Sunny South Africa has some of the best national parks that you will encounter anywhere in the world – let alone in Africa at large.
This beautiful southern African country is blessed with a wide array of spectacular national parks too, each consisting of varying terrains, natural beauty and a unique mixture of both flora and fauna.
So, whether you love hiking, sightseeing, game spotting or simply escaping to the bush, the five South African national parks listed below are perfect for your next family getaway, romantic holiday or African adventure!
Best of all, these national parks vary in nature and natural beauty so you can enjoy everything from the bushveld to gorgeous mountain-meets-ocean views, unique natural attractions (like Table Mountain or the Augrabies Falls) and of course, quality outdoor experiences and accommodation that is sure to leave you craving more – or even planning your return journey!
Here are our five best national parks to visit in stunning South Africa:
1) Visit the Vast Table Mountain National Park
Few national parks in South Africa are as beautiful as the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). And with Table Mountain – a natural world heritage site and one of the new Natural 7 Wonders of the World – as the focal point, it isn’t hard to see why.
Yet, because this park is so vast, the Table Mountain National Park offers so much more than just the world-famous mountain that Capetonians – and the world – adore.
No visit to Cape Town – or even South Africa – is complete without exploring at least some corner of the TMNP.
Some of the main attractions that one can see here include the equally famous Boulders Beach (home to adorable penguins); scenic Silvermine (loved for its hikes and picnic spots); Signal Hill and Lion’s Head; and of course, the breathtaking Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, which are a national treasure all on their own.
Exciting activities you can enjoy within its boundaries include hiking, mountain biking, scuba diving, free guided walks, picnicking and barbeques (known as ‘braais’ in South Africa) and so much more. And let’s not forget about the lovely accommodation found within the TMNP.
2) See Elephants at Addo Elephant National Park
As the third largest park in Africa and one home to a wonderful selection of protected species, including the park’s famous elephants – Addo Elephant National Park is a great park for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
Situated close to Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), this beautiful national park offers plenty to see, do and enjoy.
Highlights include memorable game drives or self-drive experiences, the Zuurberg hiking trails, on-site facilities like, Addo Indlovu Spa and 4×4 trails to name only a few.
The park also has a wealth of accommodation types. Think: everything from more rustic rest camps to luxury accommodation and tented camps.
When you visit this special Eastern Cape park, you really can enjoy seeing the true, natural beauty of South Africa.
3) Safari in the World-famous Kruger National Park
Of course, no South African national park post is complete without the world-renowned, timeless Kruger National Park.
If you are keen to enjoy a world-class safari; escape to the true wild heart of South Africa; or simply enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in Africa – this park is perfect for you.
Offering nearly two million hectares of protected, unspoilt diversity and natural life, the Kruger makes for one of the best wildlife experiences anywhere in the world.
Home to everything from the Big Five, Little Five and many other mammals, birds, reptiles and trees besides (to name only a few of its fauna and flora highlights), this unique park is the flagship of South Africa in every way.
Popular activities here include everything from wilderness trails to game drives, guided walks, birding, mountain biking and much more.
As for accommodation, there is no shortage of excellent, varied accommodation to choose from. Guests can book everything from luxury lodges, guest cottage, huts, safari tents and even bungalows.
4) Explore the Beautiful Augrabies Falls National Park
Famed for the breathtaking Augrabies Falls, this unique park, located about 120 km west of Upington, Northern Cape, is one of the more unique national parks that you can experience in South Africa.
The park is quite arid compared to some other national parks in South Africa but somehow, that makes visiting it all the more fascinating!
It offers some great waterfall viewpoints, game viewing from your vehicle, (pre-booked) night drives, hiking trails and truly panoramic viewpoints, which offer vistas of the park, the famous gorge and the Orange River too.
As for accommodation, there is a nice selection for visitors to enjoy. Everything from chalets to family cottages and camp sites.
5) Head to Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Last but by no means least, we the unique Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which lies tucked away in the foothills of Maluti Mountains, in northern Free State.
This park has a good variety of outdoor activities and local highlights for visitors to savour. Here, you can enjoy game drives, canoeing, hiking, nature walks, horse riding, swimming and even abseiling.
Not to mention the special Basotho Cultural Village, itself a wonderful attraction. As part of the village and its experiences, guests can enjoy the Cultural Route, walking along a herbal trail or even a museum tour.
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park also has some excellent accommodation offerings – from the Golden Gate hotel and chalets to the Highlands Mountain Retreat (just to name a few).
So, if you are looking to:
- experience the beating heart of the African bush;
- enjoy gorgeous holidays filled with wildlife, birdlife, pampering, outdoor adventure and of course, gorgeous scenery and natural attractions;
- discover what makes South Africa so special and highly sought-after as a tourist destination;
- or simply spend some quality time making memories with loved ones and friends in southern Africa,
Then these South African national parks are the best place to start your travel journey at!