South Africa, a nation synonymous with magnificent wildlife offerings, bagged yet another accolade for being the ‘Best International Destination for Wildlife’ at the Lonely Planet Magazine India Travel Awards 2019 held recently.
“By winning the prestigious ‘Best International Destination for Wildlife’ award for the 8th consecutive year, South Africa has truly staked its claim as one of the world’s most thrilling wildlife tourism capitals,” said Neliswa Nkani, South African Tourism’s Hub Head for the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia (MEISEA) region.
Deemed as one of the most prominent travel magazines in the country, Lonely Planet India provides authentic and independent information tailored for the Indian travellers needs. Lonely Planet Magazine India Travel Awards are handed out selectively each year to those brands and destinations that make a mark on the world travel map due to their unique and indigenous offerings. Destinations are shortlisted and nominated to be in the running for the reputed awards by an esteemed panel of travel experts. The shortlisted nominees are then voted for by discerning travellers who choose from their favourite destinations and travel experiences in a poll, propelling India’s true favourites to the top.
Commenting on the win, Neliswa Nkani said, “Over the years, we have built and established ourselves worldwide and in India as a destination that offers enthralling wildlife experiences. South Africa offers some of the best wildlife and safaris in the world and we constantly innovate and customise to showcase the magnificent wildlife offerings of the destination. We thank Lonely Planet India and its readers for affirming our efforts, it only inspires us to push the envelope further.”
93,428 Indian travellers sampled South Africa’s tourism delights last year and the tourism board is looking to maintain and accelerate this growth in the Indian market by, among other measures, vigorously promoting the multitude of adventure tourism experiences on offer across all nine of its provinces.
South Africa boasts deep pockets of wildlife areas and game parks encircling every possible landscape from deserts to forests, mountains to the coast, teeming with wildlife species. South Africa is home to a large number of the mammals universally associated with Africa – including Africa’s Big 5: Leopard, Lion, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhinoceros. It is also the only place in the world where wildlife-lovers can see not just the Big 5 but also the Big 7 that includes the Southern Right Whale and Great White Shark (in Port Elizabeth/Nelson Mandela Bay).
Nestled in the rustic and unhampered settings are wildlife reserves and national parks that cater to wildlife enthusiasts. The game reserves at these parks offer guests a feel of the wilderness and the fauna of the subcontinent. Tourists can go on a game drive, a bush walk, or even a horse-ride for an authentic wildlife experience.
The Rainbow Nation is also one of the few destinations that allow for tourists across all age groups to experience and get a firsthand taste of its wildlife offerings. A majority of game lodges have found ways to cater to children in fun and interesting ways with a variety of programmes. At many properties, children can experience activities like Big 5 safaris and game drives in enclosed vehicles, bush walks with wildlife for the whole family, as well as junior ranger training, butterfly/fish/insect catch and release.
From gritty experiences in the bush to opulent luxury in a private lodge, the experiences are unique with memories to last a lifetime. Moreover, the destination invests heavily in ensuring that they are eco-conscious, thus promoting responsible and sustainable tourism and encouraging visitors to ‘live like locals’. While animal encounters are aplenty in South Africa, animal petting and poaching are seriously discouraged.