Did you know that there are 19 National Parks in South Africa? Could you name them? Well, TravelGround is here to help! Scroll down and see where you can experience the wild side of life in South Africa.

Addo Elephant Park by Addo Gateway Lodge (TravelGround)

1. Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park is a top spot for seeing African elephants in the wild. It’s the 3rd largest national park, stretching from the semi-arid Karoo to the Indian Ocean, between the Sundays River and Bushman’s River mouths. The park also incorporates the Bird and St Croix Island groups.

Awesome fact: Addo Elephant National Park is the only reserve in the world where you’ll be able to spot the Big 7 – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo, southern right whale, and great white shark.

Province: Eastern Cape

Spot: Big 5, marine animals

Top 3 things to do:

  • Guided game drives.
  • 2-day, 32km Alexandria Hiking Trail.
  • Marine Eco Tours.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

ship wreck (Cape Agulhas Guest House)

2. Agulhas National Park

Agulhas National Park is a small, secluded reserve in the legendary Cape of Storms.  The rugged shores are etched with the scars of shipwrecks as well as ancient Khoisan fish traps and archaeological middens.

Awesome fact: Agulhas National Park lies at the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans officially meet.

Province: Western Cape

Spot: the endangered African Black Oystercatcher

Top 3 things to do:

  • Visit the exact location of Africa’s southernmost tip.
  • The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse and Museum is the second oldest working lighthouse in southern Africa.
  • See the remains of the Meisho Maru 38 wreck.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Richtersveld - de Hoop campsite by Gerald dB (flickr)

3. ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Kudos if you can pronounce this properly! |Ai-|Ais means “burning water” and refers to the natural thermal springs found at Namibia’s ǀAi-ǀAis Hot Springs Game Park.  In 2003, the ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park was proclaimed as a combination of this park and South Africa’s Richtersveld National Park. The hauntingly beautiful landscape appears barren, but you’ll find many desert plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals that are sustained by the morning fog from the Atlantic Ocean.  The park is only accessible by 4×4.

Awesome fact: The ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is southern Africa’s largest mountain desert park and home to some of the only species of desert flora in the world.

Province: Northern Cape

Spot: Quirky ‘half-mens’ trees and succulents

Top 3 things to do:

  • Visit the flowers in season (June – October, depending on rains).
  • Bird watching of almost 200 species.
  • Guided hiking trails.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Augrabies-falls(Augrabies-Valle_Guesthouse)

4. Augrabies Falls National Park

The Augrabies Falls National Park provides sanctuary to a wide array of animals and plants that have adapted to the harsh, arid climate. The park’s greatest feature is the 56m high Augrabies Falls, named for the Khoisan word Aukoerebis, meaning “place of great noise”. There are few sights and sounds as awesome as the thunder of water when the Orange River is in flood.

Awesome fact: In the floods of 1988 the Augrabies Falls recorded 7,800m³ of water per second – over 3 times the average high season flow rate of Niagara Falls.

Province: Northern Cape

Spot: Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok, gemsbok, and giraffe.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Guided night drives
  • 4×4 expeditions.
  • 3-day Klipsrpringer Hiking Trail (closed October to March).

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Bontebok by exfordy (flickr)

5. Bontebok National Park

Bontebok National Park is a World Heritage Site situated along the Breede River near Swellendam. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful retreat with a captivating mountain backdrop, as well as a cultural experience to learn about the Khoisan.

Awesome fact: Bontebok National Park was once home to the last 17 bontebok in the wild, but has brought the present world population to around 3,000.

Province: Western Cape

Spot: Bontebok, over 200 species of bird, and the endangered coastal Renosterveld fynbos.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Birding.
  • Canoeing and kayaking.
  • Biking and mountain biking.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Valley of Desolation (TG)

6. Camdeboo National Park

Camdeboo National Park surrounds the town of Graaff Reinet and is an exquisite illustration of the Karoo’s unique landscape and ecosystem.

Awesome fact: The Valley of Desolation is an impressive example of ancient dolerite pillars that rise to heights of 90 – 120m.

Province: Eastern Cape

Spot: Antelope, zebra, and over 225 species of bird.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Panoramic viewpoints from the top of the Valley of Desolation.
  • Watersports and fishing on Nqweba Dam (permit fees apply).
  • 4×4 trails.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Green_Turaco_by_Desiree_Haakonsen

7. Garden Route National Park

The Garden Route National Park is an Eden of rivers, lakes, and oceans, and mountains covered in lush indigenous forests and coastal fynbos. The park is divided into 3 regions, namely the Knysna, Tsitsikamma, and Wilderness sections.

Awesome fact: The Tsitsikamma Section was the first Marine National Park to be proclaimed in Africa and is one of the largest “no take” Marine Protected Areas in the world today.

Province: Western and Eastern Cape

Spot: Whales and the rare Knysna Loerie and African Black Oystercatcher

Top 3 things to do:

  • The 5-day Otter Trail is the most famous hiking trail in South Africa.
  • Diepwalle Big Tree. This 800 year old Outeniqua yellowwood is one of the few giant trees left.
  • Watersports – fishing, water skiing, sailing, cruises, angling, boardsailing, and power boating in zoned areas.

Follow the links for gate times, pricing, and contact details at the Knysna, Tsitsikamma, and Wilderness sections.

GG-Highlands-Snowcapped_Jovali_(TravelGround)

8. Golden Gate Highlands National Park

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park earned its name from the sun’s rays cast on the sandstone cliffs of the Maluti Mountains. In winter, this high lying region transforms into a snow-capped wonderland.

Awesome fact: For the entomologists out there, the park is home to no fewer than 117 species of beetles belonging to 35 different families.

Province: Free State

Spot: Rare Bearded Vulture and Bald Ibis

Top 3 things to do:

  • 2-day Rhebok Hiking Trail.
  • Museum Tours at the Basotho Cultural Village.
  • Self-drives to view game, birds, and impressive rock formations of the Drakensberg and Maluti mountains.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Karoo National Park Chalets

9. Karoo National Park

The Karoo National Park is situated near Beaufort West. The sparse vegetation makes it excellent for game viewing. At night, you’ll be treated to one of the most brilliant displays of stars.

Awesome fact: The Karoo is the largest ecosystem in South Africa with a wide diversity of animals and plants that have adapted to the harsh climate.

Province: Western Cape
Spot:
Breeding pairs of Black Eagle

Top 3 things to do:

  • Fossil Trail.
  • 4×4 Eco Trails.
  • Guided game drives.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

kgalagadi-Sunrise_over_pan_by_Pavel_Tcholakov_(flickr)

10. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The expansive grassy plains and striking sand dunes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are abundant in wildlife, making it a dream destination for game drives and photographers. The park is also famous for its birds of prey.

Awesome fact: An amalgamation of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park covers over 3,6 million hectares – one of the few conservation areas of this magnitude in the world.

Province: Northern Cape

Spot: Pygmy Falcons preying on Weaver colonies

Top 3 things to do:

  • Guided game drives.
  • Guided morning walks.
  • 4×4 trails.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Kruger-leopard-game-drive-Inyati-Game-Lodge

11. Kruger National Park

The wold famous Kruger National Park is the flagship of the South African national parks. With an impressive number of species – 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds, and 147 mammals – it offers an unrivalled wildlife experience!

Awesome fact:  The Kruger National Park is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. The park is also active in conserving cultural and historical treasures – from bushman rock paintings to archaeological sites.

Province: Limpopo and Mpumalanga

Spot: Big 5

Top 3 things to do:

  • Guided driving, biking, hiking, and walking nature experiences.
  • Guided 4-day Wilderness Trails.
  • Park and Ride hop-on game drives.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Mapungubwe Hill. By Marius Loots (Creative Commons)

12. Mapungubwe National Park

Mapungubwe National Park is a serene World Heritage Site at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, on the borders of South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Sandstone formations, mopane woodlands, riverine forest, and baobab trees form a scenic backdrop for a rich variety of wildlife.

Awesome fact: Mapungubwe Hill is the site where archaeologists excavated the famous golden rhino and other evidence of a wealthy African kingdom that prospered between 1200 and 1270 AD.

Province: Limpopo

Spot: 400 species of bird and rare mammals like the cheetah and African wild dog.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Tree Top Walk.
  • Heritage Tours.
  • Game drives.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

marakele-Woodland_kingfisher_by_Derek_Keats_(flickr)

13. Marakele National Park

As its Tswana name suggests, the Marakele National Park is a “place of sanctuary” in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains.  The park is home to a wide variety of game, birds, and vegetation,

Awesome fact: More than 800 breeding pairs of endangered Cape Vultures have settled at Marakele, making it the largest colony in the world.

Province: Limpopo

Spot: Leopard, lion, elephant, brown hyena, and antelope. Plant species include the rare yellowwood, cedar, and cycad as high as 5m.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Drive the mountain pass to incredible viewpoints that are close to the Cape Vulture colony.
  • Bush walks.
  • 2-night 4×4 eco trail.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

MokalaNP-by-NJR-ZA

14. Mokala National Park

Mokala National Park is the newest addition to SANParks. The isolated dolerite hills and sandy plains create a stark sense of beauty and serenity in the arid, semi-desert region.

Awesome fact: “Mokala” is Setswana for camel thorn tree. The trees are an incredible resource in this harsh territory and the gum and bark have traditionally been used to treat coughs, colds, and nosebleeds.

Province: Northern Cape

Spot: Black wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, rhino, white backed vulture, and roan antelope.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Bush braais and breakfasts under a 400 year old camel thorn tree.
  • Guided rock art engraving drives
  • Fly-fishing

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

MountainZebraNP-rainbow-by-Leo-za1

15. Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park is a malaria-free reserve near Cradock. The park is abundant with game and vegetation, offering a tranquil wildlife experience.

Awesome fact:  Mountain Zebra National Park was proclaimed in 1937 to conserve the Cape mountain zebra. Today the park is home to over 700 zebra.

Province: Eastern Cape

Spot: Cape mountain zebra, black rhino, and cheetah

Top 3 things to do:

  • Cheetah tracking.
  • Khoisan cave paintings.
  • Guided walks and hiking trails.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Namaqualand_wildflowers_by_mmmavocado_(flickr)

16. Namaqua National Park

Famous for its springtime carpet of daisies, the Namaqua National Park is a land of contrasts. In this arid region you’ll find barren West Coast beaches, huge granite outcrops, sandy alluvial valleys, and searing daytime temperatures that plummet drastically at nightfall. Despite the harsh climate, the park is home to a multitude of life forms.

Awesome fact: Namaqualand has the richest succulent and bulb flora of any arid region in the world and more than 1,000 of its estimated 3,500 plant species are found nowhere else on earth.

Province: Northern Cape

Spot: Namaqua daisies and Namaqua Speckled Padloper (the world’s smallest tortoise)

Top 3 things to do:

  • Caracal Ecotrail (4×4 only).
  • Circular drive with viewpoints during the spring flowering season.
  • Nature trails.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

TMNP-Cape_Point_by_martie1swart_(flickr)

17. Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain National Park is a World Heritage Site and Natural New 7 Wonder of the World. The mountain range stretches from Signal Hill to Cape Point and includes beaches, forests, and oceans, so there is plenty for visitors to experience. Only 3 of the park’s access points require a conservation fee, namely Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Penguin Colony, and Silvermine.

Awesome fact: Table Mountain National Park is home to the world’s smallest, yet most diverse floral region, The Cape Floral Kingdom. There are more plant species in the park (over 2,000) than the entire United Kingdom.

Province: Western Cape

Spot: Southern Right and Humpback whales (May – November), and fynbos species like the Protea and Erica.

Top 3 things to do:

  • Overnight hiking trails.
  • Visit the penguin colony at Boulders beach.
  • Mountain biking.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

Tankwa_Karoo_by_James_Verster_(flickr)

18. Tankwa Karoo National Park

Tankwa Karoo National Park is an ancient desert landscape with the sheer cliffs of the Roggeveld Escarpment in the east, Cederberg in the west, and Klein Roggeveld Mountains in the south. The vast nothingness makes it ideal for stargazing. The park is home to reptiles, birds, small mammals, and a variety of antelope.

Awesome fact: Tankwa Karoo lies within the Succulent Karoo Biome, the only arid region recognised as a biodiversity hotspot. It holds the world’s richest succulent flora, rare and endemic plant species, rich birdlife, high reptile and invertebrate diversity, and striking, arid landscapes.

Province: Northern and Western Cape

Spot: 174 species of bird

Top 3 things to do:

  • Self-drives.
  • Birding.
  • Photography.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

West_Coast_National_Park_by_fabulousfabs_(flickr)

19. West Coast National Park

Situated along the Langebaan Lagoon, near the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay, the West Coast National Park is a popular attraction for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Awesome fact: The brooding salt marshes  of the West Coast National Park attract large populations of migrant waders such as the Curlow Sandpiper, Sanderling, and Knot, which journey 15 000km from Russia to these breeding grounds every year.

Province: Western Cape

Spot: Antelope, sea birds, and wildflowers

Top 3 things to do:

  • Annual flower season between August and September.
  • 2.5 day, 30km Eve’s Trail to trace Eve’s Footprints.
  • Kayaking and kite boarding.

Click here for gate times, pricing, and contact details.

 

There is so much to discover at our South African National Parks. Which parks have you been to and what activities do you recommend?