BY MATHIAS RINGA
South Africa has scooped the best international destination for wildlife award in 2018 at the Lonely Planet Magazine India Travel Awards.
South Africa is world famous as it boasts the Kruger National Park, which is one of the leading national parks on the African continent.
Every year, Kruger National Park alone attracts more than a million international visitors, who flock to the “wildlife paradise” for game viewing.
“By winning the prestigious best international destination for wildlife award for the seventh consecutive year, South Africa is truly staking its claim as one of the world’s most thrilling wildlife tourism capitals,” says Alpa Jani, South African Tourism’s acting hub head for the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia region.
Deemed as one of the most prominent travel magazines in India, Lonely Planet aims at capturing not only the most coveted – but also the most relevant events in the Indian travel industry.
The Lonely Planet Magazine India Travel Awards is merited on the basis of votes placed by discerning travellers, who choose from their favourite destinations and travel experiences in an online poll.
An esteemed panel of experts then shortlist the nominees by calculating the readers vote, propelling India’s true favourites to the top.
Commenting on the win, Mr Jani said: “Over the years, we have 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 to showcase the magnificent wildlife offerings of the destination. We thank Lonely Planet and its readers for affirming our efforts, it only inspires us to push the envelope further.”
South Africa boasts deep pockets of wildlife areas and game parks encircling every possible landscape from deserts to forests, mountains to coast, teeming with wildlife species.
The country is home to a large number of the mammals universally associated with Africa – including Africa’s Big Five: the Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhinoceros.
It is also the only place in the world where wildlife-lovers can see not just the Big Five, but also the Big Seven that include 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 for wildlife enthusiasts across various age groups.
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.
From gritty experiences in the bush to opulent luxury in a private lodge, the experiences are unique with memories to last a lifetime.
Almost 100,000 Indian travellers sampled South Africa’s tourism delights last year.
Mr Jani added: “South African Tourism 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.”