South Africa wildlife ranges from safaris in the remote wilderness to close-up interactions with penguins on the beaches of Cape Town. The big five animals are present in a number of national parks in South Africa, and if you’re an old safari hand Africa’s little five can also be found here. On the endangered list, South Africa is also home to the black rhino, wild dog, wattled crane, and riverine rabbit.
There are over 550 national parks and nature reserves in the country, and a great infrastructure to get into and around them. All of this makes South Africa a fantastic destination for wildlife safaris.
While Kruger National Park is, without doubt, the jewel of South Africa’s wildlife spotting opportunities, there are a number of other standout national parks where epic animal sightings are virtually guaranteed:
Addo Elephant Park
Addo National Park is something of a hidden gem, spreading for 180,000 hectares through mountains, river valleys, and bushland, right down to the coast of the Indian ocean and beyond, where a marine reserve forms part of the park. Famed for its 550-strong elephants, Addo Elephant Park is home to the “big seven” animals, as well as zebra, warthog, a variety of African antelopes, and spotted hyena.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier park
The Kgalagadi is a wild land of harsh extremes, and one of Africa’s last great unspoiled regions. The area is richer in wildlife than it first appears and supports large populations of birds, reptiles, small mammals, and antelopes, which in turn support a healthy predator population. It’s regarded as one of the best places in the world to see big cats like lion, leopard, and particularly cheetah.
Kruger National Park
A national symbol of South Africa, Kruger is one of the world’s most famed national parks. The area has an incredible diversity of wildlife, from the big five to a huge range of African antelope and gazelle, and plenty of much smaller animals and birds.
So there you have our take on the 14 most iconic species of South African wildlife you could expect to see when on safari in South Africa. What do you think – any controversial picks… or wildlife in South Africa missing from the list? Let us know in the comments section below!