These are the 5 biggest game reserves in South Africa

Rhinos in the Kruger National Park. File Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Rhinos in the Kruger National Park. File Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 26, 2024


Uncover the captivating history and breathtaking landscapes of South Africa's largest game reserves, where conservation meets adventure.

South Africa has some of the best game reserves in Africa, home to the iconic Big Five, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and rich biodiversity. These are five of the biggest.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park. Picture: Utopia_88 via Getty Images Pro

Established in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve, Kruger National Park stands as a testament to South Africa's commitment to wildlife conservation.

Named after President Paul Kruger, the park has evolved from a refuge for hunted species to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Spanning 19,485 square kilometres, it shelters over 500 bird species and 147 mammal species, including the revered Big Five.

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Kalahari National Park. Picture: Artush via Canva Pro

Proclaimed in 1931 as the Gemsbok National Park, this reserve was dedicated to safeguarding the declining gemsbok population.

Renamed Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, it merged with Twee Rivieren Nature Reserve in 2000 to form the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, fostering cross-border conservation efforts with Botswana.

Spanning 18,000 square kilometres, the reserve is renowned for its red sand dunes and diverse wildlife.

Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park. Picture: Fokke Baarssen via Canva Pro

Founded in 1931 to protect a dwindling population of 11 elephants, Addo Elephant National Park has become a sanctuary for over 600 elephants, making it South Africa's largest concentration of these majestic pachyderms.

Spanning 18,000 square kilometres, the park's landscapes range from coastal dunes to thickets, providing a haven for various species, including lions, rhinos, and buffaloes.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate National Park. Picture: Nicosmit via Canva Pro

Proclaimed in 1963, Golden Gate Highlands National Park was initially envisioned as a scenic mountain resort before its ecological significance was recognised.

Situated in the Drakensberg Mountains, it spans 12,000 square kilometres and boasts unique sandstone formations shaped by wind and water erosion.

Home to diverse wildlife, including antelopes and vultures, it offers breathtaking vistas of grasslands and cliffs.

Marakele National Park

Marakele National Park. Picture: Wildacad via Getty Images Signature

Established in 1999, Marakele National Park encompasses mountains, valleys, and the Waterberg Plateau, aiming to protect the unique biodiversity of the region.

With over 400 bird species and a variety of mammals, including leopards and giraffes, the park offers unparalleled opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts.

Its cultural and archaeological heritage adds to its allure, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years.