Heading out on a South Africa safari offers the bucket list–worthy opportunity to spot the Big Five—lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo—as well as giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and springboks in their natural environment. Accompanied by wildlife experts, these unforgettable wilderness excursions present some of the world’s best wildlife viewing.
Kruger National Park
Situated in the northeastern portion of the country, Kruger is one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves, where hundreds of species of mammals and birds make their home. Two times bigger than Yellowstone National Park in the United States, Kruger is home to the Big Five as well as hippos, hyenas, impalas, giraffes, crocodiles, and dung beetles.
Pilanesberg Nature Reserve
Located just 93 miles (150 kilometers) from Johannesburg, Pilanesberg Nature Reserve (or Pilanesberg National Park) protects an area surrounding an extinct volcano that might once have been Africa’s highest peak. On safari here you might see crocodiles and hippos in the park’s lake, or hyenas, cheetahs, wildebeest, and zebras in the open grasslands and forested gorges. The park is also considered one of the best spots in South Africa to see rhinos.
Aquila Game Reserve
Located in the Western Cape Province, Aquila Game Reserve is the most convenient option for visitors based in Cape Town to head out on safari. The private game reserve doubles as a resort, and you can combine visiting on a day or multi-day tour from Cape Town with a visit to Table Mountain, the Cape Winelands, a drive along the famous Garden Route, or a night at a safari lodge.
Hluhluwe Game Reserve
The oldest nature reserve on the continent, Hluhluwe Game Reserve is also home to the Big Five—but the real highlight of game viewing tours is the chance to spy a rare white rhino. More than 80 other species make their home in the park’s broad plains and bush-covered hills, making it the perfect choice for a classic African safari, with private and small-group tours running from Durban.