South Africa was called a “Rainbow Nation” by archbishop Desmond Tutu who tried to describe the essence of the country with a few words. The blend of cultures and people makes the country unique and remarkable. Sometimes it’s also called “The World in One Country” due to the perfect mixture of the modern and traditional. South Africa is a destination for adventurers, offering various Africa Safaris experiences, an abundance of wildlife, magnificent mountains, beautiful vineyards, and divine beaches. It is a land of diversity. To get the most out of your trip to South Africa, we decided to help you narrow down the choice of which places to visit. Thus, take a look at the best places that must be on your bucket list this year!
Table of Contents
Addo Elephant National Park
As the name itself suggests, Addo National Park is an elephant sanctuary that is home to 11 Addo elephants, with a reddish color. It was established in the 1930s and nowadays is one of the largest national parks in South Africa.
It’s the perfect place for spotting the Addo elephants and consists of five sections, each with its own features. The Colchester section is the main area where you can see antelopes, elephants, and zebras wandering around and cohabiting in the park. It might be difficult to get to the park because it’s mostly reachable via guided tours.
We’d recommend checking out these escorted tours to South Africa; however, you need to do your research and book an organized tour according to your fit.
Cape Town is known for the flat-topped Table Mountain, which overlooks the city and creates a breathtaking panoramic view. This city is among the most beautiful in the world, and it’s the home to the famous Cape Winelands, the Waterfront, Robben Island, the world-class Zeitz Museum of contemporary art in Africa, the stunning beaches, and the Cape Peninsula.
The Cape Peninsula is a nature reserve of beaches and breathtaking bays. The shallow waters of Boulders Beach and Constantia Wine Route are the perfect spots to experience the peninsula. One of the most impressive routes is Chapmans Peak Drive, a road filled with red rock boulders that connect the peninsula to Cape Point.
And if you want to learn more about the locals and develop a deeper connection within the community, we recommend taking a township tour. It’s a great way to understand the locals’ lifestyle and how they fight for a better future. It is a tour that will make you more humble.
The Wine Region
South Africa is also known for its high-class wine production and the best wineries in the world. Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl are famous areas where you can taste wine. It is a short drive from Cape Town, so you can pay it a quick visit even with a fully-booked itinerary.
Paarl and Stellenbosch are bigger towns than Franschhoek, but we must say that the latter is more beautiful. It’s a little town with hilly landscapes and white buildings that brings up a cozy atmosphere.
Tip – If you are tasting more than one wine in the wineries, make sure you are not driving later!
The Drakensberg is known for the Dragon mountain, a more than 1000 km mountain range between KwaZulu Natal province and the Kingdom of Lesotho. It’s a couple of hours’ drive from Durban, and the region is known for the rock pools, stunning panoramic views, countless waterfalls, and beautiful scenery.
What can you explore in Drakensberg? A high diversity of natural wonders! Among them, the following places are the best:
- Kruger National Park. It is one of the largest national parks in Africa, located north of Lesotho. It is famous for being one of the best natural exhibition of the African wildlife.
- Blyde River Canyon. It is known as the the third largest canyons in the world. It is also located close to Kruger NP. Besides the giant canyons slopes and the meanders of the river below, it also features some amazing formations and spots like the Three Rondavels and God’s Window.
- Mt. Thabana Ntlenyana (3482 m). This is the highest point in Drakensberg Mountains. Although it is located in the small country of Lesotho, being geographycally a part of the same system, it is worth mentioning. The place is great for hiking and adventures.
- Tugela Falls. This is a fantastic waterfall, known as the second highest falls on the Earth. It is located at the border with Lesotho.
Many outdoor activities take place in the Drakensberg, so make sure you spend at least two days there.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
iSmangaliso is a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts beautiful sceneries, white sandy beaches, plenty of wildlife, and unique landscapes. You will see the buffalo rhino, troop baboons, and zebras, to name just a few.
The wetland park is known as the hippo area, which is the best place to see crocodiles and hippos and enjoy the view of these water-loving animals. Make sure to stay safe during your visit to the iSimangaliso park and not get too close to the wildlife!
Durban is one of those places you must see in South Africa. It has a lot of human cultural spots, as well as stunning natural areas. You can visit the Durban Botanic Gardens, the Golden Mile, and the UShaka Marine World. Among them, the Golden Mile is one of the best open-to-the-ocean beach areas in the world, famous for its wide sandy beaches, its swell, great for surfing, but also some shark attacks. However, if you want to observe the rich marine life in the area- UShaka Marine World is the best place.
This is the southernmost point of the whole continent of Africa. Here is where the Atlantic an the Indian oceans meet. Therefore, this places is of special geographical value.
But of course, it is worth visiting not just for geography. It also offers stunning coastal landscapes. And again, if you are really interesting of geography (which is highly advisable for every traveller), you can look southward having in mind that there is nothing else in front of you until the icy kingdom of Antarctica!
Look at the Moon! One of the things the Moon is famous for is the craters. But do you know that there are some craters on the Earth, even larger that those on the Moon? So, here, in South Africa, you can find the largest crater on our planet. It is called Vredefort Dome and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vredefort Dome has been originally about 300 km wide ringed system, but the outermost ring is today eroded. So, the best-preserved ring consists of hills with diameter of 70 km. If you want to explore the area and its geological values, go to the tourist city of Parys as your starting point!
If you are short on time, you can include the Zulu and Shakaland culture trip in a day and explore these areas in one drive. Or you can fly to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth to save on driving.
So, these were the South African delights that must be on your bucket list! To learn more about the latest travel news and restrictions for traveling to South Africa, the requirements, and the vaccinations needed, proceed reading our blog.
Take a look at this video for more impressions from South Africa:
Check some travel books about South Africa:
Disclaimer: Journey Beyond the Horizon is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites at no additional cost to you.
Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.