He said: "Gatland is the best coach in world rugby at present. They have had great success and the coaches know what they are doing - they have turned Wales into a good team.
"They didn't win the Six Nations by mistake and we've got great respect for them. But we want to beat them."
South Africa are favourites for the clash in Bloemfontein due to the number of injuries Wales have suffered. Gavin Henson, Martyn Williams, Lee Byrne and scrum halves Dwayne Peel and Mike Phillips all miss the tour.
But De Villiers expects a stern test for his team.
He added: "We may even see a stronger team. People tend to look at names, and they forget that all those names started somewhere.
"The excitement and enthusiasm that new players bring to the team could spell danger to the Springboks."