One of the main attractions of a trip to South Africa is a game-viewing safari; in fact, the image of the country in the international imagination almost always revolves around the famous Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo) and the vast and beautiful swathes of wilderness that support a rich diversity of wildlife. Numerous game parks are scattered throughout the country, but it is the oldest, largest and most well-known wildlife conservation area, the Kruger National Park, that is the destination of choice for most international visitors.
Big Five viewing opportunities abound in many of the parks and many private game reserves, such as Shamwari in the Eastern Cape, have the added attraction of being malaria-free, unlike the Kruger. There are many fascinating animals to seek out, apart from the Five, including wild dogs, hyenas, cheetahs, baboons, numerous antelope species, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, ostriches and monkeys, not to mention a wealth of bird life. Parks offer guided walking and jeep safaris, and night drives, as well as self-drive safaris for those with their own cars.
The parks have a variety of accommodation including world-class luxury game lodges and budget camping options. Game viewing is possible year-round but winter (June to August) is generally considered the best season for game safaris because the animals tend to be easier to spot when the bush is less dense and lush.