If you are a wildlife enthusiast, South Africa should be your ultimate ‘go-to’ destination. If it is not on your bucket list, yet it should be added simply to sight the majestic Big 5 – African Lion, Cape buffalo, African Elephant, Rhinoceros and the strikingly beautiful Leopard.
South Africa is popular for many attractions, but there is nothing to beat the images of seeing the big five lurking in the long grass or prowling for food in the darkness – and that too up close and in person. Believe me, coming face to face with these charismatic beasts, can be a exhilarating experience.
During my trip to South Africa this year, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Zululand Rhino reserve. From watching lions on foot at Zebra hills lodge or being chased by a family of rare Black rhinos, it was all part of my South African adventures. However, I also learnt of other best parks while in South Africa. Hence I have compiled this list which will help fellow wildlife enthusiasts and gives me reasons to revisit as well.
Kruger, is considered to be lion country and I would highly recommend visiting this huge game reserve. I have only heard great things about Kruger and it is the most popular park in South Africa for a reason – it offers best game watching experiences ever!
Self drive is allowed but can be daunting for someone who is new to the bush so opting for a guided safari, with a dedicated tracker is the way to explore Kruger.
Sabi Sands is an exceptional game reserve, for a big five experience par excellence. With remote lodges, mostly unfenced, situated in discreet locations, wildlife sightings here is exclusive and crowd free. Leopards are routinely spotted here and the big five almost always within a couple of days.
This park has a population of nearly 600 African elephants and is undoubtedly the best place in South Africa to see them. The third largest park in South Africa, the attractions of Addo are not limited to the elephants and the big five. By adding an offshore marine reserve of Croix island, you will see that the park can actually claim for the big seven. A short marine eco tour can be taken to see the great white shark and the southern right whale, while St. Croix is amazing for the largest African penguin colony in the world.
Zululand rhino reserve
As the name suggests, it is the perfect haven for the endangered black rhino. Over the course of time, this reserve has truly developed into a home for the big five as well as a wide variety rare animals like wild dogs and several species of exotic birds. I spent some memorable days here seeing rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalos and a family of four cheetahs devouring their prey.
An ideal way to view wildlife for those with limited time, but still get a complete safari experience, with nearly 200 km of paved paths, both for guided and self guided safaris, Pilanesberg to is the perfect day tour from Johannesburg.
After sharing my adventures with you, I hope you will be inspired to explore the natural beauty of the South African bush. Should you decide to undertake this trip of a lifetime, I promise you that the experience will be magical.
Author: Jyotsna Ramani
Jyotsna is a passionate globetrotter who loves to explore offbeat locales and inspires others to do the same. Traveling solo, enjoying new adventures, trying local cuisines are all part of her escapades. Follow in her footsteps as she takes on the world – one country at a time.