7 spine-tingling South African wildlife adventures you'll want to book now

From ultra-luxurious safaris to volunteering on world-renowned conservation projects, the ways to encounter South Africa's wildlife are as varied as the species themselves. Get there now!

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1: Go camping in Kruger

A sunset safari in Kruger National Park (Dreamstime)

A sunset safari in Kruger National Park (Dreamstime)

Answer the call of the wild in South Africa’s most famous national park on this camping safari in Kruger with Intrepid.

This four-day trip puts you right in the thick of the park's grasslands and forests, filled with birdlife and big game. Staying in pre-erected dome tents, you’ll go in search of elephants, giraffes and wildebeest with your own local guide. You’ll enjoy a memorable sunset safari in a private game reserve, and spot prowling lions and leopards at night. And at the end of each day relax by a camp fire under the starry African sky, while listening to the sounds of the night. A truly extraordinary experience.

Trip: Wild Kruger Camping

Who: Intrepid

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 4 days

How much: From £412 (exc. flights)

2: Wine and whales

Southern right whale breaching in Walker Bay (Dreamstime)

Southern right whale breaching in Walker Bay (Dreamstime)

Watch migrating southern right whales and sample some of South Africa’s finest tipples on this unique wine and whale watching tour with Wexas.

Based in either Franschhoek or Stellenbosch, you’ll sample award-winning wines paired with gourmet dishes in some of South Africa's most notable restaurants.

Designed to coincide with South Africa's whale-watching season, the tour will take you to Hermanus and Walker Bay where southern right whales congregate. It’s a treat for all the senses.

Trip: Cape, Wine and Whales

Who: Wexas

When: June to November

How long: 11 days

How much: £1,840 (inc.flights)

3: Take a walk on South Africa’s wild side

Encountering a giraffe on a walking safari (Dreamstime)

Encountering a giraffe on a walking safari (Dreamstime)

Get up-close and personal with South Africa’s extraordinary wildlife on this walking safari through Greater Kruger and Hlane Royal National Park with KE Adventure Travel.

Your tour starts in Kruger National Park with a walking safari in search of the park’s famous Big Five, complemented by a series of game drives. The next stop is Swaziland and another walking safari in Hlane Game reserve, famous for its rhinos and abundant birdlife. After walking and snorkelling in St Lucia and the UNESCO-listed iSimangaliso Wetlands, you’ll head to the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains where you’ll spend three days exploring vast peaks and dramatic waterfalls. It’s the perfect adventure for active wildlife lovers.

Trip: South Africa Walking Safari

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: Departures May-Nov

How long: 15 days

How much: From £1,616 (exc. flights)

4: Penguins and sharks in Cape Town

African penguins soaking up the morning sun in Cape Town (Dreamstime)

African penguins soaking up the morning sun in Cape Town (Dreamstime)

Experience a spectacular adventure in one of the most picturesque cities in the world on this wildlife and diving trip to Cape Town with Dive Worldwide.

This is a trip for divers who like to spend time above water as well as under it. Based in Cape Town, you’ll visit Cape Point and its colony of African penguins, get up-close and personal with a great white shark (from the safety of a cage!), and look for lions and springboks on a wildlife safari. Add in a visit to some of South African's finest wineries and you’ve got one memorable week.

It’s a great trip for non-divers as well, as the sharks frequently swim to the surface and so can be viewed from the boat.

Trip: Cape Town Extravaganza

Who: Dive Worldwide

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 8 days

How much: From £1,995 (inc. flights)

5: Come face-to-face with Africa’s biggest tuskers

A bull elephant in Tembe Elephant Park (Dreamstime)

A bull elephant in Tembe Elephant Park (Dreamstime)

Explore unforgettable scenery and encounter unique wildlife on this self-drive adventure along South Africa’s 'Elephant Coast' with TravelLocal.

Taking in the Pongola and Mkuze game reserves, it’s a journey that guarantees close encounters with South Africa’s wildlife superstars. Kosi Bay Nature Reserve reveals another side of wild South Africa, with plenty of opportunities to snorkel and swim alongside aquatic wildlife.

The undoubted highlight, however, is your visit to Tembe Elephant Park – an elephant sanctuary and Big Five game reserve rolled into one. No more than ten vehicles are allowed to visit each day, and it is one of the few places where you can still see the African wild dog.

More importantly, it is the only place in South Africa where the indigenous elephants of Maputaland are found. They're quite a lot bigger than the ‘ordinary’ African elephant, and your encounter will be one you'll remember for the rest of your life.

Trip: Best of the Elephant Coast

Who: TravelLocal

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: £2,050 (exc. flights)

6: Join the fight to save Africa’s wildlife

A volunteer with a juvenile large spotted genet (Dreamstime)

A volunteer with a juvenile large spotted genet (Dreamstime)

Join the frontline of wildlife conservation in Africa as a volunteer at the world-renowned Shamwari Game Reserve with The Great Projects.

Established in order to return the land back to its original glory, Shamwari Conservation offers a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the fight to save wildlife in this part of the world.

You’ll monitor and count the animals, use telemetry tracking to research more elusive wildlife like leopards and cheetahs, help restore and rehabilitate landscapes and fencing, and join the fight against invasive plant life. There is also ample opportunity to work at the Animal Rehabilitation Centre, Animal Hospital, and Rhino Awareness Centre as well as the nearby Born Free Big Cat sanctuary. Are you ready to do your bit to help?

Trip: Shamwari Conservation Experience

Who: The Great Projects

When: Departures every Monday

How long: 14 days

How much: From £745 (exc. flights)

7: Meet the Big Five in five-star style

Motswari Private Game Reserve (newmarkhotels.com)

Motswari Private Game Reserve (newmarkhotels.com)

Enjoy the very best that South Africa has to offer on this luxury adventure holiday with Wexas Travel.

Starting in gorgeous Cape Town, you’ll head north to taste your way through the Cape Winelands' award-winning estates. Then it's time to board the Blue Train for a luxurious overnight journey to Pretoria, enjoying first-class service and gourmet dining as you speed through the landscapes of central South Africa.

Finally, after a night in the capital, you'll travel to the Motswari Private Game Reserve for an all-inclusive Big Five safari – with all the trimmings.

Trip: Classic Cape, Blue Train and Safari

Who: Wexas Travel

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £4,335 (inc. flights)

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