The world number one ranking is on the line and the series has been billed as a battle between the best two pace attacks in world cricket, with Anderson, Stuart Broad and Co going head to head with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
But the Lancashire quick is not focused purely on his rivals with the ball, and told Sky Sports News: "It's going to be a huge challenge. The last couple of times South Africa have been over here they've played really well and beaten us."
He went on: "Both attacks have shown in the last 18 months that we are strong units. I think it'll be a good battle.
"It's going to be really important that our bowling attack's on top form because their batting unit's really strong.
"I see they've got six key wickets, they've got such a strong batting line-up that every wicket's crucial. They've got some great players in there and we're going to have to be on the top of our game.
"We're looking forward to it, we like testing ourselves against the best in the world and there's four of their guys in the top 10 so it should be a good challenge.
"South Africa probably soak up pressure better than anybody else in the world so we might have to be more patient than we have in recent series, and that's going to be our biggest test."
The Proteas inflicted England's last Test series defeat on home soil, in 2008, and Anderson continued: "A lot of the guys played in that series, we're well aware of it. They played really well last time they were over here and they're going to be strong in our conditions with both the bat and the ball. But confidence is high, we're really excited to be playing such a strong team.
"It's going to be a really tough three-match series for us, we're going to have to be on top form to have chance of winning."