South Africa’s national parks are considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world in terms of native fauna, flora, landscape and related cultural heritage of the country.
Think of South Africa, and then they say the national parks! Not only the famous safari parks but also the breathtaking nature parks with an enormous variety of flora and fauna.
National parks are spread all over South Africa. In the northeast is the famous Kruger National Park, which is at the top of the bucket list for many to spot the big five.
Different types of nature parks in South Africa
In South Africa there are different types of parks:
Nationwide and administered by the government through SANparks.
Western Cape and managed by the province through Western Cape Nature Conservation Board
Mostly private parks often with wild animals.
Many private parks focused on local flora and fauna.
Nature parks near Wind-Rose Guest House
Our guest house is centrally located to visit nature parks in the Western Cape. There are even Game Reserves nearby.
When thinking of a park in South Africa, many people think of the famous Kruger Park, which is located in the northeast of South Africa. Definitely worth it but incredibly large and therefore a (costly) undertaking to spot only wild animals. The somewhat smaller Game Reserves in many places in the country are a better alternative because some have the complete big five and the chance in a smaller park is greater that they will come in front of the camera. The total costs of such a safari are therefore lower due to the shorter duration.
Visiting multiple parks across the country also gives a more complete picture of all the beautiful things South Africa has to offer. Another advantage is that the impressions can also be processed on the journey between the parks.
Table Mountain National Park (TMNP)
There are several parks in and around Cape Town that are part of the Table Mountain National Park.
Cape Point, (Cape of Good Hope)
The southernmost tip of the peninsula (not of South Africa as it lies at Cape Agulhas at 200 km to the east) and famous for history and navigators.
Stoney Point Nature Reserve
The quintessential South African penguin that the visitor can get close to. This is also possible at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. Read more about this here.
Silvermine (walking and cycling)
This park starts 20 minutes from the center of Cape Town, which runs roughly from Constantiaberg to Kalk Bay. It is known for the walking routes that are generally not too difficult, but because of the many fynbos where various birds can be spotted.
Table Mountain (Table Mountain)
Famous for the appearance and tourist attraction of Cape Town. You can walk up, but also via the cable car. In good weather, the top offers a beautiful view of Cape Town, the harbor and the ocean.
Signal Hill and Lions Head (views over Cape Town and the harbour)
Signal Hill is the point from which the “noon gun” is fired daily. It forms the body of the lion to the head where Lion’s Head is located. Beautiful for walking.
West Coast National Park
You can read everything about this beautiful park here.
Kogelberg Nature Reserve
Adjacent to Gordons Bay is this 18,000 hectare nature park, the entrance of which is an hour’s drive from the town of Kleinmond. It is known for its untouched nature where man has made few adaptations and the multitude of flora and fauna. According to experts, this area has the most beautiful collection of fynbos in the Western Cape and an enormous biodiversity.
It starts at Gordons Bay to Bot River and inland to Grabauw and the Greenland Mountains. The Hottentots Mountains that are part of the reserve can be seen from our guesthouse.
More information at:
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
This park is located just past Hermanus, which is about 70 km from our guest house (just under an hour’s drive). Hermanus, known for whales (in season) that can be spotted from the shore with their young. 37 km further, (half an hour’s drive), lies Grootbos. This borders the Walker Bay Reserve, which is an example of 5 star luxury ecotourism in the middle of the fynbos overlooking Walker Bay with its typical tidal pools. From here you can see whales from the shore in season.
Gansbaai is also nearby. The Big White or the great white (human) shark occurs here in large numbers, partly because there is a large colony of seals here.
Agulhas National Park
After Grootbos it is 60 km to the next park. From our guest house in Gordons Bay it is 170 km (about 2.5 hours drive) to get to Agulhas, the southernmost tip of the continent. This is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans come together and this phenomenon can be observed from the shore. This natural phenomenon has resulted in many ships being wrecked here in the (winter) due to storms with tens of meters high waves.
– Lighthouse at the southernmost tip of Africa;
– Whales, Southern Right Whale – between June and November;
– Endangered bird “African Black Oystercatcher”, only 5000 left;
– Damara Tern, family of the gull, was also threatened.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
From Agulhas 85 km (almost two hours drive via Bredasdorp) or 194 km (2.5 hours) from our guest house, the entrance to the park is about 35 km past Swellendam near Overberg DC.
Like the previous parks, this park is located on the coast and is about 340 km2 in size. From our guest house it is the last park on the coast before the Garden Route starts (or ends) from Mossel Bay.
With 34,000 hectares, De Hoop is the largest park managed by Cape Nature and is a paradise for walkers, cyclists, bird and whale lovers. There is even a trail named after it, the Whale Trail.
The reserve consists largely of Fynbos with Erica and Proteas. There are more than 1,500 plant species, many of which are native.
Besides the rare Bontebok and Cape Mountain zebra that started it all, there are now also other animals such as antelope, kudu, klipspringer, eland, gray roebuck, ostrich, mongoose, caracal, baboons, dassies and tortoises. There are even 50 species of reptiles; various chameleons, lizards and even various snakes (so pay attention).
This was just a summary of the parks in the Western Cape that are within a day’s drive from Cape Town or our guesthouse, but we don’t want to close without mentioning the Garden Route. If only because the start (or for others the end) of this route is on the N2, which is exactly the same N2 from which our guest house is less than 10 minutes away. Ideal to stay with us and yet close to Cape Town on the way or back from the Garden Route.
Garden Route Reserves
The last in our overview and for many the start of a beautiful trip that roughly lies between Mossel Bay (335 km, 3.5 hours from our guest house) in the Western Cape to Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape – also known as the Garden Route.
It takes a week to see it all well on this 700 km long route along one of the most beautiful coasts in the world.
A route of about 700 km full of beautiful natural beauty, beautiful golf courses, activities, the highest bungee jump in the world, wonderful restaurants, nature parks and of course the famous Addo Elephant Park where you can do a (malaria-free) safari.
There are at least 25 parks on this route. A lot has already been written about this route, so we will suffice with a summary.
What many people do is take a domestic flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (an hour’s flight), rent a car there and then drive the Garden Route ‘back’ to Cape Town. According to many, a safari in the Addo Elephant Park (after the Kruger Park one of the largest safari parks in South Africa) should not be missed.
Distances from Cape Town along the Garden Route
Cape Town – Swellendam 220 km
Cape Town – Mossel Bay 388 km
Cape Town – George 430 km
Cape Town – Wilderness 445 km
Cape Town – Knysna 488 km
Cape Town – Plettenberg Bay 520 km
Cape Town – Tsitsikamma 584 km
Cape Town – Jeffrey’s Bay 682 km
Cape Town – Port Elizabeth 745 km
Tsitsikamma National Park
Finally, the Tsitsikamma National Park, for some the most beautiful nature park on the Garden Route. This is where one can turn for action. In addition to beautiful nature, it is also known for the numerous (sporting) activities that can be done here. This is why people choose to stay in Tsitsikamma National Park for a few days on a Garden Route road trip.
Read here an overview of Parks and Reserves in South Africa, complete with which animals are present.
More From This Category
Stony Point Nature Reserve is home to one of the largest successful breeding colonies of the African penguin in the world. In Betty's Bay - on the Clarence Drive Route - only 30 minutes from Gordon's Bay you will find the penguins in Stoney Point Nature Reserve.Most...
The dolphins that seem to live in Gordon's Bay can offer you unforgettable moments by watching them enjoy the waves while they play. See here a video made by us when we saw them for the first time 🙂 Just outside Gordon's Bay you will find the Whale viewpoints. You...