The national parks in Cape Town are some of the most important components of the city. They are important as tourists’ attractions, but more importantly as vestiges of African cultural heritage. National parks are key to the conservation of wildlife, which is also key to the preservation of life on the planet.
South African national parks are not famous by some mistake; these are some of the best conservation programs in the world, and thoroughly deserving of their popularity.
Cape Town’s parks have some of the most impressive ecosystems in the world; with an amazing diversity of plant and animal life. They also have lodges for visitors to stay and relax.
Top 10 National Parks In Cape Town
1. West Coast National Park
West Coast National Park is just 120 km north of Cape Town, which makes it fall within the purview of the city. This park measures 36,259.8 hectares, and features an abundance of plants and animals.
This is one of the most important conservation programs in the world; it is part of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program. The park is famous for its spring flowers occurring from August to September, and has a special reserve within the park that is dedicated to Flowers.
West Coast National Park has also been listed as an important bird area. It has a diversity of birds, including sea birds, ducks, storks, herons, and many small birds.
Aside from birds, the park is also home to a great diversity of animals such as antelopes, ostriches, zebra, ostriches, mongoose, penguins, and so many more.
2. Agulhas National Park
Agulhas National Park is located about 200 kilometers south-east of Cape Town. It is situated in the Agulhas Plain which is the Western Cape.
As the name suggests this land area is mostly flat. Flat, grassy land makes a very interesting ecosystem; with a large variety of animals such as lizards, snakes, bats, monkeys, rabbits, porcupines, civets, mongooses, and otters.
Despite an abundance of animals on land, many visitors to the park choose to pay attention to those in the sea; whale watching is a favorite activity at this park; and some of the creatures to be seen include Southern Right Whale, and other aquatic creatures like seals, Dolphins and Porpoises.
3. Tankwa Karoo National Park
Tankwa Karoo National Park is located some three hours from Cape Town. It is beautiful in that the landscape consists of different landforms which are all beautiful in their own way, and grand when put together.
The ground is quite arid; it receives less than 100 mm of average annual precipitation, and that is not entirely a bad thing because it means that any safari to this park is not likely to be interrupted by rain.
This park may be a challenge for visitors; it is rocky in nature, and there will always be need to do some climbing. Nevertheless the climb is always worth it because there is a great diversity of animals to see at the park.
Some of the animals to be seen include; Aardvark (also known as Antbear), Aardwolf, Cape fox, Grey duiker, Kudu, Leopard, Meerkat, Brown hyena, and Southern African wildcats. There are also so many different type of birds to see, and just the joy of standing on top of a mountain, looking down on the world around is also satisfying.
4. Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain is an iconic part of Cape Town; it is one of the city’s most important landmarks. Table Mountain National Park is therefore one of the top national parks in Cape Town, as well as in the whole country.
It measures about 221 sq. km from Table Mountain to Cape Point. The park was established in 1998, at what point the area was already an important tourist attraction, although people only visited for the thrill of the mountain.
Now, the park protects the ecosystem; especially the rare Fynbos vegetation, and all the small mammals, antelope, birds, and reptiles. Some of the animals to be seen at this park include; cape lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, baboons, rock hyraxes, and many small antelopes.
Watch out for the Cape Floristic Region; which includes a wide diversity of plants; some of which are rare and endemic to the region.
5. Bontebok National Park
Bontebok National Park is Located in the Western part of Cape in South Africa, it was established back in 1931. This park covers an area of 27.86 square kilometers; making it somewhat smaller than most parks on this list.
Bontebok National Park gets its name from the Bontebok; a rare antelope with unusual marks. This park was mostly a program to preserve this antelope species. That is not to say that Bonteboks are the only creatures to be seen in the park; Duikers, Red Hartebeests, Grey Rheboks, and Cape Mountain Zebras all call this place their home.
Bontebok National Park is also home to different types of birds; including Secretary Birds, Stanley’s bustards, and Blue Cranes.
6. Namaqua National Park
Namaqua National Park is located just 495 km north of Cape Town. It measures 700 square kilometers, and was established in the year 1999. This is a beautiful park; and proof of its beauty comes from the fact that it gets over 100,000 tourists every year.
Namaqua National Park has a great diversity of plants; including the highest concentration of succulent plants in the world. This biodiversity hotspot needs to be protected; which explains the creation of the park.
During the spring, the flowers bloom here in wonderful fashion; the whole landscape is transformed into a bright orange canvass.
Animals in this park include insects, birds, and the smallest tortoise in the world. Most visitors to this park are attracted by the plants, rather than the animals.
Other Parks In Cape Town
The following are parks in and around Cape Town, although they are not managed by the South African Department of Tourism.
7. Drakenstein Lion Park
Drakenstein Lion Park was established in 1998. This is a sanctuary, designed to provide shelter for lions in distress. The lions in this enclosure are all captive born; many of them have been rescued from their former owners, many of who have abused these lions, including keeping them in unsafe environments.
At Drakenstein Lion Park, the lions are allowed to roam about this 50 acres of land; the lions therefore live in what resembles a wild environment. Despite that wild looking environment, the Lions are quite socialized.
Some of the lions are quite friendly; and visitors are allowed to play with them; even to take pictures with these majestic animals.
8. Shamwari Game Reserve
Shamwari Game Reserve is located 75 kilometers outside Eastern Cape. It was established in 1992, on land that has been previously used for agriculture for several decades. The aim of the game reserve is to transform that land into its former condition; restoring the ecosystem the way it was before.
That aim has been achieved; the reserve has been awarded the best safari and game reserve in the world for several consecutive years, due to the richness of the ecosystem, and the abundance of animal life.
It did not achieve such an award by chance; this is one game reserve that is sure to give visitors the experience they crave; the excitement of seeing South Africa’s Big 5, as well as many other animals roaming freely in the park.
9. Gondwana Game Reserve
Gondwana Game Reserve is a luxurious, private game reserve near Cape Town; it is a game reserve that appeals to a particular class of person.
This game reserve is one of the most majestic; it contains a wide variety of animals, including the Big 5. This game reserve also has many smaller animals; all together making this a very livid ecosystem.
The ecosystem is the main attraction to the park; every day, guided safaris are held; and guides take visors in jeeps to see the various animals as they interact with each other.
Gondwana Game Reserve gives visitors a deep respect for nature, and for life in general.
10. Aquila Private Game Reserve
Aquila Private Game Reserve is located about 2 hours away from Cape Town. It is another game reserve that caters to the tastes of people who have taste. The lodgings in this reserve are top notch; very cozy, and very worth the price. Some of them have swimming pools, and other luxuries.
The reserve itself has the Big 5, which includes leopards, rhinos, elephants, and African buffaloes. Aquila Private Game Reserve holds daily drive safaris; visitors get to see all these majestic animals, and watch them interact with one another.
The park has very good guides; they explain everything that one needs to know about the animal behaviors, and answer all questions from guests. The landscape is also breathtaking; it makes for great photos.
The national parks in Cape Town are one of the major reasons why visitors come into the city from all over the world. The city is famous for its wildlife, as well as for the forests and floral paradises, some of which are unique in the world. Most of these national parks also have lodging facilities.