Best Safari Parks


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Best Safari Parks and Game Reserves Near Durban


Durban, a vibrant coastal city on South Africa’s east coast, offers easy access to a variety of safari experiences within a reasonable distance. From Big Five game reserves to coastal wetlands and historical battlefields, there’s a range of wildlife and cultural experiences awaiting visitors. Here’s a guide to the best safari parks and game reserves near Durban, highlighting their unique features and what makes them worth visiting.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Location: Approximately 250 kilometers north of Durban

Why Visit: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is renowned for its conservation efforts and its role in saving the southern white rhino from extinction. It’s the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa and offers the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard) along with other iconic African wildlife like cheetahs and wild dogs.

Unique Experiences:

  • Rhino Conservation: Learn about the park’s successful rhino conservation efforts, which have led to a significant increase in rhino numbers.
  • Self-Drive Safaris: Explore the park at your own pace on self-drive safaris, enjoying sightings of diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.

Accommodation Options: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi offers various accommodation options, from luxury lodges to more affordable campsites, catering to different budgets and preferences.

Phinda Private Game Reserve

Location: Approximately 300 kilometers north of Durban

Why Visit: Phinda Private Game Reserve is a prime example of conservation and community collaboration. It offers diverse habitats, including savannahs, wetlands, and sand forests, which support a wide range of wildlife, including the Big Five and endangered species like black rhinos and cheetahs.

Unique Experiences:

  • Tracking Black Rhinos: Join specialized rhino-tracking experiences with expert guides, getting up close to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Luxury Safari Lodges: Stay in luxurious lodges that blend seamlessly with the environment, offering privacy, comfort, and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

Accommodation Options: Phinda boasts several luxury lodges and intimate tented camps, each offering exclusive Durban safari experiences and top-notch service.

Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve

Location: Approximately 250 kilometers north of Durban

Why Visit: Thanda Safari combines luxury with conservation and community development initiatives. It offers exclusive game viewing experiences in a pristine wilderness setting, featuring the Big Five and other iconic African wildlife.

Unique Experiences:

  • Bush Walks: Embark on guided bush walks to explore the reserve on foot, gaining insights into the smaller details of the ecosystem and wildlife behavior.
  • Cultural Experiences: Visit a nearby Zulu village to learn about traditional Zulu culture, including dances, crafts, and daily life.

Accommodation Options: Thanda Safari offers luxurious safari lodges and tented camps, each with its own unique charm and offering panoramic views of the surrounding bushveld.

Tembe Elephant Park

Location: Approximately 300 kilometers north of Durban, near the Mozambique border

Why Visit: Tembe Elephant Park is renowned for its large elephant population, including some of the largest tuskers in Africa. It offers an authentic safari experience in a remote and pristine wilderness area, with diverse habitats that support a variety of wildlife.

Unique Experiences:

  • Elephant Encounters: Witness large herds of elephants up close during guided game drives, enjoying sightings of these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
  • Birdwatching: Explore the park’s diverse birdlife, including rare species like the Pel’s fishing owl and the Narina trogon.

Accommodation Options: Tembe Elephant Park offers comfortable tented camps and lodges, providing a rustic yet authentic safari experience amidst the wilderness.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Location: Approximately 250 kilometers north of Durban

Why Visit: iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, coastal forests, and pristine beaches. It offers opportunities to see hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species, as well as occasional sightings of elephants and leopards.

Unique Experiences:

  • Boat Safaris: Explore the park’s waterways on guided boat safaris, offering opportunities to see hippos, crocodiles, and birdlife up close.
  • Turtle Nesting: Witness nesting turtles on the beaches of iSimangaliso, particularly during the nesting season from November to February.

Accommodation Options: iSimangaliso offers a range of accommodations, from luxury lodges to self-catering cottages, catering to different preferences and budgets.


The safari parks and game reserves near Durban offer a diverse range of wildlife experiences, from Big Five game viewing to birdwatching and cultural encounters. Whether you choose to visit Hluhluwe-iMfolozi for its conservation history, Phinda for its luxurious lodges, or iSimangaliso for its wetland diversity, each destination promises unforgettable safari adventures. Plan your safari near Durban and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and wildlife wonders of South Africa’s eastern coast.

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