WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SOUTH AFRICA?
On this page, you can discover the essential experiences not to be missed in South Africa, its must-see tourist sites and the activities that must be done.
This selection may be useful in preparing an itinerary and planning your trip to South Africa, giving you a taste of the best things to do and places to visit.
As the practical information is evolving rapidly, feel free to leave a comment if there are any points to change or if you want to share good tips for travelling to South Africa.
Here are 10 must-see things to do and see on a trip to South Africa:
1. CAPE TOWN AND THE CAPE PENINSULA
Don’t miss Cape Town (Cape Town): enjoy the view from the top of Table Mountain by cable car (1086 metres), visit the colourful Bo-Kaap district, Clifton Beach, take a ferry trip to the old Robben Island prison, visit the vineyards of Constantia, walk along the waterfront, fly over cape Town by paragliding and explore the spectacular tip of the Cape Peninsula 70 km from Cape Town.
2. KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
With an area of 19633 km², it’s the largest and oldest park in South Africa. It is also one of the richest in fauna, you can see the “big five” (lion, leopard, elephant, black rhino and African buffalo) but also hippopotamuses, giraffes… The park can be visited by yourself in a rental car, or otherwise on an organized tour (see Pretoria Backpacker).
More information on Sanparks.org
3. THE DRAKENSBERG MASSIF
A World Heritage Site, Drakensberg lies on the border with Lesotho and is home to the highest peaks in South Africa (3482 m). The panoramas are exceptional. One of the park’s features is the Amphitheatre, one of the most impressive cliffs in the world. Caves and waterfalls can also be seen. Do not miss the breathtaking drive over the Sani Pass, which offers a magnificent view.
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4. SEE THE WHALES
The small town of Hermanus is the best place to observe them directly from the coast: whales gather in the bay opposite the city, especially in October, where they sometimes approach about 20 metres from the shore.
5. DIVE IN A CAGE GREAT WHITE SHARKS
Half an hour’s drive from Hermanus is the city of Gansbaai, which is the starting point for excursions to see the great white sharks up close (sheltered from a cage, of course!). Several companies offer excursions from Hermanus or Gansbaai (tours are also available in Mossel Bay). They also offer breaching trips, to see sharks jump out of the water. Prices are around 1500-1900R (95-120€).
Useful links: apexpredators.com & sharkdivingunlimited.com
6. BLYDE RIVER CANYON
The third largest canyon in the world and the second largest in Africa after the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It is 20 km long and 700 metres deep. There are several hiking routes that can last up to several days. The views are exceptional and you can see many primates and other animals. Plan several days to explore the area. The best time to visit the canyon is from June to the end of August (clearer weather).
- Interesting blog with a lot of information to visit the Canyon
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7. THE GARDEN ROAD
The Garden Route follows the coastline from Mossel Bay in the west to the mouth of the Stormsriver in the east, for 200 km, through South Africa’s most beautiful coastal landscapes.
8. ISIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK
In the heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is Lake St Lucia, where you can observe crocodiles, hippos, and many birds.
9. SEE THE WILD FLOWERS OF THE NAMAQUALAND
Located along the Atlantic coast, the desert region of Namaqualand is covered with multicoloured carpets of flowers between mid-August and mid-September and offers extraordinary landscapes.
10. KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK
A national park shared between South Africa and Botswana and managed by both countries. Three quarters of the park is located in Botswana and one quarter in South Africa. We can see red sand dunes and many animals: oryx, hyenas, dogs…. It’s one of the best preserved parks in the world.
MORE THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN SOUTH AFRICA
If you have some time in South Africa, here are some other places to visit that are worth a look:
- Take the luxurious blue train between Cape Town and Pretoria (27 hours). Another alternative: Cape Town in Johanesburg in first class for 2840 R or the sleeping car of the hosholoza Meyl (630 R)
- Cango caves
- See the penguins in Boulders Beach, an hour’s drive from Cape town
- Chapman’s Peak Drive Scenic Drive
- Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
- Golden Gate Highlands National Park
- The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg
- Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
- Durban: the world’s largest rope swing
- On the border with Namibia, canoeing on the Orange River
- Madikwe Game Reserve (few visitors compared to other parks)
- The Tugela Falls
- Route 62, to explore the Little Karoo from Prince Albert
- Richtersveld Transfrontier: superb landscapes
- De Hoop Nature Reserve
- Addo Elephant National Park: it is at the end of the Garden Route
- Isimangaliso (St. Lucia) Wetland Park
- Hiking in the Cederberg region (rocky arches)
- The canyon of the Oribi gorge
- The Bloukrans Bridge or Bloukrans Bridge (highest bungee jumping in the world)
THE TOP THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN SOUTH AFRICA ON GOOGLE MAP
You will find all the sites mentioned here on Google Map