The gorgeous South African national parks have coined their name around the globe for their vibrancy and diversity.
It’s needless to say that South Africa has a past filled with tragedy, but they have always thrived towards a bright future.
One biggest card that they play is their rich wildlife and natural diversity, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say the country has been cashing it.
Tourists from all around the world travel to this diverse country to mesmerize the natural beauty of the country.
As per the research, there are over 20 national parks in South Africa, which cover 3% area of the entire country.
These national parks are loaded with rhinos, African lions, cape buffaloes, and African elephants.
On top of everything, South Africa has focused on creating a travel-friendly experience for their tourists with their luxury hotels and fancy camping pads (yes, glamping), so everyone can enjoy nature and wilderness while in the four safe walls.
So, if you are ready to travel to Africa, we are sharing the top national parks of the country!
1. West Coast National Park
West Coast National Park is one of the most vibrant and colorful parks, and it’s curated to credence the country since it’s called the Rainbow Nation.
If you visit the park during the spring season, there will be an exceptional range of colorful and bright flowers, and we don’t mind saying that it creates a picturesque view.
In addition, the collection of all these flowers and wildlife creates a diverse landscape, and it’s nothing less than stunning.
A more in-depth informational blog on this park is found here.
The park lies on the west coast of South Africa and is loaded with flower meadows. In addition, there are various offshore islands while Langebaan Lagoon remains the main point of attraction.
The lagoon is surrounded by huge wetlands that create a breeding place for various bird species – yes, we forgot to mention, this park is perfect for bird watching.
On top of everything, it’s a great choice for water sports enthusiasts.
Take a look at this lagoon from the air with a drone:
This is because you can go around the lagoon for skimming and kayaking, and there are kite surfing activities as well.
On top of everything, there are trails and footpaths that are constructed throughout the park to make sure there is a convenient walking path, and you won’t lose the way.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
This national park is located around the Lesotho mountain kingdom and is known for its stunning visuals and delightful views.
This is primarily because there are huge sandstone cliffs that dominate the entire appearance of the park’s surroundings.
There are ancient formations of rocks, which are extremely beautiful to look at, and there are also some hidden colossal cliffs.
Check out my other, more into-depth, blog post on Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
The most intriguing fact is that the caves have San rock art paintings.
What’s most titillating about this park is that there have been various paleontological discoveries, which actually draws a lot of historians from all across the globe.
As far as the discoveries are concerned, paleontologists have found dinosaur eggs and skeletons.
The park gets its name from the golden cliffs, which become more golden during the golden hour of sunset, and it surely creates unbelievable views – this park is a must-visit.
Royal Natal National Park
Royal Natal National Park is a promising choice for people who want to enjoy the flat landscapes as well as the mountains.
The national park fans out from the lofty summits, particularly from the Drakensberg mountains.
Around thirty square miles of this park have outstripped the mountains, but they are very small.
On the other hand, there is accessible and dramatic scenery, and the entire park is crowned with the sublime amphitheater, which includes three miles of canyons and cliffs.
All of this looks majestic when you look down from below, and if you climb to the top, the ground will have the most mesmerizing look.
At this park, the Tugela Falls drop down in five stages, and the top-level freezes during the winter season.
However, the last part has the river, which connects with the Senqu River and goes all the way to the Atlantic.
On a concluding note, the park is known for the amazing day walks, and if you are fond of hiking, this place is an absolute haven.
Namaqua National Park
Namaqua National Park (more detailed information here) has the best fauna and flora that you can find in South Africa, and they are actually surrounding the boundaries of the park, which looks amazing.
This park is a must-visit when the wildflowers are in full bloom as they shine brightly under the sunlight.
It will surely create a color mosaic that can intimidate the senses, but it is highly likely to leave you awestruck with the beauty.
It also has sprawling meadows and hills, which are delightful to check out.
The next video is in the Afrikaans language (as I’m Dutch-speaking myself, this is kind of funny for me lol), but you can follow the video for sure without issues.
The meadows and hills run throughout the park, and it’s a perfect option for people to wander around.
To illustrate, Namaqua National Park is a biodiversity hotspot as it has over 3500 types of plants, and over one thousand of these species are native to this park.
For the most part, the park remains silent, given the desert-like surroundings as well as the dry and warm climate.
Having said that, if you have to visit the park, it’s best to visit during August and September.
Karoo National Park
If you are fond of seeing dryer and desert-like parks, Karoo National Park in South Africa should be on your list.
The park has an arid and harsh climate, but the most beautiful thing is that its creatures and plants have managed to thrive.
The park stretches across the horizon, and it’s actually a desolating and beautiful place to visit, and it will actually be soothing.
In addition, the park has Nuweveled Mountains, which surely add versatility to the scrublands and flats plains.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that isolation is the focal point of this national park, and the wildlife is completely untouched.
Having said that, there will be an enormous range of birds and animals out there, and it has a soothing feeling and scenery which keeps everyone pulling back to the place.
Mapungubwe National Park
To begin with, this national park was formed to secure the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, and it tops the park (the hill is known for its historical importance).
This is because people used to live in this area during the Iron Age, and there have been various archaeological discoveries.
Some of the discoveries signal that the community that used to live here was trading with places far away, such as China.
For this reason, the government has been extremely vigilant about preserving this ancient ecosystem.
The park has a scenic and unique landscape, which makes it a great place for wandering around.
However, the path to the hills has narrow gaps, so make sure you are wearing proper shoes.
There are also some guided tours available, and to top it all, there is a treetop path available which is one of the most magical ways of checking out the majestic scenery.
Take another look at this tourguide named Edward Bath on Youtube filming an overlander ride in the park:
Garden Route National Park
This park is known for its temperate Mediterranean climate, and it will be an absolute treat to explore.
There is the Garden Route that spreads across the coastline, and driving along the coastline will be amazing.
There are various protected areas in the park, and it’s a must-visit place if you want to enjoy the mesmerizing landscapes.
For instance, you can visit the Tsitsikamma for the rocky coasts that connect with the ocean, shore trails, and sand dunes while everything ends in the forests.
The park has a fertile and wet region, and there are some lovely lakes for you to dip your feet in.
In particular, you can opt for Knysna Lakes for the tranquil and clear water.
In addition, the park has the most delightful paths that follow the lake shores, and you will find various hiking options available.
On top of everything, it has an elephant park, so if your favorite animal is an elephant, you know where to go.
Take a look at all the things you can do at this park:
Marakele National Park
Marakele National Park is located in the northern part of the country, and it has the most contrasting surroundings, which makes it a great place to enjoy a variety of nature.
To illustrate, the park pays homage to versatile fauna and flora, and not to mention: there is an extensive range of birds and animals.
Having said that, this is a biodiversity hotspot, which is a captivating addition to the landscape of South African parks.
The national park has Waterberg Mountains that dominate the park’s plains.
It creates the most impressive panoramas as it combines with scrublands and valleys.
There is an array of large mammals available in the park, including lions, elephants, and rhinos.
So, if you actually visit this park, you have to keep an eye out for these animals. Not to forget, there are carrion eaters that add to the beauty and captivity of Marakele National Park.
Table Mountain National Park
It was previously named the Cape Peninsula National Park, and it’s located in Cape Town.
If you are staying in Cape town then this park is right there for you to see in the distance and it makes the town quite recognizable.
This park is known for the Cape of Good Hope and The Table Mountain.
It is surrounded by an undeveloped mountainous range, which makes it separated from the shallow terrain.
The best thing about this park is the diverse flora as there are some Afro-temperate forests, and it’s quite near to the biodiversity hotspot, Cape Floral Kingdom.
As far as the fauna is concerned, this park is home to spotted hyenas, black jackals, cape lion, eland, elephant, leopard, bontebok, and more!
Addo Elephant National Park
To begin with, this is a wildlife conservation park and is known for its diversity and it has been around since 1991.
The park is connected to St. Croix Island, and if you are a fan of birds, Bird Island is there, and it’s the breeding place for penguins and gannets.
Addo Elephant National Park has some rarest plants, and there are over six hundred elephants (do you see where the name comes from?) along with black rhinos, cape buffaloes, and some people have spotted the spotted hyenas and lions.
The reserve, located on the South Coast of South Africa, is one of the few natural parks in the world where you can spot the Big Seven and the only one in South Africa.
These folks had fun visiting the park and so will I next year I hope!
I have some more into-depth information on this national park right here.
Agulhas National Park
Agulhas National Park lays at rest in the Agulhas Plain, which is in the Western Cape region. The park stretches along the Struisbaai and Gansbaai.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this is a relatively smaller national park, but it still houses two-thousand native species of plants.
In addition, there is a captivating wetland that offers refuge to amphibians and birds. Not to forget, there is a tearoom and small museum in the lighthouse when you want a break from the wildlife.
Check it out in the next video:
Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Settled between Namibia and South Africa, this is a peaceful park, and it was actually formed back in 2003.
There is a buffer zone of over 2290 square miles while the fish river canyon stands tall in its glory.
This park gets two climates, including winter rainfall and high-temperature summers with lower humidity levels.
As far as the landscape is concerned, Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has high mountains and rugged valleys, and it’s safe to say that it looks magnificent in the early morning fog.
I have hicked below the Fish River Canyon myself, and I will soon dive more into this. ( it is a steep climb!)
Augrabies Falls National Park
This national park is located just around Augrabies Falls, and it was formed in 1966. Furthermore, it is about 120 km west of Upington in the Northern Cape Province.
The park stretches across the Orange River and has an arid area. The best thing about this park is the 60m high waterfall, and it’s nothing but awe-inspiring.
So, if you ever visit this park, don’t forget to check out the waterfall and make it a point to opt for a three-day hike trail to absorb the beauty this park has to offer.
Bontebok National Park
Commonly known as the species-specific national park, Bontebok National Park has been around since 1931.
This park is adjoined by the Cape Floristic Region, and it spans over 27.86km.
If you are wondering about the bonteboks, there are over 200 of them in this park, but you will also find grey rhebok, duiker, blue crane, cape grysbok, and mountain zebras.
On top of everything, the park has 500 different types of grass and over 200 bird species.
Get some more information on this park in the next video:
Camdeboo National Park
The park is located in the Karoo, and it surely surrounds Graaff-Reinet’s Eastern Cape.
It spans over 194 square kilometers, and it has an elevation ranging from 740m to 1480.
Honestly, there is not much to see in this park because it was only made to conserve nature.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Straddling between Botswana and South Africa’s borders, this is a huge wildlife preservation and conservation area.
The park spans over 38,000 square kilometers, and it contains the most diverse landscape, ranging from sparse vegetation to red sand suns, dry riverbeds, and occasional trees.
The best part of this park is the abundant yet highly varied wildlife as it’s home to mammals, including hyenas, cheetahs, lions, and African leopards.
In addition, there are various herbivores, such as red hartebeest, eland, springbok, and blue wildebeest.
Spend the summer at this park!
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the biggest game reserves in Africa and is located in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
This is a perfect place for people who like tropical and subtropical places and is known for sure among tourists visiting South African National Parks.
The rainy season ranges from September to May, and September is actually one of the best times to visit this piece of heaven.
When it comes down to the wildlife, this park is known to support the endangered African wild dogs, and there are over eight-thousand elephants in this diverse park.
To know more about Kruger Park, I have written a more into-depth article on this well-known park!
Mokala National Park
Mokala National Park is the reserve formed in the southwest area of Kimberley, and it spans over 26,485 hectares.
There are 70km long roads available for accessing the park while the climate ranges from desert to semi-desert temperatures.
However, the park is gorgeous during the summer months, particularly when it rains.
Surprisingly, this park is home to the Cape buffaloes, roan antelopes, and black rhinos.
However, if you visit the park, don’t forget to pack a mosquito repellent (nope, you don’t need to worry about malaria).
Mountain Zebra National Park
The park is located in the eastern cape and was established in 1937 to save the zebras that were called on the verge of extinction.
This park is not known very well amongst the South African National parks, but I intend to change that and visit it myself, hopefully next year!
While the park has managed to increase the zebra population, it also has red hartebeest, black rhinos, caracal, grey rhebok, and South African cheetahs.
Not to forget, the park administration also released three lions in the park in 2013, and there are various camps for you to stay in (don’t worry, they are all fenced properly).
Some more info about this park in the next video!
Tankwa Karoo National Park
And last, but not least: located around 70km to the west of Sutherland, Tankwa Karoo National Park is an exceptional place with moisture-bearing clouds and flora and fauna that you’ve never seen before.
It is home to the dwarf and sparse shrublands, and there are various succulent genera out there.
The park has over 188 bird species, including the black-eared sparrow-lark, Ludwig’s bustard, black-headed canary, and if you really want to see all these birds, visit during August and October.
My Final Conclusion.
There, that was a lot of information to chew on, but I hope that I got you informed shortly on every one of the South African National Parks.
Remember that I will be diving deeper into each one of them soon so that you know what to do and what to expect if you choose a particular park!
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or join me on one or all of my social media channels or Facebook group.
I wish you happy traveling!