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South Africa

South Africa

South Africa is a great destination for those looking for a wildlife experience, but not interested in a trip based solely around a safari. Visitors commonly combine a minimum 3-night stay in the Kruger, considered by many to be the country's premier safari destination, with time in the  popular Cape Town, Cape Winelands and Garden Route areas. South Africa has a well-developed tourism infrastructure unlike any of its safari counterparts in Africa, allowing travellers to see and do more during their stay. Located at the southern tip of the continent, South Africa has 2,798 kilometers (,739 mi) of spectacular coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. South Africa is a multi-ethnic society made up of a wide variety of cultures, religions and 11 official languages including two of European origin: English and Afrikaans. The latter originated from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans, though English is commonly used in public and commercial life. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa's unique multicultural character has become integral to its national identity, as signified by the Rainbow Nation concept.

Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Border countries (6): East (Mozambique and Swaziland), North (Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe) and within (Lesotho)

Area: 1,219,090 sq km (470,693 sq mi)  includes Marion Island and Prince Edward Island

Comparative: Slightly less than twice the size of Texas

South Africa Wildlife

Mammal Species: 320 (6th in Africa)

The Big Nine (9 of 9): Includes the 'Big Five' (Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Lion, Leopard) plus Cheetah, Giraffe, Hippo and Zebra (Burchell's and Mountain). The 'Big Nine' refers to the nine most sought after animals to see while on safari. The 'Big Five' refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.

Carnivores: Aardwolf, Caracal, Cat (Wild and Black-footed), Civet, Fur seal (Afro-Australian, Amsterdam island, Antarctic), Genet (Blotched, Common and Panther), Fox (Bat-eared and Cape), Honey badger, Jackal (Black-backed, Side-striped) Mongoose (Banded, Cape grey, Common dwarf, Egyptian, Marsh, Meller's, Selous', Slender, White-tailed and Yellow) Meerkat, Otter (Clawless and Speckle-throated), Serval, Striped weasel, South Atlantic elephant-seal, Spotted hyena, Striped polecat, Wild dog, Zebra

Other Animals: Aardvark, Antelope (Roan and Sable), Blesbok, Blue buck, Bush hyrax, Bushbuck, Bushpig, Cape pangolin, Cape porcupine, Dassie (Eastern tree and Rock), Duiker (Blue, Grey and Natal), Gemsbok, Greater kudu, Grysbok (Cape and Sharpe's), Hare (Bushman, Cape and Scrub), Hartebeest, Impala, Klipspringer, Nyala, Oribi, Quagga, Red rockhare (Greater, Jameson's and Smith's), Reedbuck (Mountain and Southern), Rhebok, Springbok, Steenbok, Suni, Tsessebe, Warthog (Common and Desert), Waterbuck, Wildebeest (Black and Blue & white-bearded)

Bird Species: 829 (10th in Africa) Bird lovers will enjoy South Africa with a recorded 829 bird species calling this southern African country home.

Wildlife Areas of South Africa

 Excellent   Good   Fair   Poor   None 

Kruger National Park

Kruger National ParkAt approximately the size of Israel, Kruger National Park is the largest wildlife enclave in South Africa at 19,485 sq km's (7,523 sq mi) and became the country's first national park in 1926. It is managed by the South African government and is world renowned for its excellent game viewing including great opportunities for close encounters with the Big Five: elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and especially the much sought after rhino. 'Kruger' as it is referred to by South Africans, offers a wide range of accommodations of different sizes and degrees of luxury. An estimated 1.4 million visitors annually visit the park, many opting for the self-drive safari experience because of the extensive network of tarred and gravel roads that cover the park. Only closed vehicles are allowed inside the park, off-roading is strictly prohibited and night game drives can only be conducted by park rangers in large park vehicles. Most visitors stay in the south and central regions where game viewing is traditionally better. Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape.

Best time to visit:  Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec 
Chance of spotting the Big Nine:  Zebra   Elephant   Buffalo   Giraffe   Hippo   Rhino   Lion   Leopard   Cheetah 


Greater Kruger National Park

Greater Kruger National Park

The Greater Kruger National Park refers to the over twenty private reserves that lie along the western border of Kruger National Park, which adds 1,800 sq km's to the overall greater park area. Much of the fences on the eastern border between the private reserves and Kruger National Park have been removed, allowing the wildlife to roam freely.  Fences do exist between the individual private reserves themselves and their western borders. Unlike in Kruger, off-roading is allowed in the private reserves as well as open vehicles and walking safaris. One of the most famous reserves is Sabi Sands, which shares a 50km unfenced border with Kruger National Park. Sabi Sands is not only renowned for its leopard sightings, but is considered to offer some of the best wildlife viewing in all of South Africa. It also offers a superior experience that includes luxury accommodation, great service, excellent food and a great opportunity to witness the ultimate 'Big Five' of Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Lion and Leopard.


Best time to visit:  Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec 
Chance of spotting the Big Nine:  Elephant   Zebra   Buffalo   Giraffe   Hippo   Cheetah   Lion   Leopard   Rhino 

Sources: CIA 2017, UNESCO 2017, World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-WCMC), 2004. Species Data (unpublished, September 2004)