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Travel experiences

Exploring South Africa’s National Parks

22nd January, 2021

South Africa’s national parks are pandora’s boxes of wonderful creatures, beautiful landscapes, and unique natural phenomena. From critically rare animals to carefully repopulated species, if you want to escape city life and get really immersed in the wonders of the wild, South Africa is the place to do so.

In order to give you a taste, we’ve collected some of the most popular national parks below.

Tsitsikamma National Park

The Storms River Suspension Bridge

‘Tsitsikamma’ means ‘place of abundant water’, and from anywhere in the park, it’s easy to see where it got its name. Found on the southern coast, this national park is found on a plateau 200m high, and split by a huge, snaking river.

Travelling through Tsitsikamma is truly an adventure into raw, natural beauty. For those more physically adventurous, there’s a wealth of hiking trails, kayaking tours, and cycling routes. The Storms River Suspension Bridge is a must-see while you’re exploring, along with the famous Big Tree. But the park is also home to a huge amount of beautiful, exotic wildlife, so keep your cameras at the ready.

West Coast National Park

A field of flowers in West Coast National Park

West Coast National Park hosts a large lagoon – the only one in South Africa – creating a stark, immediate sense of calm bliss.

A beneficial byproduct of the lagoon is that it attracts a huge variety of beautiful bird life. It really offers days of birdwatching, but for those more interested in physically exploring, the park has one of the most spectacular coastlines in the region. The shrubland in the area shelters a variety of natural life, such as tortoises, kudu, ostriches, and various other types of bird.

This park is also only an hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town, so is a perfect retreat into South Africa’s stunning natural habitats - while not being extraordinarily remote. The ideal day trip adventure.

Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain National Park and the city of Cape Town below, at sunset

A significant reason for the preservation of the natural beauty around Cape Town is the Table Mountain National Park. Although it was officially established in 1998, preservation efforts had been ongoing since the 30s.

The park is formed of sections separated by urban areas, but the green mountain range contrasted with the sea is truly stunning. The mountain shrub environment is known as ‘fynbos’, and is similar to Mediterranean landscapes. It’s a great region for daytime walks, as well as birdwatching, before heading back to the excitement of Cape Town.

Kruger National Park

Lions in Kruger National Park

Kruger is the largest national park in South Africa, and covers an area five times the size of Kent. Needless to say, you can spend a lot of time at Kruger. When you picture safaris, you’re likely picturing Kruger National Park. It’s home to all manner of animals, from wildebeest to crocodiles, giraffes to lions – not to mention all the plant and insect life as well.

Kruger is the perfect place to spend some time soaking in nature and observing how animals behave in their native habitats. Just be sure to bring suitable clothing – the sun can be intense during certain times of the year. But prepare well and you’ll be in for a huge treat.

If you’re interested in visiting South Africa’s National Parks, or exploring some of the country’s other magnificent sights, we can help make planning your next adventure as simple as possible. Find what we have on offer on our holidays in South Africa.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.