South Africa has all of the features that travelers long for in a vacation destination: fine weather, gorgeous scenery, great beaches, modern accommodations and superb cuisine. The southern tip of Africa also offers an exotic array of once-in-a-lifetime adventures, from off-roading on a safari to diving with great white sharks. It’s hard to name another holiday destination that offers as much variety. Here’s a look ash the best places to visit in South Africa.
10 Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, although it is much greener due to its lush subtropical foliage. Walking treks through the rich diversity of flora and fauna filled canyon offer views of magnificent escarpments, waterfalls and ancient geological phenomenon. Visitors have the opportunity to encounter all five of South Africa’s primates here, as well as hippos and crocodiles near the wetlands of Swadini Dam.
9 Cape Winelands
The fertile valleys of the Cape Winelands are surrounded by majestic mountains, sleepy villages, fruitful orchards and some of the lushest scenery in South Africa. Visitors can follow the Wine Routes of the Cape to visit the vineyards of the country’s finest winemakers, whose sherries, ports, brandies and intriguing whites and reds are world famous for their delicate flavors and savory palatability.
8 Addo Elephant National Park
Located in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the Addo Elephant National Park is one of the country’s larger parks. The Park is famous for its elephant population that has a special, brownish skin color due to the red soil. Amongst the elephants other animals, like ostriches, antelopes and warthogs can be seen. As part of the park’s expansion, a group of lions and a group of spotted hyenas have been introduced to the park in 2004.
Located on the southern coast of Africa near the Garden Route, Hermanus is famous for its shore-based whale-watching. The sheltered, shallow waters attract southern right whales that migrate to the region each year to mate and breed. A 6 mile long cliff-side walk with built-in telescopes and benches offers visitors plenty of opportunities to view these social animals as they raise their flukes in the sea breezes. Whale-watching boat tours are available as well.
South Africa’s second-largest city, Durban is located on the eastern coast. Durban’s subtropical climate, scenic beaches and close proximity to Johannesburg have made the coastal city a popular vacation destination for South Africans. The English Colonial architecture that once dominated the city has been enlivened by a mix of Zulu murals, Islamic mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches.
5 Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve
As the only park under a formal conservation effort in KwaZulu Natal where you can see the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceros – the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve offers visitors wildlife viewing opportunities second to none. Wildlife enthusiasts may enjoy the vast expanses of native plants and native animals during guided walks, self-guided drives, or opt for a thrilling viewing experience by boat along the Hluhluwe dam.
4 Garden Route
The Garden Route is a scenic stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It extends from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The name comes from the diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. It includes some of the best places to visit in South Africa including Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley.
The Drakensberg is a mountainous region that forms the boundary between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, and offers some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. The name ‘Drakensberg’ is derived from the Dutch, meaning “mountains of the dragon”, which truly captures something of the mountain’s otherworldly atmosphere.
2 Kruger National Park
Covering a wide stretch of bush and savannah in the northern reaches of South Africa, Kruger National Park borders the countries of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. For its dense animal population and the variety of its flora and fauna, the park is considered the jewel of South Africa’s extensive park system. Numerous well-kept tarred and gravel roads have made the park a favorite choice for self-driving expeditions.
1 Cape Town
Located on the southwest tip of South Africa’s Western Cape Province, Cape Town is the most popular tourist destination in all of Africa. The metropolis enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate, a well-developed infrastructure and a spectacular natural setting. Cape Town’s center is located in a relatively small area between Table Mountain and Table Bay. The city also serves as a home base for exploring nearby attractions, including the region’s many diverse beaches as well as the rolling hills and valleys of the Winelands.