Southern Africa has an incredibly varied natural environment. From the barren expanses of the Namib (the oldest desert in the world) to the Cape Floral Kingdom (the smallest, yet richest floral kingdom in the world with over 9,000 plant species). From the tropical valleys along the warm Indian Ocean to the snowcapped peaks of the mighty Drakensberg. Elephants and lions roam the vast wilderness areas, crocodiles patrol the rivers and two oceans meet to support an abundance of marine life.
Hiking is one of my favourite ways to enjoy nature, and Slow Travel Africa specialises in creating amazing hiking holidays. We hike through townships and villages, and meet the people that live there. We go out into the wide open spaces and remote areas where no vehicles can go. And we explore Africas wild spaces on foot, sleeping under the stars were wild animals roam.
But there are also many less adventurous ways to get close to nature. In some cases, it is easier than you think to immerse yourself in breathtaking nature experiences. Why not try a luxury tent in the African bush, with a comfortable bed, flushing toilets and hot water? Or a self-catering cottage in the middle of a nature reserve, yet accessible with a normal car?
Browse the articles below to get a glimpse of all the amazing experiences that await in nature!
The Greater Kruger area (Kruger National Park together with adjacent private reserves) is one of the largest wilderness areas in Africa. It stretches over some 20,000 square km, and if you include the national parks across the border in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, it is almost 35,000 square km.
Although there are other very good national parks and private game reserves in South Africa, this is by far my favourite. In particular, I like the private reserves that have no fences to Kruger National Park. Here, you can enjoy all the benefits of a private reserve (for instance off road driving and limited number of visitors) while at the same time being in this vast untouched area. While you cannot see how far it stretches, it is a very special feeling to know that you are in one of the last real wilderness areas in Africa.
The mighty Drakensberg is one of my absolute favourite hiking areas! With peaks reaching well over 3,000 meter, awe-inspiring sheer drops and many streams and valleys this is nature in an original and soul touching way.
While a multi-day hike with a tent will immerse you into the absolute wilderness of these areas, there are also many beautiful day-hikes that provide spectacular experiences.
With the sometimes snow covered peaks and highlands of the small mountain Kingdom Lesotho on one side and the lush valleys of Kwa-Zulu Natal far below in the distance, the Berg leaves no-one untouched.
The area has a unique flora, and of its 2,153 plant species 98 are endemic. It is also home to almost 300 recorded bird species. But one of the most unique features of the area is the rich collection of San rock art. There are close to 40,000 paintings, some of which are estimated to be 100,000 years old, making this one of the largest collections of aboriginal art in the world. When you are walking along ancient paths far away from the modern world it is as if you can feel the presence of the forefathers.
Karoo is a vast semi-desert in the central south-western part of South Africa. Although no-one is exactly sure of its border (it depends on if you define Karoo by geology, topography or climate) it is estimated that it is around 400,000 square km.
It was the San who gave this mystical area its name: Land of Thirst. The settlers that came later described it as "a frightening place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts". The San knew how to find and reach the underground water, but it was not until the windpump was invented that white people were able to settle in the area.
Karoo is still sparsely populated, with large sheep farms spread across the flat fields and the odd little town close to natural wells and streams. The towns remind you of days gone by, and many people still follow old traditions. This is the place to try traditional home cooked food and get a feel for what South Africa was like hundreds of years ago.
This is a land of raw beauty that will either bewitch or enchant you as you travel hour after hour on straight roads headed towards the horizon.