Best Places to Visit in South Africa
South Africa is no doubt one of the most fascinating countries to visit in Africa. It’s amazing blend of African and western culture makes it suitable for travelers from all over the world. A conservative African will identify with the readily available and rich display of immense culture and traditionally rich beauty of the Zulu Nation while non-Africans can still enjoy same while staying in an environment with much semblance to the western world such as Johannesburg.
Overall, South Africa is highly touristed, anyone intending to visit for a short period of time and make of tour of the country will have a swell time and enough beautiful memory to last a lifetime. We all know it’s not particularly easy to tour the whole of a country in only a few weeks or month especially if you are a first time visitor, therefore in this article, I will be sharing the few places that no one should miss out on while on a visit to South Africa. Either you are on a business meeting and have only a couple of days to spare on your schedule or you are solely visiting as a tourist, below is a list of places you wouldn’t want to miss while you are in South Africa.
- Cape Town
Cape Town is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the entire world and of course one of the most popularly visited in South Africa. This is more or less a sure place everyone travelling to South Africa will step in either at the beginning of your journey or on your way back. However, simply having your plane land in Cape Town is not enough to enjoy the wonderful experiences the breathtaking, picturesque city is ever ready to offer foreigners.
There are amazing beaches surrounding the town where you can have plenty of good vibes and sensations. At Cape Town, there are a number of important places where you will sure find incredible culture, delicious meals and most definitely a very scenic view of the entire city (the peak of the Lion’s head is the best place to get this view preferably at sunrise!).
Visit the infamous Table Mountain National Park and have a memorable view of the Table Mountain with its iconic cliffs, variety of plant species, birds and fantastic range of landforms. The Table Mountain was referred to by the Khoi people as “Hoerikkwaggo” meaning “the mountain in the sea”. It is absolutely magnificent and now described as one the new seven natural wonders of the world.
You should also find some time to visit Robben Island, one of the amazing spots of rich history significantly known as the site for political prisoners (this was the place where Mandela was imprisoned). If you take a guided tour of the Island, you will most certainly see the caves that once served as the prisoners’ washroom and study. The Island is now one of the UNESCO world heritage sites and a very popular tourist center.
- The Garden Route
This includes Wilderness, Oudtshoorn, Nature Valley and several other amazing places. For tourists and visitors who enjoy backpacking, the amazing Garden route will be the next place of choice to visit while in South Africa. The Garden route is beyond doubt one of the most widely visited places and could be a bit touristy during festive seasons especially in December. Take a hike along dense forests and wilderness, beautiful rivers, beaches, parks and amazing gardens.
If you are visiting sometime around July to November, you don’t want to miss checking out Hermanus, a seaside town in the Western Cape for a chance to view whales from land- generally mind blowing and fun! You should visit the Cliff path coastal trail and spend the night to have a really nice and amazing time sighting whales; it will be worth your time. Don’t forget to visit any one of the remarkable restaurants available to try out pleasant gourmet dishes.
Also, you can visit Oudtshoorn and take a ride on ostriches, go to Boulder beach or Wilderness (here you’ll enjoy sights of beaches, estuaries, lagoons and have a swell time surfing) and enjoy amazing scenery. Those who love surfing will particularly enjoy Jeffrey Bay.
I have to add a tip here: If you are a fan of bungee jumping, not afraid of heights and all, why not stop and take a bungee jump over the bridge located near the town of Nature Valley. The bridge is classed as the highest commercial bridge
There is also the stunning coastal town of Knysna located in between the striking Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean. In Knysna, there are beautiful beaches to explore, galleries and special arts and crafts markets where you can get attractive pieces to take back home as gifts or decorations.
- The Drakensburg Mountain Region
This is a most intriguing place you do not want to miss in South Africa. The wide range of mountains and valleys featuring the highest peak in the country and amazing views available all make the Drakensburg Mountain Region a must visit. There is also the undulating Midland Hills, the rise and fall of amazing landforms, rare wildlife and other exciting natural scenic views( you will find some rock art as well) that will leave you with pleasant memories.
- KwaZulu Natal Region, Durban
Durban is one of the largest cities in South Africa, the largest in the KwaZulu region and the most populous in South Africa. The KwaZulu region, of which Durban forms the center, houses major World Heritage sites in South Africa, beaches lined with golden lights of sunset and amazing parks like the iSimangaliso Wetland park and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, where you will see wild beaches and animals in a natural environment. You will have an opportunity to take a look and spend time with crocodiles, turtles, hippos and elephants, rhinos and impala. There’s also the amazing variety of hills and hiking trails for those who love to hike.
Also, don’t forget to explore the Zululand, the captivating blend of high and low grounds (hills and valleys) and battlefields, games and entertainment at the Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom and finally shop at Victoria Market and the Gateway Theater in Mhlanga.
How does one even visit South Africa without making a stop at Johannesburg?! There are a lot of museums to view and experience the culture and history of South Africa, restaurants to try out incredible local and international delicacies, galleries, beautiful towns and neighbourhoods to visit.
Take a stop at the Apartheid Museum, Maboneng and then Guateng, the home of gold discovery in South Africa, check out the first green city at Times Square in Pretoria and have some thrilling experience at the Carnival City on the East Rand.
Also visit Soweto, not for any special magnificent view but for a feel of the narration it represents- see the slums that highlight the history of apartheid in South Africa. You can also engage a local to listen to the war history as it happened in the past. You will most definitely still see the existing poverty and crime as you explore the town. However, you will enjoy the local music and rich culture the town has to offer.
Important Note: you may want to visit and explore Johannesburg in the company of a South African resident as a guide. The city is not exactly the safest in South Africa with the wild class segregation and high rate of crime. One can never be too safe or cautious.
- Wine lands of the Western Cape
There is no visiting South Africa without a stop at the vineyards or wine lands as they are most popularly called. The South African Wine lands are a blend of fascinating wine vines, farmlands and amazing restaurants. The most popular of the wine towns include Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. For the love of wines, they offer visitors the view of a wide range of wine estates and you can have lots of world class wine to taste at a relatively cheaper price and pleasure your taste buds. A few wine tastings are free though but you might want to hold some money especially to taste the expensive wines. Also ensure you visit one or two of the terrific restaurants to taste incredible local and intercontinental dishes available.
- Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Kruger National park :
Visit Mpumalanga if you are a fan of quiet and you don’t like crowd. Not as widely visited as other areas but definitely with as much scenery and amazing views. Here you will find beautiful mountain ranges, fascinating waterfalls over edges, a breathtaking mix of high and lowland and striking game parks.
You should also visit the ancient Kruger national park which happens to be the first park in South Africa and known as home to the Big Five. It boasts of an amazing blend of plant varieties, birds and animals. You can decide to camp out at the park and enjoy a night drive or get a regular accommodation in a five star lodge.
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