South Africa ranks among the most popular holiday destinations in the world. Settled at the tip of the African continent, there is so much on offer for everyone. The attractions of South Africa include 3000km of beautiful coastline, rugged mountains, parched desert, bountiful forests with thriving wildlife, daredevil adventure sports, rich culture, inspiring history, delightful dining, shopping and, so much more. Vacations in South Africa are worth cherishing for a lifetime, be it with family, your loved one or friends, you are in for the best time of your life.
From the myriad of excitements, here are the 20 incredible experiences of the sights and sounds of South Africa.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
The magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens has the reputation of being one of the great botanic gardens of the world. It is one of the must visit tourist attractions in South Africa. Unmatched in its beauty, the lush garden is settled against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. The 36-acre gardens lie within a UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to fragrance garden, medicinal garden, with over 7000 species of plants along with a variety of animals and birds.
Cape of Good Hope
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope is a famous landmark in South Africa. Previously it was believed to be the southern-most tip of the country. It is known for one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Overlooking dramatic scenery, it is known for the perfect relaxing getaway from the hustle-bustle of city life. Flowers, rare plants, species of the animal kingdom and ethereal beauty are the reasons why you must put Cape of Good Hope on the bucket list of a memorable holiday in South Africa.
The most important site to learn all about history of South Africa, Apartheid Museum illustrates life under South Africa’s Apartheid regime from 1948 until 1990. Pay a visit to the era of struggle displayed in photographs, film footage, text panels, etc. Witness life during the Apartheid era in the townships, including the forced removal of local residents from their very own homes. Children under the age 11 are not allowed to enter as the exhibitions reveal gruesome details. This is one of the best places to visit in South Africa to learn everything about the history of the challenging time and the struggle to overcome it.
Looming over Cape Town, Table Mountain (1089 m) is a flat topped mountain peak, an icon of South Africa. Titled as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Take the five-minute cable car trip or hike to the top of Table Mountain. The summit reveals views that are truly enthralling. Appreciate the rich biodiversity on the mountain, it is home to many rare species of the flora and animal kingdom. Enjoy a spectacular sunset, go wild with adventure or enjoy a picnic, etc. for a memorable time at the scenic tourist attraction of South Africa.
South Africa’s intriguing delight, Big Hole is an entirely man-made structure, the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. Luring visitors on holiday in South Africa, the Big Hole is a beauty with an interesting history. 150 years ago, the site of the Big Hole was flat-topped hill with a treasure of diamonds that later amounted to 2722 kilograms. When diamonds were discovered here in 1800s, it lead to a surge of explorers. Armed with picks, shovels and hope, they created the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. Experience the underground mine experiences, marvel at the exhibits and imagine the exciting time of discovery.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park is settled along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal Province. The largest protected reserve is home to around 800 hippopotami, 1200 Nile crocodiles, whales, elephants, birds, turtles, and many other species of the animal kingdom.
The natural reserve of iSimangaliso comprise of nature’s abundance; from sandy beaches, coastal dunes, coral reefs, lake systems, swamps, wetlands all come under the nature park. The excitements for visitors here include wildlife safari, kayaking on the estuary, guided game drive, horse riding, bird watching, etc. Spending time at iSimangaliso it is one of the top things to do in South Africa.
Coming on to the next amazing tourist attraction of South Africa, we have Babylonstoren, a Cape Dutch farm dating back to 1692. Known for being one of the best preserved farmyards, now converted into a pleasant hotel, it is one of the best places to visit South Africa.
Enjoy views of lush plantations, breath in fresh air, and delight in the taste of fruits, vegetables, berries and livestock of the farm. The property also has magnificent gardens of fragrant flowers, spaces for bees pollinating, indigenous plants, ducks and chickens, and more. Escape the cities and have a relaxing stay.
An icon of the struggle against Apartheid, Robben Island is one of the places to not miss on a holiday in South Africa. The World-Heritage-listed site makes visitors emotional with its gruesome history but is also quite fascinating for its scenery, the thrilling ride to get to the island form the mainland. From a leper colony, military outpost, prison and even a shrine of an Imam, the island is intriguing.
Tourist here can witness Nelson Mandela’s 18 years imprisonment along with other revolutionaries. Do take a look at multimedia exhibits in the museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway.
Boulders Penguin Colony
South Africa is fascinating in every way and the delight of planning a holiday to South Africa is its every own penguins. Boulders Beach, near False Bay, is famed for its resident penguin colony, which home to at least 3000 African penguins. The jackass penguins residing here are a unique lot, they have a different kind of bray, which sounds hilarious.
The fluffy birds are fun to visit and especially kids love their funny antics. Take a day trip to the penguin colony, you can also spend time at the pristine shores nearby. It is ideal for swimming, picnics and simply relaxing.
Silvermine Nature Reserve
One of South Africa’s tourist attractions blessed by natural bliss, next on our list, we have the Silvermine Nature Reserve. The protected reserve is a part of the Table Mountain National Park. Bordered by mountains on one side and the azure ocean on the other, it is a heavenly getaway from cities. Home to indigenous flowers, animals and natural bliss, it is known for bike trails, bird watching, hiking, rock-climbing, camping, swimming, picnics and day trips.
District Six Museum
Another memorial to the Apartheid regime, District Six Museum is one of the most important places to visit in South Africa to understand its history. Establish in 1994, it displays exhibits that recall the days of injustice to the natives.
Walk through the display and you can feel the pain of the displaced people. The museum educates and imparts lessons that you never forget.
Kruger National Park
Known among world’s most famous wildlife sanctuaries, Kruger National Park is one of places to not miss in South Africa. Few hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Kruger is one of the oldest game reserves in South Africa. Here you get the opportunity to spot the “Big Five”: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino. In addition to the beasts, the national park is blessed with amazing diversity of other wildlife.
Go on a wildlife safari, soar over the grasslands on a hot air balloon, and check out bushman rock paintings and archaeological sites. For your adventure holiday in South Africa the national park has basic campsites as well as comfortable lodges.
Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park
If you want to view the true might of nature, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is listed among the top places to visit in South Africa. The largest wilderness areas in the world was officially declared transfrontier park in 2000s.
Embark on sunrise or sunset drives in the national park and marvel at the spectacular scenery. The clear blue skies, red sands, sparse vegetation and golden grasslands combine to create a fascinating backdrop. Spot the famous black-maned Kalahari lion. The huge diversity of wildlife, includes predators and many birds of prey. Stay at one of the accommodation options in the park to delight in the natural beauty.
Translating to “Dragon Mountains”, the Drakensberg is one of the most popular vacation destinations in South Africa. Home to the country’s highest peaks, the region is blessed with beauty beyond words.
Located in Kwa-Zulu Natal province, the Drakensberg is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Extending over 200 kilometer, it comprises of beautiful cliffs, forests, waterfalls, as well as many thrilling hiking routes. Take up the opportunity to view 290 bird and 48 mammal species and interesting and rare plant life varieties. Rock climbing, abseiling and river rafting provide interesting experiences for adventure enthusiast. A popular activity to embark with your entire family includes a helicopter ride to view the entire area.
The Garden Route
Along the country’s southeast coast, the Garden Route runs for about 200 kilometers through some of South Africa’s most breathtaking coastal scenery. Extending from Indian Ocean from Mossel Bay to the Storms River, it is one of the best experiences of South Africa. It is popular driving route which tempts families, honeymoon couples and even the solo backpacker. Drive through beautiful beach towns, lush hills covered in greenery, lakes, lagoons, coastal cliffs and beauty of pristine nature. Adventure activities on the Garden Route include whale watching, elephant back rides, bungee jumping, camping, and so much more.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
An amazing experience awaits for visitors at the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. The nature reserve features the third largest canyon in the world. One can witness the natural wonders of the Mpumalanga like the Three Rondavels, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Pinnacle Rock, and the God’s and Devil’s Window. Out of the many attractions, the one that steals the limelight is one of the last remaining montane savannah regions consisting of endangered or rare flora species. Extending up to 60 km, the nature park is surely among the best places to visit in South Africa.
Durban’s Golden Mile
The city of Durban is bejeweled with a stunning beachfront known as the Golden Mile. One of the remarkable tourist attractions of South Africa is thronged by visitors during sunset. Bask-in the sub-tropical sunshine while strolling on the wide stretch of the golden sand. Alternatively known as the Surfer’s paradise, the Golden Mile offers excellent surfing opportunities to the novice as well as to the professional surfers. Paying a visit to the nearby attractions like the Surfing Museum, uShaka Marine World and Mini town, increases the fun quotient. June-July and December-January are the best months of the year to visit the Mile.
Nestled on the Atlantic shore in the Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront or the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront receives maximum footfall throughout the year. Dotted with restaurants, huge entertainment venues, craft markets, specialty shops and theaters etc., the waterfront has so much to offer. Visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium and Seal-watching are the best things to do at V&A Waterfront. Boat trips along the coast and around the harbor makes holiday in South Africa a memorable experience. Divided into five shopping districts, the waterfront can cater the needs of any shopaholic. And, for the foodies, there is a V&A Food Market.
The Cango Caves are positioned on the foothills of the Swartberg range Oudtshoorn. Shrouded with a historical aura, the caves offer its visitors a choice of Heritage Tour or Adventure Tour in South Africa. All the tours are guided and let you go through chambers and tunnels of about 4 km. It seems as if nature has cultivated these underground wonders since ages. These caverns are also considered as the biggest and only show cave in Africa. The beautiful hidden treasures leaves spectators spellbound. The Standard tours show only the front parts of the caverns whereas the Adventure tour helps you to scale the depths of the caves.
The Augrabies Falls National Park houses the Augrabies Falls. The 60-m high waterfalls looks splendid when the Orange River is in flood. Initially, the waterfall got its name as Ankoerebis meaning ‘place of big noises’, from the original Khoikhoi people. Later, Trekboers named it as Augrabies. Enjoying a Hot Air Balloon ride, visiting the Orange River Wine Cellars and Kalahari fishing are some of the top things to do nearby the Augrabies Falls. Soak-in the beauty of the waterfall and let the reverbing sound enthrall you to the core.
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