It’s time to meet the South African Big 5- National Parks, that is. In a country inundated with beautiful scenery and stunning animal heritage, it’s not surprising that there’s a surplus of national parks to go with it. From the famous Kruger to small private parks, a wealth of experience is waiting for you- and Go Touch Down Travel and Tours is here to help you get there.
1.The Kruger National Park
There can be no surprise that the Kruger makes this list. One of the largest reserves on the continent, this famous park is packed to the brim with all of the Big 5 alongside many other spectacular African species. It has even been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve due to its critical importance for preserving the world’s wildlife. It can be a busy park on-season, but it’s an experience in its own right and an African must-see, for sure.
2. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Harsh but beautiful, this peace park is another can’t-miss safari experience. Despite its first appearance as a rusty desert, the park in fact sits in semi-arid savannah. When the dry spell is broken by the first rains come February, the landscape transforms in a spectacular explosion of green. Rich in buck and wildebeest, they come from across the land to drink at the precious water source and attract a mate- bringing iconic African predators with them. You can see the unique black-maned lions of the Kalahari here, as well as cheetah, raptor birds and herds of grazing animals.
3. Chobe National Park
Famed for its elephant herds, Chobe is another unique park for your safari experience, featuring the bright blue ribbon of the Chobe River to sustain the life that teams on its banks. The teaming elephant herds remain a huge draw for visitors, as does the ability to take your safari experience onto the river for unique sunset boat cruises.
4. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game reserve
There’s a sad side to the beauty of this particular reserve, founded as it was in the hopes of preserving the very last dregs of Southern White Rhino that call the area home. Rhino numbers have steadily increased from the original 25 animals to right around 16000 worldwide, all from the park’s stock animals, making it a spectacular area to spot this rare and still pressured beast. Rivers in the area are permanent, and the vegetation lush by African standards, meaning animal populations can thrive. Alongside the white rhino, there’s also black rhino, zebra, impala and kudu alongside elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. It’s also home to the endangered African Wild Dog, making it a stellar place for the African explorer.
5. Addo Elephant National Park
Surprisingly, the elephants aren’t why this park made the list, though if you’re a fan of the world’s largest land mammal there’s no better place to see them. Addo is one of the few places in the world where you can see not only the Big 5, but whales and the great white shark all in one locale naturally. The park also covers Bird Island and La Croix now, meaning you’ll get a chance to spot the African Penguin too, alongside the utterly adorable South African meerkat!
Each of these parks, alongside the many others in Southern Africa, offer superlative animal experiences, friendly faces and sights that will capture your heart forever. Do you have a favourite among them? Be sure to let Go Touch Down Travel and Tours know below!