The whole world in one country! Spectacular landscapes, wild animals and friendly people are waiting for you, as well as the metropolises Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The diversified animal kingdom can be watched in numerous little game reserves and the huge national parks. More than 300 mammal species, more than 500 bird species and more than 100 reptile species have their home in South Africa.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 sq mi) and extends 360 kilometers (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometers (40 mi) from east to west. To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The climate of the Kruger National Park and Lowveld is subtropical. Summer days are humid and hot with temperatures often soaring to above 38 °C (100 °F). The rainy season is from September until May. The dry winter season is the ideal time to visit this region for various reasons. There is less chance of contracting malaria and the days are milder.
Viewing wildlife is more rewarding as the vegetation is more sparse and animals are drawn to the waterholes to drink every morning and evening. All the Big Five game animals are found at Kruger National Park, which has more species of large mammals than any other African Game Reserve (at 147 species). There are webcams set up to observe the wildlife. The park stopped culling elephants in 1994 and tried translocating them, but by 2004 the population had increased to 11,670 elephants, by 2006 to approximately 13,500 and by 2009 to 11,672. The park's habitats can only sustain about 8,000 elephants. The park started using annual contraception in 1995, but has stopped that due to problems with delivering the contraceptives and upsetting the herds.
Kruger supports packs of the endangered African Wild Dog, of which there are thought to be only about 400 in the whole of South Africa.
The original section of the park was founded in 1931, in part due to the efforts of Sydney Skaife, in order to provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining elephants in the area.
The original park has subsequently been expanded to include the Woody Cape Nature Reserve that extends from the Sundays River mouth towards Alexandria and a marine reserve, which includes St. Croix Island and Bird Island, an important breeding habitat for gannets and penguins, not to mention a large variety of other marine life. Bird Island is home to the world's largest breeding colony of gannets - about 120,000 birds - and also hosts the second largest breeding colony of African penguins, the largest breeding colony being St Croix island.
More than 450 elephants, 400 Cape buffalo, over 48 endangered black rhino as well as a variety of antelope species can be seen. Lion and spotted hyena has also recently been re-introduced to the area. The largest remaining population of the flightless dung beetle is located within the park.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, located 280 km north of Durban, is the oldest proclaimed park in Africa. It consists of 960 km² (96,000 ha) of hilly topography in central Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts. The park is the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal where all the Big Five occur. Due to conservation efforts, the park now has the largest population of white rhino in the world.
The park is home to Africa's Big Five Game: Elephant, Rhinoceros (Black/Hook-lipped and White/Square-lipped), Cape Buffalo, Lion, Leopard. It is home to 86 special species including: Nile crocodile, hippo, white and black rhino, leopard, lion, cheetah, hyena, elephant, buffalo, blue wildebeest, jackal, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, nyala, eland, kudu, impala, duiker, suni, reedbuck, warthog, bushpig, mongoose, baboons, monkeys, a variety of tortoises, terrapins, snakes and lizards. It is one of the world's top spots for viewing Nyala. The park is a prime birding destination and is home to 340 bird species. The Hluhluwe River Flood Plain is one of the only areas in the whole of South Africa where Yellow throated, Pink throated and Orange throated Long claw species can be seen together. Bird life include night heron, wood stork, Wahlberg's eagle, Shelley's francolin, black-bellied korhaan, Temminck's courser, Klaas's cuckoo, little bee-eater and crested barbet.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a large wildlife preserve and conservation area in southern Africa. The park straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana and comprises two adjoining national parks: Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. The total area of the park is 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 sq mi). Approximately three-quarters of the park lie in Botswana and one-quarter in South Africa.
Kgalagadi means "place of thirst". The park is located largely within the southern Kalahari Desert. The terrain consists of red sand dunes, sparse vegetation, occasional trees, and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob rivers. The rivers are said to flow only about once per century. However, water flows underground and provides life for grass and camelthorn trees growing in the river beds. The rivers may flow briefly after large thunderstorms, a cause for celebration among the wildlife, who will flock to the river beds and slake their eternal thirst.
The park has abundant, varied wildlife. It is home to large mammalian predators such as black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. Migratory herds of large herbivores such as blue wildebeest, springbok, eland, and red hartebeest also live and move seasonally within the park, providing sustenance for the predators. More than 200 species of bird can be found in the park, including vultures and raptors such as eagles, buzzards, and secretary birds.