uMkhuze Game Reserve

Top choice in iSimangaliso Wetland Park

It doesn't have the flashy name recognition of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi or Tembe, but uMkhuze is a hidden gem of a reserve. Lions were introduced in 2014, but even before that visitors came for terrific hyena, rhino and elephant sightings set against dense scrub. The park's claim to fame, however, is the more than 400 bird species that call it home. Birders will tell you it's one of the top birdwatching spots in South Africa.

The reserve has fabulous hides, some at waterholes; the pans, surrounded by fever trees, offer some superlative wildlife viewing and guided walks are available (from R150 per person). It’s 15km from Mkuze town (18km from Bayla if heading north).