Spectacular South Africa Wildlife Photos

Written By: The Planet D

A South African safari is quite different from safaris you’ll have in other countries. Many of the reserves here are private game reserves spread over thousands of acres of land.

The owners, mostly family-run, stock their reserves with wildlife including the big five (among all the other animals) and chances are pretty good that you’ll have the chance to see them all!

South Africa Wildlife Photos

We had the pleasure of staying at the Kariega Game Reserve located on South Africa’s famous Garden Route. This luxury accommodation was the perfect break from the hectic pace of travel.

Situated on the river in the quiet centre of the game reserve, it’s a place where one can really get away from it all while getting up close and personal with wildlife.

Nothing tells a story better than a photograph, so instead of describing our experience at Kariega, we’ll let our photos do the talking and showcase all the spectacular South African Wildlife.

south africa wildlife rhinos
Mating season

The landscape is changing in South Africa and many of the private game reserves are joining together to open up migration routes for the animals. Read more: Things to do in South Africa.

south africa wildlife male lion
A lion looks around.

It’s going to be an exciting time for the country.

south africa wildlife boar
There are many animals on a safari.

Previously, animals were stocked and trapped on reserves, soon, they’ll be roaming freely across country.

south africa wildlife flowers
A mother and her baby

With initiatives like the Namibia, Botswana and South Africa parks joining forces, the rest of the country is following suit.

lion roaring
A lion gives a powerful roar

Check out: Diving with Great White Sharks

south africa wildlife giraffe
Two giraffes relaxing in the field

Now in the Garden Route and Eastern Cape, reserves are opening their gates, getting rid of their electric fences and letting the animals roam.

south africa wildlife bird
A bird stretches its neck

If all goes well, Lesotho and Swaziland will be joining the initiative and maybe, just maybe all these animals will be roaming through the land as they once did so many years ago.

See: 28 Reasons South Africa Should be on Your Bucket List

hippo swimming
A hippo swims in the water.

The fences will be coming down soon at Kariega Game Reserve. 

Enjoy – Kayaking with Hippos and Crocs, Oh My!

south africa wildlife lion
These animals are beautiful.

Our guide told us that by this time next year, he won’t need to open electric gates to get in to see the wild animals.

lion growling
A lion protecting her territory

It may be more difficult to find them in the future, but it will be that much more fun to look for them.

Read: 12 Awesome Things to do in South Africa

south africa wildlife elephant
An elephant relaxes

Just like our time in the Masai Mara, we never knew if we’d spot a wild animal on safari in Africa, but when we did it was a thrill of a lifetime.

Someone’s tired!

We hope you enjoyed these photos of our South African safari. We had the best time spotting African animals in their natural habitat.

We can’t wait to go back once the game reserves have all combined and are soon one big African Savanna.

Check out these images of the luxury of Kariega

south africa wildlife lodge
The living room
south africa wildlife bedroom
The bedroom
south africa wildlife lodge bathroom
The bathroom

For more information on the Kariega Game Reserve, visit their website.

A stay here includes morning and evening safaris, all meals, drinks (including alcohol, luxury accommodation and river excursions including kayaking, speed boats and swimming as well as time to relax in the inviting lounge area, pool and luxurious rooms.

Our Trip to South Africa was courtesy of South Africa Tourism. All opinions are our own.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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161 thoughts on “Spectacular South Africa Wildlife Photos”

  1. It is one of the few countries that is so many animals. Southern Africa is on my list of places to visit. Congratulations on the great photos.

    • We were very spoiled. It costs about $350 per person per night each. However, it is all inclusive and includes all your safaris. That means, the safari, which is usually over $100 per person, your food and accommodation. For this type of luxury and one on one attention, it is a great bargain!

  2. That must have been incredible to see those rhinos. I would love to just see a rhino in the wild and you got to see that! Wow! Lucky you. Beautiful photography.

    • This was one of our first time seeing rhinos in the wild too. We had only seen them for the first time in Kenya a few months earlier. Funny how when it rains it pours. It took us over a decade of travel to see one and then within a few months of each other, we see several. Funny how life works out eh?

  3. Okay, sign me up for South Africa. One question, how safe did you feel driving through it? Can anyone do it or should we fly from place to place.

    • We felt very safe driving. No problem at all and anyone can do it. South Africa get’s a bad rap in the media, but I really think a lot of the problems are related to pockets of Joburg, a place that we have never been.

  4. woah. I am really happy that the country that I live in receives so much positive feedback! Feeling Proud!

    feel free to come visit us πŸ˜‰

    • You should feel proud, you have a beautiful and welcoming country indeed. We’ve been twice and once we rode on bicycles from the Namibian border all the way to Cape Town, it was amazing. We felt safe and loved every minute of it.

  5. Amazing photos! What an awesome experience–it looks like you were able to see a lot of great animals. I’m glad they are starting to take down the fences and let the animals roam. Would love to visit one day!

    • It’s going to be amazing when they take down the fences. We love South Africa and can’t wait to go back. We always feel that we leave a little piece of our hearts in Africa after we leave.

  6. Hey guys,

    An overdose of nostalgia πŸ™‚ Stunning pictures, all of them. The one with the Giraffes will have to be my favourite. We did a 3 week roadtrip from Jo’Burg to Capetown and went to Hluhluwe and Addo national parks (we did a self-drive in Addo) – those were two of the best experiences of our lives. We will be writing about those soon.

    Did you visit any other reserves/parks for a safari experience?

    South Africa has been the highlight of our travels so far – so diverse, so colourful, such amazing people and scenery. Unforgettable!

    Once again, great job with the pics – loved them !


    • Hi guys sorry for our late reply. We went on a horse safari in iSimangaliso Wetlands and we’ve been on safari in Chobe and the Masai Mara, this was our first real safari in South Africa and loved it. We’ll definitely be going back and will check out more.

  7. I think South Africa Wildlife is absolutely gorgeous to see Those photos are all!…….
    Thanks for Post!@ Pilgrimage tours

  8. Hello, thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures! I am a dutch guy currently living in Australia. Next year in April I am going to south africa with my girlfriend. Your pictures make me so looking forward to that! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Woah! Those photos are all absolutely gorgeous! I love the moments you have captivated this animals in! So natural and so vivid. I also made a post about South Africa a while back. Here it is in case you would like to check it: http://tripandtravelblog.com/south-africa-the-most-beautiful-travel-destinations-ever/
    It’s not nearly as fine as yours but I like writing about this kind of places and when I do that it makes me wanna be there! πŸ™‚
    Greetings from Athens!

  10. Those are stunning photos. I have never been convinced by the idea of safari type holiday but maybe it is time to re-think and head to South Africa after all.

    • If you mix it with other activities, a safari is great. We spent 2 weeks in South Africa but only 3 days at Kariega, we then had other safari activities like hippos, turtles etc.

  11. Great photography. Just a pity about the de-horned rhino, but it will decrease the chances that they will be poached. Many people believe that a Kruger Safari is the ultimate safari experience in South Africa, but other reserves and parks like Kariega offer great experiences as well. From the photos you provided, seeing three out of the Big Five is a great feat in Kruger, and even a greater feat at Kariega.

    • It’s true, it’s a tough decision to dehorn them and controversial. With the horns they have a greater risk of being poached, but with out them, it takes away their defence. We haven’t been to Kruger yet, but yes, it’s definitely different seeing wildlife on a private game reserve, it’s going to be amazing to see the wildlife once they open up all the fences in the south, can’t wait to go back and experience that.

  12. Wow this is an amazing collection of photos! I would love to go to South Africa to see the wildlife there, what an incredible experience that would be!

    • Thanks, it was our first time seeing Wildlife in South Africa and it’s different than other safaris as you can see them so closely. Amazing

  13. Spectacular indeed! It must be such a thrilling experience to watch wildlife from such close quarters. Brilliant photography πŸ™‚

  14. These photos are amazing. The impala (at least I think it’s an impala?) and its foal is my favourite photo….These are well…. The wildlife in Africa is like nowhere else on earth….. I could never get close enough for a decent one! Still amazing to see in the wild though.

  15. These photos are amazing. The impala (at least I think it’s an impala?) and its foal is my favourite photo. I love the one of the giraffes and the roaring lion, too. I’ll be heading off on safari later this year, and these pics have me all excited!

    • Thank you so much. You are right, it was an impala. I’m so excited for you to go on safari, it’s one of the best experience anyone can do in their lives.

  16. To sum it up…photos are incredible.
    Thank you for sharing this amazing collection of wildlife photography from South Africa. Brilliant!

  17. Wow…how amazing…am going to SA next month and will do a safari at Tambuti
    lodge near there so hope we see some of these amazing animals!

  18. Beautiful photos! I just got back from a trip that included some game drives in Kenya and Tanzania, so I appreciate what you’ve been able to capture.

    • Oh amazing. A game drive there is definitely different than in South Africa. We’ve been on a few in Kenya and loved it so much. Kenya feels a little more wild. South Africa is amazing, but it is a little less wild because the wildlife is in fenced in reserves. Now the reserves are huge. thousands of acres, but there’s something about the Masai Mara and Serengetti that make you feel that you are completely in the wild and on their territory.

  19. Amazing and well-captured images. I particularly love the shots of the rhinos and the yawning lion and hippo. I’ve been to South Africa but didn’t make it to the Garden Route. I heard so much beautiful thing about it and this private game reserve just added to it. I hope to make it back there someday.

    • it took us two tries to get to the Garden route as well. The game reserves in South Africa are definitely a great experience and in a couple of years when they open all the fences it’s going to be spectacular. I think you will find it to be worth the wait.

    • That will be amazing to go to Africa with your kids. So amazing how well you two are doing and how you have transitioned from Travel Couple, to traveling family.

    • Haha, so true eh! That’s Dave’s amazing patience. He’ll keep his eye to the camera and wait for the perfect moment when they look our way or move into the perfect “pensive” pose.

  20. Your photos ar absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing. We’re planning our own South African safari for later this year (probably August). Thanks!

    • Yes, the hippo safari was awesome. We felt safe on the boat but were able to get really close. Now when we were on the same river on a kayaking adventure…we were happy not to get so close. The rule was, we had to be 30 meters away and that was fine by us.

    • Ha, I used to watch Wild Kingdom as well. Every sunday night. I never appreciated it though, it was just what was on before Disney.

    • Thanks Laura, and you are right, Kariega is very luxurious. The main lodge is so inviting, you just want to laze around on the comfy couches and sip wine. It’s a perfect safari destination. And look at all the wildlife you see! We only missed out on the Leopard, but there’s one there somewhere!

  21. Looks like those hippos are having some fun! Seriously though, amazing photos. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see these gorgeous animals up close and in person.

    • Thanks Ali. Yes, I think hippos have it good. They’re king of the waters and they hang out in groups. It’s amazing too because they’re not poached like rhinos and elephants, so even man leaves them alone.

  22. Really nice photography. But really have dare to capture these risk shots…I always see your all post having every photography is awesome..

    • Thanks. Actually, it’s not much of a risk, we just sat patiently waiting in our truck. The animals normally come closer for a look. As long as you don’t sneak up on them or cross their paths, they leave you alone. They’re just curious.

    • Thanks Lauren. Most of the shots were taken with a Canon 5DMKII with a 70-200mm 2.8 with a 1.4 Teleconverter. The wider shots, like the elephant, used a 16-35mm lens.

  23. These are amazing pictures! I hope that one day I will be able to travel to this part of the world and see these animals on a safari. *crosses fingers* I especially love elephants and giraffes.

    • Thank you Mallory, I hope you have the chance too! It took us over a decade of travel before we finally had the chance to go on a proper African Safari, so I am sure that you will have your chance one day soon.

  24. South Africa is perhaps the most diversified nation on this plane. The wonderful country of South Africa represents some of the best the continent has to offer.

    • It is definitely diverse and in a compact setting. Canada is diverse but it is so huge. What I love about South Africa is how it changes quickly and that you can drive everywhere. Coming from Canada, a road trip is what we love and in a few short days, you can be down the country. Amazing!

  25. I love the elephant photo at the top. Stunning photos overall. I visited Etosha, Chobe and South Luangwa last year and Africa totally blew me away!

    • It’s a great part of the Continent isn’t it? We did a river cruise in Chobe, but it was while cycling the continent in a race, so we didn’t have a lot of time. We only had one evening and didn’t see a lot. I’m so glad we got the chance to go back and do a proper safari in Africa four years later.

    • Thanks Jade. We’ve always wanted to stay in one of those safari camps, and here we are, we finally had the chance. It was like a dream come true. I’d love to hang out here for a few more days. It’s worth just relaxing on the big comfy chairs on the dock, or reading a book in the beautiful rooms while enjoying a glass of wine. With everything included in the price, including safaris, it would make a perfect 4 or 5 night retreat.

  26. Excellent work, guys! That photo of the snarling lioness is my favorite, but they’re all really and truly spectacular. Congrats!

    • Thanks Bret, it was pretty cool to see, we don’t normally get the opportunity to catch a lion snarling, normally we see the sleeping. So this was a thrill to see them a bit active.

    • thank you, but we definitely were safe and didn’t put ourselves at risk. We had very informative guides who could read the wildlife. They know them well and they actually talked to us about how you have to be careful depending on their mood. With the elephant he actually pointed out “See how calm he is?” I can’t always get this close. But today, he doesn’t care.”

  27. OO – I had to cover my eyes at the Rhinos!! πŸ™‚ One day, I will do a safari in Africa. How could anyone not want to when they have chance to see this

    • Haha, I know, we’ve gone X rated:) I hope you get to do a safari soon too. It’s funny, we didnt’ do a proper safari until our second time back to Africa. We cycled the continent in 2008 but can’t really say we did a safari until 2012!

  28. Great photos guys! Love the elephant! He’s glowing in the sun but contrasts nicely over the stormy sky in the background. Very nice. When we were in S.A we did Addo NP, Influzi and St.Lucia. This post makes me want to go back… this time with a better camera!
    Dave has an eye for sure.
    Well done.

    • Ooh, St. Lucia is amazing too. We loved it there. There are so many great things to see in South Africa, you need months to see it all. Thanks for the compliment on the photos too.

  29. Beautiful photos. I actually had a dream about a lion last night. Thank goodness it wasn’t a dream about those hippos. That photo must have been taken on Wednesday as they are obviously enjoying hump day πŸ™‚

    The teeth on those animals are scary and amazing!

    • Thank you. I think that the Black and White Lion is my favourite too. (this is Deb speaking) I just love how Dave captured it’s eyes.

    • Thanks James. It helps having two people to name the title. If Dave was naming it, I think he’d be a little more humble, but I love his work so much, I can use words like Spectacular and he can’t do anything about it. :-)

  30. “Spectacular” indeed. WOW. You’ve outdone yourself on this set, Dave!

    My favorites are definitely the first elephant shot, as well as the black-and-white lion one. Stunning!

    • Thanks Amanda! That elephant was a special moment. It came so close to the truck, I could almost reach….well actually, I could have reached out to touch him. Once I got my shot, I just put down my camera and enjoyed the moment.

  31. WOW!
    These are all incredible shots. Some of those moments must have been really tough to capture. Think I definitely could have learned a few things watching you in action!

    • Thanks Mike. It’s just a lot of patience, I never take my lens away from my eye. At the end of each safari, my left eye is aching and my right side muscles are aching from squinting so much. But the pay off is worth it.

    • Thanks Jam, We’ve been trying to get a good hippo shot for years. They never like to come out of the water. It’s been either raining, so they stay under the water, or the sun it too hot and they’ll get too hot and sunburnt to come out of the water. We finally got ourselves some active hippos!