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IImagine stunning scenery, rare plants and animals, and activities ranging from diving and whale watching to game drives and hiking. Stay in simple self-catering accommodation, welcoming B&Bs or an upmarket luxury lodge. You'll find accommodation to suit all pockets.
When you visit South Africa, you'll notice there are many smaller nature reserves scattered across the country, many of these run by provincial authorities or in private hands. You'll also be astounded by the abundant diversity of plant, animal and marine life, plus the stunning natural beauty that these reserves have to offer.
In KwaZulu-Natal you can't go wrong when visiting one of the reserves that fall under the authority of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. These range from bush experiences at places like Ndumo or Mkhuze or the many camps in the majestic Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park which give you access to exceptional scenic beauty and hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging.
In the Western Cape, you'll find gems like De Hoop Nature Reserve (which falls under CapeNature) which offer some of the best whale-viewing opportunities in the world, along with iconic hiking experiences, such as the Whale Trail. Or head for Anysberg in the Little Karoo where you can stay in a rustic cottage or even book an overnight guided horse trail.
In Mpumalanga, a visit to the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is a must visit for its natural attractions like the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, Pinnacle Rock and God's Window.
Alternatively, opt for a luxurious private reserve experience, as at Tswalu in the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, which encompasses some 100 000ha of this special landscape but accommodates no more than 30 guests at a time.
If time is short, pop into the Lion & Safari Park near Johannesburg where you'll have encounters of the close kind with lions, cheetahs, plains game and a vulture or 3. You'll see plentiful game, but not the Big 5, at the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, also near Johannesburg.
Nature reserves in South Africa are not just about plants and the botanical kingdom, but also about different ecological systems, animals, birds, marine life, anthropology and archaeology and gorgeous scenery.
TTravel tips & planning info
Best time to visit
South Africa's nature reserves each offer their own individual charm and can be visited throughout the year.
Length of stay
It's up to you. Stay for a night, a few nights, or up to 2 weeks, depending on the size and range of activities in the reserve
What to pack
Pack warm clothes for cold nights, sturdy hiking boots, water, binoculars, cameras and sunscreen and hats.
Where to stay
There's accommodation to suit all pockets – from stylish game lodges to friendly B&Bs. Contact the reserves directly for more information or contact tourism offices around the country.
- Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
- Tswalu Game Reserve
- Northern Cape Tourism
- Lion & Safari Park
- Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism
- North West Parks & Tourism Board
- Limpopo Tourism Authority
- Gauteng Tourism Authority