South African National Parks, or SANParks, is a group of 19 reserves which preserve South Africa’s fauna and flora. Whether you take pleasure in watching a lion stalk its prey on the open savannah or listening to the peaceful call of the Knysna Loerie in a lush green forest, SANParks offer diverse sights and experiences. We tantalise your travelbug by taking you to a coastal reserve, some majestic mountains, tumbling waterfalls and rolling sand dunes.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Northern Cape
You need to stand barefoot at the base of the rolling red sand dunes to appreciate the silence and vastness that is Kgalagadi, meaning ‘place of great thirst’. Surface water is scarce and the animals that live there have to adapt to the arid conditions. Keep your eyes peeled for the black-mane lions and the majestic gemsbok. Kgalagadi is situated on the border of Botswana and South Africa, with animals roaming freely between the two countries. There are nine camps, six of which are unfenced and you need to take your food, wood and water. A 4×4 is highly recommended.
Tsitsikamma National Marine Park – Western Cape
Known as the garden of the Garden Route, it is decorated with lush indigenous forest, delicate fynbos and sheer wave-cut cliffs falling into the pounding ocean. This is the first national marine park in Africa. Accommodation is plentiful, ranging from fully serviced forest huts to cottages.
The world-renowned Otter Trail and Dolphin Trail wind along the national marine rugged coastline, offering stunning scenery and a solid challenge to hikers. For the less adventurous, you can wander through the silent mountain forest with its towering wooden giants, trying to spot the elusive Narina Trogon. Or explore the shoreline, dotted with small bays and coves ideal for snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park – North Eastern Free State
Golden Gate is picturesque mountain scenery, dominated by the impressive sandstone formations and expansive grassland in the Northern Free State. The sun’s golden rays bounce off the breathtaking sandstone, with waterfalls, caves and rolling mountains waiting to be discovered. Nature trails ranging from one to five hours are a must, Cathedral Cave being the most popular.
Zebra, klipspringer and wildebeest can be seen roaming wild within the park and the ever illusive bald ibis, stands out among the park’s 200 odd bird species. Accommodation includes cottages, hotels and even restored rustic farmhouses. Roads are tarred and easily accessible. A true highland habitat!
Augrabies Falls National Park – Northern Cape
The Orange River fans out into a network of channels and islands, with the main fall plunging some 56 metres over a granite cliff into the gorge below. Known as one of the world’s best examples of a cataract waterfall, there are no fewer than 19 falls, among which are the Bridal Veil and Angel Falls. At the main fall, several viewpoints are assessable at the end of a foot trail. While standing in awe at the magnificent power, you will feel the mist on your skin and hear the noise of thunder as the water tumbles down the cliff.
Be sure to keep your eye open for the kokerboom (quiver tree) that line the park’s terrain. Unique surroundings, with majestic sights and sounds.
To provide added value to visitors and encourage locals and foreigners to support conservation, SANParks introduced a loyalty card system called WildCard. With a WildCard you’re allowed unlimited access for a year to beautiful SANPark reserves. Details of packages and prices, information on all reserves or to ask experts questions about wildlife, go to www.wildcard.co.za