovers paradise.
  • Home to the Big 4, excluding lion.
  • Rare species like cheetah, leopard and hyena.
  • In the dry season, guests can view huge herds of animals coming down to drink.

Accommodation

  • Mantuma Camp - 17 units from 2 bed chalets to 6 bed cottages. Pool, shop, cafe.
  • Tented Safari Camp - 10 two bed and 3 four-bed tents with kitchen, ensuite, utilities & linen.
  • Nhlonhjela Bush Lodge - 4 en-suite rooms connected by an elevated walkway. Kitchen, views over a pan.

NDUMO GAME RESERVE

Location

  • In the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa, near the Tembe Elephant Park on the Mozambique border.
  • Nearby Kosi Bay is excellent for snorkelling and beach.

Overview

  • Ndumo National Park is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife..
  • A Big 5 wildlife game park situated on the Mozambique border close to Kosi Bay.
  • Ndumo has many picturesque pans with stunning yellow fever trees, extensive wetlands and reedbeds.
  • Acacia savannah and sand forest is also found in the park.
  • Nearby Kosi Bay is excellent for snorkelling and beach.

Wildlife Highlights

  • A lush pristine Big 3 wildlife reserve.
  • No lion or elephant.
  • Buffalo, rhino and leopard, giraffe, nyala and small game.

Accommodation

  • Ndumo Camp - 7 two-bedded chalets with kitchenette, microwave. Communal bathroom.
  • Campsite - 8 powered sites. Unfenced. Communal facilities.

DIDIMA

  • Although it is not a Big Game reserve, Didima is well worth a mention.
  • The breathtaking scenery and San Rock Art Centre add a new dimension to any safari experience.
  • Take the time to unxwind in clean air and learn more about the ancient inhabitants of South Africa.

Location

  • Found within the mountainous Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park.
  • 5 hours drive south east from Johannesburg.
  • Part of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Parks.

Overview

  • Spectacular views to Cathedral Peak.
  • Panoramic 360 degree mounrainous views.
  • San Rock Art Centre.
  • Guided walks to view ancient San rock art.
  • Walker's paradise with many trails through the mountains.

Wildlife Highlights

  • Eland.
  • Baboons and small antelope graze around camp.
  • Bearded Vulture as well as a large variety of birdlife.

Accommodation

Didima Camp

  • 63 two bed and 2 four bed chalets, luxury honeymoon chalet, 1 six-bed cottage.
  • All with luxury fittings, linen, kitchen, deck.
  • 2 bed chalets can be connected to make a family suite.

 

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Accommodation near National Parks

Map - hover to enlarge

  • MapMap

 Kruger National Park

 Lion

 Cheetah

 

 Baby Giraffe 

Balule Rustic Camp

Shimuwini Bush Camp

Crocodile Bridge Tent

Orpen Guest Cottage

Addo Elephant Park

Addo elephant

2 bed Rondavel

Tented Camp 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park 

Bushman

Kalahari Tented Camp

Grootkolk Camp

 Mapungubwe National Park

Tshugulu Lodge

Forest Tented Camp

Treetop Walk

Marakele National Park

Tlopi elevated tent

Elevated tent views

Marakele Scenery

 Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park

Nselweni Camp, iMfolozi

 Mndindini Wilderness Camp

 

Mpila Camp, iMfolozi

Ithala Game Reserve

 

Mhlangeni Bush Camp chalet

Ntshondwe Resort pool

Thalu Bush Camp kitchen

 

Mhkuze Game Reserve

Mantuma Camp chalet

Mhkuze campsite

Mhkuze viewing hide 

Ndumo Game Reserve

Ndumo Camp chalet

Ndumo chalet interior

Ndumo Camp Pool

Didima - Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

Didima 4 bed chalet

Didima Resort and view

Didima terrace