South Africa National Parks Travel, Attractions, Tourism

South Africa National Parks Travel, Attractions, Tourism
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    Home : Travel Guides : South Africa

South Africa National Parks

By Admin | Published 2006-07-02 | South Africa Travel Guide | Rating: 0.00
 
Most visitors to South Africa will want to visit at least one of the country's protected wilderness areas, so they can experience, first-hand, the wonder of nature in an untamed environment. Game viewing is highly enjoyable throughout the year, but the ideal time to visit is from April to September, during the South African winter. In the wildlife areas most rain falls during the South African summer, encouraging lush vegetation and making wild animals more difficult to spot. In the winter the bush is more sparse, forcing the game to drink at rivers and waterholes, where it can be more easily viewed. Best time of the day for seeing the game is in the early morning or late afternoon through to dusk. This is when the animals are at their most active. In the heat of the day they will retreat to the shadows so look for them sheltering under trees or bushes.

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Most visitors to South Africa will want to visit at least one of the country's protected wilderness areas, so they can experience, first-hand, the wonder of nature in an untamed environment. Game viewing is highly enjoyable throughout the year, but the ideal time to visit is from April to September, during the South African winter. In the wildlife areas most rain falls during the South African summer, encouraging lush vegetation and making wild animals more difficult to spot. In the winter the bush is more sparse, forcing the game to drink at rivers and waterholes, where it can be more easily viewed. Best time of the day for seeing the game is in the early morning or late afternoon through to dusk. This is when the animals are at their most active. In the heat of the day they will retreat to the shadows so look for them sheltering under trees or bushes.

Nevertheless, the wildlife in South Africa's parks and reserves is so prolific that an unforgettable experience is more or less guaranteed and many visitors will get the chance to see at least some of the "big five" - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, as well as cheetah, giraffe, hippo, a numerous variety of antelopes and an abundance of bird species.

ADDO ELEPHANT PARK
The Addo Elephant Park is located in the Eastern Cape Province approximately 70km north of Park Elizabeth near the Zuurberg Range in the Sundays River valley. Addo Elephant park is small and was established to protect the huge herds of elephants that once roamed the area, you would be unlucky not to see one during a visit. Tours to the park can be arranged in Port Elizabeth.

AUGRABIES FALLS NATIONAL PARK
This park is located in the Northern Cape Province approx 120kms west of Upington, featuring the Augrabies Falls, where the Orange River drops into a solid granite ravine. The main falls drop 56mtrs and is quite impressive particular during the raining season. Most the mammals in the park are small and include, klipspringer antelope, squirrel, rock dassie, although recently introduced to the park, on the north bank of the river, are black rhino, eland, springbok and kudu.

BONTEBOK NATIONAL PARK
Bontebok is located in the Western Cape Province six km south of Swellendam, and is a small plot that was specifically set aside to protect the almost extinct Bontebok antelope, that is found nowhere else. Birdlife in the park is abundant and it is home to numerous antelope. The park also has large variety grasses and other plant species.

GOLDEN GATE HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Situated in north-eastern Free State, Gate Gate Highlands National Park is a small park covering an area of about 116 sq km. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp. This is a unique environment; a true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.

THE KALAHARI GEMSBOK NATIONAL PARK
This park, although not as well known as some other parks in South Africa is worth a visit. It is located in the Northern Cape Province and borders with Namibia to the north west and Botswana to the north east and covers an area of approximately 9591 sq km on the South African side and a further 1.8 million hectares in Botswana which makes it one of the largest protected areas in Africa. Although much of the landscape is semi-desert it is the territory of the majestic, rapier-horned gemsbok, the delicate springbok and the Kalahari lion as well as supporting large populations of birds, reptiles and small mammals and antelope. Much of the wildlife is concentrated around and along the Nossob and Aoub River beds and waterholes, where wildlife viewing is quite remarkable.

KAROO NATIONAL PARK
Located in the Western Cape Province near Beaufort West covering an area of 330 sq kms. The Karoo landscape and scenery is spectacular and the park home to 60 species of mammal, the most common being the dassie and bat-eared fox. A few rhino's have recently been introduced but not much big game is found here. There is a three day hiking trial within the park.

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
The world famous Kruger National Park was established in 1898 by Paul Kruger, and borders with Mozambique. It is located to the eastern side of Northern Province running southwards into the Eastern Lowveld of Mpumalanga, covering an area of two million hectares. Home to a wealth of wildlife, including 147 species of mammals, 500 types of bird and 33 types of amphibian. The flora is equally diverse with 300 difference types of trees. All the big game can be found here including lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, hippo, giraffe, rhino and buffalo.

The Park attracts more than 750,000 visitors annually and caters for day-trippers and well as overnight guests and campers with the accommodation available being relatively inexpensive. Accommodation, apart from camping, must be pre-booked through the National Parks Board. The park offers numerous organized wilderness trails as well as ranger guided day and night safaris in open vehicles. All the main camps have petrol stations and shops. Skukuza is the biggest rest camp and has a large information center, a bank, post office as well as a photo developing service and AA workshop.

MADIKWE GAME RESERVE
Located 360 km from Johannesburg, an easy 3 ½ hour drive on National roads. It is situated in the North West Province and is bordered by Botswana in the north, the spectacular Dwarsberg Mountains to the south, the Marico river to the east. The diverse habitat in the Madikwe Reserve, ensures a unique combination of species such as springbok, gemsbok, sable and impala. The bird life is spectacular and it is also one of the few reserves in South Africa that is malaria free.

In 1992, Madikwe Game Reserve, created from 750 sq km of farmland, which had been extensively degraded by overgrazing, was chosen as the site of Operation Phoenix. The government-sponsored, biggest-ever game- relocation program in Africa involved re-stocking and conserving flora and wildlife, which had long since disappeared from the region. Ten thousand animals of 27 major species, including wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, have been re-introduced to the Reserve over a six year period with animals coming from various reserves and breeding centers and game viewing is now at its prime. Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the country’s fourth largest game reserve.

MOUNTAIN ZEBRA NATIONAL PARK
Located approximately 30kms from Cradock on the northern slopes of the Bankberg Mountain Range offering magnificent view over the Karoo. This small park protects on of the rarest animals in the word - the mountain zebra, but it is also home to many antelope species. There are few roads and you can choose to go on a three day Mountain Zebra Trail or two short day walks.

PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK
Located in the North-West province, the park adjoins Sun City and protects an area of more than 500 sq. km. It is situated on the site of an ancient volcanic crater and boasts a large diversity of plant and animal life, including the white and black rhino, elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra, leopard, jackal, hyena and wide variety of antelope and although rare, you could even be fortunate to spot a cheetah.


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