South Africa, officially known as the Republic of South Africa, is a great place to visit for a first-time safari. You’ll find classic African scenery: golden savannah, great gaping gorges, and hauntingly beautiful deserts, as well as an awe-inspiring cast of African creatures — and, as a bonus — all the creature comforts.
Apart from the big-name game parks of Kruger and the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, South Africa is home to some of the world’s most luxurious private game reserves and lodges. Wildlife lovers come here from all corners of the globe in search of the “Big Five”: lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino, and elephant, and often they find it, and so much more.
Coral reefs, dragon-backed mountain ranges, white-water rafting, and golden beaches lapped by legendary surf breaks are some of South Africa’s many other attractions.
Traveling around this vast land and touring the vibrant cities, you can learn about the nation’s turbulent history — in Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities; in Durban, a melting pot of cultures and cuisines; at the poignant museums and galleries in Johannesburg; and in Soweto, birthplace of Nelson Mandela, who helped birth democracy here.
Discover the best places to visit in this diverse nation with our list of the top tourist attractions in South Africa.
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Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces
Kruger National Park is one of the best game reserves in Africa, and one of the oldest in South Africa. If you’re a wildlife lover, this famous park definitely needs to be on your South Africa itinerary.
The park lies about a 3.5- to 4.5-hour drive from Johannesburg and offers visitors the chance to see the “Big Five”: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino, as well as an astounding diversity of other wildlife. It’s also home to San (bushman) rock paintings and archaeological sites. You can explore Kruger National Park on the large network of sealed roads; organize a walking safari; or soar over the vast grasslands, gallery forests, and river systems in a hot air balloon.
One of the best things about Kruger National Park is that the accommodation caters to all budgets — you can stay in basic campsites, book a thatched bungalow, or relax in a luxury lodge.