10 must visit places in South Africa | Wild Voyager Blog
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10 must visit places in South Africa

10 must visit places in South Africa

Kruger National Park and Sabi Islands

Spread across an area of 19,485 square kilometres, the world-renowned Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and one of the most exciting Safari destinations. All Big-5 animals- Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhinos can be spotted here. Apart from these, several other species find their home here, like Wildebeest, giraffe, hippo, impala, warthog, cheetah, and crocodile. There are 517 species of birds out of which 253 are residents, 117 are migrants, and 147 are nomads. There are strict anti-poaching laws here, and animals are observed closely to ensure their habitat is not threatened in any way.

Sabi Sands Game reserve is located adjacent to Kruger National Park and is an excellent game-viewing destination, where many species, including the elusive leopard, can be spotted. The Sabi and Sand rivers run through this reserve, lending a magical beauty to this place and adding another dimension to the rich biodiversity. Wildlife flows freely from Kruger National park as there are no fences. So, spotting the numerous species isn’t difficult. There’s no shortage of accommodation options at Sabi Sands Game Reserve, from budget-friendly lodges to ultra-luxurious ones.

Kruger national park
Kruger national park

 

Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind is a 180-kilometre square paleoanthropological site in the northwest region of Johannesburg. The site consists of a complex of limestone caves and is one of the most significant sites of the discovery of Hominids- the ancestors of modern humans. There are remains of the oldest stone tools, dating back 2.6 million years. The Sterkfontein Caves in this region hold the fossilized remains of the 2.3 million-year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus, nicknamed “Mr. Ples”. This extinct species of australopithecine lived between 3.67 to 2 million years ago, and modern humans have evolved from it. The hominin remains in this region are encased in a mixture of limestone and are found in the dolomitic caves.

Apart from exploring these awe-inspiring caves, there are many other activities that tourists can engage in. You can appreciate the beauty of this region from up above in a hot-air balloon. You can also visit the Lesedi village and Maropeng Visitor Centre to get a taste of the local culture and learn more about the history of this place. Other adventure-filled activities include rock climbing and river rafting. For a more tranquil experience, you can visit any of the numerous restaurants that provide an unparalleled dining experience in the Cradle of Humankind.

Cradle of humankind
Cradle of humankind

 

Suncity

The luxury resort and casino of Suncity is situated in the northwest province of South Africa, between the Elands River and the Pilanesberg. With just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg, this surf-and-safari destination offers the ultimate fun-filled experience for everyone. There are numerous different activities you can engage in, like:

  • Enjoy golfing in one of the two 18-hole, world-class golf courses- Gary Player Golf Course and Lost City Golf Course
  • Experience the glamour of the Sun City Casino that features hundreds of exciting slot machines and over 40 table games.
  • Have an unparalleled experience in the entertainment centre- Sun Central. There are two levels- one filled with restaurants, retail outlets, and entertainment centres, and the other one, a conference centre with the best technology.
  • Have the best water park experience at Valley of the Waves. An immense wave pool, numerous slides and rides, a beach bar, and many snack outlets- this park has it all.
  • Game drives are also available from the resort- walking safaris as well as jeep tours, are available, and you can enjoy spotting animals like giraffes, elephants, and lions.

There is a wide array of options for accommodation- depending on the type of vacation, whether it is a solo trip or a family vacation, there is no shortage of options. You can stay at The Palace of the Lost City, the Cabanas, Cascades, Soho, Sun Vacation Club, or Bush Bungalows.

Suncity
Suncity

 

Johannesburg

Johannesburg is the industrial and financial metropolis of South Africa and endearingly called “Joburg” and “Jozi”. The vibrant city is rapidly evolving, from just another Safari stopover to a place of vibrant cultures. The city provides diverse experiences- from the shopping, nightlife, and dining experience of a “big-city” to visits to historical sites and traditional villages. These are the best thing you can do in Johannesburg:

  1. The Apartheid Museum: The museum illustrates, by the means of artefacts, photos, newspaper clippings, and film footage, the history of South Africa’s struggle against injustice. It serves not only as a reminder of the country’s past struggles but also serves as a beacon of hope for the future.
  2. Gold Reef City: Located at a distance of 8 km from the city centre, this family-friendly tourist attraction has some amazing theme park rides and historical exhibits. The place also offers a tour of the disused shaft of the famous Crown Mines.
  3. The Maboneng Precinct: This mixed-use urban renewal project has many cafes and funky restaurants, hotels, entertainment centres, shops, and art galleries. Some warehouses have been transformed into art galleries and studios. It’s a great place to feel the vibe of the city while enjoying some refreshing drinks and food.
  4. Lion & Safari Park: At less than an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, this park hosts some of the most famous African wildlife species, like lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, zebras, and ostriches. You can enjoy guided tours, night-time feeding tours, and river rafting. 
Jburg at night
Jburg at night

 

Garden Route National Park

The Garden Route National Park is a coastal reserve in the Garden Route region of South Africa. It is famous for its dramatic coastline, dense forests, and the Otter Trail. In terms of sheer beauty and rich biodiversity, this national park sets itself apart from other South African national parks. In addition to excellent game-viewing opportunities, Garden Route National Park provides a wide variety of other activities like whale watching tours, eco-tours, treks, rock climbing, and bungee jumping. Setting a great example in “conservation without boundaries”, the GRMP encourages the residents to do their part in conserving the natural heritage of the area. There are a lot of things to do in the park, some of which are mentioned below:

  1. The Otter Trail: This famous activity is a five-day-long trek, enjoyed immensely by adventurous hikers. You get to trek across dense forests, brooks and rivers, and the beautiful African coastline.
  2. The Dolphin Trail:This is just like the Otter trail in terms of the hiking experience but is much more luxurious. You get to enjoy fully catered accommodation and meals, transportation between lodging, and luxurious lodges.
  3. Road Trip:Covering a stretch of 300km, the epic Garden Route Road Trip takes you along coastal roads with jaw-dropping views of the ocean, through the forests and mountain ranges of Tsitsikamma Forest.
  4. Wine Tasting: A lot of local wineries and estates offer the ultimate South-African wine tasting experience. Bramon Wine Estates, Plettenvale Estates, and the family-operated Newstead Lund Family Vineyard are the favorites among tourists.
  5. Shark cage diving – To have an up-and-close experience with the apex predator of the oceans, you can head over to Gansbaai, a place that offers the most thrilling shark cage diving experiences. The cool ocean waters here are home to white and copper sharks. The excursion takes a total of four hours, which includes the launch and return to sea and the dive itself. During all this time, visitors are treated to snacks and a full buffet before the dive, as well as snacks after. You are provided with wetsuits, masks, weights, and towels by the crew. Breathing apparatus or scuba diving equipment is not required, as the cage is lowered right next to the boat and guests can use simple breath-holding techniques to view the sharks as they pass the cage. Accompanied by skilled experts you can lure the sharks without feeling scared. The knowledgeable crew provides you with the best service and the best tips to photograph the sharks. The boat trip to and from the diving location is also very fun, as you can enjoy the views of the beautiful open sea. Apart from the sharks, you can also spot manta rays and sea lions.
Shark cage diving
Shark cage diving

 

Cape town

This stunning, multicultural city is an amalgamation of flourishing arts, nightlife, galleries, design-savvy shops, and dining. There’s a rugged mountain range in the background that drops suddenly into the stunning sea. The pristine white beaches flanked with green forests and granite boulders lend this place an extraordinary beauty. There are a lot of exciting places to check out in Cape Town.

Boulders Beach

The beach gets its name from the granite boulders flanking the landmass. It is also one of the few places in South Africa where you can look at an endangered colony of African penguins. Boulders Beach is a perfect destination for families; the seas are calm here and offer the right swimming temperatures.

Table Mountain

This flat-topped mountain is the most iconic natural wonders of this city. There is a rich diversity of flora here; there are more plant species on Table Mountain than the entire British Isles. The 1086 meters high mountain top is accessible by cableway. Visitors enjoy a range of activities at Table Mountain like paragliding, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, abseiling, snorkeling, diving, and wildlife watching.

Table top mountain
Table top mountain

Cape of Good Hope

This is a 77.5 km section of Table Mountain that includes beautiful scenery and pristine beaches. Visitors are rare in this region, but the ones who visit relish the fantastic walks along the beach and the various birdwatching opportunities, with more than 250 different species spotted here.  

 

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth lies on the Algoa Bay of the Indian Ocean. Situated on a flat tableland, at the height of 60-90 metres, this beautiful city is dotted with parks, oceanariums, and museums. Known as the “Friendly City”, offers a wide collection of attractions like nature trails, heritage safaris, wildlife safaris, and other cultural experiences. The best places to visit and activities to partake in are:

  1. Beaches: With a sprawling coastline of 40 kilometres, Port Elizabeth has the most safest and tidiest beaches in South Africa. With paddling pools and water slides, Wells Estate Beach is a favourite of tourists. Humewood Beach is dotted with trees to provide shade, Kings beach has kiosks, restaurants, and many other entertainment facilities.
  2. Addo Elephant National Park: This is South Africa’s third-largest national park, spread over 444,000 acres. It includes offshore islands that house breeding populations of African penguins and Cape gannets. This park also offers activities like hiking, horseback riding, and game drives where you can spot animals like cape buffalo, zebras, hyenas, leopards, and even lions.
  3. Route 67: Port Elizabeth is famous not just for its beautiful beaches and parks, but also for its cultural heritage. Route 67 is an art and heritage trail in the city’s historical hub. It has numerous art galleries and historical sites, full of murals, sculptures, mosaics, and artwork.
  4. The Boardwalk: You can spend your day at this leisure resort and convention centre, browse the speciality stores, dine at the various restaurants and cafes, enjoy entertainment venues, visit an amusement arcade, bowling alley, or go golfing. At night, you can enjoy the mesmerizing musical fountain show.
Port Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth

 

Knysna

Nestled amongst dense forests, beautiful lakes, and golden beaches, this exquisite town is the most famous one on the Garden Route. The town is situated on South Africa’s only National Lake and is surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountain Range. The Knysna Lagoon is famous for its unique industry, oyster farming. The place was once the center of the timber industry and supplied stinkwood and yellowwood for housebuilding, shipping, and railway line. In fact, “Knysna” is originated from a Khoisan word meaning “place of wood”. This majestic town offers a wide range of activities like:

  • Boating, bait-collecting, and other watersport activities
  • Diving, canoeing, kayaking, scuba-diving, paragliding, and other adventure sports
  • Lagoon cruises and visits to scenic spots
  • Game-drives, including an elephant tour, bird watching, and whale watching
  • Exploring the indigenous forests- hiking and mountain biking
  • Experience golf at the magnificent 18-hole golf courses
  • Wining and dining- the town is famous for its local brew and abundance of seafood
  • Creative experiences- art museums, galleries, and numerous historic exhibits
  • Amazing hotels like Villa Afrikana, Falcons view, and Kanonkop

There is no dearth of things to do in Knysna, from wildlife watching to learning about the local culture. Visitors coming here for a tranquil experience can enjoy the beauty of this place while resting in a luxurious hotel overlooking the breathtakingly beautiful lagoon.

Knysna
Knysna

 

Blyde River Canyon

This is one of the largest canyons on Earth and the largest green canyon. With deep precipitous cliffs and spectacular panoramic views of the scenery, this place is known as one of the greatest natural wonders of Africa. Huge and round dolomite rocks, called “Three Rondavels” grant the visitors unparalleled views, earning this area its name of “Panorama Route”. The extensive Swadini Dam is visible from this vantage point. The “Bourke’s Luck Potholes” are a magical geological phenomenon, created from water erosion and carved as strange cylindrical structures.

The canyon with its lush greenery is host to numerous species of flora and fauna. All five species of South Africa’s primates can be seen in the Blyde Canyon Natural Reserve. Other animals such as Hippopotamus and crocodiles also find their home here. A wide variety of bird species also nest in this region. With perfect scenery and so many animal species, this place is a photographer’s paradise.

Blyde river canyon
Blyde river canyon

 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a large wildlife conservation area, located at the border between South Africa and Botswana. The terrain is made of red dunes, little vegetation, and some trees, mostly Camelthorn. The par is spread over 3.6 million hectares, making this one of the few conservation areas of such magnitude in the world. Dry riverbeds of Nossob and Auob rivers, that are said to flow about once in a century, thread across the plain here. The park hosts abundant wildlife, with many herbivorous species, mammalian predators, and birds residing here. You can spot Black-mane lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena here. Other species include Ground Squirrel, Meerkat, Honeybadger, Pangolin, and Bat-eared Fox. Kgalagadi is a bird-watcher’s paradise, as various elusive species like Pale Chanting Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Lappet-faced Vulture, Bateleur, and Black-breasted Snake Eagle.

The park has three traditional tourist lodges, called “rest camps”, and six wilderness camps for the more adventurous visitors. Accommodation is also available on the Botswana side of the park and cabs are provided.

Lion of kgalagadi
Lion of kgalagadi

 

We hope you enjoyed reading through this curated list of top things to do in South Africa. South Africa is huge and in one trip it is virtually impossible to cover everything, and there is also much more to this amazing country than the above list. To start somewhere, you may like to look at this 12 day itinerary, which covers most of the above places, if not all. The same can be customised for your friends and family group by our travel experience designers. 

If you loved reading this story, then subscribe to our blog here (it will ask to verify your email) to get inspiring travel stories and trivia delivered to your email. Stories about wildlife trivia, cultural experiences, curated luxury hotel lists, underrated places to travel, polar journeys and much more. 


Wild Voyager Team

Wild Voyager Team

The blogging team at Wild Voyager. We are explorers at heart and we love to share our travel stories and destination knowledge with you, which often serve as an inspiration for the life changing journeys we curate. When you decide to embark on one such life changing journey, our travel experience designers at letstalk@wildvoyager.com will be happy to get you started.

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