South Africa

 Home to Africa’s Big Five (Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards, and Buffalos), and a wide variety of others, the country is a safari Mecca of sorts. 

South Africa is the picture of diversity. It’s also a country of extreme variety, boasting big cities dotted with skyscrapers, small scenic towns, beautiful beaches, vast mountain-capped deserts, and one of the continent’s most expansive caches of wildlife. Throw in the country’s multilingual and multicultural population and you get an explosion of color and beauty that makes South Africa fully deserving of its Rainbow Nation nickname. 

Visitors to the country are lured by the chance to see the Big Five and other fascinating sights, but South Africa has a history that’s just as compelling. Scars of the country’s traumatic past are still all too apparent, made all the more noticeable by lingering inequality. Yet, a visit to some of South Africa’s historical monuments is sure to leave a a noticeable impression on you and also help you appreciate this unique country better. 

With its wondrous natural scenery and unforgettable, fascinating wildlife, South Africa is a lot to take in. Whether you’re planning to explore her big, cosmopolitan cities or checking to see if the Kruger National Park is all it’s made out to be, South Africa is sure to thrill and intrigue you.

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Why Visit South Africa For Wildlife Photography?

Sandwiched between two oceans, with the Karoo blazing a trail right through its center, South Africa’s epic, diverse wildlife is one of her biggest draws. Home to Africa’s Big Five (Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards, and Buffalos), and a wide variety of others, the country is a safari Mecca of sorts. 

 

The world-famous Kruger National Park in the north-eastern part of the country offers a chance to either create your own adventure or let more savvy and experienced guides point out the landmarks and more elusive animals. Several other national parks and reserves present a spectacular picture of intoxicating landscapes and captivating terrestrial animals. 

 

South Africa’s aquatic life forms are just as impressive. Head to the coast for sightings of great white sharks, seals, whales, penguins, and thousands of others. Out there, it can almost feel like you’re on the set of a very high-budget nature documentary.

Wildlife Species To Photograph In South Africa

South Africa is practically overflowing with wildlife species, and the best part of visiting the country for wildlife sightings is that wildlife is readily available in the country. That’s why South Africa attracts more than ten million tourists each year, seeking an encounter with nature’s wonders. 

 

The obvious place to start your wildlife photography quest is the Kruger National Park, the biggest reserve in the country. You can choose to drive around on your own, but you’ll have more success with experienced guides who can more easily spot the camouflaging animals. 

 

Leopards are the most elusive, but lions and elephants are generally easy to spot. With the elephants, you can get within touching distance and get really good pictures, but lions are a lot more intimidating. There are also thousands of other animals and birds, and the spellbinding landscape provides a superb backdrop. You can also finds whales, penguins, seals, great white sharks, and a multitude of other aquatic life forms in the country.

The Best Time Of Year To Visit South Africa

Depending on what part of the country you’re planning to stay or visit, it’s a smart idea to know when the best time is to head to South Africa. The western part of the country is generally cold, so the warmer months (November to April) would be the ideal time to visit. For the eastern part, May to October are the coolest months, so you should probably plan your trip around those months. 

 

You can avoid the throng and high prices if you visit between June and August, the rainy season in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Understandably, the wet conditions will make wildlife watching miserable, but that’s also what makes it the perfect time to visit the Karoo. Parks and beaches are always crowded during the holidays and around Easter.

Where To Stay In South Africa

South Africa offers a wide range of accommodation options. Although I found the base costs of accommodation in the country to be higher than most other places I’ve visited, the standards were considerably higher, and hygiene wasn’t so much of a concern here.


For tourists looking for lodgings with a bit of panache and style, there are several luxury guesthouses, boutique hotels, country retreats, and posh lodges. For more modest budgets, there are backpacker lodges, camps, and bed and breakfasts. You can also find decent to luxurious accommodation options at the national parks and reserves in the country if, like me, you plan to spend more time spotting and photographing the wildlife.

Eastern Cape

My itinerary took me to the Eastern Cape first, to the Kwantu Private Game Reserve. The reserve offers a multitude of exotic wildlife, from the African Big Five to spectacular birds. I got a rare sight of white rhinos, several primate species, antelopes, giraffes, and duikers, all roaming the fields naturally.  If you plan to stay overnight to catch sight of the nocturnal animals, the park offers more than decent accommodation.

Kruger National Park

Next, I enjoyed an unforgettable trip to the Kruger National Park, which is every bit as impressive as you’ve heard. The landscape is breathtaking, and some of the flora are quite charming. This park is also home to the Big Five (and thousands of other animals), and elephants and buffalos are particularly prominent. Rhinos are a bit more wary, although I was able to spot them a few times. Leopards are masters of disguise, but an expert guide can usually spot them. 

Addo Elephant Sanctuary

Finally, I visited the Addo Elephant Sanctuary. Apart from its large elephant population, this national park is also a great spot for birdwatching, and its picturesque landscape makes it a favorite location for people who simply want to enjoy the quiet and peace of nature. Spend a night or two in the huts provided by the park, if you’re interested in experiencing accommodation that’s a bit different from the norm.

How To Get Around In South Africa

It’s relatively easy to get around in the country, with several available transport options. The bus and train networks are more organized than in most other countries in Africa, and you can easily get flights that connect to several places within the country. Car rental companies are also numerous, and their prices are fair. Due to large populations in the urban areas, however, public transport is not a very good option. The best option is to rent a car for any trip within the country.

Is It Safe To Travel To South Africa?

Even with South Africa’s reputation for violent crimes (especially in Johannesburg), it’s still possible to enjoy your time in the country without any incident. With due diligence and proper vigilance, you should be safe. 

 

Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth, and try not to make it obvious that you’re a tourist. While walking in the streets, don’t leave your valuables hanging in plain sight. Also, don’t walk around at night. 

 

Malaria is also prevalent in the eastern part of the country. If you’re going to be heading over there, use mosquito repellent and wear clothes that cover your skin completely.

What To Pack For A Wildlife Photography Holiday In South Africa

It’s important to know exactly what to pack before you make the trip so you don’t leave out the essentials or take unnecessary items along that’ll just overburden and weigh you down. The things you need are:

  • A Backpack:  Choose a backpack that won’t weigh you down. Ideally, pick one that spreads the weight evenly all over your upper body. 
  • Outer Shell Jacket: If you’re planning to visit during the rainy season, it’s best to pack heavy jackets, or the trip will be really miserable!
  • Breathable Shirts: Hiking can leave you hot and sweaty, so ensure that you pack light clothes to help make you more comfortable.
  • Hiking Shoes: There are several creatures lurking in the undergrowth, so it’s very crucial to protect your feet with solid hiking boots.
  • Water Bottle: The water in South Africa is generally safe to drink, but you should still pack a water bottle in your backpack. It’ll provide quick and easy rehydration on long hikes. 
  • Camera: There’ll be several unforgettable experiences and sights, and you’ll want to capture every single one of them. So, don’t forget to pack a camera. 
  • Universal Adapter: You’ll need it to plug in your device and recharge them when they run out of juice in the country. 
  • Swim Suit: South Africa’s beaches practically invite you to take a dip in the water, so, pack some swimsuits.

Passport and Visa Information

People from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, US, Japan, New Zealand, and most European countries do not need visas to visit South Africa for up to 90 days. However, you’re required to hold a valid passport and proof of a return ticket, and you may sometimes be asked to present these documents at immigration.

Other Places To Visit In South Africa

From Safari excursions to hiking trips to watersports and diving and snorkeling joints, there’s an abundance of memorable places to visit in South Africa. 

 

For a bit of sobering history, visit Johannesburg and head to the Apartheid museum and the iconic Robben Island Prison. From there, head to the Cape Winelands for riveting nightlife and amazing wines. Spend a few lazy days in the Eastern Cape surfing along the coast and head to the Cederberg for a bit of rock climbing. 

 

If you can make the time for it, you should also try hiking the Karoo and go snorkelling on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. 

My Suggested Itinerary for a Wildlife Photography Holiday in South Africa

Columbo City

1-2 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Wasgamuwa National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Kandy Beach Resort

2-3 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Yala National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Helpful Resources

Now that we have all the information we need, it’s time to plan your wildlife photography holiday to South Africa!

Here are some helpful resources to help you get your trip started:

Flights: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Home Stays: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel Insurance: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Day Trips & Tours: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
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