South African National Parks listed in alphabetical order with a brief description. Follow the link for more details. South Africa is home to more than nine million hectares of protected areas network, which includes national parks, nature reserves and world heritage sites, equating to about 8% of the country’s land. South Africa is proud to have many national parks as well as numerous private game farms, private game reserves and nature reserves. According to SANParks, six million people visited its parks in 2016/17.
These protected areas, among other things, serve as sites for conserving South Africa’s ecosystems, protecting high biodiversity value and providing ecosystem services. Most of these protected areas are geographically located in rural areas, forming an integral system with rural communities whose livelihoods and cultures are closely dependent on by these communities.
Tourism activities within the parks include self-drive safaris, Big 5 Safaris, guided game drives, guided game or nature walks, game-viewing, accommodation, adventure activities such as guided walks and hiking, bird-watching, 4×4 trails, sightseeing, cultural and historical experiences, mountain biking, golf, canoeing and swimming.
South African National Parks
SANParks’ primary mandate is to oversee the conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity, landscapes and associated heritage assets through a system of national parks. Its mandate is based on the following core values:
- conservation management through the national parks system
- constituency building and people-focused eco-tourism management
- corporate governance and sound business and operational management.
SANParks manages a system of parks, which represents the indigenous fauna, flora, landscapes and associated cultural heritage of the country. SANParks is responsible for all national parks in seven of the nine provinces of South Africa, with a total area of just over 4 million ha and comprising 67% of the protected areas under state management. SANParks has increased the area of land under its protection by 360 000 ha over the past 20 years. In 2016/17, some 3 874 ha were added to national
The Park was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the last remaining Eastern Cape elephants. The Park was then only 2230 ha in size. Today it covers 180 000 ha and protects five diverse biomes. MORE……..
From JHB, take the N1 towards Colesburg, take the N10 towards Cradock and Paterson. Take the R342 to the left when you get to the intersection with Paterson on your right.
From Port Elizabeth, take the N2 for about 40 km to enter Matyholweni Gate or take the Motherwell off-ramp from the N2 (after about 23 km) and follow the R335 to the left for about 52km to enter the Main Gate.
Agulhas National Park
Agulhas National Park at the southernmost tip of Arica, official meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, is a place of rugged beauty with rich cultural and natural heritage.
Many national monuments are found in the area, such as the historic Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, which has been in operation since 1849.
Cape Agulhas is approximately 230 km from Cape Town and 260 km from Mossel Bay. It can be accessed via the N2 route turning off at Caledon and taking the R316 through Napier to Bredasdorp when coming from Cape Town.
From the east, leave the N2 near Swellendam taking the R319 and pass through Bredasdorp to get to
Cape Agulhas. The nearest towns are L’Agulhas and the fishing village of Struisbaai.
The Fynbos Biome is famous for the protea, which is South Africa’s national flower. The biome also contains flowering plants now regarded as garden plants, such as freesia, tritonia, sparaxis and many others. Protected areas cover 13,6% of the Fynbos Biome and include the Table Mountain and Agulhas national parks.
|Ai-|Ais – Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
An international treaty signed on 1 August 2003, incorporated the |Ai-|Ais Hot Springs Game Park in Namibia and |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld National Park in South Africa, resulting in the establishment of the |Ai- |Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. This is the largest mountain desert park of South Africa, and nurtures 30% of all South Africa’s succulent plant species. One of the main features of the combined park is the world’s second largest canyon – the Fish River Canyon. At Sendelingsdrift, on the South African side, a pontoon has been established to ferry people and vehicles across the Orange River. Sendelingsdrift is a border post and entry to Namibian side of the park (weather permitted phone park).
Namaqualand is also home to the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld National Park. It is managed jointly by the local Nama people and SANParks.
Augrabies Falls National Park
The park was initially proclaimed to conserve a small area of geological interest around the Augrabies Falls. It is the world’s 6th largest waterfall, measuring 56m in height, and its downstream gorge, which stretches over 20km, offers breathtaking views.
The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of Great Noise, as this powerful flow of water is unleashed from rocky surroundings characterised by the 18 abyss of the Orange River Gorge. The 57 000 ha park lies mainly south of the Orange River. A new boardwalk offers the visitor a safe view of the falls; different platforms give fascinating views on the falls magnificent gorge (wheel chair friendly).
The Northern Cape province has several national parks and conservation areas, including the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Park and Augrabies Falls National Park.The Orange River displays its impressive power at the Augrabies Falls in the Augrabies Falls National Park.
Bontebok National Park
The Bontebok National Park, about 7 km from Swellendam, provides sanctuary to the threatened bontebok and other species. Bontebok National Park, lies at the foot of the majestic Langeberg Mountains and is bordered by the winding Breede River. The Park is home to over 200 Bontebok and many other animals including the Red Hartebees and Grey Rhebok. Although the smallest of SA’s 22 National Parks, it is by no means less diverse.
Camdeboo National Park
Camdeboo National Park was proclaimed as South Africa’s 22nd National Park under the management of South African National Parks on the 30th October 2005, following an extensive process of negotiation and discussion between government, conservation groups, and concerned stakeholders.
Elevation to national park status was made possible by the World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa (WWF-SA), which donated the 14 500ha Karoo Nature Reserve to be the centerpiece of the project. The park now covers over 19 000ha.
Garden Route National Park (Wilderness, Knysna, Tsitsikamma)
The park was proclaimed in 1983, with more additions made after that, adding in,
among others, state islands in the Wilderness National Lake Area, Rondevlei and
lands between Rondevlei and Swartvlei Lake.
Knysna National Lake Area was proclaimed in December 1985 in order to protect the Knysna lagoon and salt marshes and activities on the Knysna lagoon. The Knysna estuary is the second largest rich estuary in South Africa. The Knysna River has its origin in the Outeniqua Mountains. The estuary where the Knysna River meets the Indian Ocean is permanently open. The estuary is 19km long and gradually widens and deepens to form a lagoon approximately 3km wide 5m deep.
The scenic Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State features spectacular sandstone bluffs and cliffs. The sandstone reflects a sandy desert environment that existed around 200 million years ago. Dinosaur fossils are still found in the area.
An initial core area of 1 792ha, which included the farms Glen Reenen, Wodehouse and Melsetter, was proclaimed in 1962 as the Golden Gate Highlands National Park on 13 September 1963.
That same year the Glen Reenen rest camp was developed by utilising an old farm building as tourist accommodation.
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Karoo National Park
In the 1970’s South African National Parks proposed the establishment of a National Park that would be representative of the Nama Karoo Biome. After considering a number of possible suitable areas it was decided to establish this new park in the vicinity of Beaufort West. In a gesture of support, the Town Council of Beaufort West donated 7209ha north-west of the town to the South African National Park, proclaimed in 1979. The Park now covers approximately 90 000ha.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
On 7 April 1999 a treaty was signed that would link the Gemsbok National Park and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park under one unifying name – The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It was officially opened on 12 May 2000 as the first formally declared transfrontier park in Africa. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park was subsequently named the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Kruger National Park
Much of the land, particularly in the Kruger National Park and other game and nature reserves, is unspoilt, and provides sanctuary to large numbers of game. The Kruger National Park (northern section) is home to a large number and wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as 147 mammal species, including the Big Five. The largest section of the Kruger National Park is along Limpopo’s eastern boundary, which borders on Mozambique.
A wildlife paradise, the Kruger National Park is the ultimate destination for the tourist seeking indigenous flora, fertile valleys, sub-tropical Lowveld vegetation and a diversity of habitat and wildlife. Kruger was established in 1898 as the Sabie Game reserve and proclaimed a national park in 1926, making it the oldest national park in South Africa. Rich in biodiversity, the park stretches for 350km from south to north along the Mozambican border to where South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe meet at the infamous Crooks Corner.
Together with Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou, Kruger now also forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a unique political innovation that created a colossal wilderness area.
Over 1 million visitors per year flock to Kruger to experience close encounters with the wildlife in a natural unfenced environment. Some visitors go there to relax while others want to experience nature in a more spiritual way. This jewel in the crown of SANParks is truly all things to all people and the natural heritage of all South Africans.
Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site
The wealth of Mapungubwe was realized in the 1930’s when valuable artifacts were found on the sacred hill. Further archaeological work revealed the extensive historical importance of the wider region.
The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape was declared a national heritage site in December 2001, and listed as a World Heritage Site in July 2003.
Marakele National Park
One of the younger national parks in South Africa, Marakele was initiated in 1986
when the State purchased a nucleus of five farms totaling about 15 000ha.
The park was initially proclaimed in 1994 as the Kranberg National Park, and has since
grown to about 90 000ha. It is still in a phase of considerable expansion.
Mokala National Park
This new National Park replaces the Vaalbos National Park, which was deproclaimed. 19 June 2007 was the official proclamation, naming and launch of Mokala National Park by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Mokala is the Setswana name for “camel thorn tree”
Mountain Zebra National Park
The Mountain Zebra National Park, located near Cradock in the Eastern Cape, was proclaimed in 1937 for the purpose of protecting a remnant population of the Cape Mountain Zebra, Equus Zebra. The species was almost on the verge of extinction, with as few as 100 of these animals in existence in 1940. By 1981 the Cape Mountain Zebra population in the MZNP had grown to 200.
Recent expansion to over 28 000ha has allowed the zebra population to increase
to over 370 animals. Cheetah were introduced in 2007, becoming the first large predators to roam the Park in over 100 years.
Namaqua National Park
The park was established in 1998 when SANParks took over management of the 900 ha Skilpad Wildflower Reserve. Since then the park has expanded to 120 000ha, with more land to be added in the next few years.
The park will eventually stretch from the Kamiesberg mountains to the sea. This range of habitats will include a wide array of very rare animals and plants into the national Park.
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park was established in 1998 to protect the environment of the Table Mountain chain on the incredibly scenic Cape Peninsula. The park stretches from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south and also encompasses the dramatic seas and rugged coastline of the peninsula. It is home to incredible fauna and flora and a whole host of areas to explore.
Tankwa National Park
Just a four hour drive from Cape Town brings you to the ideal destination for those seeking the brightest stars in Africa, a once in a lifetime glimpse of a rare endemic bird, or perhaps nothing more than a silence that reached deep into the soul.
Named after the Tankwa River that runs through it as the main provider in an otherwise semi-desert area, the Park was proclaimed in 1986. Since then high biodiversity land was added by SANParks to increase the conservation area from the original 26 000 ha to nearly 138 000 ha. The true meaning of the word “Tankwa” is unknown, but is said to be “Turbid Water”, “Place of the San”or Thirstland”, all of which fits this spectacular park.
West Coast National Park
The unique and diverse habitats of the Langebaan Lagoon and its salt marshes and wetlands, the granitic islands of Saldanha Bay with its large breeding populations of seabirds, the varied rocky and sandy shores of the coastal strip, the parabolic coastal dune fields and the terrestrial lowland fynbos communities on calcareous soils form the current extent – some 32 000 ha – of the West Coast National Park.
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