15 Places to Visit and Things to do in South Africa
South Africa is an up-and-coming tourist destination. In fact, it’s creeping its way up into most people’s bucket list. This country has eleven different official languages. It is as beautiful as it’s diverse. Moreover, it boasts a kaleidoscope of different cultures. South Africa offers the ultimate holiday combination with world-renowned game reserves and beautiful beaches. Still yet, the cosmopolitan cities and rugged mountain ranges enhance the country even further. Granted the fascinating cultural heritage, this nation can’t fail to captivate.
Deciding which destinations is the most perfect to visit isn’t an easy task. Thus, we decided to make the entire process easier for you. Below are our best picks of the best places you can visit while in South Africa. Also, we give you hints on activities you can indulge in. You wouldn’t want to regret your touring experience. As such, ensure to add these places to your bucket list.
1. Climb the Table Mountain
The most prominent landmark in Cape Town is the Table Mountain. It’s a gigantic flat sandstone block that rises 3,500 feet. It’s a national park, a fantastic area to go hiking, with more than 350 paths leading to the summit. Often, most individuals take a cable car up. But, hiking would be far more rewarding.
Unfortunately, there are constant weather changes. In such a case, hiking can prove to be difficult, sometimes. With favorable weather conditions, you’ll enjoy great views under the clear skies. Or, you can climb onto the infamous ‘tablecloth’. It’s a clouds’ blanket which often tends to cover the mountain.
2. Safari in the Imfolozi & Hluhluwe National Park
It’s among the oldest game reserves in South Africa. This national park is popular for its black and white rhino population. Furthermore, it has the largest rhinos in Africa. Conservation efforts are put into effect to avoid poaching. Yes, rhinos thrive in this national park. But, they’re poached at extreme rates elsewhere. It’s clearly an awesome opportunity to safari while watching these rhinos and other wildlife.
Yes, it might look like those unusual recommendations. People consider Oudtshoorn as the Ostrich Capital of the country. But, this place deserves a visit, particularly if you’d want to sample ostrich eggs or ride an ostrich. Most hotels in South Africa serve ostrich eggs, particularly for breakfast.
Ostrich eggs are, in fact, quite delicious in taste. Also, they’re rather large when compared to others. Some restaurants serve ostrich meat in the form of steaks and sausages. Yet, the scenery itself is just beautiful. For that reason, you can do cycling if you’re not fond of ostriches.
4. Robben Island, Cape Town
This island is now a UNESCO Heritage Site. It’s popular with quite a lot of aspects. But, there’s one main reason. The colonialists locked up political prisoners in Robben Island during Apartheid era. At several points in history, this island was also a mental hospital and a defense training base. Additionally, it was a leper colony. All that contributes to the reason this prison is an outstanding tourist attraction.
In fact, you can walk through the maximum security wing. That’s where anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned, including Nelson Mandela. You’ll be able to learn how the prisoners’ life was like, as well as where they worked. Moreover, you’ll get information first-hand from guides. Often, these guides are former political prisoners and have quite a lot to share.
It may not be the most appealing place to visit. But, it ranks among the most interesting and famous sights in South Africa. Soweto is a sprawling town situated right outside of Johannesburg. It is home to over 3.5 million individuals. Much of the struggle that was against Apartheid was played out in the Soweto slums. A virtual state of war dominated this township during the 70s and 80s.
Today, Soweto is a confusing mixture of poor shanty dwellings and prosperous suburbs. Also, it is home to some vibrant music and theater that South Africa has to offer. It’s highly recommended that you’ve a tour guide when visiting Soweto is highly recommended. That advice isn’t just to ensure safety. But also, Soweto’s history makes the whole adventure much more attractive. Besides, Soweto covers a broad swath of land over 90 sq. miles. It’s thus easy to get lost.
6. Cape Town
Cape Town is a microcosm of South Africa’s diversity. In fact, major religions coexist here well. As well, they provide incredible cultural and religious influences, despite the country’s difficult history. Here’s where you’ll see the iconic, flat-topped Table Mountain.
Also, there are water sports, nature trails, golden beaches, and unbelievable wine states. Ensure to visit the Green Point Park, as well as the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. In 2014, Cape Town got designated as a World Design Capital. It’s full of fantabulous architecture and street art.
7. The Wine Lands
You’ll love the Cape Wine area and especially its beautiful surroundings. Right from the heart of the Wine Lands, you can explore the historic towns of Franschhoek and Paarl. Worth noting is that Stellenbosch is the 2nd oldest town in this country. This town offers some of the finest wines, besides being a university town.
The streets here are lined with quaint, little craft shops, and oak trees. Paarl is situated in the Berg Valley. You’ll find several traditional-styled wine farms there. Franschhoek is South Africa’s own ‘French Quarter’. It’s a quaint small town that has world-renowned wine cellars.
8. Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park, established in 1898, is world-renowned. In fact, it’s among the largest game reserves throughout Africa. It covers a staggering 20,000 square kilometers. This park is situated five hours north of Johannesburg by car. Now, it’s also part of the Limpopo Trans Frontier Park. The latter includes reserve areas in the neighboring countries, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Other private adjoining reserves include Timbavati, Sabi Sand, Manyeleti, and Thomybush. Kruger offers incredible opportunities to see much concentrations of animal and bird life. That includes both the black and white rhino. The accommodation here ranges from rustic to ultra-luxurious lodges. Hence, you need not worry about your accommodation needs.
9. St. Lucia Wetlands
This park is UNESCO-listed. It’s among the most exclusive South Africa’s jewels. It’s an exemplary combination of a game reserve and a subtropical coastline. This park encompasses the Maputaland and St. Lucia Marine Reserves. Also, there’s the Kosi Bay Reserve and the Coastal Forest Park.
St. Lucia supports more animal species than Okavango Delta and Kruger National Park. It’s where you’ll find nearly all animals, including hippos, crocodiles, leopards, and rhinos. You’ll also view an extensive array of marine and bird life. You’ll love how there’s plenty to do here. Activities, which you can indulge in, include boating, fishing, and world-class scuba diving.
10. Drakensberg Area
The Drakensberg Mountains stretch through the whole length of the western boundary. This boundary is approximately 600 miles. Here, you can enjoy game viewing, bird watching, and trout fishing. Also, you can enjoy golfing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and much more. You can opt for a Karkloof Canopy Tour. It’s an amazing eco-wilderness adventure into the Karkloof indigenous forest. The tour includes traversing from a platform to another. But, you’ll traverse along a steel cable, which is suspended 30 meters up from the woods floor.
The spectacular scenery’ll amaze you. Professional guides will inform you about interesting facts about the forest’s ecology. Then, the San Bushmen left the Bushman Rock Art. They were the original inhabitants of Drakensburg Mountains. They left behind beautiful paintings and art in caves throughout this region.
It lies along the Western Cape, just two hours from the capital city. It’s near the most southern point of Africa. Hermanus has risen to become a major tourist destination. That’s because it’s among the best spots in the world to watch the Southern Right Whales. The peak times to watch these whales are between August and November. During that period, you’ll be able to watch whales any time from a cliff path. Hermanus is a popular town full of South African vacationers. But, it still retains an atmosphere of the fishing village it was sometimes back.
There are many established events and festivals throughout the year. Such keep this town ever buzzing. Other than whale watching, you can also opt for sea kayaking, wine tasting, and a township tour. As well, you can indulge yourself in cage diving with the Great White Sharks at the nearby Dyer Island. Hermanus is an exceptional resort town. There’s a broad range of accommodation places that suit almost all budgets.
12. Adventure: Cango Caves
These caves are among the most prominent tourist attractions in S.A. They might even top the best cave systems you’d ever visit. A regular tour entails a natural, yet beautiful walk through various massive chambers. But, if you’re up and ready for the challenge, then you need to take this adventure tour. It’ll get you through narrow passageways. These ways have openings, which are as small as 25-30 centimeters. Yes, that might not be for the faint-hearted, but you’ll earn bragging rights afterward.
13. Madikwe Game Reserve
It’s a large, Big-Five Game Reserve. The Madikwe Reserve is just a 4-hour drive away from Johannesburg. It’s a 2-3 hour drive from Sun City. People consider this game reserve as among the finest conservation areas. Its vast plains of both open woodlands and grasslands cover a 750 square kilometer area.
It boasts a rich vegetation diversity, which ensures a broad range of game. In particular, there are 66 species of large mammals and over 300 bird species. Furthermore, it’s situated in a malaria-free region. For that reason, the Madikwe Game Reserve is an ideal safari destination. It’s especially suitable for families.
This city has almost everything: fine dining, headline entertainment, intoxicating nightlife, and couture shopping. It’s an ever-changing city that bears a tough history with almost 20 years of steep decline. But, the economy has been seeing an influx of tourism and business lately. In the cultural districts, Braamfontein and Newtown, you’ll find museums, theaters, cafes, and restaurants. There’s so much energy that it’s infectious. In particular, The Inner City is fast becoming a tourism hot spot.
When visiting Johannesburg, ensure to stop at Maboneng. That’s a hipster kind of neighborhood on the Inner City’s eastern side. However, it’s a part that’s still struggling with history. But, Johannesburg isn’t pretentious, having quite a lot to offer. Also, remember to stop at the famous Apartheid Museum. It’ll give you some sobering reminding of the country’s past.
15. The Humankind Cradle – Krugersdorp
This place is 50 kilometers away from Johannesburg. Here, you’ll come across a complex of limestone caves. Here, scientists discovered fossils, which date back to the very first birth of humankind. Among the most famous fossils is the skull, which is 2.1 million years old. Also, there’s the ‘Little Foot’ skeleton. It’s almost 3 million years old. Our earliest known ancestors specifically evolved right from the Humankind’s Cradle. It’s thus a place worth visiting.
South Africa has some vibrant tourist and holiday destinations. On top of that, traveling around this country is quite easy. Several low-cost airlines operate throughout South Africa. Additionally, the excellent roads make it convenient for car renting. It’s among the most diverse countries in Africa country-wise. Also, it has gained a commendable reputation for its social tolerance. It doesn’t matter whether you intend just to pass through or stay long-term. The above places are a must-visit. They’re the destinations, which you’ll always long to return to relieve the extraordinary experiences.