There’s something completely magical about seeing animals up close in their natural habitat. There’s nothing like watching them run and hunt, eat, bathe and nurture their young. If you’re able to, this is something you should aim to do at least once in your life.

But where to start? There are so many places across the globe you could choose from, depending on what kind of wildlife you’re looking for. However, if you don’t fancy the polar bears and subzero temperatures of the Arctic then you may be looking for something a little bit warmer. South Africa is full of amazing wildlife experiences, and here are just four of them to pick from.

Embark on a safari

Safari in South Africa
The beautiful zebra, one of the animals you can see in a Kruger Safari

South Africa is incredible for safaris; whether you want to try and spot the Big Five in Kruger National Park, or see the Great Migration, where around 1.4 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, and gazelle make an epic 1,200 mile round trip from the plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya.

When it comes to safaris, there are so many options that you can choose, other than just location, to really make your experience incredible. Choose to stay in a classic tented camp and sit by the campfire sharing stories with other campers and your guide, or opt for a fancy villa with a private pool and personal chef – or something in between. Go on your safari on foot, by jeep or even boat.  

Walk with a cheetah

The Cheetah, our favorite wild animal

Bear with us on this one! Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre is a rehabilitation center in the Western Cape that cares for wild animals that need extra care.

One activity they offer is the chance to go out with some of the cheetahs during one of their twice-daily walks through Cape Floral Fynbos and Tsitsikamma Indigenous Forest. Well, cheetahs are far too fast for walks, but you certainly get the gist.

This is part of their enrichment program and Tenikwa are very strict on how many people can come on this adventure, as it’s primarily for the benefit of the animals. However, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn more about these big cats.

Hangout with the meerkats

The meerkats is a highlight in any trip to South Africa

There is something so sweet about meerkats with their curious little faces poking out. They have adorable personalities and it’s such a lovely way to spend a few hours, watching them play. Head to a meerkat tour in Oudtshoorn to find the best places to see them and at sunrise.

The sentinel, who is the female lookout of the group, will pop up her head from the burrow and check for predators. Once she decides it’s all safe, the rest of the meerkat colony will pop out too and begin their day.

Go cage diving

Cage Diving, one of the most adventurous experiences to have in South Africa!
Sharks encounters are a must-try experience for the more adventurous travelers

If you want to get your heart racing, this is the activity for you! You’ll be lowered into the shark-infested water in a cage, allowing you to get up close and personal with these incredible underwater beasts.

South Africa is renowned for being one of the best places to see the Great White Shark – one of the most terrifying underwater creatures on the planet. Luckily, before you’re put in the water, you’ll be taught some shark etiquette to keep yourself safe. The cage will keep you safe too, of course.

If sharks are a little too much for you, why not opt for crocodile cage diving instead? All your equipment is provided and an underwater camera will take pictures and videos of your amazing – but terrifying – adventure.

There are so many things to do in South Africa, but make sure that one thing you do involves one of these wildlife experiences – you won’t regret it. Don’t forget to take lots of photographs, as these will likely be once in a lifetime opportunities. With many animals going extinct in recent years, it’s imperative that you capture these memories, too.