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KwaZulu-Natal

National Parks

Our most recommended KwaZulu-Natal National Parks

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi: Big 5 Full or Half-Day Safari

1. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi: Big 5 Full or Half-Day Safari

Experience the rolling hills of the Savannah grasslands and a magical African sunrise. Sit back and relax while your ranger takes you to the best areas within the park. With trained eyes and years of experience, your ranger will undoubtedly deliver some magnificent sightings. Learn more about this fascinating park and the incredible history of when King Shaka used the lower Umfolozi as his personal hunting grounds or how the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park single-handedly saved the rhinos from near extinction. The park is home not only to the African Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) but also includes cheetahs, wild dogs, and many more. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at one of the numerous scenic picnic areas within the park. The tour concludes with a drop off at the Nyalazi Gate or alternatively, drop off back at your accommodation in St. Lucia.

From Underberg: Sani Pass Day Tour

2. From Underberg: Sani Pass Day Tour

The Sani Pass is regarded by some as having the most spectacular views in South Africa. Originally a bridle path, it has become a ‘bucket list’ experience that is not to be missed. Walls of sandstone, cascading rivers, and hair-raising bends are just some of the highlights as your 4x4 vehicle takes you through the Barrier of Spears and into the Kingdom of Lesotho.  Visit a living Basotho village and meet its people for a true cultural experience. The highest pub in Africa welcomes you with a hearty lunch and refreshments before your journey back down the pass to Underberg. 

Sani Pass and Mokhotlong in Two Days

3. Sani Pass and Mokhotlong in Two Days

Day One:  Depart from Underberg, or be collected along the route, in a 4x4 vehicle and travel via the Sani Pass, with a stop for early tea at Sani Top Chalet. Travel up Black Mountain Pass for a short walk to a vantage point to view Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest peak in Southern Africa at 3482 meters. Continue on to Mokhotlong via the stunningly beautiful Sehonghong Valley and stop at 10 Riverside for an ethnic Basotho experience, including a visit to the Ngaka, a traditional healer, and the artifact house. Afterward, go to Mokhotlong for dinner and your overnight stay. Day Two:  After breakfast, drive through Mokhotlong, which was once billed as the most remote village in the British Empire. Stop for a short walk down the main road to view the rare Spiral Aloe, the National plant of Lesotho. Travel to St James Mission to see the fascinating ceiling of their church. Drive back up the Sehonghong Valley, looking for the rare Bearded Vulture on the route. Reach Sani Top and go for lunch at the Sani Top Chalet before descending the Sani Pass back to Underberg.

Underberg: Overnight Lesotho Highlands Tour

4. Underberg: Overnight Lesotho Highlands Tour

Throughout this tour, you will enjoy all that the Sani Pass has to offer, including a trip to Makhapung, which is a small Basotho village deep in the highlands of Lesotho. This is your chance to experience the Sani Pass, Lesotho highlands, Basotho cultures and a visit to the remote trading town of Mokhotlong. You will overnight at the Principal Chief of Motkhotlong’s house, which is home to the Queen Regent ‘Mants’ebo Amelia Seeiso, the first and only woman to ever rule Lesotho. The "kingdom in the sky" provides spectacular mountain scenery, and a chance to experience the simplicity of a civilization of mountain people. This is an opportunity to explore nature still little changed by man, and unspoiled by crowds of tourists.

From Durban: Half-Day Safari Tour

5. From Durban: Half-Day Safari Tour

Your first stop is Natal Lion Park which is home to a variety of wildlife including African and Asian Elephants, Rhinos and lions. After a drive around the park you will enter the Lion’s enclosure to marvel at size and beauty of these great cats. Finally visit Tala Game Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary spanning over 3000 hectares. It features over 380 bird species and a variety of wildlife that includes Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Hippo and Eland in a beautiful, relaxing setting. You will then be returned to your preferred drop-off location in Durban.

From St Lucia: Cape Vidal Full-Day Snorkeling Safari

6. From St Lucia: Cape Vidal Full-Day Snorkeling Safari

After pickup from your accommodations, your guide will take you on a safari drive in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. You'll have the chance to see many animals in their natural habitat including elephants, hippos, rhinos, hyenas, buffalos, zebras, wildebeest, antelopes, chameleons and if you're lucky, perhaps a leopard. Then head to the beach for 2 hours of snorkeling and discover over 50 different species of fish. If you're not a keen snorkeler, you can enjoy the beach on your own or go for a little birdwatching walk on the forest dunes of Cape Vidal with another guide. Your tour is conducted in a laid-back, yet professional manner and includes breakfast and a delicious African braai (barbeque) lunch.

From St. Lucia: iSimangaliso Sunset Safari

7. From St. Lucia: iSimangaliso Sunset Safari

Get picked up from your hotel in St. Lucia and travel to the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, a huge protected area along the coast of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province. The park’s centerpiece is the vast Lake St. Lucia, home to a large number of hippos, crocodiles, pelicans, and flamingos. Elephants, giraffes, and leopards inhabit the grasslands and forests of the nearby Western Shores and Charters Creek areas. To the north, Sodwana Bay is known for its colorful coral reefs. Upon arrival, gear up and set off on an exciting three-hour drive through the park's many ecosystems. Keep an eye out for the wide variety of species that call iSimangaliso home. As the sun begins to set, your guide will take you to the perfect spot to appreciate the African sunset. When darkness falls, take on the challenge of spotting chameleons and other nocturnal species, all of which are more active after nightfall. Get dropped off back at your accommodation in St Lucia.

Durban: Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari with Pro Zeiss Binoculars

8. Durban: Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari with Pro Zeiss Binoculars

Get up close with Africa's famous Big 5 on a safari tour of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. Discover the different sides of the parks with one morning and one afternoon drive during which you will be provided with the high-end Zeiss Terra ED 8x42 binoculars and multi-language guidebooks.  Start early at 5 am to catch the wildlife, especially predators, at their most active times which is dawn and dusk. Enter the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve via Nyalazi Gate and explore the Imfolozi side of the reserve on a 3.5-hour morning game drive on our Hyundai H1 vehicle. The southern sector of the reserve is typified by its flat open plains and renowned for elephant and rhino sightings. Time for a spot of lunch at Hilltop Restaurant (at own cost). Enjoy your meal while taking in the panoramic views over the reserve and put those binoculars to test. After lunch, explore the northern sector of the reserve while keeping your eyes pealed for the highly endangered African Wild Dogs and Big Cats. Spend another 3.5-hours traversing the Hluhluwe side of the reserve. Around 4 pm we will start to make our way back to Durban. Your safari tour is in a Hyundai H1 Vehicle. This is not an open safari vehicle. It is a luxury van with large windows. The windows open wide enough for you to take pictures using amateur and professional cameras. All travelers will have access to our high-end Zeiss Terra ED 8x42 binoculars and multilingual safari guide book, available in English, German & French. 

From Durban: Oribi Gorge & Lake Eland Adventure Tour

9. From Durban: Oribi Gorge & Lake Eland Adventure Tour

The first stop will be a visit to the Leopard's Rock which is set on a rocky incline with sweeping views over the majestic Mzimkhulu River Gorge. You'll then visit the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve which is a wonderfully scenic area offering excellent hiking opportunities. The wildlife in the Oribi Gorge consists of many antelope, although the oribi (after which the gorge is named) is rarely seen. A photographer's paradise, Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve encompasses forests, rivers, rapids and ravine. High sandstone cliffs dominate this 24 kilometers long gorge carved out by the Umzimkulwana River. Leopards, troops of baboons, various small antelope and a prolific birdlife, including five species of kingfisher and seven species of eagle inhabit the reserve. Activities at Oribi Gorge include the Wild Swing and the Wild Slide. The Wild Swing is one of the most popular big swings in South Africa and the highest in the world. It entails a heart-stopping leap off the top of the waterfall that leaves you swinging more than 100 meters to the gorge below. You can take a walk on the suspension bridge which is 48 meters – a spectacular opportunity to be suspended between heaven and terra firma, as you hover 100 meters above the gorge floor enjoying views of Lehr’s Waterfall, Baboon’s Castle and the World’s Highest Gorge Swing. Professional instructors are available to assist with all activities and the highest safety standards are adhered to. All safety equipment, including full-body harnesses, is provided.

Drakensberg Giants Castle Cave Art & Mandela Capture Site

10. Drakensberg Giants Castle Cave Art & Mandela Capture Site

The tour starts off with a visit to Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal. Stop at Pietermaritzburg's City Hall, which claims to be the largest brick building in the southern hemisphere. Visit the Gandhi statue also before heading towards the Drakensberg mountains and Giants Castle Reserve. Giant's Castle is situated on a grassy plateau among the deep valleys running down from the face of the High Drakensberg, offering glorious views. At Giants Castle reserve, there is a large sandstone cave containing prehistoric San rock art. The San and Khoekhoe people were hunters and gatherers who roamed South Africa for thousands of years. This cave is one of the biggest and best-preserved painted sites in southern Africa. This cave is an easy 30 minutes’ walk from the camp office and regular guided tours are taken through this unique exhibition. A visit to Giant's Castle offers the privilege of entering the world of the San as well as the opportunity to study a varied and exciting range of habitats. From there, head to the small town of Howick and visit its waterfall. Howick Falls is approximately 95m in height and lies on the Umgeni River. The Zulu people called the falls KwaNogqaza, which means "Place of the Tall One".   Then visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site Statue and Apartheid Museum. The Nelson Mandela sculpture comprises of 50 steel column constructions, each between 6.5m and 9.5m tall, set into the Midlands landscape. The approach to the site leads you down a path towards the sculpture where, at 35 meters, a portrait of Nelson Mandela, looking west, comes into focus. The 50 linear vertical units, line up to create the illusion of a flat image. The museum is dedicated to Nelson Mandela’s life and his struggle against Apartheid. After the tour, head back to Durban by late afternoon.

Frequently asked questions about KwaZulu-Natal National Parks

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What people are saying about KwaZulu-Natal

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 19 reviews

An excellent day out - our guide Spi was great - he shared a lot of information with us and was an excellent host who really took great care of us, and esp our two children. The game viewing was great, the snorkelling very good but certainly it was all made better by an excellent guide, Spi.

I was really lucky to see so many animals thanks to my guide. Several families of elephants arriving in the park. It was Elephant Day! Morning in the savannah and end of the day in the estuary with hippos and crocodiles. Great ! Thanks f.

Ride on the Sanipass in persistent rain. From 2300 m transition to snowfall. On arrival at the pass about 15 cm of snow. Unfortunately no view on the pass, below the clouds imposing topography.

Extra half-day safari. We also did the kriger park but we saw fewer animals than in Hululuwe!

Great experience. Many animals and a top guide with lots of interesting anecdotes!