Top 17 National Parks in South Africa (The Ultimate Guidebook)

There are more than 20 national parks in South Africa, including two of the world’s most famous wildlife reserves the Kruger National park and Addo Elephant National Park.

Yes, it’s true that South Africa is undoubtedly one of the best places in Africa to spot the Big Five.

That is the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard of course!

In this guidebook I aim to make it super easy for you, I’ve rounded up the top 17 national parks in South Africa.

Before you begin reading this article, take a quick moment to download our free ultimate packing checklist.

Packing list for south africa

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is an incredibly popular tourist destination in South Africa and is one of the largest game reserves in the whole of Africa.

The park has a total of 11 main entrances and stretches across two South African provinces, the hot and jungle like Mpumalanga and the dry desert like Limpopo.

This is one of those national parks in South Africa you can expect to see all the wildlife you could possibly dream of, from the rarest animals in the world to the most abundant.

  • Year Established: 31 May 1926
  • Province: Limpopo and Mpumalanga
  • Coordinates: 24.011389°S 31.485278°E
  • Five Things to see in Kruger National Park:
    1. The Big Five
    2. Wild Dog
    3. Ground Hornbill
    4. Fish Eagle
    5. Baobab & Marula Trees
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R100 per adult, per day
R50 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R200 per adult, per day
R100 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR400 per adult, per day
R200 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Kruger National Park

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Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park

One of my favorite national parks in South Africa has got to be Addo Elephant National Park.

The park is home to a major keystone species, that’s right I’m sure you’ve guessed it – the African elephant, over 600 of them!

Despite having “elephant” in the name, the park in fact extends all the way down to the ocean and currently protects some crucial islands: Bird Island and St Croix.

If you plan on visiting Addo in summer (November to February) I’d recommend bringing sunscreen and an epic straw hat as temperatures can reach up to 104°F (40°C).

  • Year Established: 1931
  • Province: Eastern Cape
  • Coordinates: 33.26°S 25.44°E
  • Five Things to see in Addo Elephant National Park:
    1. Lion (found mostly in the southern section of the park)
    2. Herds of elephant and Hapoor dam
    3. The interpretive centre at main camp
    4. The stunning Zuurberg Mountain
    5. Rolling sand dunes of the Woody Cape section
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R82 per adult, per day
R41 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R164 per adult, per day
R82 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR328 per adult, per day
R164 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Addo Elephant National Park

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Augrabies Falls National Park

Augrabies Falls National Park

If you are planning a road trip to Namibia or Botswana, then this is one of the best stop over national parks in South africa to visit.

Leoni and I stayed at Augrabies National Park for 3 nights before continuing our trip to Namibia.

The park offers night drives during peak season. Other interesting activities include the Gariep 3-in-1 trail, a short kayak paddle, hiking and mountain bike rides.

Be aware there are many “innocent” looking Vervet monkeys wandering around the campsite. If you leave any food lying around, they will steal it in a heartbeat.

  • Year Established: 1966
  • Province: Northern Cape
  • Coordinates: 28.591111°S 20.338333°E
  • Five Things to see in Augrabies Falls National Park:
    1. Quiver Tree – like the aloe this tree makes up the Augrabies landscape
    2. Spectacular views of the waterfall
    3. Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle
    4. The stunning Zuurberg Mountain
    5. Swart Rante (distinct landmark in Augrabies)
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR224 per adult, per day
R112 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Augrabies Falls National Park

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Agulhas National Park

Agulhas National Park

Although one of the smallest national parks in South Africa, it is home to over 2000 native plant species and a wetland that provides shelter for amphibians and bird species alike.

The park stretches along the coastline between the towns of Gansbaai and Struisbaai.

It is here you can find the Southern tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas.

A beautiful beach I recommend you hike to is Dias beach.

  • Year Established: 14 September 1998
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Coordinates: 34.50°S 20.00°E
  • Five Things to see in Agulhas National Park:
    1. The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse
    2. Southernmost tip of Africa
    3. Rasperpunt fish traps
    4. Southern Right Whale (between June and November)
    5. Saltpans
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R46 per adult, per day
R23 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R92 per adult, per day
R46 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR184 per adult, per day
R92 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Agulhas National Park

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Bontebok National Park

Bontebok National Park

Established in 1931 to ensure the conservation of the Bontebok. Today it is South Africa’s smallest national park.

The Langeberg Mountains provide the perfect backdrop to this picturesque park.

The Breede River also acts as a natural border to the park and offers guests beautiful scenery, bird watching, fish and refreshing swimming opportunities.

  • Year Established: 1931
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Coordinates: 34.066667°S 20.45°E
  • Four Things to see in Bontebok National Park:
    1. Bird watching
    2. Game viewing (self-drives)
    3. Camp on the banks of the Breede River
    4. Picnic and braai at Die Stroom
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R46 per adult, per day
R23 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R66 per adult, per day
R33 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR132 per adult, per day
R66 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Bontebok National Park

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Camdeboo National Park

National parks in South Africa

The Camdeboo National Park located in the Karoo, is close to surrounding the entire Eastern cape town of Graaff-Reinet.

There are tons of activities here for adventure seekers/nature lovers such as, picnic and braai sites, 4×4 trails, super long hiking trails, mountain biking, game viewing, birding, and water sports!

  • Year Established: 30 October 2005
  • Province: Eastern Cape
  • Coordinates: 32.25°S 24.5°E
  • Four Things to see in Camdeboo National Park:
    1. Klipspringer (small antelope)
    2. Bat-eared fox
    3. Camp on the banks of the Breede River
    4. Nqweba Dam
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R46 per adult, per day
R23 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R92 per adult, per day
R46 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR132 per adult, per day
R66 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Camdeboo National Park

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Garden Route National Park

Garden Route National Park - national parks in South Africa

The garden route is super popular, pretty much every foreigner visiting Cape Town does the Garden Route at one point on their travels.

The Garden Route National Park encompasses, Tsitsikamma, Wilderness and Knysna Lake national parks. The whole area is well known for its indigenous forests, dramatic coastline and Otter Trail hike.

  • Year Established: 6 March 2009
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Coordinates: 34°S 23.25°E
  • Five Things to see in Garden Route National Park:
    1. Mountain biking
    2. Water activities (kayaking, river tubing, snorkeling etc.)
    3. Hiking & nature trails
    4. Forest excursions
    5. The Otter Trail (25 miles/41 km long – 4 nights & 5 days) – Complete Guide coming soon
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020 (Wilderness area)
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):R46 per adult, per day
R23 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport):R92 per adult, per day
R46 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):R152 per adult, per day
R76 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Garden Route National Park

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Golden Gate Highlands National Park

National parks in south africa

This South African national park is located in the Free State on the Lesotho border.

The park’s most notable features are its golden, ochre, and orange-hued sandstone cliffs and outcrops.

You will see tons of wildlife here to, such as black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, springbok and the burchell’s zebra (named after the British explorer William John Burchell).

  • Year Established: 1963
  • Province: Free State
  • Coordinates: 28.506111°S 28.616667°E
  • Five Things to see in Golden Gate Highlands National Park:
    1. Cathedral Cave
    2. Basotho Cultural Village
    3. Vulture’s Restaurant
    4. Visit Clarens
    5. Brandwag Buttress
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR224 per adult, per day
R112 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Golden Gate Highlands National Park

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Karoo National Park

national parks in South Africa

The Karoo national park is a semi desert natural region of South Africa.

Some wildlife you will spot wandering around the plains are Cape mountain zebra, Cape buffalo, red hartebeest, black rhinoceros, eland, kudu, klipspringer, bat-eared foxes, black-backed jackal and ostriches.

  • Year Established: 1979
  • Province: Western State
  • Coordinates: 32.35°S 22.583333°E
  • Four Things to see in Karoo National Park:
    1. Swimming pool and picnic site at Bulkraal
    2. Ou Schuur Interpretive Centre
    3. Klipspringer Pass (scenic viewpoint at Rooivalle) Eco-friendly construction
    4. Verreaux’s eagle
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR224 per adult, per day
R112 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Karoo National Park

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Mapungubwe National Park

mapungubwe national parks in south africa

One of the more culturally significant national parks in South Africa and a world heritage site.

Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before being abandoned in the 14th century.

Access to the campsites are all accessible via sedan however, 4×4’s are recommended.

Also keep in mind you should take precautions against malaria when visiting Mapungubwe, as it’s set against the borders of Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Check out our guide to wild camping.

  • Year Established: 1995
  • Province: Limpopo
  • Coordinates: 25.766667°S 20.383333°E
  • Four Things to see in Mapungubwe National Park:
    1. The lost city
    2. Wildlife and mystical type scenery
    3. The Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre
    4. The Confluence
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR224 per adult, per day
R112 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Mapungubwe National Park

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Marakele National Park

Marakele national park in south africa

Marakele is Tswana for “place of sanctuary”. The park is part of the Waterberg Biosphere in Limpopo.

 There is an impressive variety of wildlife here due to it being located in both the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa.

I recommend bringing cool clothing for summer and warm for winter – the region can experience sudden changes in weather, particularly in the mountainous areas.

  • Year Established: 1994
  • Province: Limpopo
  • Coordinates: 22.25°S 29.2°E
  • Wildlife to see in Marakele National Park:
    1. Cape vulture
    2. African elephant
    3. Leopard
    4. Kudu
    5. Rare antelope species: Reedbuck, eland and tsessebe.
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR224 per adult, per day
R112 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Marakele National Park

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Mokala National Park

Mokala national park
Oryx in Mokala park

Located only 50 miles (80 km) away from Kimberley, Mokala meaning: magnificent camel thorn tree is one of the easiest national parks to access in the northern province.

The beautiful Riet river runs through the park, you may hire kayaks for 1 – 5 hours to enjoy the river at your own leisure.

Also good to note is you may participate in fly fishing on a catch and release basis.

  • Year Established: 19 June 2007
  • Province: Northern Cape
  • Coordinates: 29.166667°S 24.35°E
  • Three things to see in Mokala National Park:
    1. Endangered mammal species
    2. Indigenous plant species
    3. The iconic Camel thorn tree
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R48 per adult, per day
R24 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R96 per adult, per day
R48 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR192 per adult, per day
R96 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Mokala National Park

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Mountain Zebra National Park

mountain zebra national park

The park was originally established to save the mountain zebra whos numbers back then were at a total of 6. Today, the park holds over 1000 zebras.

Predators were only released into the park from 2007 onwards.

First the cheetah in 2007, then the Brown Hyena in 2008 and finally the lion in 2013.

  • Year Established: 1937
  • Province: Eastern Cape
  • Coordinates: 32.183333°S 25.616667°E
  • Five animals to see in Mountain Zebra National Park:
    1. Aardwolf
    2. Cape Buffalo
    3. Cheetah
    4. Blue Crane (South Africa’s national bird)
    5. Cape Mountain Zebra (wow shocker here)
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR224 per adult, per day
R112 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Mountain Zebra National Park

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Namaqua National Park

national parks in south africa - namaqualand

Namaqualand is super popular with both tourists and locals, particularly for the thousands of blooming wildflowers (which bloom in early August to mid August, sometimes stretching into September).

Alongside the flowers you can also enjoy 4×4 and hiking trails along the banks of the Orange river.

  • Year Established: 1999
  • Province: Northern Cape
  • Coordinates: 30.043333°S 17.586111°E
  • Two things to see in Namaqua National Park:
    1. Astonishing landscapes
    2. Spectacular flowering season (early to mid August)
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R46 per adult, per day
R23 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R92 per adult, per day
R46 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR92 per adult, per day
R46 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Namaqua National Park

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Table Mountain National Park

table Mountain national park

One of the national parks in South Africa I essentially grew up in. Table Mountain national Park is both a UNESCO world heritage site, and the new 7th Natural Wonder of the World.

The area has withstood withstood 6 million years of erosion, it now hosts the richest floral kingdom on earth, with more than 1 470 floral species.

The Khoi people used to call Table Mountain: Hoerikwaggo (Mountain of the Sea).

Another fact that absolutely blows my mind every time, is that Table Mountain is estimated to be about 600 million years old.

  • Year Established: 19 May 1998
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Coordinates: 33.966667°S 18.425°E
  • Top Five Attractions in Table Mountain National Park:
    1. Table Mountain
    2. Boulders Beach
    3. Cape of Good Hope
    4. Silvermine
    5. Lions Head
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020 (Newlands):

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):R32 per adult per day
R16 per child, per day
Additionally: R28 per vehicle
SADC Nationals (with passport):R64 per adult per day
R32 per child, per day
Additionally: R28 per vehicle
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):R128 per adult per day
R64 per child, per day
Additionally: R28 per vehicle

Book Accommodation in Table Mountain National Park

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Tankwa Karoo National Park

tankwa national park in south africa

An absolute gem for stargazing, Tankwa has no light pollution so get ready for the milky way.

The park has a number of off-road tracks with two major 4×4 routes for the more advanced rider, namely theLeeuberg 4×4 Eco-trail and the Watervlei 4×4 Route.

Tankwa Karoo appeals to the connoisseur of wide open spaces, peace and solitude. One tip: bring your binoculars!

  • Year Established: 19 May 1986
  • Province: Northern Cape
  • Coordinates: 32.25°S 19.75°E
  • Four things to do in Tankwa Karoo National Park:
    1. Star watching (so stunning)
    2. Self-drive game viewing
    3. Scenic viewpoints
    4. Birdwatching
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R46 per adult, per day
R23 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R92 per adult, per day
R46 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR184 per adult, per day
R92 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in Tankwa Karoo National Park

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West Coast National Park

West Coast National Park

Back when I still taught kitesurfing, I would drive up the west coast towards Langebaan every single day. This is one drive you can never get enough of.

The West Coast National Park is home to over 250 bird species, reptiles and mammals. Plus, every season is visited by a pod of whales!

One activity I recommend you do is Eve’s trail – a scenic two-and-a-half-day hiking trail that follows in the footsteps of Eve – a young woman who lived 117 000 years ago.

The trail covers 30km starting from Duinepos and ending at Seeberg.

  • Year Established: 1985
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Coordinates: 33.120833°S 18.066667°E
  • Five main attractions in West Coast National Park:
    1. Kraalbaai Beach
    2. Picnic/braai area at Tsaarsbank
    3. Eve’s footprint trail
    4. Hiking at Geelbek – Strandveld Trails
    5. Shark Bay Lagoon
  • Rates and fees – 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020 (outside flower season):
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)R64 per adult, per day
R32 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport)R96 per adult, per day
R48 per child, per day
Standard Conservation FeeR96 per adult, per day
R48 per child, per day

Book Accommodation in West Coast National Park

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South African National Parks – Wild Card

The Wild Card Membership gives you one year’s unlimited entry to 80+ National Parks, Reserves and Resorts around Southern Africa.

The Wild Card membership is valid from the date of purchase for a further 365 days

Wild Card costs are as follows (Prices from left to right – Individual | Couple | Family of 7)

All Parks Cluster
Access to 80+ Parks and Reserves around Southern Africa, which are included in the SANParks, Msinsi, EKZN Wildlife, Cape Nature and Swazi Clusters Parks.
R685.00R1,130.00R1,380.00
SANParks Cluster
Access to all 21 of SANParks National Parks in South Africa
R655.00R1,065.00R1,280.00
Msinsi Cluster
Access to all 6 of Msinsi’s Resorts and Reserves near Durban and Pietermaritzburg
R595.00R970.00R1,150.00
EKZN Wildlife Cluster
Access to 25 of KZN Wildlife’s Parks and Reserves in KwaZulu-Natal
R655.00R1,055.00R1,270.00
CapeNature cluster
Access to 24 of Cape Nature’s Parks and Reserves in the Western Cape
R595.00R970.00R1,160.00
Swaziland’s Big Game Parks Cluster
Access to Big Game Parks of Swaziland’s 3 Parks in Swaziland
R490.00R805.00R985.00
International All Parks Cluster
Access to 80+ Parks and Reserves around Southern Africa, which are included in the SANParks, Msinsi, EKZN Wildlife, Cape Nature and Swazi Clusters Parks.
R3,105.00R4,850.00R5,800.00
national parks in south africa
Click the image to expand

You can purchase the Wild Card membership on the official Sanparks website.


What to Bring on Safari

(Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.)

If you plan on visiting some of the national parks in South Africa, then there’s no doubt you plan on going on safari.

These are some of the items I recommend you bring with you!

Safari Clothes

Safari Hat fro South Africa

Safari Hat

The ultimate sun protection, something you are going to need at most of the national parks in South Africa.

This hat is waterproof and blocks out 98% of harmful UVA and UVB rays.

View Safari Hat


Safari Shirt

It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, any gender looks damn badass in a safari outfit (only on safari). Take the Irwin family for example! 🙂

View Safari Shirt


Safari Shorts

And finally, safari shorts to complete the look.

For the ladies, check out these lovely safari shorts if you don’t like the ones you see here.

View Safari Shorts


Bug Spray

Eco smart bug spray

Eco Insect Repellent

I’d recommend investing in a bug spray, South AFrican national parks are swarming with insects. Plus remember the Kruger National Park is situated in a malaria risk zone.

Here’s an eco-friendly insect repellent.

View Bug Spray


Packing list for South Africa

This guidebook on the top 17 national parks in South Africa will be updated every year. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments sections below, we would love to hear from you 🙂

Here are some more articles you may find helpful:

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