5 June 2014

South Africa voted best wildlife destination by Lonely Planet readers in India

South Africa has been voted the best wildlife destination for the third year in a row in a Lonely Planet magazine reader survey in India.

South Africa's wildlife: A male lion resting in long grass

Well done to the SA product, to the Indian sellers that so effectively sold the product, and to the travellers who carried the experiences so close to their heart. Thank you to Lonely Planet – they are always at the forefront when we have something new to share. – Hanneli Slabber, SAT country manager: India

South Africa’s incredible wildlife is a drawcard for many international visitors. Known as a Big Seven destination, South Africa’s national parks and wilderness areas are home to a wide diversity of wild animals.

It’s not surprising, then, that South Africa has been voted 'Best International Destination for Wildlife' by readers of Lonely Planet magazine in India for the third year running. 

‘We are absolutely thrilled with this accolade,’ says Hanneli Slabber, South African Tourism’s country manager for India. ‘Wildlife is the anchor tenant of our product offering, and to have it recognised as the best in the world by our Indian travellers is heart-warming. We have seen an increase in interest in the environment and visiting the last unspoiled places in the world.’

Slabber says that more Indians are travelling and that the South African travel and hospitality trade continues to invest in wildlife and eco-tourism. ‘We see a lot of people worrying about our Earth, understanding our incredible responsibility towards it, and seeking out that special connection.’ 

Game drives and safari activities are definitely an attraction for international and local visitors, and Lonely Planet advises getting up close and personal with wildlife in South Africa's national parks – describing it as a ‘completely immersive experience’. Taking a river cruise in St Lucia (KwaZulu-Natal) is also touted by Lonely Planet as one of the must-do wildlife experiences on a trip to South Africa.

South Africa again fared well in this Lonely Planet survey, among strong competition from Kenya and Tanzania – the runners-up in the wildlife destination category.

In addition to South Africa taking first place as Best International Destination for Wildlife, MalaMala Main Camp in the MalaMala private game reserve was voted into first place by the Lonely Planet India readers in the Best Hotel Wildlife (International) category. According to the scorecard, Lonely Planet readers appreciated the authentic feel of MalaMala, as well as the fantastic safari experience on offer. MalaMala Main Camp placed first ahead of Governors' Camp in Masai Mara, Kenya, and Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.

Says Slabber: ‘Well done to the SA product, to the Indian sellers that so effectively sold the product, and to the travellers who carried the experiences so close to their heart. Thank you to Lonely Planet – they are always at the forefront when we have something new to share. Last, but not least, thank you to the readers who voted for us – we are thrilled and humbled, and we take our part of the job to look after the Earth very seriously.'