Lion in the Kruger Park © Ernmuhl
One of the biggest draws of visiting South Africa is the opportunity to go on safari. In fact, the image of the country in the international imagination almost always revolves around the famous Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo) set against the backdrop of a vast, diverse, and beautiful wilderness.
Numerous game parks are scattered throughout the country. However, it is the oldest, largest, and most well-known wildlife conservation area, the Kruger National Park, which proves to be the destination of choice for most international visitors.
Big Five viewing opportunities abound in many of the parks and many private game reserves, such as Shamwari in the Eastern Cape, have the added attraction of being malaria-free, unlike the Kruger. There are many incredible creatures to seek out, apart from the Big Five.
These animals include wild dogs, hyenas, cheetahs, baboons, numerous antelope species, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, ostriches, and monkeys, not to mention a wealth of birdlife. Parks offer guided walking tours, jeep safaris, and night drives, as well as self-drive safaris for those with their own vehicles.
The parks have a variety of accommodation, including world-class luxury game lodges and budget camping options. Game viewing is possible year-round but many consider winter (June to August) the best season for safaris as the animals tend to be easier to spot when the bush is less lush and dense.