by Andrea Botha

​SA’s Top 5 Game Reserves

The best in bush escapes

SA's Top 5 Game Reserves
SA's Top 5 Game Reserves
South Africa is arguably the world's ultimate wildlife viewing destination. With 260 superb national and private game and nature reserves boasting incredible animal and plant life, including highly endangered species, anybody keen to see animals in the wild would be foolish to give it a miss. Add to this; celebrated conservation management practices, including ecotourism initiatives, brilliant infrastructure, and a vast range of accommodation, and it becomes clear that South Africa is a true safari gem. Picking a top-five was difficult but if you’re pressed for time and can go to just one game reserve in South Africa, make it one of these:

Kruger National Park

The grande dame of South African game reserves is undoubtedly the Kruger National Park. The largest game reserve in the country and the second largest in Africa, Kruger was established in 1898 and spans almost 20 000 square kilometres. Apart from the Big Five, Kruger has 507 bird species and 147 different species of mammals. A number of private game reserves like Sabi Sands and Timbavati border Kruger and game roam freely between the reserves. There are various accommodation options, from private lodges to tents and comfortable bush camps, offering a truly unique and magical African wilderness experience.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Getting to Kgalagadi may be its biggest drawback, but for some its remote and secluded location the major appeal. Kgalagadi is situated far up in the Northern Cape and combines the former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the Gemsbok National park in Botswana – a vast region of over 3.6 million hectares. The roads are rough and fit only for 4x4 vehicles but the camps are comfortable and well-priced. The splendid isolated desert beauty comprises red dunes and open plains, desert landscapes and excellent predator sightings, especially of the black-maned Kalahari lions.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Pilanesberg is situated in a region of great natural beauty on an ancient volcanic crater. The plains are surrounded by picturesque koppies, intersected by streams and rivers. It is well-stocked with game and there is plenty of lovely accommodation. Pilansberg is close to Pretoria and Sun City, making it a very popular stop on most travel itineraries. Sightings of the Big Five, fantastic birdwatching as well as the fact that it is malaria-free add to the charms of one of South Africa’s most popular game parks.

Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve
This well-known game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa with a proud conservation history stretching back more than a few centuries. Situated in the lush, green heart of Zululand, Hluhluwe gained international recognition for its rhino project, which has been credited with saving the white rhino from the brink of extinction. Today Hluhluwe Umfolozi has of the largest populations of white and black rhino in the country and is home to a successful breeding and relocation programme. There is a range of accommodation available, from the  simple but comfortable, to splendid luxury bush lodges.

Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe is situated in the north, about a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. Although not exactly off the beaten track, this large reserve is more of a luxury destination for discerning travellers. The scenery is particularly varied and contains open woodlands and grasslands as well as interesting geological features. It is claimed to be one of the most appropriate and sustainable land use in this region. Run as a joint venture between government, the private sector and local communities, Madikwe sets an example for future game reserve management.

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Issue 60


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