South Africa - Background information


Natural history

A country of immense natural beauty and variety, South Africa is by some accounts ranked third in the world in terms of biodiversity. To most wildlife enthusiasts, it is best known as a safari destination, thanks to the presence of the iconic ‘Big Five’ in sanctuaries such as the immense Kruger National Park and adjacent private reserves (probably the best place in the world to see leopards and rhinos).

Elephant game drive South Africa by Ariadne Van Zandbergen, Africa Image LibrarySouth Africa is one of the world's best safari destinations © Ariadne Van Zandbergen, Africa Image Library

But the country also provides many more unexpected delights – superb land-based whale-watching off Hermanus, the opportunity to hike in the bounteous green montane vistas of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg, the breathtaking spring wildflower displays of the Western Cape and Namaqualand, a unique wealth of endemic and near-endemic birds ranging from the emblematic blue crane to the comic African penguin, the vast open spaces of the Karoo or red dune of Kgalagadi… all protected in a network of 500-plus reserves catering to all interest and budgets.  

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