8 Amazing Experiences in SA’s National Parks
Words and pics René de Klerk
Tired of visiting the same spots all the time? Over the years, SANParks Times has come to know what makes South Africa’s national parks special. Try these recommendations to broaden your travel horizons.
1. Romantic escape – Augrabies Falls National Park
There are numerous options within the SANParks stable, but secluded Oranjekom Gorge Cottage, overlooking the Orange River cutting through the Augrabies landscape, gets our stamp of approval.
Go: It has a double bed with a view, isolated from other park visitors.
Good to know: The bathroom is separate from the main building. It is good for an early start into the game viewing area.
2. Magical dunes – Addo Elephant National Park
The park is famous for large herds of elephants, but there is more to discover. Another charm is the Alexandria Coastal Duneveld in the Woody Cape section.
Go: It is the largest and least degraded coastal dunefield in the southern hemisphere, covering approximately 15 800 hectares.
Good to know: The return walk requires you to climb steep dunes. The forest area before you get to the beach is also a birding hotspot. Take advantage by booking accommodation at Langebos in Woody Cape.
3. Listen to silence – Tankwa Karoo National Park
Go there to enjoy the simpler things in life. De Zyfer cottage is close to reception but still far from civilization.
Go: Peace, tranquillity and open spaces abound as far as the eye can see. It is a great option for a weekend break. The stars during new moon will give you every excuse to enjoy the fresh air outside.
Good to know: Lighting in the house is provided in the form of candles and lanterns. Stick to the tracks in the road to avoid flat tyres.
4. Magical forests – Garden Route National Park
This is the place to be if you want to explore truly beautiful indigenous forests.
Go: Think lush green vegetation, fungi in all shapes and sizes, giant trees keeping vigil, glistening streams, the twitter of forest birds and the occasional shy bushbuck.
Good to know: With numerous hikes to choose from, it is really easy to explore the beauty of the area. Linger longer by combining this with a stay in accommodation offered in the forest. Diepwalle Forest Tented Decks, Harkerville Forest Treetop Chalet and the Forest Huts are just a few of the options available.
5. Hiking paradise – Golden Gate Highlands National Park
If you fancy an outdoor break before winter or are simply dying to try out those new hiking shoes, this scenic park won’t disappoint.
Go: You don’t have to go far for a hike. The hiking trails are easily accessible in close proximity to both the Golden Gate Hotel and Glen Reenen Rest Camp. There are also overnight options available
Good to know: Weather can be extremely unpredictable in these mountainous surroundings, so be prepared.
6. Travel down south – Agulhas National Park
Not only will you have a relaxing sea escape, but the beauty of the area does wonders for the soul. You can’t go further south on the African continent than Agulhas National Park.
Go: Your bucket list is not complete without a snapshot at the famous point.
Good to know: The recent construction of a new icon signifying the Southernmost Tip of Africa is worth a visit.
7. Where endangered species roam – Mokala National Park
You can see a number of endangered species such as roan and sable antelope, tsessebe, buffalo and so much more in this arid park known for its red sand.
Go: These animals are not as easy to spot in other protected areas.
Good to know: The park is relatively small, so a weekend visit increases your chances of spotting the specialities. The restaurant serves delectable meals so skip the cooking for one night
8. Connecting the dots – Mountain Zebra National Park
The excitement of finding a good tracking signal indicating a nearby collared cheetah is exhilarating. Setting off on foot to find one follows, with a strong chance of seeing the cats in the flesh.
Go: Here one can get within close proximity to one of the park’s wild spotted residents.
Good to know: Wear neutral colours, not black or white. Remember to take water and wear sturdy shoes as the terrain can be uneven.
Augrabies Falls National Park
Addo Elephant National Park
Tankwa Karoo National Park
Garden Route National Park
Golden Gate National Park
Agulhas National Park
Mokala National Park
Mountain Zebra National Park