South Africa, a land of diverse landscapes and cultures, offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re captivated by wildlife, fascinated by history, or seeking adventure in the great outdoors, South Africa has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll unveil the 20 best things to do in South Africa, ensuring that your visit to this vibrant African nation is filled with unforgettable moments.
1. Safari in Kruger National Park
Embark on a safari adventure in Kruger National Park, a wildlife haven that boasts an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Spanning nearly two million hectares, this iconic park is home to the Big Five—lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. Join a guided game drive to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. The immersive experience of the African bush, coupled with expert guides, makes Kruger a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
2. Explore Table Mountain in Cape Town
Ascend to the summit of Table Mountain in Cape Town for panoramic views that will leave you breathless. Whether you opt for a scenic cable car ride or a challenging hike, the vistas from the top are unparalleled. Marvel at the cityscape, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The diverse flora and fauna on the mountain, known for its unique fynbos, add an extra layer of fascination to this iconic landmark.
3. Visit Robben Island
Delve into South Africa’s complex history by taking a boat trip to Robben Island. Once a political prison, this UNESCO World Heritage site is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Explore the prison cells and learn about the resilience of those who fought against apartheid. The journey to Robben Island is a poignant reminder of the nation’s struggle for freedom and the triumph of the human spirit.
4. Experience the Garden Route
Embark on a journey along the Garden Route, a stretch of coastal paradise adorned with lush forests, pristine beaches, and charming towns. Knysna and Plettenberg Bay offer not only stunning landscapes but also opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and water sports. The scenic drive along the Garden Route introduces you to the natural beauty that defines South Africa’s southern coastline.
5. Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch
Indulge in a sensory delight by exploring the wine estates of Stellenbosch. This renowned wine region is not only famous for its award-winning wines but also for its picturesque landscapes. Take a leisurely wine-tasting tour, sampling a variety of reds and whites amid the vineyard-covered hills. Stellenbosch’s historic charm and culinary offerings further enhance the experience.
6. Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
For adrenaline junkies, Gansbaai offers an unforgettable adventure—cage diving with great white sharks. Descend into the underwater world and come face to face with these magnificent predators. This thrilling activity provides a unique opportunity to observe and appreciate these apex predators in their natural habitat.
7. Visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg
Deepen your understanding of South Africa’s tumultuous history at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Through compelling exhibits and multimedia displays, the museum chronicles the apartheid era, highlighting the resilience of those who fought against institutionalized racism. It’s a powerful educational experience that fosters reflection and dialogue.
8. Blyde River Canyon
Discover the awe-inspiring Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons globally, with its striking cliffs and verdant landscapes. Explore geological wonders like Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a series of naturally formed rock pools. The canyon’s panoramic views and unique formations make it a haven for nature lovers and photographers.
9. Hike the Drakensberg Mountains
For hiking enthusiasts, the Drakensberg Mountains offer a haven of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes. The UNESCO-listed uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park showcases stunning vistas, ancient rock art, and diverse ecosystems. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of these majestic mountains and witness South Africa’s natural beauty.
10. Visit Tsitsikamma National Park
Experience the coastal wonder of Tsitsikamma National Park, where lush forests meet the Indian Ocean. Hike the Storms River Mouth Trail, cross the iconic suspension bridge, and marvel at the dramatic coastline. Tsitsikamma offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and zip-lining.
11. Sun City Resort
Indulge in luxury and entertainment at Sun City Resort, an oasis in the North West Province. From world-class accommodation to a bustling casino, Sun City offers a blend of relaxation and excitement. Golf enthusiasts can tee off on championship courses, while families can enjoy the Waterworld and Valley of Waves.
12. Tour the Cradle of Humankind
Unearth the mysteries of human evolution by exploring the Cradle of Humankind. Venture into the Sterkfontein Caves, where significant hominid fossils have been discovered. The visitor centers and guided tours provide insights into our ancestral heritage, making it a fascinating journey through time.
13. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. Indulge in shopping at boutique stores, savor diverse cuisines at waterfront restaurants, and enjoy live entertainment. The backdrop of the bustling harbor and Table Mountain adds to the charm of this iconic waterfront precinct.
14. Visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Embark on a safari adventure in the vast landscapes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Known for its red dunes and diverse wildlife, including the elusive black-maned Kalahari lion, this park offers a unique safari experience. Capture the beauty of the arid terrain and encounter iconic African species in their natural habitat.
15. Surfing in Jeffrey’s Bay
For surf enthusiasts, Jeffrey’s Bay is a surfing mecca with its famous Supertubes. Ride the waves of this renowned surf break and immerse yourself in the laid-back coastal vibe. Jeffrey’s Bay is not only about surfing; it also offers pristine beaches, vibrant shops, and a relaxed atmosphere.
16. Explore the Valley of Desolation
Embark on a scenic journey to the Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park. Marvel at the towering dolerite columns that create a surreal landscape. The panoramic views of the surrounding plains make this geological wonder a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
17. Wild Coast
Discover the untamed beauty of the Wild Coast, a stretch of unspoiled coastline characterized by rugged cliffs and secluded beaches. Explore traditional villages, where the Xhosa culture thrives, and savor the tranquility of this less-explored region. The Wild Coast invites you to connect with nature and experience the authenticity of rural South Africa.
18. Victoria Falls
While technically located in Zambia and Zimbabwe, a side trip to Victoria Falls is an awe-inspiring addition to your South African adventure. Witness the sheer power and beauty of the falls, and partake in activities like helicopter rides or a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.
19. Hermanus Whale Watching
Experience the thrill of whale watching in Hermanus, a coastal town renowned for its excellent land-based whale-watching opportunities. From June to November, southern right whales frequent the shores, providing a captivating display of breaching and tail-slapping. The scenic cliffs of Hermanus offer prime viewpoints for observing these majestic marine mammals.
20. Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg
Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts and culture scene of Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg. This rejuvenated urban neighborhood is a hub of creativity, featuring art galleries, street art, trendy cafes, and boutiques. Explore the colorful streets, attend cultural events, and appreciate the dynamic energy of this artistic enclave.
South Africa offers a myriad of experiences that cater to diverse interests. From the untamed wilderness of national parks to the cultural richness of urban precincts, each destination contributes to the tapestry of South Africa’s allure. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or nature lover, South Africa invites you to embark on a journey of discovery.