Best local safari destinations to visit

Posted on 11 July 2024 By Nomvelo Masango

When was the last time you went on a safari? Rich in wildlife and boasting astounding natural beauty, South Africa is home to many safari destinations.

Whether it’s a relatively small and private safari destination, or one that is popular across the world, you’re in for a joyful and memorable wildlife experience.

Here’s a look at some of the best local safari destinations worth visiting:

Kruger National Park

Kruger national park

Picture: AnnaKate Auten/Unsplash

The iconic and world-famous Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa. Covering nearly 2 million hectares, it is home to the Big 5 and plenty of other animal species. You can enjoy a number of wildlife experiences, including a self-drive glamping safari, guided tours or even walking safaris.

Kruger national park

Image: Rémi Prévost /Unsplash

As you immerse yourself in refreshing and breathtaking natural beauty, expect to encounter different animal species and interesting birdlife.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve game drive.

Located in the heart of the Eastern Cape, Shamwari Private Game Reserve was born of a need to conserve the land and it’s abundant wildlife, birdlife and ecological diversity. From the year 1992 to 2000, the mission was to reintroduce large herbivores and big cats to the area.

Today, the private game reserve is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing bush getaway as you relish in the sightings of various animal species.

Madikwe Game Reserve

A small ellie walks into the bushveld at Madikwe Game Reserve. (Picture: Melanie van Zyl)

Located near the Botswana border, the Madikwe Game Reserve is only a 3 and a half hour drive from Johannesburg. The 75 000-hectare sanctuary boasts impressive wildlife. It is home to the Big 5, as well as other interesting animals. There are also over 300 species of birds. You can choose between day and night game drives, or simply immerse yourself in the rustling silence of bush walks.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Image: Peter Kirk Media

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most treasured natural wonders. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, and is home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna.

The word ‘iSimangaliso’ means ‘miracle’ or ‘wonder’, and the area’s beauty and offering truly live up to its name. The Park offers a number of impressive wildlife opportunities to enjoy, including safaris where you can spot species such as hippos, zebras, elephants, crocodiles and rhinos.

Pilanesberg National Park

An elusive leopard at the Pilanesberg National Park. Picture: Rudi van den Heever

The Pilanesberg National Park is one of the North West’s major attractions. It is home to the Big 5, while also boasting an impressive abundance of flora and fauna. Pilanesberg is the perfect place to connect to nature and appreciate its beauty. Leisurely safaris, hot-air balloon rides and tranquil weekend escapes are popular at the natural paradise.

Kariega Game Reserve

Kariega Game Reserve - Places to visit in Kariega (Uitenhage)

Picture: Facebook / @Kariega Game Reserve

Family-owned and privately run, the Kariega Game Reserve sits along the magnificent Garden Route. It holds a unique beauty with two rivers flowing through the 11,500-hectare Big-5 wilderness, creating the opportunity for a wide range of safari activities.

Furthermore, the reserve prides itself on holistic conservation and a community mandate that it fulfills in partnership with the Kariega Foundation. Thus, a safari at Kariega is one with a purpose.

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