Nature Reserves and National Parks in South Africa:
South African nature reserves and national parks have breathtaking scenery, and offer great outdoor activities. Pack up the tent or book a chalet and load up with provisions and head into the bush with the whole family.
Take in the spectacular scenery while hiking with the family or friends. Enjoy bird watching and game viewing, fishing, set on 4×4 trails, go swimming and canoeing. Explore the rich cultural history of South Africa and see ancient Bushmen rock art.
Come and discover the rich biodiversity and untamed beauty of South Africa Nature Reserves and National Parks. From the airy peaks of the Drakensberg, to dense forests, arid deserts and beautiful coastline, there is something for the whole family.
Grab the kids and set out on scenic hiking trails, enjoy bird watching, go fishing, quad biking and mountain biking. The Big Five are closer than you think, many reserves within a couple of hours of the major cities offer spectacular game viewing opportunities.
Visit these great places:
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden -The most beautiful garden in Africa. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa, and was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. More than just a garden, Kirstenbosch is part of a nature reserve. The 36 hectare garden is part of a 528 hectare estate that contains protected mountainside supporting natural forest and fynbos along with a variety of animals and birds. Kirstenbosch displays a wide variety of the unique plant life of the Cape Flora, also known as fynbos, including sugarbushes (Protea spp.), pincushions (Leucospermum spp.) and heaths (Erica spp.). Plants from all the diverse regions and biomes of southern Africa are also grown at Kirstenbosch, including a near-complete collection of cycads (Encephalartos spp.). The Botanical Society Conservatory is a custom-built glasshouse to grow and display plants from the arid regions that cannot survive outdoors. There are over 7 000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened species. The Kirstenbosch Estate borders the Table Mountain National Park.Website: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch
Helderberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape – Set on the southern slopes of the Helderberg mountains, this 402 hectare reserve is a beautiful escape with breathtaking views, guided walks, a spectacular bird life and a great spot for picnics.Website http://www.helderbergnaturereserve.co.za/
Agulhas National Park, Western Cape – Agulhas National Park seeks to implement and promote the conservation, management and sustainable use of the unique marine, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity and cultural heritage in the Park, in order to maintain or repair its spirit of place at the Southern Tip of Africa, through working together in a manner that benefits the regional social dynamic and economy for present and future generations. Website : http://www.sanparks.co.za/parks/agulhas/all.php
Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape – Kogelberg Nature Reserve is considered by many to be the most beautiful of CapeNature’s protected areas. Its exceptional diversity and quality of fynbos means it is also considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.At Kogelberg, a sensitive core of 18 000ha of the reserve has been kept pristine and wild. Here there is much biological diversity and conservation is the priority. Only activities which do not adversely affect natural processes and wildlife are allowed. Website: http://www.capenature.co.za/reserves/kogelberg-nature-reserve/
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, Western Cape – At the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, a nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park; a declared Natural World Heritage Site. Encompassing 7 750 hectares of rich and varied flora and fauna; abounding with buck, baboons and Cape Mountain Zebra as well as over 250 species of birds, Cape Point is a nature enthusiast paradise. Website: http://capepoint.co.za/
Karoo National Park, Western Cape – The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape of which the Karoo National Park is but a small portion. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. Karoo National Park is dominated by the lofty Nuweveld Mountains and rolling plains, where many species that originally occurred here now occupy their former ranges. Website: http://www.sanparks.co.za/parks/karoo/
De Hoop Nature Reserve – De Hoop is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature. This beautiful reserve is a favourite for hikers, cyclists, and bird and whale watchers. The reserve, which is 34 000 hectares, is just three hours from Cape Town, in the Overberg.The neighbouring marine reserve, which extends 5km out to sea, is one of the largest marine protected areas in Africa. It conserves a vast and fascinating variety of marine life.De Hoop has one of the best hiking trails in South Africa: the Whale Trail. This route offers coastal and mountain walking, with spectacular views and, of course, plenty of opportunities for whale watching. This route is currently a four-day trail as upgrades to the Noetsie cottage are taking place. The trail will revert to a five-day trail once the cottage’s upgrades are complete. Website: http://www.capenature.co.za/reserves/de-hoop-nature-reserve/
Steenbras River Mouth – Situated at 34° 12’S; 18° 49’E. It is located in the Western Province between the coastal towns of Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els. The total length of the Steenbras River from its mouth to its origin in the Hottentots Holland Mountains is approximately 17km. The Steenbras catchment is estimated at 70 km2. This catchment is situated between the Hottentots Holland Mountains and Koeëlberg
Snake Eagle Thinking Path – The Snake Eagle Thinking Path (meander) in Matjiesfontein is the first permanent geoglyph we have made. It is in honour of a breeding pair of Black Chested Snake Eagles resident in the area. We hope that the geoglyph will attract global attention via Google Earth to the precarious semi-arid biome of the Karoo, encouraging tourists to visit the town of Matjiesfontein and walk the meander.
The geoglyph consists of one continuous line – a footpath that leads the walker back to where s/he started, allowing the experience of wide open karoo veld and sky to soak in.
The Snake Eagle drawing celebrates the unity of specie and habitat. The heart of the eagle is formed by two intertwining shapes that symbolise not only the food of the eagle, but also the flow of water in the nearby river, and the air currents that keep it aloft. It is impossible to split the essence of an eagle from the wide expanse of sky that it inhabits, nor should a snake be imagined without the ground, vegetation and water of its home.
Website : http://sitespecific.org.za/karoo-geoglyph/