In this article, you will learn about the 10 best places to visit in South Africa. South Africa is an ideal destination for an adventurous traveler, especially if it is your first visit to Africa. From the magnificent array of wildlife to beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountains, and impressive vineyards, you are sure to have a great time in this land of diversity. You will also find some of the famous African scenery such as the golden savannah, beautiful gaping gorges, spectacular deserts as well as astonishing cast of African creatures.
South Africa is home to some of the most magnificent private game reserves and lodges in the World. Safari lovers come to South Africa from everywhere in the World in search of the ‘Big Five’ which Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Rhino. You could also experience the dragon-backed mountain ranges, coral reefs, white-water rafting, and golden beaches lapped by magnificent surf breaks during your trip to South Africa. Here is a list of the 10 best places to visit in South Africa:
Without any doubt, Kruger National Park is one of the most famous safari parks in the World. It is South Africa’s largest and oldest game reserves that house a wide array of wildlife. Kruger National Park is home to hundreds of animals, and also the best place to see the Big 5. The Big 5 (which include Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino, and Elephant) is referred to as the most challenging animals to see on foot in Africa.
You could explore the vast grassland and gallery forest of Kruger National Park, either in a safari ride or hot air balloon. The accommodation also ranges from a campsite to comfortable luxury lodges. If you are want to have the best safari experience in South Africa, don’t hesitate to visit Kruger National Park. We would recommend you spend 2-3 days in Kruger National Park and make several game drives during your visit.
The seaside town of Hermanus has positioned itself as the best place to go whale and dolphin watching in South Africa. Every year, migrating whales pass few meters away from the shores of Hermanus while some even stop to breed and calve in the bay. You could either take a whale watching tour to have a closer view of the magnificent animal while working the coastal route or see them from ashore. You should note that whales cannot always be found at Hermanus all year. The best time to go whale-watching is between June and December. During your whale-watching tour in Hermanus, you will have an opportunity to see tens of whales up close. You will also see hundreds of dolphins while walking along the coast. Hermanus is arguably the best place to go whale and dolphin watching in the world. You could also visit the stunning coastline Gansbaai which also offers a great chance to see whales.
Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, is a notorious prison island that gives a historic reminder of the tiny cell where Nelson Mandela and other political associates were for 18 years. The fascinating thing about this destination is that guides are usually ex-prisoners who would share firsthand information on the experience in the cell. A tour around this Island would start at the Museum in Nelson Mandela Gateway and Alfred Waterfront. Afterward, you could take a 30 -45 minutes’ boat ride to Robben Island.
Located a few meters away from Kruger Natural Park, Blyde River Canyon is one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in South Africa. It’s one of the largest canyons in the world with a rich diversity of wildlife and plants. You will find Glittering rivers, waterfalls, lush foliage, and lichen-covered rock formation that create spectacular scenery.
Blyde River Canyon and the whole Panorama Route would make a marvelous day trip. You could start at the Pinnacle God’s Window and Wonder View, then head to the Panorama Route, which includes Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and Lowveld viewpoint. You could end this trip by exploring the magnificent Three Rondavels viewpoint. The best way to explore this picturesque park is by hiking the extensive trails or the alternative driving routes. Whitewater rafting and boat trips are also available here.
Another favorite holiday destination is the Garden Route, which is over 200 kilometers stretch through some of South Africa’s most breathtaking coastal scenery. This route stretches from the Indian Ocean located in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape down to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. While driving this scenic route, you will pass through rolling green hills, lagoons, lakes, coastal towns, and coastal cliffs. One of the major highlights of these routes is the spectacular city of Knysna, which is between a beautiful lagoon and dense forests. You could explore the magnificent Garden Route National Park with its thick forests, tidal pools, and gorges. You could also visit Oudtshoorn’s ostrich farms, Cango Caves, and the seal colony of the Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay. There are a lot of activities you could take part in, such as whale watching trips, elephant back ride, tree canopy tours, and bungee jumping while exploring the Garden Route.
South Africa has become one of the best destinations in the world to see some beautiful wineries and taste phenomenal South African Wines. The Cape Wine lands between Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek is just one hour away from Cape Town. The beauty of the Cape Winelands green valleys covered by rugged mountains is as much of a treat for the eye as its wine is a treat for the taste buds. You could sip, swirl and test the best of South African wines, spoil yourself with farm to table cuisine, or explore oak-lined streets and art galleries with picturesque scenery as your backdrop. A night or two in this destination will get rid of every city’s stress.
Cape Peninsula is one place you shouldn’t miss while you are in South Africa. We recommend you take time to explore the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, the magnificent 12 Apostles coastline from Camps Bay to Hout Bay, and down south to visit the Chapman’s Peak Drive. You could also take an ocean walkway from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay via St. James beach and explore Simon’s Town with Boulder’s Beach penguin colony. You could try not to miss the Groot Constantia wine region which, has some of the best wins in South Africa and astonishing scenery as a backdrop. You could take a boat at Hout Bay to see a seal colony (called Duiker Island) or even go snorkeling with the seals.
If you are visiting South Africa for just one day, make sure you take the time to explore the city of Cape Town. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with so many breathtaking destinations. It’s almost impossible to describe Cape Town in just a few words, except you take some time to experience the perfect blend of European and African cultures in this destination.
For a spectacular overview, you should hike to the peak of the flat-topped Table Mountain or take the cableway up the mountain. The hike up Lion’s head provides panoramic city vistas. The Magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is on the eastern slopes of the Table Mountain.
When strolling along the waterfront Broadwalk, you might see whales spouting from the harbor while penguins sway along the golden beaches in False Bay. South of the city, you will find rich wildlife and assorted botanical wonders. You could dine, shop, and enjoy the views at Two Ocean’s Aquarium, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. If you are a nature lover, you should stake a spot to watch the sun sink slowly into the sea along the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive.
9. Cape Agulhas
Cape Agulhas, which is the southernmost place in Africa, is far from other known destinations and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. When you stand at the point where two oceans meet, you will feel like you have gotten to the end of the world. The best way to experience Cape Agulhas is to make a stop from Garden Route and Cape Town.
The breathtaking Drakensberg, which means Dragon Mountains, is a bit off the beaten path in South Africa. The dragon mountain has the highest peaks in South Africa, with stunning vistas, countless waterfalls, caves, mountain streams, rock pools, and tranquil scenery that will create an unforgettable experience. UKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park has rough basalt buttresses and San rock art, which makes an uncommon beauty. You will also find the spectacular Amphitheatre at the Royal Natal National Park and a majestic cliff face. The dense forest in the sheltered valleys in the Giant Castle Game Reserve is home to over 800 species of flowering plants and abundant wildlife.
During summer months, the dragon mountains landscapes are lush and fertile with gushing waterfalls and clear streams while, during winter months, the dramatic peaks will be snow-capped. When you visit the Drakensberg, you could hike or mountain-bike the rugged trails, rock climb, parasail, fish for trout, or raft on the flowing rivers. To appreciate the dramatic topography, you should take a hot air balloon ride over the dragon mountains.
You could have a face-to-face experience with the Great white shark in a thick iron cage that will be plunged into the ocean. For thrill-seekers, this could be the most adventurous experience in South Africa. Simon’s Town, Dyer Island, Seal Island Mossel Bay, and Gansbaai (which is usually called the Great White Shark Capital of the World) are the best destinations to go cage diving with the Great White Shark in South Africa. The best time for cage diving in South Africa is between April and October but, the great white sharks swim through these waters all year round. You don’t need any diving certificate to experience this. You could watch the action from the boat but its less exciting compared to watching from the iron cage in the water.
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