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Top National Parks That Must Not Be Missed.

Last update on Nov. 19, 2013.

Top National Parks That Must Not Be Missed.

South Africa is a wildlife destination like no other. With over 20 National Parks there is an indigestible amount of nature to see, some of the worlds most renowned locations for breathtaking natural sights and animals in their natural environment are available to our eyes via the many National Parks dotted around SA. We've compiled a few of our favourite destinations to help you to plan a trip involving the best excursions.

1. Kruger National Park.

This world-famous wildlife park covers almost 2 million hectares of land, around the size of a small country. Unrivalled by its impressive statistics in every manner: size, content, and quality of experience. If you go to no other National Park, this is the one to visit without any fear of missing out. Home to the big-names in mammals: lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo, every visit is guaranteed a lifetime experience. Watch out for famous scenes like the YouTube clip of the lion, buffalo and crocodile battle before your own eyes. You can safari alone or be guided by gun-toting rangers, the choice is yours. We recommend visiting in the winter months of June-September as sparse vegetation means that visibility is easier, animals gather at waterholes, and the risks of acquiring malaria of decreased.

2. Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

Golden by name and nature as this beautiful part of South Africa gets its name from the uplifting way that the sun hits the park's sandstone cliffs, casting gold shadows over the views. Sights are most impressive from Ribbokkop, the highest point of the park, where towards evening time hues of yellow, purple and red combine with the cool mountain shades to create a picturesque tapestry of warm colours. In the way of animal life, look out for the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally uncommon bald ibis.

3. Table Mountain National Park.

Crucial to any stay in Cape-Town, a family favourite of South African National Parks, amazing for its wide range of activities. There is plenty to do, from secluded romantic picnic spots to open access hikes and forest walks. Cape-Town's park is a 1000m-high plateau running down the mountainous Cape Peninsula from table Mountain, with panoramic views of the oldest city in SA. The Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, can also been seen in a breathtaking perspective from the park. Excursions from mountain-climbing, tandem paragliding and abseiling from one of the world's highest commercial points include just some of the unique experiences that can be had in this stunning environment.

4. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

A conservation area of over 3.6 million hectares, this is one of the few regions of this magnitude existing in today's world. Red dunes and the the huge striking desert antelope, Gemsbok, mark the signature emblems of this 36,00 square-km chunk of Kalahari. This unforgiving environment is still home to mammals such as ostriches, lions, leopards and cheetahs. To spot big cats, this is the place to go. Temperatures are best between May and August, as animals gather along the dry river beds.

5. Mapungubwe National Park.

For those interested in the historical features of nature, this World Heritage Site is extremely significant in terms of learning of the past of South Africa. With over 9,000 inhabitants around AD1300,Mapungubwe was the centre of SA's first indigenous kingdom. A treasure-filled hill-top graveyard known as Mapungubwe Hill, where archaeologists discovered the famous golden rhino, is an area of special interest and part of the Lost City which shows evidence of wealthy African culture. Nature-wise, elephants, leopards, giraffes and baboons can be seen roaming amongst the baobab trees alongside the Limpopo River Valley. This amazing site is well worth the 550km journey north from Johannesburg.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6

Lauren Forse

This article was written by: Lauren Forse

Born and bred in the Eastern Cape, Lauren is an experienced travel writer who enjoys visiting wild beaches and exploring new cities. You can follow Lauren Forse on , Twitter and LinkedIn.

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