At A Glance:
Their stocky, armoured bodies and lumbering strides may fool onlookers into thinking they’re slow and perhaps even relatively harmless, but rhino safari onlookers would be mistaken. A rhino’s thick-set body is covered by tough and leathery skin, crowned by an impressive two horns on its snout. Black and white rhinos are distinguishable by their mouths which are different due to their eating habits.
White rhinos have wide mouths more suitable to grazing on open grasslands while black rhinos browse, resulting in more hooked and smaller mouths that enable them to grasp the leaves of trees and bushes. Both are endangered due to a mistaken belief that their horns possess medicinal properties and, more recently, that owning one denotes a certain type of wealth and success. Numbers have plummeted dangerously low in recent decades, with black rhino classified as critically endangered and white rhino as near threatened (although two subspecies are already genetically extinct).
Luckily for travellers, rhino can be seen in many parts of South Africa, from the Eastern Cape province’s Big 5 reserves to the Kruger National Park and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Found in the latter, Phinda Private Game Reserve’s 23,000ha of prime wilderness holds seven distinct habitats, providing homes to Africa’s Big 5, and notably, the endangered black rhino.
The Black Rhino Reserve’s landscape in the North West province is an enthralling combination of undulating plains, tamboti forests, tumbling mountains, and rolling hills dipping into unexplored valleys. The park borders and shares game-viewing land with the volcanic Pilanesberg Game Reserve (another rhino safari destination) on its north-western corner. Naturally, the Black Rhino Reserve harbours its namesake.
Some years ago the black rhino population of virtually every park in southern Africa was down to none, except for in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park which maintained its population of both black and white rhinos. It is from here that black rhinos were able to be reintroduced to other parks and wildlife sanctuaries throughout Southern Africa.
The Kruger National Park and its surrounding reserves boast an impressive rhino population, but Sabi Sand’s Lion Sands is something truly spectacular. Lion Sands is home to the highest concentration of black rhino in South Africa and makes for a terrific all-year-round safari destination thanks to its prolific bird count and Big 5 presence.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is undeniably one of the most impressive wildlife sanctuaries on the continent, if not the entire planet. Home to large populations of wildlife, The Great Wildebeest Migration, as well as large population numbers of the Big 5, a safari here is sure to impress. While many visitors tend to flock here in the hopes of watching Mara River crossings and wildebeest kick dust up on grassland plains, the Maasai Mara is also a terrific location to spot the endangered black rhinoceros.
The Ngorongoro Crater in East Africa is not only famed for its magnificent wildlife population, but for being the only intact caldera on the planet. The crater acts as a natural cradle for wildlife, translating to its floor being densely populated with wildlife, including critically endangered black rhino.
A striking aspect of Etosha National Park is the varied vegetation within its area which nourishes countless herds of plains game such as zebra, wildebeest and elephant while also providing refuge for the endangered Black Rhino, Black-faced Impala and Tsessebe. Highlights at Etosha (and Ongava) are walking safaris in which you track both black and white rhino – with an armed ranger of course.
The Waterberg Plateau is another natural fortress for rhino, and in this instance, white rhino. Located in the Waterberg Plateau National Park, conservationists here are bent on reintroducing the wildlife that naturally flourished there centuries ago. Apart from rhino, visitors can also see the likes of eland, giraffe, and buffalo.
While the rhino population was at one point incredibly vulnerable in Botswana, in recent years it has begun to stabilise. Moremi Game Reserve acts as a superb environment for the reintroduction of rhinos into the reserve and white rhino numbers, in particular, have been promising. Not to mention, Moremi is found on the lush fringes of the Okavango Delta — one of the greatest natural wildernesses left on planet earth.
Rhinos have often favoured the protection of wooded valleys and tall grasslands, which is what makes the Matobo Hills an ideal habitat. Found in the Matobo National Park, the hills were proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 thanks to its distinct rock formations. The park is also known for its sizeable population of white rhino who are regularly spotted among the thickets.
In a remote, southern corner of Zimbabwe, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve’s diverse landscape, an impressive variety of flora, and permanent water sources makes it an ideal habitat for rhinos, evident in their healthy white rhino population. It seems to have been popular with humans once, too, as remnants of human occupation is evident in the multiple rock art sites found within its borders, thought to date back some 2,000 years.
0808 238 0044
888 2156 556
1 800 447164
1 800 947168
1 844 8517 090
800 900 341
800 101 3310
080 045 2877
800 018 4895
0800 182 3211
0800 562 964
0800 295 105
0800 919 394
0800 721 24
800 260 73
0800 848 229
1 844 2867 643
9009 476 83
0018 005 11710
0800 444 6880
018 0051 81669
0800 7618 612
800 827 648
+27 21 469 2600