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Where to Go in South AfricaScroll

Where to Go in South Africa


Where to Go in South Africa

South Africa’s attractions are as vast and each has its own unique appeal, so a visit to the Rainbow Nation will usually combine several of the parks and attractions listed below to create a diverse itinerary.

Kruger National Park

This incredibly vast tract of land is Southern Africa’s most ubiquitous game reserve, attracting millions of visitors worldwide and, for many, a Kruger safari will be an integral feature of a South Africa itinerary for its appealing combination of thrilling game spotting and luxurious settings. The Kruger area actually comprises a cluster of enormous private reserves around the western border of Kruger National Park itself, and these reserves are renowned in their own right, allowing you to veer off the obvious route and deeper into the surrounding area. As fencing was removed years ago, this has enabled the abundant game to move completely freely between the national park and the reserves.The wildlife you are likely to encounter on safari in the Kruger area is undoubtedly magnificent and includes the ‘Big Five’ game.

Sabi Sands

The oldest and arguably most established and successful of Kruger’s private game reserves, Sabi Sands sits adjacent to Kruger National Park on its western border, a total area of 150,000 acres. Named after the rivers that dissect the reserve into four quarters, many would say it is the experience of staying in some of South Africa’s most revered lodges, combined with some of the best game viewing to be had from the natural water sources, that embodies the Sabi Sands experience.


Formed when a collective of over 50 farm owners decided jointly to take down their internal fencing and dedicate their land to conservation efforts, Timbavati borders with Kruger National Park and therefore offers great proximity to the dense wildlife, including Big Five game. This lush reserve was established in 1956, and offers authenticity, from its indigenous group of white lions to its hospitable camps and lodges, such as Kings Camp, with expert trackers who combine knowledge of and passion for the wildlife in the reserve to ensure excellent sightings.

Where to Stay: Dulini River & Dulini Moya

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Situated in the Eastern Cape near Port Elizabeth, Kwandwe is one of the best malaria-free game reserves in Africa, offering the big five and 238 known species of bird, including the Blue Crane which the reserve is named after; Kwandwe in Xhosa is translated as ‘place of the Blue Crane.’The area’s history stems from a past booming ostrich feather industry, but the fall in this fashion, along with poaching left the land virtually desolate of wildlife. Ten years ago, enough was enough and the current owners of nine of the ostrich farms in Kwandwe formed Kwande Private Game Reserve, to protect wildlife through tourism.It’s conservation model is impressive and it has reintroduced over 7,000 animals including the endangered black rhino, all the big five, cheetah, serval, African wildcat and small spotted cat (amongst others).

Where to Stay: Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge

Madikwe Game Reserve

Established in 1991, the malaria-free private game reserve of Madikwe is one of South Africa’s largest and is also arguably one of the best kept secrets in the country; the red earth of the Kalahari, dramatic escarpments and the vast open plains evoking a distinctly African feel and an alternative to the more obvious choice of Kruger National Park for your South African safari.Situated in the far north of the northwestern province of South Africa bordering with Botswana near Gabarone, the reserve comprises a total land mass of 75,000 hectares and is a relatively recent success story. After the land was declared unfit for farming due to unsuitable soil, it was regenerated and wildlife reintroduced under ‘Operation Phoenix’ – the largest translocation project of its kind over a six year period. It is also renowned for its excellent conservation work, with community owned and run lodges that ensure the local communities benefit from tourism activities.

The game viewing in Madikwe is somewhat reliable, with in excess of 8,000 animals roaming the vast plains, from over 66 large mammal species, including the ‘Big Five’, and in excess of 300 bird species. Animals that were located to Madikwe and which you are likely to see include elephant, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, spotted hyena, giraffe, antelope, hunting dog, zebra and other herbivores. The founding group of six wild dogs has flourished and there are now three known hunting packs in the reserve.

Where to Stay: Morukuru River House

Phinda Private Game Reserve

Containing seven different ecosystems and an overwhelming array of wildlife, Phinda is located within the northern subtropical section of the province of KwaZulu Natal, nestled between the infamous game reserves of Mkuze, Hluhluwe Umfolozi and the St Lucia Wetland Park. A private game reserve that was established in 1991, the 185 square kilometres of land are managed and controlled to great effect, with the reintroduction of indigenous species and today it offers excellent game viewing, the chance to spot the renowned ‘Big Five’ and close proximity to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.With no less than seven ecospheres covering all types of topography from rare sand forest to open savannah plains, it is often referred to as the ‘Seven Worlds of Wonder’.

Where to Stay: andBeyond Phinda Zuka Lodge

The Kalahari

Part of one giant sand basin that stretches from the Orange River in Angola to Namibia in the west, Zimbabwe in the east and into South Africa. The landscape in this largely unexplored territory provides a marked contrast from the south and east of the country. Black-maned Kalahari lions are a highlight of the desert; found in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the southwestern corner of the country, they may be resting in the dry river beds or under the shade of the sparse trees. The environment here for the lions is more competitive than more luscious parts of Southern Africa, with less herbivores on offer to predators due to the restricted rainfall, meaning that only the strongest of these huge black maned beasts prevail. Imagine a vast red-hued expanse of desert where lions roam the plains and towering dunes carve into the skyline and vanishing horizon.

Where to Stay: Tsawul The Motse

Cape Town & Surrounds

The distinctive Table Mountain sits in the city’s heart as its rather celebrated backdrop, protected within a national park that covers some 75% of the Cape Peninsula. The city itself is both architecturally vibrant and culturally diverse and looks and feels as European as it does African. It also offers an array of interesting places to visit, making it a hub that usually figures on a South African itinerary at some point, even for repeat visitors who are enchanted by its charms.

Taking a cable car up to the top of the mountain to enjoy the impressive panoramic views is recommended. From here you can also see Robben Island, which once back at sea level makes a great excursion from Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V&A Waterfront. This former prison and is where Nelson Mandela spent much of his well-documented incarceration, with his former cell largely left as it was. Upon return, having been quite extensively redeveloped over the past 10 years, explore the waterfront which has evolved to become a rather lively draw for tourists with plenty of shops, restaurants and harbour.

Some of the city’s outlying regions also warrant exploration. Set within the Table Mountain National Park, Cape Peninsula is an area of rugged, mountainous beauty, with Cape Point at its southern tip. This was where soldiers once rounded Africa on their way to India and the Orient and its lighthouse and pointed tip are a spectacular and dramatic sight. Boulders Beach is also found within the cape, and is a beautifully sheltered beach comprised of inlets and – as its name suggests – granite boulders. The water temperature here can be a little warmer, and the colonies of noisy resident African penguins that waddle along the sands are a highlight.

Camps Bay is an affluent coastal suburb of the city and has a popular white sand beach fringes with palm trees, as well as trendy nightspots, making it a popular area. A collection of small coved beaches sheltered between the rugged boulders includes Glen’s Beach, which is also a good surf spot. Viewed from table mountain, the turquoise waters of Camps Bay look incredible.

Where to Stay: One & Only Cape Town


It was Dutch cape commander Jan van Riebeeck who grew the first grapes in the winelands in 1655, but things have come a long way since then, with South African wines now renowned worldwide. The closest region to Cape Town is Stellenbosch, and as the second oldest town with historical significance it is has real appeal as well as a mild climate that is ideal for wine cultivation.

Further east, Franschhoek is sandwiched between three soaring mountains, which gives it an unparalleled setting that many consider to be the most impressive of the winelands. Originally founded by Huguenot refugees who escaped persecution in 17th Century France, the name of the town even translates as ‘French corner’ and is a joy to explore on foot, its compact centre filled with shops, monuments and restaurants and its surrounding countryside with vineyards that continue the French influence, offering some of the best wine of the region.

Paarl is slightly further north and, whilst slightly lesser known, still has an enviable backdrop of mountains and is the spiritual home of the Afrikaans language, where a fitting monument to the language can be visited atop a summit overlooking Paarl itself with incredible views over the lands below. Much like its counterparts in the winelands, it is surrounded by perfectly fertile vineyards that weave between the slopes and into the mountains beyond.

Where to Stay: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa