Home /Africa / South Africa
South Africa also officially called the Republic of South Africa or RSA is located at the tip of the African continent with a long coastline that shares its border with the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic Sea. Touted as a great tourist destination RSA has some stunning landscape locations owed to its natural physical geography and location. At the same time, the diverse range of topography, vegetation and climate has been responsible for sustaining a splendid wildlife and biodiversity that finds itself silhouetted against the panoramic scenic views of South Africa’s savannahs, desert, coastal and mountain landscapes.
Apart from its physical splendor and wildlife wonders, RSA also has important urban centers, such as, its capital Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. All of these cities have their own natural setting and charm, their commercial centers, historical and cultural significant destinations and monuments that reflect on the long and arduous history of South Africa. Cape Town for example is surrounded by natural landscapes that give the city a beautiful touch. A hike to the Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Champman’s Peak or a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, or watching penguins along the False Bay are as attractive as taking a stroll along the Victoria and Albert Waterfront or paying a visit to Robben Island an important landmark in the apartheid struggle.
The interiors of the country mainly consist of the flat plateau with the higher slopes along the east. The plateau is surrounded by the Great Escarpment and its highest stretch is called Drakensberg.
The south and south west regions consist of the Great Karoo, which is essentially a scrubland area and eventually gives way to the Kalahari Desert.
The coastal belt along the eastern coasts consists of the Limpopo Lowveld and the Mpumalanga Lowveld, both known for the location of RSA’s most important Kruger National Park.
The plateau slopes downwards to what it is called Bushveld before giving way to the Limpopo Lowveld.
The coastal belt along the south and south west of the Great Escarpment consists of the Cape Fold Mountains which run parallel to the coast.
The Wildlife circuit
There are of course a lot of tourist attractions that RSA has to offer, however, it is its wildlife that draws nature enthusiasts from all over the world. Home to a number of national parks as well as game reserves, RSA is a perfect destination to spot the Big 5 which include, the African elephants, lion, black rhino, leopard and Cape Buffalo.
The Bushveld area is rich in wildlife diversity and many animals including the cheetahs, Transvaal lions, southern white rhinos, hippos, wildebeest, impalas, African leopards, and South African giraffes are found here. A large part of the Bushveld area extends into the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve as well as in the north to the Waterberg Biosphere.
The Kalahari Transfrontier Park is a merger between the two state parks of Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in RSA and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Established in 2000 it is Africa’s first transfrontier park and is home to excellent views of the golden grasses, red sands and thorn trees. It is famous for the Kalahari lion, gemsboks, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and many birds, such as, weavers and meerkats.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a World Heritage Site and supports a large estuarine ecosystem. Located on the northwest of Kwazulu Natal it can boast of the coral reefs, crocodile filled rivers, coastal dunes and a variety of wildlife such as, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, leopards and turtles.
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga encloses the second largest canyon on Africa, the Blyde River Canyon and offers stunning landscapes as well as excellent game viewing. Wildlife around this area includes hippos, crocodiles and South African primates.
Some other wildlife destinations are the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park, The Vredefort Dome and Cape Floral Kingdom.
The white rhino has been revived from the brink of extinction and is seen in the Kruger National Park and the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park.
The Big cats are of course, the main attractions and are found in almost all national parks.
Lesser known wildlife that is also as vital and mesmerizing and finds it place in the ecosystem include, the kudu, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, wild dog, jackal, fox, wild cat, various antelopes, hippo and distinct wildlife and birds that are specific to South Africa are the tsessebe, suni, dassies, aardvark, aardwolf and the riverine rabbit.
Since RSA has a long coastline, it is but natural that it also has a rich diversity in its sea and marine animals. The southern right whale, the white killer whale as well as various fishes and lobsters are found here.
Reptiles include crocodiles that are found in river and estuaries, aquatic reptiles such as, leatherback and loggerhead turtles (seen especially along the KwaZulu – Natal shores), snakes of different kind, pythons, mamba and rinkhals are more are also found here.
South Africa is home to many local as well as migratory birds. With over 850 bird species RSA is a birder’s paradise. Some of the birds seen in cities, natural habitats, national parks and game reserves include the cuckoos, kingfishers, ostriches (farmed in Oudtshoorn district of western Cape), hornbills, LBJ’s, loeries, hoopoes, mousebirds, barbets, ibises, olive thrushes, cranes specifically the blue crane, as well the crowned crane, along with eagles, vultures, bee - eaters and sunbirds.
South Africa is a nation vibrant with its wildlife that is comfortable in their natural habitats and who enjoy the gorgeous backdrops views as much as humans. Visit South Africa for its sheer beauty, variation, cities and towns as well as its flourishing wildlife.