How to get to South Africa's National Parks
Short answer = DRIVE, the best way to experience these parks is by taking your time and by having your own schedule to cruise through these parks.
If you are planning on an adventure through these exquisite national parks, it helps to know how long it will take to get to them. This article lets our fellow drivers understand the travel duration required to get to these National Parks from almost any main city in the country.
Probably the most remote of all parks in SA. An 8-hour drive from Cape Town, 14-hours from Joburg and a 6-hour drive if you fly into Upington’s airport, the nearest to the Richtersveld.
Since this park is so remote you can expect some of the best views and untouched terrains. Hiring a 4x4 would be the perfect car for this trip.
The drive from Port Elizabeth airport to Addo is just over an hour. Take the N10 running up the east side of the park. Driving to Addo from both Joburg and Cape Town will take you about 10-hours.
Make sure to pack in a Camera for the beautiful drive to Addo as well as for the many elephants that you will encounter on your trip.
Cape Agulhas, the most southern tip of Africa, is a 3-hour drive from Cape Town. The nearest towns are coastal Struisbaai and in-land Bredasdorp.
Another interesting and beautiful national park that is easily accessible and only needs a small car to access. Make sure to pack in some free diving and surfing equipment to get the most out of your trip.
Augrabies is an hour and a half from Upington (the nearest major town and airport). 8-hours drive from Cape Town. 10-hours from Joburg.
A common misconception is that you need a 4x4 for Augrabies but you just need a normal car. However, if you are renting a car in South Africa make sure you get something with high clearance, just so you can see more and feel safer on the roads.
3-hours drive due east from Cape Town via either the N2 or N1. The park is 10-minutes outside of the historic town of Swellendam.
For those who don’t like to drive through parks make sure to bring a mountain bike to cruise through Bontebok nature reserve and get closer to nature.
Camdeboo literally surrounds the town of Graaff Reinet. 3-, 8- and 9-hours drive from PE, Cape Town and Joburg respectively.
This is a great place to test out your driving skills by hiring a 4x4 it can make your trip on Camdebook a whole lot more thrilling.
This park stretches 150km in length from Storms River in the east, to Wilderness in the west. Accessible by air from George and Plettenberg Bay airports. 5-hours drive from Cape Town. 13-hours from Joburg.
The Western Cape’s gift that keeps on giving. The Garden Route has so much to offer so make sure to have a lot of packing space in your car because there are so many different activities that you should be prepared for. The car of choice would be to hire a campervan to cruise down the incredible garden route roads. However, any self-drive car hire will work in the garden route.
Bordering Lesotho, this park is a 4-hour drive from both Joburg and Durban. 14-hours from Cape Town. 3-hours from nearby Bloemfontein.
For a peaceful adventure, throw in your hiking shoes and camera for these incredible mountain trails in the highlands.
Karoo national park is a stone’s throw from the town of Beaufort West. It’s a 5-hours drive along the N1 from Cape Town and 15-hours in the opposite direction along the N1 from Joburg.
Bring your safari hat and a Camera for seeing the strongest Lions in Africa. Again when visiting the Karoo hiring a car with high clearance would be a good idea just so you have the option of seeing more!
Bordering both Namibia and Botswana, it’s roughly an 11-hour drive from both Cape Town and Joburg to the Kgalagadi. The nearest major town and airport is Upington (a 3-hours drive from the park).
Hiring a 4x4 with high clearance in the Kgalagadi is a good idea when touring through these beautiful lands. Bring a big torch for the incredible nightlife in the Kgalagadi.
The most direct driving route from Joburg to Kruger is 5-6 hours. Driving from Durban will take about 9-hours. Cape Town is a solid 20-hour trek. Air arrivals into Kruger are via Nelspruit, Phalaborwa, Skukuza airports — or via the airstrips that service the luxury lodges in the Kruger.
Kruger is the most popular national park in South Africa. This is due to it being the most accessible park. Self Drive journeys through the Kruger are the best and almost any car can get you through the park with a variety of tarred and dirt roads.
Mapungubwe is the most northern park in South Africa, bordering with neighbours Zimbabwe and Botswana. It’s a 6-hour drive from Joburg via Polokwane to the park.
Is a park that you cannot miss that borders three countries in Southern Africa. Renting a 4x4 for Mapungubwe is a good idea when touring through Mapungubwe, make sure to equip yourself for a incredible adventure.
3-hours north-west of Joburg. 10-minutes from the town of Thabazimbi.
Marakele is in the process of being turned back into its former beauty by uplifting the conservation efforts and giving the perfect conditions for new life. So get in on the action and visit this beautiful park.
Pretty much dead in the centre of South Africa, Mokala is 3-hours west of Bloemfontein and an hour south of Kimberley. Just off the N12. 8-10 hours from Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
Northern Cape’s safe haven for herbivores which means there are fewer predators and you can get close to the herds in Mokala due to the animal being far more relaxed. Mokala is accommodating many endangered animals which can give you the opportunity to see some rarer animals.
On the outskirts of Cradock, and a 3-hours drive from Port Elizabeth (the nearest city and airport). 8-9 hours from both Cape Town and Joburg. Slightly further from Durban.
Mountain Zebra located in the Eastern Cape has tons of game that are incredibly diverse and very accessible. So when travelling or driving the Mountain Zebra you would do well with almost any car. However, always try to get something with high clearance.
6-hours drive, straight up the west coast from Cape Town, with its international airport. 14-hours from Joburg through South Africa’s arid interior.
In the Northern Cape, we have Namaqua land which is incredibly vast and is filled with a variety of small animals. The Namaqua has awesome untouched beaches that are surrounded by wildlife on all sides. The Namaqua is also famous for its booming flower seasons.
The city of Cape Town is surrounded by the national park, running from Cape Point in the south, to iconic Table Mountain in the north. It’s a 15-hour drive or a 2-hour flight from Joburg and Durban. Half of that is from Port Elizabeth.
Some advice is to get a nice runaround. Hiring a car in Cape Town will work out the easiest and the cheapest. Table Mountain is one of the 7 wonders of the world with incredible hikes and breathtaking scenery.
The Tankwa is a 4-hour drive north-east of Cape Town, with the last hour on rather rough dirt roads, as any Afrika Burn go-er will tell you. Another remote and tranquil park.
The Tankwa Karoo boarders the Western and Northern Cape. Where peace can be found in the quietness. Renting a 4x4 is advised for getting through the Tankwa.
The park is an hour and 15 minutes drive from Cape Town city centre. Popular with birders. A long 15-16 hour haul from Joburg or Durban. Half that from PE.
The West Coast in the Western Cape is known for its incredible flower seasons and beautiful birds surrounding the West Coast Lagoon. It’s a great place for holidaymakers and families.
Now that you have all there is to know for the South African National Parks you can begin planning your dream holiday to visit these exquisite national parks in South Africa.
If you are making a 4x4 booking try to book at least a month in advance to ensure you have a 4x4 available.