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Wildlife Locations

18 recommended locations:

Cederberg Wilderness Area

Covering 700 square kilometres, the Cederberg Wilderness Area is a haven for flowers, birds and other wildlife. The mountains and areas of San rock art are home to unique fynbos such as the endemic snow protea or rooibos, while mammal species include leopard, aardvark and the vulnerable Cape mountain zebra.

  • Where: Western Cape
  • Ideal for viewing: Cape baboon, bat-eared fox, meerkat, oryx, Cape mountain zebra
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife for families, Self-drive

False Bay

False Bay is a favourite breaching location for South Africa’s great white sharks. Between August and September you can spot these fascinating predators leaping above the surface of the water to catch their favourite prey - the Cape fur seal. Nearby is Boulder beach and its penguin colony of over 3,000 pairs.

  • Where: Cape Point
  • Ideal for viewing: great white shark, fur seal, broadnose sevengill shark, pyjama shark, brown shyshark
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Hluhluwe–iMfolozi is the oldest proclaimed natural park in Africa. Covering 96,000 hectares and supporting an exciting diversity of fauna, it is known for its conservation efforts, boasting the world’s largest population of white rhino. It is the only state-run park in KwaZulu Natal where all the major predators can be found.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: black rhino, cheetah, lion, spotted hyena, klipspringer
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) is the jewel in the Maputaland crown. It is one of Africa’s outstanding natural wetland and coastal sites, and includes a wide range of pristine marine, coastal and wetland environments which are naturally beautiful and untouched.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: hippo, Nile crocodile, loggerhead turtle, leopard, white rhino
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Kalahari Desert

Despite this giant arid region being a harsh environment, scored with the beds of dried up rivers and vast salt pans, it not only provides the setting for fine wildlife-viewing but also for encountering San bushmen, hunter gatherers who precariously cling to their traditional ways of life throughout this region.

  • Where: Southern Africa
  • Ideal for viewing: blue wildebeest, cheetah, eland, ostrich, springbok
  • Excellent for: Vehicle safaris

Kosi Bay

Kosi Bay is located on the remote KwaZulu Natal north coast, and is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The bay is formed by four interconnected lakes and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its palm-fringed reed channels, beautiful beaches and lush vegetation; a pristine wealth of beauty.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: loggerhead turtle, hippo, palmnut vulture, Nile crocodile, Cape clawless otter
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Kruger National Park

Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Low Veld, Kruger is today unrivalled in the diversity of its wildlife and a world leader in environmental management techniques. Amongst its 147 mammal species, you can find lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, hippo, and both black, and white rhino.

  • Where: Mpumalanga
  • Ideal for viewing: African elephant, white rhino, lion, wild dog, leopard
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve, located along the border with Botswana, is made up of vast plains of open woodland and grasslands, ideal for the abundant wildlife. It experienced one of the world's largest translocations in the 1990's and now hosts over 300 bird and 66 mammal species, including a good wild dog population.

  • Where: Northwest South Africa
  • Ideal for viewing: African elephant, black rhino, brown hyena, cheetah, Cape buffalo
  • Excellent for: Wildlife for families, Self-drive, Birdwatching

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Mlilwane, Swaziland’s pioneer conservation area, is a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in the Ezulwini Valley, between Mbabane and Manzini. Home to some rare and wonderful species such as the vervet monkey, African wild cat and blue wildebeest, major predators here are few, making nature walks a good option.

  • Where: Ezulwini Valley
  • Ideal for viewing: brown hyena, leopard, Cape clawless otter, black-backed jackal, greater galago
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Namaqualand

The succulent spring flowers of Namaqualand blossom in August and September, covering the usually dry west coast and North Cape with beautiful colours. More than 4,000 plants species, including over 1,000 endemics, can be seen in Namaqua National Park, Goegap Nature Reserve or the Knersvlakte.

  • Where: West Coast & North Cape
  • Ideal for viewing: Hartmann’s mountain zebra, speckled Cape tortoise, aardwolf, Cape eagle owl, honey badger

Phinda Private Game Reserve

Located along the coast of KwaZulu Natal, this award-winning reserve has a strong focus on wildlife conservation and community involvement. Home to giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles which lay their eggs on the pristine beaches, its lakes and river floodplains hold Nile crocodiles, hippos and flamingos.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: black rhino, leopard, spotted hyena, African elephant, South African giraffe
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Pilanesberg National Park

The fourth largest park in South Africa, Pilanesberg National Park is malaria-free and set in the crater of a long extinct volcano with a unique geological structure. Standing high above the surrounding bushveld plains, it hosts a healthy population of lion, elephant, both black and white rhino, buffalo, and leopard.

  • Where: North West Province
  • Ideal for viewing: brown hyena, cheetah, black rhino, lion, meerkat
  • Excellent for: Wildlife for families, Self-drive

Somkhanda Game Reserve

Somkhanda is one of the largest and most successful land restitution based community projects in KwaZulu Natal. The reserve forms part of an important conservation corridor for the endangered black rhino and wild dog, and it is also home to an extraordinarily high density of leopard.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: white rhino, black rhino, leopard, wild dog, nyala
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris, Just Conservation

Table Mountain National Park

The vast Table Mountain National Park, a UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site, stretches from north of Cape Town down the Cape Peninsula to Africa’s south-western extremity, the Cape of Good Hope. It is home to Silvermine Nature Reserve, Boulders beach penguin colony and Table Mountain.

  • Where: Western Cape
  • Ideal for viewing: African penguin, southern right whale, Verreaux’s eagle, rock hyrax, Cape baboon
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife for families, Self-drive, Walking with wildlife, Whale watching, Penguin watching

Tembe Elephant Park

The remote Tembe Elephant Park lies in Northern Tongaland, on the border of Mozambique, deep in an area of sand forests, pans and wetlands. The park has a great diversity of habitat and spectacular wildlife density; it is home to the last remaining indigenous elephant herd in KwaZulu Natal.

  • Where: Northern Tongaland
  • Ideal for viewing: African elephant, lion, white rhino, Cape buffalo, suni
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Timbavati Private Game Reserve

Timbavati is home to a myriad of wildlife and more than 360 species of bird. With no fences between Timbavati and neighbouring Kruger National Park, wildlife is free to roam across a vast tract of wilderness, with herds of elephant, buffalo and wildebeest, along with their attendant predators.

  • Where: Limpopo Province
  • Ideal for viewing: lion, African elephant, black rhino, greater kudu, Cape buffalo
  • Excellent for: Photography tours with Nick Garbutt

Welgevonden Game Reserve

Welgevonden, meaning ‘well-found’, is a private game reserve, lying on the vast plains of the Waterberg plateau and hosting the largest population of white rhino in Africa. The number of visitors to the reserve is limited, resulting in a truly intimate wildlife experience in a premier sanctuary.

  • Where: Limpopo Province
  • Ideal for viewing: white rhino, aardwolf, African elephant, leopard, blue crane
  • Excellent for: Wildlife for families, Self-drive

Durban

Durban is South Africa’s most multicultural city, with strong Indian and colonial influences. The Golden Mile is a stretch of some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, ideal for watersport enthusiasts. Nearby Umdloti offers good diving and snorkelling opportunities, and whales and dolphins are frequently seen there.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Excellent for: Beach stay, City stopover

View trips to these locations

Wildlife trips

Thanks to the foresight of conservationists past and present, South Africa remains blessed with abundant wildlife and its bushveld and savannah remain home to large numbers of the mammals associated with Africa, and its coastline attracts stunning marine species including migratory whales and residents sharks.

4 recommended trips. Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.

Zululand & Swaziland Self-drive

KwaZulu Natal is a true South African gem when it comes to wildlife, with a great mix of the country’s finest wildlife reserves and breathtaking scenery. Self driving allows you to follow the coast at your own pace and experience a diversity of wildlife away from the crowd.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,095 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Classic Africa Explorer

This 37-day comprehensive itinerary, which visits no less than seven countries, delivers the ultimate African safari experience and a wealth of contrasts. Travel to some of Africa’s best National Parks and stay in a range of classic lodges, hotels and tented camps on this wildlife trip of a lifetime.

  • When to go: Apr-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 37 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £16,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Spring Flowers from the Cape to the Kalahari

From the flowers, birds and stunning scenery of the Cape, to wonderful flower-rich Namaqualand, this trip visits an astoundingly beautiful and varied land, rich in wildlife. All this at a time of year when the flowers and birds here are at their best, and when whales are displaying close inshore.

  • When to go: Aug-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 17 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,245 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Treasures of Limpopo

Limpopo is one of South Africa’s less travelled destinations, and offers an incredible diversity of wildlife opportunities and cultural experiences, especially for families. This trip is perfect for a first time safari, staying in comfortable family friendly lodges located in malaria-free wildlife reserves.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,895 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

When to go

South Africa has great marine life encounters throughout the year

Seasons

  • Cool season

    Apr to Sep: The winter months see a drop in temperatures, particularly aroiund Cape Town
  • Warm season

    Oct to Mar: Summer brings warmer sea temperatures to Atlantic areas, but greater rainfall

Wildlife events

  • Jun to Oct: Humpback whales migration along KwaZulu-Natal coast

Where to stay