South Africa spoils you for
choice in safari destinations
While most people might immediately
think of the Kruger National Park when talking safaris in South Africa,
the country does have other wonderful locations to choose from, where the
most sought after Big Five of Africa's game animals can be spotted, up
close and personal. The Big Five consists of elephant, rhinoceros,
lion, buffalo, leopard.
There are many quality safari
options available all over Africa; today we will concentrate on a couple
of really great game viewing spots in two different regions of South Africa.
We will also explore an area of the country that does not merely house
the Big Five, but actually has the Big Seven on offer.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
|Addo Elephant National
Located in the Eastern Cape,
Elephant National Park is rated third in size after Kruger National
Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Originally set aside in
1931 to protect the endangered elephants in the area, the park is currently
home to around 600 elephants and a large number of other mammals.
The park has since been expanded and now includes the Woody Cape Nature
Reserve and a marine reserve, which includes St. Croix Island and Bird
Island, important breeding habitats for both penguins and gannets and home
to many other marine species.
Due to this expansion, Addo
Elephant National Park will become the only park in the world offering
Africa's "Big Seven" - which includes elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo,
leopard, whale and great white shark, all in their natural habitat.
Addo Elephant - Photo: CC
Let's head to KwaZulu-Natal
and the lovely Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.
This is one of the oldest proclaimed nature reserves in the country.
It is also the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal where all the Big Five
are in evidence. Of interest is the fact that, due to major conservation
efforts, the park has the largest population of white rhino in the world.
Park - Photo: CC-BY-SA Wegmann
|Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
consists of 960 km² of hilly topography, offering beautiful scenery,
as can be seen to the left, and is located 280 kilometres (170 mi) north
of the city of Durban, in central Zululand.
Not only is the park home
to the Big Five, there are also 86 special species to be found. Wikipedia
lists these species as including Nile crocodile, hippo, cheetah, spotted
hyena, 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.
Besides these species, the
park is also a birder's paradise, offering 340 bird species in total, a
sheer paradise for any bird watcher with their camera in hand!
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
|Located not too far away
from the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve is iSimangaliso
Wetland Park (previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park).
This is South Africa's third-largest protected area and covers 280 km of
the coastline between the Mozambican border right through to Mapelane,
south of the Lake St. Lucia estuary.
The park consists of roughly
3,280 km2 of natural
ecosystems and is managed by the iSimangaliso Authority and has been proclaimed
a World Heritage Site due to its rich biodiversity.
The fauna and flora in the
various ecosystems of the park range from coral reefs and sandy beaches,
right through to wetlands, savannas and sub-tropical dune forests, offering
a myriad of species. On land, buffalo, elephant, leopard and black and
white rhino can be seen, and recently lions have been reintroduced into
the area after 44 years of absence.
Hippo, photo CC-by-SA Petter
In the ocean ecosystem there
are dolphins, whales and marine turtles (including both the leatherback
and loggerhead turtle) and also 800 hippopotami and 1,200 Nile crocodiles.
This brief introduction into
the world of wildlife in South Africa will hopefully give an idea of what
is on offer in this splendid and varied country. Have a great safari