South Africa is a must-visit destination for travel enthusiasts, with its breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife. Apart from going on safaris and exploring natural attractions, some destinations are also renowned for their wine tours, whale watching, surfing, and shark cage diving experiences.
Located at the southernmost tip of Africa, the ‘Rainbow Nation’ is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Explore a biodiversity hotspot that boasts dramatic deserts, savannahs, gorges, wine lands, and mountains. Scattered throughout the vast land are enormous wildlife parks and protected areas where the Big 5 animals reside.
South Africa is a country with diverse travel options beyond Cape Town and Kruger National Park. Every corner of the country has unique and exciting activities to explore. Travelers will quickly discover that the rich history and colorful inhabitants of South Africa ideally complement the top tourist attractions, creating an unforgettable travel experience.
1. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of “the top tourist attractions in South Africa”. It is one of the oldest in South Africa and one of the best game reserves in Africa, encompassing an area of more than 2,000,000 hectares of area, making it one of the most significant. The wildlife safari experience that you will have in Kruger National Park is one of a kind, and it is one that you will not forget any time soon.
The Kruger National Park is home to a diverse array of animal species. The Big Five—lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros—are the animals that get the most attention among them. The park offers safaris throughout both the day and the night. You are also able to plan for customized day trips and safaris. If you want to go on all the game drives that are offered in this area, you should plan to spend at least three to four days in this location.
2. Cape Town
A trip to South Africa is not considered to be complete until Cape Town is included on the itinerary. It is one of the three capitals that make up South Africa. It should not come as a surprise that Cape Town is so popular among visitors given the diverse range of activities and sights available in the city. This city is home to a diverse population and has both historic significance and a forward-thinking outlook, making it the second most populous city in the country.
If you go to Cape Town but don’t make it out to False Bay, your vacation won’t be complete. This stunning city is encircled on all sides by stunning natural scenery. It is home to incredible flora and fauna, mountains with jagged peaks, and water the color of turquoise. It would be beneficial for you to see Table Peak, which is a peak with a flat summit, while you are in Cape Town. The UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden should also be on the list.
Boulde Beach is the only place to see threatened African penguins. The downtown area is about a ten-minute walk away from Bo Kaap, a neighborhood in the suburbs that is known for its colorfully painted neighborhoods. You won’t be able to forget about the vibrant nightlife in this large metropolis thanks to the upscale dining options and cosmopolitan shopping centers such as Canal Walk and Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre. In addition to Lion’s Head and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, other attractions in Cape Town include the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Two Oceans Waterfront.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cape Town: Best Areas & Hotels
3. The Garden Route
Along the coast of South Africa’s southeast region is where you’ll find the Golden Route. In terms of the magnificence of the surrounding landscape, this may compete with any other driving route in the globe. This scenic path has a total distance of about 200 kilometers and connects Mossel Bay with Storms River in South Africa.
If you want to take in all the beauty that the Golden Route has to offer, just driving through it is not enough. Spend at least one or two days traveling along this path and getting to know it. Please do not miss out on seeing the beautiful town of Knysna and the area around it, as well as the ostrich farms and the Congo Caves near Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay, and the Great Route National Park. The Knysna Reserve Park is the place to go if you want to get up close and personal with elephants. Pay a visit to the Garden Route Mall to have a wonderful time while you’re out doing some shopping.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Golden Route: Best Areas & Hotels
4. iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park on KwaZulu-Natal’s east coast is another place to visit for quite different reasons. It is gorgeous coves, beaches, and reefs are a joy to discover after a two-and-a-half-hour trip from Durban.
Its name, which means a marvel’ or something wonderful’ in Zulu, refers to Africa’s greatest estuary system. We were captivated by its splendor, which included savannas and mangrove forests bordering gorgeous beaches and waterways alive with life.
There are a lot of hippos and crocodiles here, as well as the occasional leopard, white rhino, and elephant. Dolphins and whale pods may occasionally be seen playing near offshore.
If you wish to spend a few days in a calm and picture-perfect town, Stellenbosch is a must-see destination. South Africa’s lone university town is also the country’s second oldest. This town’s history extends back to 1679, and you may taste it by visiting the Village Museum and the Stellenyrk Museum.
The beautiful hamlet with its oak-lined lanes and Cape Dutch buildings will capture your heart on any given day. It is well-known for its many wine estates where you may attempt wine sampling. Restaurants, nightclubs, cafés, and art galleries are also available.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Stellenbosch: Best Areas & Hotels
6. Drakensberg Mountains
The enormous and spectacular Drakensberg Mountains tower between 2,000 and 3,482 meters above sea level. It is one of South Africa’s most rugged and untamed areas, with jaw-dropping peaks, buttes, and death-defying plunge.
The massive escarpment, which in Afrikaans is known as the ‘Dragons’ Mountains’, runs for more than a thousand kilometers in length. In addition to enclosing the central plateau of South Africa, it also forms the boundary with the Kingdom of Lesotho, which is surrounded by land. There are many paths that wind their way over the mountain range’s undulating terrain and deep valleys. The breathtaking Amphitheater cliffs and the Cascades sequence of waterfalls are two of the most frequented tourist destinations in the area.
Tugela Falls, which is incredibly the world’s second-highest waterfall. It is located inside the enormous mountain range that is also known as the Drakensberg. The strenuous climb is more than justified by the tremendous 947-meter descent and all the breathtaking vistas along the way.
7. Whale-Watching in Hermanus
Hermanus is one of the greatest locations to go if you want to view more of the majestic mammals. Visitors to the attractive beach town’s jagged cliffs often spot whales moving all around Walker Bay. Things to do in Hermanus include going on memorable boat rides and sea kayak expeditions to get an even closer look at the scenery.
The lovely town is located just off the Garden Route, about 90 minutes- drive southeast of Cape Village. It is possible to see southern right, humpback, and minke whales starting as early as June until December. Watching them leisurely swim along its magnificent shoreline is an incredible experience you won’t soon forget.
In addition to taking a sightseeing tour and strolling along the cliffs that surround the harbor, you may also visit the Old Harbor Museum and the Whale Museum. The annual Hermanus Whale Festival is also held in the town. This commemorates the beginning of the calving and mating season in its shallow waters and sandy coves.
8. Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg National Park is home to abundant animals and a stunning array of birds, roughly 2.5 hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria. Because it is so simple to get there from these large cities, it is an excellent destination for either a day trip or a longer stay. It is significantly smaller than the huge Kruger National Park, but it boasts a larger concentration of wildlife.
The presence of extensive grasslands as well as the artificial lake created by Mankwe Dam has made this location ideal for the settlement of animals. In addition to the “Big Five,” this national park is home to zebras, antelopes, giraffes, and African wild dogs, as well as a diverse collection of bird species.
9. Robben Island
The fact that Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island for a total of 18 years makes it without a doubt the most renowned historical place in South Africa. It is now a museum, and it provides an enlightening peek into the life of the prisoners who were held there during the apartheid era. On tours, it is often former inmates who are the ones who really walk you through the cell blocks and show you everything.
In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias was the one who made the discovery of the remote island that would later be fortified and used as a prison by the Portuguese, the British, and the Dutch. Beginning in 1961, this location was used by the South African government to house political detainees who fought apartheid. Especially in their younger years, they were subjected to horrifyingly frequent beatings, forced to consume substandard food, and compelled to labor in quarries.
Tours of the island begin with multimedia exhibitions at the Nelson Mandela Gateway Museum at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Sightseers then board boats to Robben Island, often braving rough swells on the 30- to 45-minute voyage. Make your reservations early since the tours often fill up quickly.
10. Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is the country’s third biggest national park, after Kruger and Kgalagadi. It is situated in the Eastern Cape, about 72 kilometers north of Port Elizabeth. And it is home to around 600 elephants.
It was established in 1931 with the goal of safeguarding the area’s remaining eleven elephants. In addition to herds of zebras, antelopes, and Cape buffaloes, you may also come across lions, leopards, and rhinoceroses as you make your way through the jungle. Large breeding colonies of adorable African penguins and Cape gannets may be found along the coast as well as on the country’s two outlying islands.
Taking a night safari to observe the park’s nocturnal animals is an unforgettable experience, as is exploring the area on foot or on horseback, as well as other modes of transportation. Addo is the only park in the world that can claim to include all seven of the ‘Big 7’ animals. Therefore it is not to be missed.
11. Jeffreys Bay
Located in the Eastern Cape, Jeffreys Bay is a relaxed town and a top destination for surfers worldwide. It’s situated approximately an hour away from Port Elizabeth. Renowned for its reliable swells, surf breaks, and massive waves, the destination annually hosts premier surfing contests.
J-Bay has been a popular destination for surfers, both professional and recreational since the release of The Endless Summer surf documentary in the 1960s. The destination is renowned for its rapid right-hand point break that can extend for more than a kilometer. The Super Tubes stretch is a popular destination, with waves that can reach up to three meters in height.
If you’re looking for a travel destination, Jeffreys Bay is a great place to visit even if you’re not interested in surfing or tired of falling off your board. The destination boasts stunning beaches with an abundance of gorgeous shells to relax on, followed by a delectable selection of seafood restaurants to indulge in.
12. Cape Agulhas
Cape Agulhas is located at the southernmost point of the African continent. This is a destination where travelers can witness the convergence of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Often neglected in comparison to Cape Point, which is located much nearer to Cape Town. It boasts some truly breathtaking landscapes. In addition, there is a picturesque ancient lighthouse and a spot for taking photographs to validate your presence here.
The Cape of Needles was named by Portuguese navigators. This is a destination that overlooks a challenging stretch of ocean known for its harsh winter storms and unpredictable waves. A lighthouse was constructed in 1849 at this location to safeguard ships and sailors navigating around the cape. The red-and-white striped tower and the nearby large metal relief map of Africa make for fantastic travel photos. You can also take a leisurely walk along the picturesque boardwalk and discover the fascinating rock pools.
While traveling along the Garden Route, we were pleased to make a stop at a less impressive section of the country’s coastline. Witnessing the meeting of the oceans and their shimmering waves extending infinitely into the horizon was a truly remarkable experience.
What is South Africa’s big attraction?
South Africa’s most popular safari destination is Kruger. If you’re planning a trip, consider visiting the country’s most iconic park for a Big Five adventure. Whether you choose to go on a tour or a self-drive safari, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
What is South Africa famous for?
Traveling to South Africa offers a diverse experience with three capitals, 21 National Parks, and ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The country is famous for its spectacular landscapes and a diversity of African animals.
What should tourists see in South Africa?
South Africa travel should see: Cape Town, Kruger National Park, the Garden Route, the Drakensberg Mountains, etc.