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Best National Parks to visit in South Africa

From snow-capped mountains to the Bushveld, and from sub-tropical beaches to the Kalahari, South Africa is a vast country with many attractions, including a long list of must-visit national parks. See the best nature has to offer on a trip to one of these 5 spectacular national parks across South Africa.

Kruger National Park, Limpopo and Mpumalanga

If you have only ever heard of one national park in South Africa, it’s probably this one. Kruger National Park is one of the biggest animal reserves in all of Africa, measuring a mighty 19,485 square kilometres. There’s plenty to see in the park, which boasts an impressive number of species. All 5 members of the Big Five are present in this huge, sprawling park. There are 4 main areas and 9 entrance gates so planning your visit in advance is well worth doing.

Garden Route National Park, Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness

The massive Garden Route National Park stretches from Tsitsikamma to Knysna to Wilderness across one of the most beautiful parts of the country. From forest excursions and mountain biking to birding, water activities and the Otter Trail – which is one of the most popular hiking trails in South Africa – there’s so much to do that visitors really are spoiled for choice. When booking ensure you’re certain of which part of the park you will be visiting, if not all, as each is situated quite a distance from the others.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains in Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park boasts rolling hills and expansive views across open plains, with the Drakensberg visible in the distance. The sandstone cliffs found in the park are illuminated in a golden hue when the sunlight catches them, hence the park’s name. Golden Gate Highlands National Park is currently also the only national park proclaimed to protect the grassland biome. It’s also perfect for travellers heading from Johannesburg, Durban or Bloemfontein, sitting just a three-hour drive from either of these city centres.

Table Mountain National Park, Western Cape

Cape Town’s favourite park runs down the mountainous Cape Peninsula from Table Mountain, the 1000m-high plateau with sweeping views of South Africa’s oldest city, to the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Signal Hill and Lion’s Head are popular outings and offer excellent views of the city and harbour.

Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape

Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape is the third largest in South Africa and is famous for being home to more than 350 elephants. As the name suggests, this is the perfect place to see elephants, although there is a lot more to it than that. Other special sights include naturally tusk-less elephants, the Addo flightless dung beetles and caracals. You’ll also see kudu in numbers, and an abundance of warthog snuffling about on their knees. Visitors can also have a picnic, book a guided walk or trek one of the hiking or 4×4 trails.

We hope this list of 5 amazing national parks help with making your trip to South Africa a more pleasant and fun one. Remember to plan your trips in advance as there is so much to see at these breath-taking national parks in South Africa.