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Top 5 Best National Parks in south Africa

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Francis Mboya
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Top 5 Best National Parks in south Africa

Top 5 Best National Parks in south Africa. The South African national parks offer easy encounters with the big five: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros during incredible wildlife safaris, while allowing the convenience of glamping (fancy camping that is) and luxury hotels in the midst of the wilderness. Here is our list of the best national parks in South Africa (in no particular order), each distinct in its own right.

1. KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Shared by Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa, the Kruger National Park is the most famous of all national parks in South Africa. Listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is also one of the largest South African National Park covering 19,485 square kilometers. The large size means you are most unlikely to cover it all, so plan ahead to ensure you get to see the sights you wish to see! It is also possible to plan a one-day visit to the park if you plan well.

  • The best and most diverse wildlife, with 336 tree types, 49 fish varieties, 34 types of amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
  • Sites of historical interest such as the Masorini Ruins.
  • The Letaba Elephant Museum.

2. GOLDEN GATE HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK

The park got its name when a farmer saw the last rays of the sun painting the large rock formations on either side of the valley golden. Seeing it at sunset is a must! Besides the sights, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State is a great option for those with an interest in archeology. Archeologists have found both dinosaur eggs and human skeletons here, and you can see San rock paintings too!

  • The park affords some wonderful views.
  • You can see some of the San rock paintings up close.
  • A wilderness hike with a village healer will educate you about medicinal herbs and traditional treatments.
  • Plenty of short hiking trails are available for one-day visits.

3. KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK

If you want to discover big cats and find out what the desert of South Africa is like, then Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the South African national parks you will want to visit. Situated on the border of Botswana and South Africa, with about a third of it on the South African land, it’s also a great park for viewing the seasonal movements of animals like blue wildebeest and springbok.

  • You may very well be sharing the road here with a lion, especially the famous black-maned Kalahari lion, or a cheetah!
  • You will not get enough of the beautiful morning and sunset drives.
  • See the red sand dunes of the desert in all their glory.

4. ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK

If you love elephants, then the Addo Elephant National Park is the perfect park for you! The third-largest protected area in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park was expanded to include St. Croix and Bird Island and is also the only place in the world where you can see “Africa’s big seven” — the big five plus the whale and great white shark — in their natural habitats. 

  • See herds of elephant at Hapoor Dam
  • Visit Bird Island and St. Croix Island to see penguins, whales, and the great white shark
  • See the beautiful Zuurberg Mountain and the rolling sand dunes at Woody Cape

5. MAPUNGUBWE NATIONAL PARK

Mapungubwe National Park is another park that features breathtaking landscapes with forests and sandstone outcrops. It’s also home of the Mapungubwe Hill, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe and there have been archeological finds dating back to the iron age (though one have also found fossils of dinosaurs that are a lot older!). You also find a large variety of animals, including lions and elephants here. 

  • See the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers
  • The Mapungubwe Hill
  • Plenty of wildlife

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Published by
Francis Mboya

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