One of the world's top safari destinations, South Africa is home to all the iconic African animals that you may only have seen in the zoo before now. Most famous are the Big Five; if you want to see them in their natural habitat, Kruger National Park alone has over 2,000 lions, 10,000 elephants, 2,000 leopards, 20,000 buffaloes, and 10,000 rhinos.Other land mammals include giraffes, gazelles, antelope, zebras, baboons, meerkats, monkeys, hyenas, and cheetahs, which can reach speeds of over 60 miles per hour. Birdlife ranges from kingfishers and bee-eaters to eagles, vultures and the tiny-brained ostrich. Reptiles include tortoises, chameleons and over 100 species of snake, from the python to the venomous black mamba. Cold-blooded crocodiles roam the rivers and lakes, along with huge hippos. In the sea, loggerhead and leatherback turtles are the focus of a major conservation effort, and over 2,000 species of fish include the awesome great white shark. The largest of all South Africa's creatures, the blue whale, can grow up to 33 metres long. Other whales include orcas, humpbacks, and the most commonly spotted southern right whale, which can often be seen from the land as it comes into coastal bays to calve.
Shark Cage Diving
Coming face-to-face with great white sharks from the safety of a cage has to be one of the ultimate thrills. The best time of year to experience shark cage diving is from April to October, although great whites and other sharks are encountered year-round.
South Africa is one of the world’s best destinations for watching marine mammals, with whales visiting annually from July to late November and pods of dolphins year-round. In the towns of Hermanus and Plettenberg bay, both claiming to be the whale capital of the world, you can see these incredible creatures by boat and even from cliffs and beaches.
Not far from Cape Town, this sheltered beach and its huge granite boulders are home to a growing colony of the endangered African penguin. Wooden walkways allow visitors to view these charming flightless birds in their natural habitat.