by Peter Ruddle
In the third part of “Hunting in Africa: What You Need to Know” series, Peter Ruddle will tell you about the provinces of South Africa, give information about the airports, and inform you about the professional hunting associations in the country.
South Africa consists of 9 provinces. The smallest and most populated of them is Gauteng, and the largest province and most unpopulated one is the Northern Cape, which makes up a third of the country’s land mass. Hunting destinations are well represented throughout the country.
South Africa has 11 official languages, however, English is spoken throughout the country, which makes travel very easy for English speaking folk. Here is some hunting and tourist information about each of the provinces
Provincial Capital: Bisho
Principal Language: isiXhosa
Size: 168,966Km2 (13.8%)
Population: 6,497,100 (11.5%)
Airports: East London (ELS) King Phalo Airport & Gqeberha formerly Port Elizabeth (PLZ) – Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport
The Eastern Cape province in South Africa boasts a diverse habitat, from the dry semi-arid Karoo desert to the densely wooded valley bushveld, and the evergreen coastline plains. The region, once over-hunted, has restored its wildlife populations, offering hunting opportunities for buffalo, Eastern Cape kudu, grey rhebuck, and Cape grysbok. Unique hunting experiences include blue duiker hunting with Jack Russell Terriers, caracal hunting with hound packs, and specialized bird hunting with pointing and retrieving dogs. Rhino Vita Dart Hunts, non-lethal hunts for conservation purposes, are also available in the province. Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) and CITES permits are needed for certain species, and outfitters will provide all necessary documentation.
Provincial Capital: Bloemfontein
Principal Language: Sesotho
Size: 129,825Km2 (10.6%)
Population: 2,889,900 (5.1%)
Airports: Bloemfontein (BFN) – Bram Fischer Airport
The Free State province features a Highveld grassland plateau with spectacular sandstone Maluti Mountains. The region offers hunting opportunities for various species, including black wildebeest, grey rhebuck, gemsbuck, blesbok, springbuck, and more. Some outfitters provide small predator hunts at night. The province’s agricultural industry, producing maize and sunflower crops, attracts a wide variety of birds, offering outstanding bird shooting opportunities. Bird hunting opportunities include pursuits of francolin, spurfowl, and guineafowl with pointing dogs, dove and speckled pigeon shoots, as well as waterfowl hunting, targeting such species as yellow-billed ducks and spurwing geese. For a unique experience, consider a horseback hunt in the Maluti Mountains for free-range eland and endemic grey rhebuck.
Provincial Capital: Johannesburg
Principal Language: isiZulu
Size: 18,178Km2 (7.7%)
Population: 14,273,800 (25.3%)
Airports: Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB)
Gauteng, meaning “place of gold,” is home to the country’s largest cities and numerous tourist attractions. Johannesburg, its biggest city, serves as the gateway to Southern Africa and a hub for international flights. Hunting opportunities are available within a 30-minute to one-hour drive from the airport. Highveld hunting in undulating hills is prevalent, while the east offers a warmer, dry savanna habitat at lower altitudes, known as the Bushveld fringe. Highveld specials include black wildebeest, springbuck, blesbok, and eland, while Bushveld species comprise kudu, blue wildebeest, impala, and warthog. First-class accommodation and wedding venues are available at many hunting destinations. Non-hunters can enjoy various tour options, such as lion and cheetah rehabilitation centers, elephant interactions, and shopping for curios and jewelry.
Provincial Capital: Pietermaritzburg
Principal Language: isiZulu
Size: 94,361Km2 (7.7%)
Population: 11,067,500 (19.6%)
Airports: Durban, King Shaka International Airport (DUR)
KwaZulu-Natal lies between the warm Indian Ocean and the Drakensberg Mountains, with protected wetlands and evergreen forests abundant in wildlife. The famous Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, where the white rhino was saved from extinction, is located slightly inland. Most hunting takes place in the north, known as Zululand, the ancient hunting grounds of Zulu kings. Nyala used to be the signature species, but this has changed due to their introduction all over the country. The Natal Midlands offers the best common reedbuck hunting, with other species like cape bushbuck and grey rhebuck also available. Free-range eland are attracted to the green pasture crops grown by dairy farms during winter, and various birds and waterfowl are drawn to the region’s corn and other crops. The semi-bushveld transition zone between Zululand and the Midlands is home to impressive, free-range kudus.
Provincial Capital: Polokwane
Principal Language: Sepedi
Size: 125,755Km2 (10.3%)
Population: 5,774,600 (10.2%)
Airports: Polokwane International Airport (PTG), Phalaborwa, Hendrik Van Eck Airport (PHW) and Hoedspruit, Eastgate Airport (HDS).
The Limpopo Province, named after the Limpopo River bordering Botswana and Zimbabwe, is a predominantly rural region offering scenic landscapes from the Waterberg Biosphere Mountains to the Mapungubwe archaeological site. The province is divided into two areas: the dry Bushveld in the west and the Lowveld in the east, which together account for around 80% of South Africa’s game hunting industry. The Lowveld region, dominated by Mopane trees, offers some of the best “Big 5” free-range traditional hunting within privately and community-owned reserves. The Bushveld region, with 80% of the country’s game ranches, that embody South Africa’s conservation success story. Popular trophies in the region include buffalo, kudu, sable, waterbuck, zebra, Limpopo bushbuck, and other general game. Rarer species like roan antelope, tsessebe, and brown hyenas can also be found.
Provincial Capital: Nelspruit
Principal Language: siSwati
Size: 79,495Km2 (6.3%)
Population: 4,442,500 (7.9%)
Airports: Nelspruit, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP)
Mpumalanga, meaning “the place where the sun rises” in local Nguni languages, is a region with diverse landscapes, including panoramic mountain passes, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and forests. Famous tourist attractions include the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon. The region’s hunting landscapes are divided into two distinct areas by the Drakensberg Mountains: the frost-free Lowveld and the Highveld. The Lowveld is known as “Big Game Country,” with dangerous game opportunities existing on game ranches, and free-range lion and leopard quotas occasionally available. Waterbuck, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, spotted hyena, serval, and civet can also be found here. The Highveld, with its alpine grasslands and frosty winters, offers different hunting conditions and species like eland, blesbok, black wildebeest, springbuck, and grey rhebuck. Hunting in this region’s open grasslands can be challenging, requiring long shots and a steady hand. The area also offers excellent upland and waterfowl bird shooting, and is known for its dog field trial events and premier fly fishing for trout.
Provincial Capital: Kimberley
Principal Language: Afrikaans
Size: 372,889Km2 (30.5%)
Population: 1,213,500 (2.1%)
Airports: Kimberley Airport (KIM) and Upington International Airport (UTN)
The largest yet most sparsely populated province in South Africa, the Northern Cape is known for its extreme desert climate and vast landscapes. The province includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the Namaqualand Desert, which becomes a colorful spectacle during the spring flower bloom. The region is home to the Nama people, considered the best trackers in the world. Game ranches in the province offer various desert-hardy plains game species, such as blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, springbuck, blesbok, and gemsbuck. Some ranches provide opportunities to hunt lions, leopards, buffalo, sable, and even rhinos. Introduced species like red lechwe, scimitar oryx, Barbary sheep, blackbuck, and mouflon have also adapted well to the region. The province is home to ostriches and sandgrouse, offering good shotgun shooting opportunities.
Provincial Capital: Mahikeng
Principal Language: Setswana
Size: 104,882Km2 (8.6%)
Population: 3,854,400 (6.8%)
Airports: Use Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB)
The Platinum Province, known for its numerous platinum mines, features a diverse topography that includes remnants of the dry Kalahari Desert, rolling Highveld plateaus, and Bushveld. The varied landscape creates a mix of habitats, offering one of the most extensive cross-sections of hunting species in a single province. Both dangerous game such as buffalo, and plains game such as gemsbuck, springbuck, kudu, warthog, Limpopo bushbuck, and klipspringer, can be hunted in the area. This region is favored because Highveld and Lowveld species can be found in close proximity, saving hunters valuable travel time. Ranchers often supplement game with hay and mineral blocks, creating excellent bow hunting opportunities. The province is also home to an assortment of color variant species, including different types of blesbok, springbuck, gemsbuck, impala, and wildebeest.
Provincial Capital: Cape Town
Principal Language: Afrikaans
Size: 129,462Km2 (10.6%)
Population: 6,508,700 (11.5%)
Airports: Cape Town International Airport (CPT)
The Western Cape, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, offers diverse landscapes and a rich cultural experience. This region is optimal for a hunting trip with the whole family, combining hunting with sightseeing and enjoying local hospitality. Hunting opportunities are available within an hour’s drive from Cape Town, ranging from 5-10 day plains game hunts to one-day springbuck hunts. Inland, the climate becomes more arid, with gemsbuck and springbuck hunting opportunities. Specials in the province include red lechwe, grey (vaal) rhebuck, klipspringer, cape grysbuck, and buffalo hunting. The Western Cape is also known for its fine wine and dining experiences, as well as upland and waterfowl hunting. These packages often include culinary delights featuring the region’s best wine and brandy.
The majority of hunters use the direct flights available to Johannesburg (OR Tambo) International Airport from numerous international destinations from where connecting domestic flights can be arranged to numerous airports around the country, if required.
Most hunters are met by their respective outfitters at Johannesburg International Airport which services the highest density of hunting operators, mostly Limpopo-based.
Hospitality & Tourism Options
South Africa is blessed with a range and assortment of hotels from 5-star to Boutique hotels. If hotels are not your scene, check of the Bed & Breakfasts, Guesthouses and Air B&Bs. A variety of transport options, tours and numerous wildlife and adventure experiences are available.
Professional Hunting Associations
Unfortunately, although hunting is recognised as a profession it is not a government prerequisite for an outfitter to be a member of a recognised hunting association. BookYourHunt only lists outfitters hunts on our marketing platform that belong to a local or international recognised association.
Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA)
PHASA is the largest hunting association in South Africa with the core and sole business of serving the professional hunting industry. Their expertise and vast network in the global hunting fraternity are unparalleled in South Africa. They continuously work with government at all levels, including ministerial level, and across a number of departments, to shape the future of our industry.
PHASA actively interact with most leading role-players in the professional hunting industry, including international hunting and conservation associations, local and international government agencies and NGOs, other professional hunting associations from around the globe, PH training providers and local recreational hunting associations. PHASA is recognised, by government and by these role-players, as the mouthpiece for the South African professional hunting industry.
To learn more about PHASA, click here.
Custodians of Professional Hunting & Conservation in South Africa (CPHC-SA)
CPHC-SA was started by a group of like-minded professional hunters and outfitters who strongly opposed the hunting of captive bred lions and were also concerned about the erosion of ethics in the professional hunting industry in SA. They wish to be seen as a progressive and ethical hunting association that strives to protect the integrity of legal and well managed hunting.
CPHC-SA believes that it is imperative that hunting must support and promote good conservation practices and never should it be detrimental to any species or wild population of animals.
CPHC-SA also aim to engage with government, regional associations, recognised conservation NGO`s and the media with the aim to influence them to the positive role hunting can play in conservation.
Should you require more information about hunting in South Africa or wish to get an association member’s reference, you can contact one of the following associations:
To learn more about CPHC-SA, click here