There are few places on earth where you can come face to face with a Great White Shark, watch a four-legged predator stalk its prey on a game drive, and see an orange sunset glow behind a waddle of penguins, which is why South Africa is one of the world’s most amazing countries to visit for once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters.
From the seemingly endless grassy plains and rugged coastline, here are the top five wildlife experiences in South Africa.
As one of Africa’s largest game reserves, expect to spot plenty of wildlife on a game drive through this vast expanse made up of tropical forest, bush plains and mountains. Ticking off the ‘Big Five’ has become a fun challenge for safari-goers, and with Kruger being home to lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo, you’ll definitely want to have your camera ready to capture any sightings. But, it’s not all about the Big Five. With over 147 species of mammals in the park, hippos, antelope, warthogs, hyenas and more are never lurking too far away.
No matter what kind of holiday you’re on, Kruger National Park has an accommodation type for everyone and every budget. Immerse yourself in the nature around you while staying in a safari tent, high-end camp or luxury lodge, with game drives offered at most properties.
Feel the rush of plunging into the unknown with a Great White Shark cage diving experience at an ominous spot in the ocean known as ‘shark alley’. Home to a colony of 60,000 fur seals, it’s no surprise that this part of the ocean off the coast of Gansbaai attracts these toothy predators. Feeling brave? You can choose to enter the cage for a face-to-face encounter with one of nature’s mightiest creatures. Plus, South Africa offers some of the best-value shark diving experiences available, costing around AUD$250. With similar experiences in Australia costing approximately AUD$400, it’s a great way to get an adrenaline rush and a bargain at the same time!
African penguins aplenty can be found just an hour from Cape Town’s CBD at the famous Boulders Beach. It’s here that you can wander along wooden boardwalks, stopping to watch these black and white birds waddling along the sand and protecting their young.
Located in KwaZulu-Natal, Tembe Elephant Park is a place where Africa’s largest wild elephants roam free in 300sqkm of protected reserve. The park focuses on the conservation of 250 elephants – many with large ivory tusks – protecting them from poachers and allowing you to have the opportunity to marvel at these magnificent creatures as you drive through the park in a safari vehicle.
South Africa’s whale watching season is between June and December every year and Hermanus is recognised as one of the top places in the world to spot these gentle giants. Keen photographers may want to take a sunrise or sunset charter with southern right and humpback whales the main attraction in the area for whale watchers. And it’s not just whales you can spot. Dolphins, cape fur seals and African penguins can also be spotted on a cruise.
All images (except the whale) are courtesy of South Africa Tourism
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