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7 Best National Parks to Visit in South Africa

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South Africa is your ideal holiday destination if you’re charmed by a lion’s roar and an elephant’s trumpet.

While South Africa is brimming with cultural diversity, its rich flora and fauna are the cherry! If you enjoy being in the wild, mapping tiger footprints or just observing rhinos unwind in water, you must visit South Africa.

Wildlife in South Africa is exceptionally enthralling and vivid.  There are numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that boast a phenomenal wildlife experience. We at Thomas Cook have handpicked the best ones for you, so get scrolling and make sure you visit them for a truly ‘wild’ experience.

How to get to South Africa?

Numerous long-haul flights ply from India to various airports in South Africa. The most popular airports include the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth International Airport, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mbombela and the King Shaka International Airport. Travelling to and from the airport to the towns and cities is smooth with the help of minibus taxis and other public transport.

The must-visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries

The South African landscape offers diversity unlike any other. There’s something for everyone – from stunning seashores to snow-laden mountains, from personalised experiences for thrill-seekers to tours for animal lovers. But a South African experience is incomplete without a visit to its enthralling wildlife national parks and sanctuaries. Here’s a list of the best national parks in South Africa:

1. Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Wrapped in the hills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State, this national park is famous for its majestic cliffs and outcrops. It derives its name from the scenery created as the golden sun casts its light on the rocks and cliffs located in the area.

Set up in 1963, the park still gives visitors access to cave paintings made years ago. The park houses some rare bearded vultures, oribi antelope, Burchell’s zebras, jackals and the bald ibis. Over 140 unique bird species reside in the park, and the Vulture restaurant offers a taste unlike any other! From horse riding to swimming, there are a lot of activities that the visitors can indulge in.

Get ready for a pure feast in authentic style and immerse yourself in the golden glory of this national park. While the Golden Gate Highlands National park may not feature any popular animals, its sunsets are truly breathtaking.

2. Kruger National Park

A South African wildlife tour is incomplete without visiting the Kruger National Park. This park is located in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, on the Mozambique border. Sprawling over a vast area, Kruger National Park is home to rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, buffalos, elephants, and lions, among other animals.

Alternatively, you may opt for guided wildlife tours or venture into the park in your own vehicle. If you’re lucky, you will spot the Big 5 game. These include lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, African bush elephants and African buffalo. They’re called the Big 5 since they were considered tough prey for hunters. You have options of night safaris as well. For more information, visit www.thomascook.in.

3. Addo Elephant National Park

If you love elephants, then this has got to be your go-to destination. Located close to Port Elizabeth, Addo hosts over 600 elephants that can be witnessed in all their glory, roaming freely and soaking themselves in the mud in this South African wildlife reserve. Apart from the rhinos, you will find zebras and antelopes too at the sanctuary. This one is the third largest wildlife sanctuary in South Africa and offers a fabulous experience.

4. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

One of the most famous national parks in South Africa, this one is located across South Africa and Botswana in the Kalahari desert. Apart from the wildlife in South Africa, there are numerous other experiences you must try, including the cycling expeditions, eco walks amid the rivers and a visit to the Auchterlonie Museum.  You may get to see cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas among the animals.

5. Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Park

Situated in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal region, this game park is famous for spotting the ‘Big 5’. As per several reports, the park takes the credit for bringing back the white rhino from the brink of extinction. It now houses over 1,500 white rhinos, among several other species. You can lodge in various camps and wooden lodges set up by the park.

6. Mapungubwe National Park

Stunning sandstone formations and scenic landscapes dot the Mapungubwe National Park, located in Limpopo, South Africa, and this one’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among various species of flora and fauna, you will find the eland, kudu, zebras and giraffes. The park has a rich cultural history that’ll leave you hooked.

7. Table Mountain National Park

Situated in Cape Town, this park is known for its vast diversity of the region’s exclusive plants and flowers. The Cape of Good Hope is also situated in the park. At times, you will be lucky to find penguins in the region. It’s a hiker’s paradise, and the cable car ride will give you an adrenaline rush. There’s plenty of accommodation available inside the park premises as well as in Cape Town for you to choose from.

Frequently asked questions

Q 1. What is the best time to visit South Africa?

Ans 1. The ideal time to visit South Africa is between May to September, when the temperatures are cooler, and wildlife in South Africa is more visible.

Q 2. What must you carry on a safari?

Ans 2. One must carry a hat, binoculars, and a camera during a Safari. Applying sunscreen to avoid dangerous UV rays during the safari is a smart tip.

Q 3. Does the temperature variate a lot across the day in South Africa?

Ans 3. Yes, it may be too cold at night and warm during the day. Therefore, one must pack the appropriate clothing to suit the temperature variation.

Q 4. What is South Africa’s official currency?

Ans 4. The South African Rand is the official currency.

Q 5. What are the major languages?

Ans 5. While most people speak Afrikaans, English is also widely spoken and understood in South Africa.

If you’re looking for an ideal South African Vacation, get in touch with us at Thomas Cook, we will tailor your plan to suit your needs while taking you to the best national parks in South Africa for a memorable trip.

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