South Africa houses 21 national parks, together covering 4,000,000 hectares or over 3% of the country’s total area.
Oldest & Largest National Park
Established in 1898 and 19,485 square kilometres in size, The Kruger National Park is the oldest and largest game reserve in South Africa.
- Extends 360 kilometres from north to south and 65 kilometres from east to west.
- Attracts an average of almost 2 million annual visitors.
- Home to 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds, and 147 mammals, with more species of mammals than any other African game reserve.
Lesser-known Big-5 National Park
Madikwe Game Reserve is a hidden gem situated in the North West Province and bordering Botswana. It is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers the Big 5 in a 680 square kilometre park (750 km2 including newly incorporated privately owned land).
Well-known as the Blyde River Canyon, now officially named the Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve, is South Africa’s largest canyon and the third largest canyon in the world. The name “Blyde River” means “River of Joy”, and:/p>
- Covers an area of 26,946 hectares
- Extends 26 kilometres (16 miles) in length
- Has an average depth of about 750 metres (2,460 feet)
- The dam, when full, is at an altitude of 665 metres (2,182 feet)
- Attracts approximately 600,000 visitors every year
Most Visited Destination
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, set in the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, is considered the most visited tourist attraction in South Africa. Each year the V&A Waterfront attracts 24 million visitors.
Most Photographed Attraction
As SA’s most iconic landmark, Table Mountain is also arguably the most photographed attraction in the country.
There are about 2,200 species of plants and 1,470 floral species found on Table Mountain, with over 70% of the flowers endemic to the area, it’s no wonder that it is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!
Highest Mountain Range
It’s a well-known fact that The Drakensberg Mountains derived its name from the Afrikaans language meaning “Dragon Mountains”, but this dramatic mountain range has also earned the name “uKhalamba”, meaning “Barrier of Spears” in Zulu.
- It’s tallest peak rises to approximately 3,485 metres (11,420 feet)
- It extends roughly northeast to southwest for 1,125 kilometres (700 miles) parallel to the south eastern coast of South Africa and meets Lesotho at its north eastern border
- Between 35,000 and 40,000 bushman rock paintings several thousands of years old can be found there – the largest selection in the world
uShaka Marine World, a 15-hectare theme park with an underground aquarium designed around a series of shipwrecks, is the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere, and:
- Is the fifth largest aquarium in the world by volume of water
- Houses 32 tanks totalling 17,500 cubic metres of water
- Is home to more than 300 species of marine life and 10,000 sea creatures
Hottest Thermal Springs
South Africa has approximately 87 natural hot springs, most of them situated in the northern parts of the country. On average these hot springs expel 36,000 kilolitres of water a day.
These are reported to be some of the hottest, if not the hottest springs in the country:
- Brandvlei, near Worcester, , Western Cape (64°C)
- Tshipise, Limpopo (57°C)
- Tugela Valley, Kwa- Zulu-Natal (52 to 53°C)
- Warmbaths, Limpopo (52°C)
- Olifants Valley, Western Cape (50 - 51°C)
- Badplaas, Mpumalanga (50°C)
- The Baths, near Citrusdal, Western Cape (43°C)
Dinosaur Egg Discovery
The world’s oldest fossilised dinosaur (Massospondylus carinatus) eggs were discovered in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in 1976, where the oldest known dinosaur embryo was previously unearthed. Both date back 190 million years.
The South African National Parks (SANParks) plans to open the Godumodumo Dinosaur Centre by 2022. The centre is classed as a legacy project and funded by The National Department of Tourism through its Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund in 2018.
South Africa is a goldmine of adventure and travel destinations, and what better way to travel than on a road trip. Before you go, make sure you get your vehicle safety-checked, free at any Supa Quick fitment centre near you. Happy, safe travels!
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