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Monday, September 5, 2022

The road trip that visits every national park in South Africa

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Some folks spend money on unit trusts, others in property, however not all pension plans look the identical and since placing this checklist collectively, my one now includes a national street journey to go to all of our 19 nationwide parks. Six weeks looks as if a superb period of time to commit to it.

This isn’t the primary time somebody has thought to place collectively a street journey like this. In america, it’s a reasonably widespread pursuit for many who love nature, are adventurous and may tolerate lengthy drives.

Scott Ramsay spent three years visiting South Africa’s wild locations between 2011 and 2013. On his journey, which was supported by South African Nationwide Parks, he visited greater than 50 protected areas in South Africa, together with all 19 nationwide parks. A daily contributor to our print journal, Scott has carved a life out of documenting such locations and has now photographed greater than 100 protected areas and conservancies in 12 African international locations.

This proposed street journey, beginning and ending in Johannesburg, clocks in at 7260 km.

Nothing fairly excites just like the promise of an uncommon street journey map.

You could wish to slice up the route barely in a different way between the Backyard Route and the Karoo, however I suppose that’s the enjoyment of a street journey – the liberty to be the grasp of your individual journey. Apparently, KZN doesn’t seem on the checklist. (Royal Natal Nationwide Park, regardless of its identify, is actually not a nationwide park.)

The journey, on this order, would go to the next parks:

1. Golden Gate Highlands Nationwide Park
Begin your journey off with a gilded bang as you discover the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains in north jap Free State. The park derives its identify from the sensible shades of gold solid by the solar on the park’s sandstone cliffs. Stand the prospect to see black wildebeest, eland, oribi, zebra, the uncommon bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally uncommon bald ibis, which breed on the ledges within the sandstone cliffs.

2. Mokala Nationwide Park
Established in 2007, Mokala is without doubt one of the nation’s latest parks and located within the far jap nook of the Northern Cape. Mokala is a Setswana identify for camel thorn, which is an unimaginable useful resource to the wildlife that survives in usually harsh circumstances attribute of this space. Many animals have been relocated to the park and embrace black and white rhino, tsessebe, roan antelope, purple hartebeest, buffalo, gemsbok and black wildebeest.

Glen Reenen Rest Camp Golden Gate camping

Glen Reenen Relaxation Camp, Golden Gate Nationwide Park.

3. Camdeboo Nationwide Park
You’ve now entered the Karoo, a spot that has a delicate spot in lots of South African’s hearts. Camdeboo Nationwide Park offers an interesting perception into the distinctive panorama and ecosystem, to not point out superior scenic magnificence. And if you would like a style of the native folks, head into the historic city of Graaff-Reinet. Or, in all probability an excellent higher concept, go to the close by Valley of Desolation.

4. Mountain Zebra Nationwide Park
Subsequent, head east in direction of Cradock to find the conservation success story of a park that saved the Mountain Zebra species from extinction. In 1937, when the park opened it had solely six zebra on 1 712 hectares of land. These zebra didn’t survive however donations by native farmers ensured the species and the park continued. Right this moment it boasts 370 zebra roaming in 28 412ha, stored firm by black rhino, eland, black wildebeest, purple hartebeest and Cape buffalo.

5. Addo Nationwide Park
Time to take issues up a stage – all the way in which up – for a rendezvous with the world’s largest animal. Initially proclaimed in 1931 with solely 11 elephants, right this moment this finely tuned ecosystem is a sanctuary to over 450 of the animals – the densest elephant inhabitants on earth. The enduring black-maned lions of the Kalahari have been launched to Addo over 15 years in the past. The large cause for selecting these lions (versus someplace like Kruger) is as a result of they’re disease-free and wouldn’t have an effect on the buffalo inhabitants, which could have in any other case caught tuberculosis.

SANParks offer senior citizen discounts of up to 40%

An ellie roadblock in Addo Elephant Nationwide Park.

6. Backyard Route Nationwide Park
You’ve now made all of it the way in which to the plush slopes of the Backyard Route and its nationwide park the place you possibly can discover the attractive seashores, rugged coastlines, indigenous forests and way more. Guides right here can take you on an epic journey by foot, kayak, lilo, boat, mountain bike, scooter and Segway. And, if you happen to’re fortunate, you would possibly even slip in a visit on the Otter Path.

7. Karoo Nationwide Park
After submerging within the waters of the Backyard Route, monitor again inland. We advocate taking the Swartberg Cross, one of many iconic roads in SA. The Karoo Nationwide Park is dominated by the lofty Nuweveld Mountains and rolling plains, with a novel number of wildlife which will require some persistence to identify. Apparently, the park has 5 species of tortoise, the best density of species per equal space anyplace on the planet. Over 20 breeding pairs of black eagle discover sanctuary throughout the park. However remember that a park reminiscent of that is as a lot in regards to the panorama and succulents because the wildlife.

Otter Trail Melanie van Zyl 7 2

There are lots of log stairs however there’s all the time one thing lovely to take a look at from the highest on the Otter Path within the Backyard Route Nationwide Park.

8. Tankwa Karoo Nationwide Park
Issues are about to get even dustier and sparser within the Tankwa Karoo, dwelling to epic sunsets and the occasional hedonistic jol for artwork lovers. This 80 000-hectare park is value visiting for its koppie-studded, moon-like panorama, variety of succulent vegetation and superb Karoo birding. Solely two southern African areas have been designated as Biodiversity Hotspots by Conservation Worldwide. One is the Cape Floral Kingdom, and the opposite the Succulent Karoo, of which Tankwa is a component. There are tourism amenities, lodging and tenting throughout the park and a few privately operated B&Bs on the periphery.

9. Bontebok Nationwide Park
We’re bouncing again in direction of the coast as we head in direction of Swellendam. A detour through Tradouw Cross is beneficial for the curious and adventurous. Set towards the majestic Langeberg Mountains, the park boasts proud achievements in biodiversity conservation, from the endangered fynbos veld kind, coastal renosterveld, to the namesake bontebok. As soon as these vibrant antelope numbered a mere 17, now the inhabitants sits at round 3 000. The park additionally presents hen watchers over 200 hen species.

Tankwa Karoo

The Tankwa Karoo transforms at sundown.

10. Agulhas Nationwide Park
Simply 100 kilometres southwards lies the Agulhas Nationwide Park. What goes on right here? Nicely, you possibly can stand on the southernmost tip of Africa, the place two oceans meet. Discover the historic Cape Agulhas lighthouse. Marvel on the shipwrecks that dot this rugged, lovely shoreline. Curl up in entrance of a comfortable hearth with the sound of the crashing waves within the background. Or, my private favorite, simply sit back and watch the ocean as a hearth sizzles subsequent to you.

11. Desk Mountain Nationwide Park
Congratulations, you’ve reached the midway stage of the street journey, kind of. Don’t get distracted by the seashores, wine farms or eating places please – let’s persist with the script. Now we have nature to discover. A go to to the penguins at Boulders Seaside is a part of the itinerary, as is a stroll on Cape Level. In the end although, we’re right here to scale a mountain. My suggestion is Indian Venster however if you happen to choose one other route, and even the cable automotive, I’m not right here to guage. Stand atop Desk Mountain and solid your gaze northwards to the place you’ve come. Take a deep breath and proceed on, we’ve additional to go.

HighlyCommended CathyWithers Clarke WaitingForTheStorm

A springbok ram stands watch amid an enormous carpet of Namaqua daisies as a storm rolls throughout the Namaqualand. Credit score: Cathy Withers-Clarke

12. West Coast Nationwide Park
In a great world, you’d go to this park in August or September when the daisies are exhibiting their carnival of kaleidoscopic colors. However even if you’re right here one other time, there’s nonetheless a lot to get pleasure from. The Langebaan Lagoon is the point of interest of this small park, which has seaside braai areas and picnic spots to benefit from the views.

13. Namaqua Nationwide Park
Equally to the West Coast Nationwide Park, a tapestry of sensible colors unfolds enticingly alongside the winding roads of Namaqua in August and September. Butterflies, birds and long-tongued flies dart round among the many flowers, seemingly overwhelmed by the abundance and variety. Right here’s a reality for you – with its winter rainfall, Namaqualand is dwelling to the richest bulb flora of any arid area on the planet and greater than 1 000 of its estimated 3 500 plant species are discovered nowhere else on earth. Fields of flowers, star-studded nights, quiver bushes, monumental granite outcrops and the icy Atlantic are simply a few of the sights to catch.

Followed Basson van Zyl

The koppies at Kokerboomkloof within the Richtersveld Nationwide Park are dwelling to klipspringer. Credit score: Basson van Zyl

14. |Ai-|Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Nationwide Park
Issues are getting much more distant and adventurous on this park, which is simply accessible by 4×4 autos or autos with excessive clearances and is managed collectively by the native Nama folks and the South African Nationwide Parks. A desolate and forbidding panorama belies the truth that the Richtersveld has the world’s richest desert flora. Miniature rock gardens, completely designed by nature, cling precariously to cliff faces. Tiny succulents, mere pinpoints towards a backdrop of surreal rock formations, revel within the moisture introduced by the early morning fog rolling in from the chilly Atlantic Ocean.

15. Augrabies Nationwide Park
Few sights are as superior or a sound as deafening as water thundering down the 56m Augrabies waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood, because it lately was. The Khoi folks known as it “Aukoerebis”, or place of Nice Noise, as this highly effective move of water is unleashed from rocky environment characterised by the 18km abyss of the Orange River gorge within the far Northern Cape. The 55 383ha on each the northern and southern sides of the Orange River present sanctuary to a variety of species, from the smallest succulents, birds and reptiles to springbok, gemsbok and giraffe.

Driving from Cape Town, to Sutherland, to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and ending off in Augrabies National Park before heading back to the Mother City.

Augrabies Falls, gooi pappie! Image © Cristine Wekenborg

16. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Kalahari Gemsbok Nationwide Park within the far Northern Cape was proclaimed in 1931 to guard migrating recreation, particularly the gemsbok. Along with the adjoining Gemsbok Nationwide Park in Botswana, this park includes an space of over 3.6-million hectares, which is, to make use of a neighborhood time period, moerse large. It’s almost twice the dimensions of the Kruger Nationwide Park, and was the primary Transfrontier Park to be established in Africa. Kgalagadi is the primary park to offer lodging in three wilderness camps that, with no fences, invite the Kalahari and the tranquillity of Africa proper into your room, welcome or not.

17. Marekele Nationwide Park
OK, we’re drawing nearer to dwelling now as we sweep into the Waterberg area in Limpopo. As its Tswana identify suggests, this place has turn out to be a “place of sanctuary” for a formidable number of wildlife attributable to its location within the transitional zone between the dry western and moister jap areas of South Africa. Contrasting majestic mountain landscapes, grass-clad hills and deep valleys characterise the park. All the big recreation species from elephant and rhino to the massive cats in addition to a tremendous number of birds together with what’s in all probability the most important colony of endangered Cape vultures (greater than 800 breeding pairs) on the planet, have settled right here.

Baobabs 2 32 of 49 2

Sagole Baobab in Limpopo is the largest of its sort on the planet and is estimated to be round 1 200 years outdated. Go to it in your route between Mapungubwe and Kruger.

18. Mapungubwe Nationwide Park
Our second-last park has essentially the most cultural significance, as a result of archaeological treasures of Mapungubwe. The park is the positioning the place a developed African civilisation prospered between 1000 and 1290 AD. The world was already inhabited by a rising Iron Age group from 900 AD and have become wealthy by commerce with faraway locations like Egypt, India and China. From a hilltop on the northern fringe of the park the customer can view the confluence of the legendary Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, in addition to two neighbouring international locations: Botswana and Zimbabwe. Elephant, giraffe, white rhino, eland, gemsbok and quite a few different antelope species happen naturally within the space. Predators embrace lions, leopards and hyenas.

19. Kruger Nationwide Park
As you could have noticed, we’ve saved the most effective for final. One may spend six weeks solely exploring Kruger and also you’d in all probability nonetheless really feel like there’s extra to see. Established in 1898 to guard the wildlife of the Lowveld, this nationwide park of almost 2 million hectares is unrivalled within the variety of its life varieties and a world chief in superior environmental administration methods and insurance policies. Really the flagship of the South African nationwide parks, Kruger is dwelling to a formidable variety of species: 336 bushes, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. The park has 13 relaxation camps, 11 bushveld camps, and 11 lodges.

Map of SA National Parks Road Trip

Comply with this route if you wish to begin in Cape City.

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