Travel Advice

Why we love Luderitz!

When travelling through the south of Namibia, the town of Lüderitz deserves at least a two-day visit; three days if you can afford the time. Although it’s located on a particularly rough stretch of coastline, many of its features and activities are said to surprise and delight tourists. Here’s what to put on your must-dos list in Luderitz.

This quaint town was named after controversial colonial figure and merchant Adolf Lüderitz and started out as a trading post. His aim, with fellow Bremen merchant Heinrich Vogelsang, was to form a colony for German settlers in South West Africa. The town was founded in 1883 when Vogelsang purchased it on Lüderitz’s behalf; and it got the name Lüderitzbucht in 1886 when the merchant, himself, unfortunately did not return from an expedition to the Orange River. After the discovery of diamonds in 1909, the town enjoyed a sudden splash of prosperity during which the adjacent diamond-mining settlement of Kolmanskop was built.

Go Walk About
On arriving in Lüderitz, it is common to first want to park your car and take a stroll around the many quaint and cute colonial and art nouveau buildings that are scattered around the main thoroughfares. Highlights include the following six national monuments:
• the Deutsche Africa Bank dating from 1907 and the Rock Church (Felsenkirche) on Diamond Hill from 1912;
• the Glück Auf (Good luck) building, built for a diamond lawyer in 1907-1908 and the Goerkehaus (Magistrate’s House) built for diamond manager, Hans Goerke, between 1909 and 1911; and
• the Kreplinhaus, former residence of the town’s first mayor, Emil Kreplin, dating from 1909,  as well as the beautiful Railway Station, hailing from 1904.

Take A Ghost Town Jaunt
While Kolmanskop (Coleman’s Head) has become synonymous with diamonds, this tourist attraction – located just 10km from Lüderitz – got it’s name after a transport driver, Johnny Coleman, had to leave his wagon in the area during a late-nineteenth century sandstorm. Guided tours take place at 9am and 11am each weekday and at 10am on Sundays; although this is not the only way to explore Kolmanskop. You could also opt to just take a walk around with your travelling party, which can feel less pressurised and you might just see that little bit more because you are not packed together with a big bunch of people. Or, join the guided tour to learn the history of the town (given in brief below) and to take in your guide’s tales of what life was once like here, and then explore on your own thereafter to really absorb the place. Just remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, and to take along sun block and drinking water; and don’t forget your camera.

The story goes that a railworker, Zacherias Lewala, first noticed a couple of interesting stones while shovelling sand one day back in 1908. He handed them to his supervisor, August Stauch, who took them along to a mining engineer for appraisal. Well, the stones turned out to be diamonds and, despite Stauch’s request for the news to be kept quiet, before long every available stretch of land in the area was being pegged out by prospectors. Apparently, by 1912, Kolmanskop was responsible for over 11 percent of the world’s diamond production, and the town had grown to include grand houses with manicured lawns, a hospital, bowling alley, butcher, baker, post office, ice plant, pub and magnificent opera hall. It is also rumoured that a crate of the very best available champagne arrived regularly by train from Cape Town! But soon the diamond supply began to dwindle and all the prospectors began to leave – one by one – until, in 1956, no families remained and the town was left to the mercy of the inhospitable desert sands.

Enduring Landmark
The Dias Cross marks the spot, in 1488, where a group of Portugese explorers first set foot on the coast near Lüderitz. The cross is fairly easy to find, as it is clearly signposted just before you reach the town on the B4 to Lüderitz, its closest port. Once you’ve parked and disembarked your transport, you can admire and photograph the cross itself, the nearby red-and-white lighthouse dated 1915, and the impressive views across the Atlantic.

If you’re on a guided tour or fortunate enough to have a history buff in your party, you may learn a little more than the basic background of Dias Cross. Apparently, Bartolomeu Dias sailed to the southern tip of Africa on order of King John II of Portugal and, on his return, stopped off – on 25 July of that year – at what is known today as Lüderitz Bay. Here, he erected a stone padrão to mark Portugal’s presence in the area and this landmark was still standing 300 years later, despite the coast’s harsh weather conditions.

Crew of 1825’s HMS Barracouta then uprooted what remained, and took it along to the South African Museum in Cape Town for preservation. Then, in 1953, the archaeologist Dr Axel Erikson attempted to reconstruct the cross from these pieces and what could be unearthed on site – a task he unfortunately didn’t complete before his death. Eventually, a replica of the original padrão was constructed, carved from local dolerite and unveiled on 25 July 1988 as part of the Dias quincentenary celebrations. The site of the original Dias Cross, which was declared a National Monument in 1973, is well worth a visit when you come to Lüderitz.

The Coolest Of Cats
Another great activity involves heading off to the Lüderitz Waterfront for a chilled and wind-sheltered catamaran ride to Halifax Island, which is home to a colony of African penguins. The route to Halifax will take you past an old whaling station at Stromvogelbucht, through Shearwater Bay and around Diaz Point; return. Look out for marine wildlife that ranges from heavy-side dolphins, sea birds and seals, and – if you’re in luck and the season is right – a whale or two. Be sure to check the timing of your cruise, though, as some companies only operate at certain times of day, meaning you’ll need to rearrange your schedule to accommodate them.

Fish In The Sea

The following Luderitz restaurants are considered great for a seafood spoil:

• Portugese Fisherman: the caldeirada (a Portugese stew) goes highly recommended. Décor is low key, the waitering staff attentive and the owner almost guaranteed to come past each table to shake hands and have a brief chat – this is very much the small-town touch.
• Penguin Restaurant: part of the Nest Hotel, this venue is classy and boasts a prime waterfront location. Here, you can enjoy all the usual seafood suspects – from oysters to seafood curries and platters to share.
• Essenzeit: a German influence predominates at this superb venue, where a typical review is “delicious crayfish, enjoyed the deck”. What more could a tourist ask for?
• Oyster and Wine Bar: great oysters, delicious calamari and chips. Not a bad place to hang out for a thirst-quenching beer or three. Be sure to check out the impressive “wall of wine”.
• Ritzi’s Seafood Restaurant: this nicely decorated eatery offers seafood in generous portions and fair prices. Try a hake & chips with salad at R110, or upgrade to crayfish with rice at R320.
• Crayfish Bar & Lounge: spectacular views for a sundowner before dinner – or stay to experience the fresh Lüderitz oysters, fine SA wines and pure Namibian beers. What a combo!

Tips For Smooth Travels
Camera? Tick. Sunblock? Tick. Binoculars for bird and dolphin spotting? Nope, not that sort of bird. Tick! Warm clothing is a good idea – jeans, sweaters and closed shoes for evenings; shorts, T-shirts and trainers should work during the daytime (season-dependent). Tick.

It is advisable to check the tide tables before making the trip across to Dias Cross, as it’s only possible to reach the Cross itself, safely, at low tide. While each individual traveller or tour group should feel free to pick and choose a schedule that suits them best, it’s also worth keeping in mind that Kolmanskop is only open in the morning, from 8am to 1pm, when it is also possible to join a guided tour; that exploration of Luderitz itself could easily take a full morning or afternoon; and that some catamaran cruises only run in the morning.

If you like the idea of an old shipwreck, venture out to Grosse Bucht (big bay), where a wreck called the Irmgard can be explored. The story goes that the crew was fast asleep one night in 1978/1979, when an anchor broke off and the Irmgard was battered against the rocks – finally lodging itself on the beach, where you can still survey the ship’s skeleton.

For the nature lovers, look out for bright-pink flamingoes and black/white comorants; springbok, jackal and hyena popping out against the typical arid Namibian terrain; and a few unique plant species, ranging from the typical Bushman’s candle with its notable bright pink flowers to the oddly-shaped dwarf succulents, typically reffered to as “Hottentots buttocks”.

Many tour operators recommend that you attempt two activities per day while in Lüderitz – but should your time allow, we recommend that you take a slightly more chilled approach and potentially only undertake one activity per day so as to properly absorb the magic that is Lüderitz. After all, we consider it to be one of Namibia’s prettiest “diamonds”.

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Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide
Animals, National Parks, Travel Advice

Best National Parks In South Africa – Part 2

Not all of the game parks in South Africa are Big Five destinations. Many of them feature secluded spots to enjoy and smaller creatures that are every bit as fascinating as better-known species.

These are some of South Africa’s lesser-known wildlife destinations, although they’re every bit as interesting as their more famous counterparts.

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park 

The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Park forms part of the Southern African Peace Parks initiative and is jointly run by SANParks and The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

It’s a large park occupying 6 045 square kilometers of land which straddles the border of South Africa and Namibia. The park was set up in 2003 when the Ai-Ais and Fish River Canyon Park in Namibia was merged with South Africa’s Richtersveld National Park.

This vast tract of land is best known for its beautiful barren landscapes, unique plants and the huge canyon which slices through it. It’s also home to some fascinating species which you can discover on walks and drives through this rugged terrain. Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the halfmens boom are the stars of the show here, and rare augur buzzards make up one of the 200 bird species in residence.

There are no dangerous predators in the park, apart from a few elusive leopards and some hyenas. You can look forward to seeing klipspringer, steenbok and grey duiker while out and about as well as bat-eared foxes, jackals and porcupines if you’re lucky.

The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is for higher-grade explorers with rugged accommodations and few amenities. The biggest attraction here is healthy doses of solitude and stillness.  

Those who prefer home-away-from-home luxuries will prefer the plush lodges located on the outskirts of the park.

Your accommodation options in this park include:

  • Wilderness camps with canvas and reed cabins and communal facilities
  • Campsites where you need to bring everything with you
  • A rest camp offering rustic camping with shared ablutions or chalets with private facilities
  • The De Hoop Camp Site for overnight hikers

It’s important to call ahead to make sure that you pack everything you need for a stay in these rustic accommodations.

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Mountain Zebra National Park

You’ll find this interesting little park close to Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

Dedicated to conserving the dwindling numbers of Cape Mountain Zebra, this 284 square kilometer park is also filled with fascinating archaeological sites and is home to a thriving cheetah conservation project. The park started out with just 6 zebras, but today boasts a population of over 1 000 animals. Lions were introduced into the park in 2013.

You can enjoy Mountain Zebra National Park on guided walks and drives to see these attractions or go it alone on self-drive excursions into the park and hikes within the camp confines. A novel attraction here is the chance to track cheetah on foot while accompanied by armed game guards.

Other creature features include the Drakensberg rock jumper, ground woodpecker and several species of raptor. Chacma baboons and vervet monkeys are regularly sighted, and you could also catch a glimpse of bat-eared foxes, caracals, aardwolves, genets and polecats.

The park is an excellent destination for a day trip but also offers overnight accommodation in the form of mountain chalets, cottages and camping in the rest camp. There are spacious grassy picnic areas allocated for day-trippers.

Mountain Zebra National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Agulhas National Park 

Located at the southernmost tip of Africa, about 200 kilometers from Cape Town, Agulhas National Park is dedicated to preserving the unique species of plants found here. There are approximately 2 000 species of indigenous plants occurring within this 20 000 hectare park, including 100 which are endemic and 110 which are severely threatened.

Along with rich floral diversity, you’ll also find archaeological attractions, shipwrecks and historic sites within the confines of the park and it’s common to see whales passing by during the springtime. You can enjoy these diversions on self-guided walks along well-marked trails.

While ambling through the fynbos you’re likely to come across Denham’s bustards, secretary birds and blue cranes while the wetland areas reveal sighting of flamingos, plovers, Eurasian curlews and swamp hens. Keep a lookout for martial eagles, booted eagles and jackal buzzards in the skies above. Mammals to look out for include dolphins, whales, Cape fur seals and Cape grysbok.

There are two rest camps within Agulhas National Park which feature eco-friendly chalets, a guest house and family cottages.

Agulhas National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Augrabies Falls National Park

Centered on a 56m waterfall along the Orange River, the Augrabies Falls National Park incorporates ‎820 square kilometers of diverse Orange River Broken Veld. You can explore this unique biome on self-guided walks and drives as well as a 3-day hike into the wilderness.

The park is a hit with day-trippers wanting to see the waterfall, and there are picnic sites and a restaurant onsite. Overnight accommodation takes the form of grassed campsites, family cottages and chalets.

Resident bird species include Verreaux’s eagle, Ludwig’s bustard and Karoo long-billed lark, and you can look forward to seeing unusual light-colored giraffe, steenbok, gemsbok, kudu and eland. Creatures of the night include leopards, African wild cats, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves and small spotted genets.

Augrabies Falls National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Camdeboo National Park

This lesser-known park showcases the beautiful and diverse landscapes of the Karoo biome and is one of the most scenic places to spend time around Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape. The park encompasses 194 square kilometers of fragile Karoo grassland and thickets as well as wetland areas.

Hikes, walks and drives to scenic outlook points are the main attractions here, while the Nqweba Dam is a pleasant destination for indulging in windsurfing, boating, canoeing and fishing. Birdwatchers enjoy the chance to spot some of the 250 resident species including black-shouldered kites, blue cranes and golden-breasted buntings. Buffalo, gemsbok, eland, red hartebeest and springbok are also present in the park.

There are several picnic spots dotted around Camdeboo National Park, and overnight accommodation is available in permanent tents and a campsite alongside the dam.

Camdeboo National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Cape Point National Park

Cape Point National Park is part of the Table Mountain National Park and is a bastion of rich biodiversity and stunning views. Here cliffs tower hundreds of meters above the raging Atlantic currents and paths lead through beautiful landscapes filled with fynbos vegetation.

The towering cliffs are attractive to nesting seabirds, and you can expect to see gulls, oystercatchers and terns along the coast while sugarbirds, robin-chats, kestrels and falcons are often seen inland. Bontebok, mountain zebra and eland are some of the larger creatures that you could encounter while walking here.

A highlight of any visit to Cape Point National Park is climbing up (or taking the funicular) to the top of the Cape Point lighthouse to gaze over the ocean, while a meal at the onsite restaurant with its jaw-dropping views will not disappoint.

Cape Point National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Park

Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Park is the only state-run park in Kwa-Zulu Natal that features the Big Five. It’s located in Zululand, close to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and is a popular choice as an add-on for travels to this World Heritage site.

The park includes 96 000 hectares of pristine coastal scarp forests and valley bushveld, and is home to a host of wildlife and bird species. Apart from the Famous Five, the park is also home to Nile crocodiles, cheetahs, hippos, spotted hyenas, nyalas, kudus and abundant plains game species. There are about 30 wild dogs in the park.

Hluhluwe Imfolozi is famous for bringing the black rhino back from the brink of extinction and still hosts successful breeding projects for both black and white rhino.

Apart from excellent game viewing opportunities, the park abounds with evidence of stone age settlements left over from its past as the royal hunting grounds of the Zulu Kingdom.

Hilltop Camp offers basic accommodation in the form of huts, chalets and camping sites while Mpila Lodge is a more luxurious option. Rhino Ridge is the only privately run option within the park and features luxury lodge accommodation and fully-inclusive stays.

The best way to explore the park is on guided game drives under the auspices of an experienced game ranger, but you can also enjoy self-drives as you desire. Guided night drives, game walks and overnight walking trails are also available.

Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Mapungubwe National Park

Located near Musina in Limpopo Province, Mapungubwe National Park is a World Heritage Site filled with ancient treasures dating back to 1290 AD. It’s the site where the famous golden rhino was unearthed in 1932 and is the first example of a class-based civilization living in southern Africa. It’s also the site of several examples of fossilized plants, dinosaur footprints and termite mounds.

History takes center stage at this game park, where you can find out more about these ancient civilizations at the Mapungubwe Museum or on walks to the ancient gravesite where these artefacts were discovered. The park is also home to elephant, lion, white rhino and leopard as well as a host of plains game and smaller mammals. African rock pythons are a common sighting here too.   

There are four camps in the park with accommodation options as follows:

  • Leokwe Main Camp featuring cottages and guest cottages
  • Limpopo Forest Tented Camp with permanent tents on offer
  • The Luxury Tshugulu Lodge which sleeps 12
  • Vhembe Wilderness Camp with 4 rustic cabins
  • Mazhou Camping Site
  • Maloutswa Bird Hide

Mapungubwe National Park consists of two sections separated by private farmlands. The Maloutswa Bird Hide, Tshugulu Lodge, Limpopo Forest Tented Camp and Mazhou Camping Site can only be accessed via the gate in the Western section of the park.

Mapungubwe National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Namaqua National Park

Namaqua National Park incorporates 700 square kilometers of the unique Karoo Biome and rugged shoreline, which is a world diversity hotspot containing the largest concentration of succulent plants on Earth. It’s best known for its incredible flower displays during the springtime but is a fantastic destination to embrace nature in solitude year-round.

Apart from its unique flora, Namaqua National Park is an excellent destination to see oryx, klipspringer, black-backed jackal, duiker and the occasional leopard. Birds are abundant, and you could get to see Karoo larks, black-headed canaries and black harriers among the 92 resident species.

The park is located close to Springbok in the Northern Cape Province, about 5-hours drive from Cape Town and offers rustic accommodation options for overnight travelers. The Skilpad Rest Camp has just 4 chalets available, the Luiperdskloof guest cottage sleeps 6 people, and there are also beach campsites available for those who really want to rough it.

From 23 August to 23 September every year, the park hosts privately-run flower camps featuring a luxury glamping experience for floral enthusiasts.

The main activity at Namaqua National Park is always going to be rest and relaxation, with the chance to capture some remarkable photographs during your stay. There are also 3 official walking trails within the parks confines and a challenging 4×4 trail. Mountain bikers have free reign along the roads and tracks.

Namaqua National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Explore the Game Parks in South Africa

For more information on Africa’s game parks, browse through our website – we update our content regularly and feature all the best information on things to do and see on the continent. Get in touch with all your questions, and we’ll be happy to fill you in as best we can.

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

Skydiving in Namibia | Activities & Things To Do In Namibia | African Travel Guide
Travel Advice

Skydiving in Namibia

About

Namibia’s landscapes are unbelievably unique, appealing to photographers and sightseers alike, no matter which angle you look at them from.

If you’d like to try a new perspective, you could consider throwing yourself earthward over the Namib Desert on a skydiving expedition over Swakopmund.

Skydiving is just one of the activities available in Swakopmund for those who love high drama and adrenalin packed excitement.  

What to expect

There are 3 different types of skydiving offered from adventure centres around Swakopmund. These are:

  • Freefall
  • Static Line
  • Tandem

Unless you are an experienced skydiver, you will most likely get to enjoy this activity during a tandem jump with an accomplished instructor.

All the necessary gear will be provided to you upon arrival at the airfield where you will undergo a crash course on what to expect in the air and on the ground.

After that, it’s all aboard, up, up and away as the plane ascends into the ether to about 12 000ft above ground level. Next, you’ll scoot up in front of your dive buddy while you are strapped in to their specially-designed tandem harness.

Once you’re in position, it’s go-time. You don’t have to do a thing. Your instructor will leap from the plane, taking you with him (or her).

As soon as you gain control of your flailing legs and shattered nerves, make the most of this amazing opportunity. There is no better angle from which to appreciate the true vastness of the magnificent Namib Desert.

The parachute is engaged at a few thousand feet above the ground with a gentle bump. This slows your descent and gives you a few more moments to take it all in before landing safely on terra firma once again.

What to Bring

Wear comfortable, casual clothes that allow for plenty of freedom of movement. Closed shoes are advised. Everything else will be provided. You may want to bring a bottle of champagne along to celebrate your bravery afterwards.

If friends and family will be waiting for you back at the base, they should bring a camera to record your heroic exploits. You can also arrange for the whole thing to be recorded on a go-pro during your dive.

Feeling Nervous?

It’s only natural to feel nervous about jumping out of an aeroplane thousands of feet above the ground. However, most people report no sense of vertigo or overwhelming fear when exiting the aircraft. Without a point of comparison, the human brain can’t register the actual height of the jump and so simply ignores it.

It’s highly likely that the enjoyment derived from skydiving causes participants to erase any initial fear from their memory banks too.

Are there age restrictions?

There is no age limit for skydiving. Children must be big enough to fit safely in the harness and need written permission from their parents to participate. Most operators impose a 100kg limit on participants for safety reasons.

How to book

For more information about Namibia or to book your breath-taking skydiving adventure, get in touch with African Travel Guide via our contact us page, and we will gladly assist you. 

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

Best National Parks In South Africa Part 1 | African Travel Guide
Animals, National Parks, Travel Advice

Best National Parks In South Africa – Part 1

There are millions of acres of land dedicated to conservation in South Africa. Big and small, each of these pockets of pristine wilderness have something to add to your African experience. Many offer exceptional game viewing experiences, while others provide an intimate return to nature and tranquility at its best.

In no particular order, here’s a heads up about some of the best game parks in South Africa.

Kruger National Park

Rightfully, ‘Kruger’ is the word on everybody’s lips when it comes to safaris in South Africa. This iconic wilderness destination spans 3 521 square kilometers along the country’s eastern inland border. The park incorporates 5 ecozones and is home to a huge range of living creatures. There are 147 mammal species found in the park, including the Big Five, over 507 types of birds have been identified, and there are 336 different types of trees to admire.

You can explore your surroundings self-drive style on over 1 800 kilometers of well-maintained roads or embark on guided game drives and walks from the major camps. Your accommodation alternatives are spread across 21 rest camps, 2 private concessions and 15 private establishments, with a variety of camping and caravanning, permanent tents, chalets, rondavels, guest houses and luxury lodge options.  

Most of the camps have swimming pools and restaurants, but there are also private bush lodges with limited facilities for those who like to rough it. When you visit the Kruger National Park, it’s up to you how much luxury you want on your South African safari.

Kruger National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Table Mountain National Park

One of South Africa’s most iconic destinations, Table Mountain dominates the skyline above the Mother City, but the National Park associated with this inselberg expands far further afield. Table Mountain National Park incorporates several conservation hotspots extending from Green Point in the North to Cape Point in the south.

The park is lauded for containing the largest diversity of flowering plants in the world (2 200 different species) and is a world heritage site. In fact, the Cape Floral Kingdom is so unique that it is recognized on its own as one of the 6 major floral kingdoms on earth.

It’s not all about the flora though; the park boasts healthy populations of animals like Cape hyrax, eland, Cape mountain zebra, bontebok, grysbok, duiker, grey rhebok and steenbok among others.

The most notable avian residents of the park are the penguins of Boulders Bay, but bird lovers will find over 300 species to check off their list while wandering the many trails which crisscross this 3 300 hectare chunk of protected land adjacent to Cape Town.

Table Mountain National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

West Coast National Park

Along the western shore of the Western Cape Province, the West Coast National Park is most famous for the abundance of blooms which erupt in the Postberg section of the park during the springtime. Whales are a common seasonal visitor to the area and can be seen from the beach or from elevated rocky outcrops along the shore.

The Langebaan Lagoon is one of the main features of this park and is acknowledged as a birding hotspot of international significance. Over 250 species of birds can be spotted here during the summer months.

Inland, you could come across eland, ostrich, kudu, mountain zebra, gemsbok, bontebok and steenbok, as well as bat-eared foxes, caracal and Cape grey mongooses. Driving and walking are the most popular ways to explore this park.

West Coast National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Garden Route National Park

Another coastal treasure, the Garden Route National Park incorporates 121 000 hectares of coast and forest across both the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces.

The park includes a number of important conservation areas like the Tsitsikamma Forest, Knysna Estuary, and Wilderness lakes. Some 371 species of birds flock to these lush environments, and there are 15 different species of marine mammals found in the park’s offshore protected areas.

Bushbuck, blue duikers, baboons, vervet monkeys, and rock hyrax are some of the more common land-dwelling animals found here. Multi-day hiking trails with rustic overnight accommodation are a popular way to get to grips with this gorgeous national park, while boating trips will take you out onto the oceans in search of whales and dolphins.

Garden Route National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Addo Elephant National Park

There’s no better place to see elephants en masse in South Africa than this nature reserve, Addo Elephant National Park, which is dedicated to their preservation. Here you won’t be looking out for the Big Five. This is Big Seven country, with the great white shark and southern right whale added to the usual mix.

After a recent expansion, Addo is now the third-largest national park in South Africa and boasts the greatest density of elephants on earth. The reserve currently extends from the semi-arid Karoo, across the Zuurberg Range all the way to St Croix, which is home to the largest African penguin colony in the world.

You can take in all this excess on self-drive and guided game drives while staying in regular camps and lodges, as well as a few plush private establishments dotted all over the park.  

Addo Elephant National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Karoo National Park

The Karoo National Park is a unique environment and a great place to see raptors in South Africa. There are 20 breeding pairs of black eagles in the park, along with jackal buzzards, rock kestrels, booted eagles and pale chanting goshawks.

On land, you can expect to come across Cape mountain zebra, black rhino, buffalo, and lion. Uniquely, the park boasts a herd of Burchell’s zebra that have been selectively bred to resemble the extinct Cape quagga.

The park offers a range of activities including mountain bike trails, 4×4 trails and un-guided walks in predator-free areas, as well as the usual guided walks and game drives.

Accommodation options include camping, chalets and cottages, as well as the isolated Afsaal Cottage, which was once a shepherd’s hut.

Karoo National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Located in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the northern Free State Province, this nature reserve is a scenic wonderland of rolling hills and towering sandstone cliffs. It’s no surprise that walking is the big attraction here with several routes on offer.

Guided tours are offered along the Herbal Trail to see the San Rock Art where you will learn about the local bushcraft. The tours continue on to the onsite Basotho Cultural Village and along the ancient paths of QwaQwa.

Accommodation is offered in a luxurious hotel, at campsites and in lodges, dormitories, huts and chalets contained within the park’s 5 main camps. You can even spend a night Basotho-style, in a recreated village.

There are no dangerous predators in the park, and the most commonly seen animals include springbok, blesbok, black wildebeest, eland and oribi. Birdlife is prolific, and the park is home to numerous vulture which you can see from the recently-built vulture hide.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Another World Heritage site, this incredible destination stretches along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline and for over 350 hectares and incorporates numerous important landmarks. These are:

  • Three major lake systems
  • Most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests
  • Africa’s biggest estuarine system
  • 25 000 year-old coastal dunes which are also among the highest in the world.

There are over 530 bird species that spend time here throughout the year, and it’s one of the few places on earth where you can see hippos and whales in one panorama. The park is an excellent destination for whale watching, as well as hippo and croc tours on the waters of St Lucia Estuary.

Most of the accommodation in this area is privately run, some offering extremely luxurious lodge options. There are also campsites, huts, backpackers, chalets and permanent tents available within St Lucia as well as operations that fall under the auspices of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on offer at Cape Vidal, Kosi Bay and Sodwana Bay, which is one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations.

Seaside and safari adventures are offered all over this vast park and you can enjoy unique activities such as tours to watch the turtle eggs hatch on the beach, horseback safaris, fishing, and boating.

iSimangaliso National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

This 38 000 square kilometer reserve is one of South Africa’s Transfrontier Parks. These vast protected areas are created when the fences are taken down between protected areas in neighboring countries to further the interests of conservation. In this case, Botswana and South Africa have joined forces to protect the unique species which thrive in this semi-arid habitat.

Many hardy desert-adapted lifeforms are found in these parts. Gemsbok, tsamma melons, camel-thorn trees and black-maned lions are some of these, while more ordinary animals like blue wildebeest, eland and giraffe are common.

This park is well known for predator sightings, and visitors are often rewarded with sightings of cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyenas as well as the iconic black-maned lions.

Smaller animals like ground squirrel and suricate provide light relief from the carnivorous action, while pangolins, honey badgers and bat-eared foxes may be spotted on guided sunset and sunrise drives and walks.

Accommodation is provided in traditional rest camps with a variety of options ranging from camping to family guest houses, 1 tented camp and 2 unfenced, exclusive use camps, one of which is a tented camp. There are also 3 off-the-grid wilderness camps and a 24-bed luxury safari lodge, owned by the local San community.

Kgalagadi National Park offers exceptionally comfortable experiences and spectacular scenery as well as outstanding opportunities to see around 280 species of birds including raptors, owls, larks and sparrow larks.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Bontebok National Park

The Bontebok National Park is the smallest national park in South Africa, including 2 786 hectares of Renosterveld near Swellendam in the Western Cape. The park is ideally suited to day visits and picnics but does offer the option to stay overnight in self-catering chalets and campsites located alongside the Breede River. It’s a popular overnight stay while travelling the Garden Route from Cape Town.

While the park is dedicated to the bontebok, you’ll also see hartebeest, grey rhebok, steenbok, grysbok and Cape mountain zebra. If you’re lucky, you could also get to see Cape clawless otters, bat-eared foxes, caracals, Cape foxes or aardwolves.

Birding is exceptional, and it’s one of the best places to see Denham’s Bustard as well as South Africa’s national bird, the blue crane among the 650 plant species found within this park.

Bontebok National Park | National Parks in South Africa | African Travel Guide

Exploring Game Parks in South Africa

For more information on game parks in South Africa, or for guidance on planning your trip to Africa, get in touch with African Travel Guide. We’ll gladly answer all your queries and put you on the right track to all the best African adventures.

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

Kirstenbosch National Botantical Garden | Attractions in Cape Town, South Africa | African Travel Guide
Activities, Cape Town, Travel Advice

Visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

The award-winning Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is located on the slopes of Table Mountain and is part of the 528-hectare Table Mountain National Park.  This protected mountainside supports a unique variety of natural flora including fragile fynbos species, which occur only in the Western Cape.  Kirstenbosch is located in Claremont and easily accessed from accommodation establishments in the surrounding areas and in Cape Town itself via the M3.

Kirstenbosch is a regular award-winner at the annual Chelsea Flower show, held in England, and the exhibit is rebuilt at different local venues for the South African public to enjoy after the show.  It is a great tribute to Kirstenbosch to be recognised at this prestigious international event from among 550 exhibits every year.

The Gardens have a reputation for being the most beautiful in Africa and is a great place to visit at any time of the year.  If you would like to see the fynbos in bloom though, the best time to visit is from August to November.

Located in the diverse and unique Cape Floral Kingdom, Kirstenbosch is the first botanic garden to be included in a World Heritage Site and is the largest of the nine National Botanic Gardens in South Africa. 

Over 7000 species of plant grow here, including some that would not normally survive on the slopes of Table Mountain.  These specimens are cultivated in a specially made Conservatory designed for sensitive arid plants.

Apart from many hundreds of plant specimens to admire, Kirstenbosch offers a range of other attractions. 

During summer, weekly concerts are held every Sunday which are a real hit with music fans, families and the performers themselves.  What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than listening to your favourite tunes surrounded by friends, pristine gardens and gorgeous views?

Art in the Garden consists of a variety of exhibitions scattered around the gardens, both indoors and out.  Beautiful and unusual sculptures are found all over, special short-term exhibits are often displayed, and art-shows are held regularly in various venues across the gardens.  

The most well-known exhibits are:

  • The Sculpture Garden with a constantly changing display of original African stone sculptures, some of which available for purchase.
  • The Dylan Lewis impala at the Centre for Home Gardening.
  • The bust of Nelson Mandela just inside the Visitor’s Centre entrance.
  • The Cape Clawless Otter sculpture in the Otter Pond.

There are three restaurants at Kirstenbosch – Moyo, Vida e Caffè and the Tea Room all serving up refreshing drinks, snacks and meals. Moyo is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings while the others are daytime venues only.

The latest addition at Kirstenbosch is an aerial walkway, nicknamed the Boomslang.  This path winds through the trees and is not unlike a rollercoaster in looks, although it is modelled on the snake of the same name. The walkway is 130m long and provides elevated views of the Kirstenbosch Gardens and spectacular vistas of the mountainside. The opening of the Boomslang coincides with the Garden’s centenary and promises to keep visitors amused for many years to come.

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

 

Kirstenbosch National Botantical Garden | Attractions in Cape Town, South Africa | African Travel Guide