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National & provincial parks

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternThe National Parks are run by quasi-statal parks boards in the various countries of southern Africa. They are primarily conservation areas but most have excellent tourist facilities. The accommodation in the parks ranges from camping sites and quite basic self-catering chalets to luxurious lodges (although not all parks have lodges). Most camps have small shops, restaurants and other facilities, while some of the larger camps, eg Skukuza in Kruger National Park, are virtually small towns.

If you are planning to self-cater, make sure you bring sufficient food into the park, as the shops vary in the range of goods they carry and they may not stock your favourite brands. The restaurants are usually pretty unpretentious, serving well cooked simple fare.

Provincial parks are run on similar lines to the national parks, but are administered by the provincial authorities.

If you are keen on seeing animals, and not particularly concerned about fancy décor and haute cuisine, then the national or provincial parks are your best bet. The game viewing is as good, if not better, than that offered by the private lodges, and the money saved may allow for a longer stay.

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