14 Nov 2019
Perhaps this is your main reason for coming to the country, and it’s a good reason! If not, add it to your itinerary anyway. There are so many options that you will find something that suits you, whether it’s a horseback safari, night drive, walking safari, to see the Big 5 animals or head among the gazelles.
The oldest and biggest and most famous is Kruger National Park with accommodation and food on the game reserve. If you don’t want to go to the more crowded park, go off-the-beaten-track with Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the Botswana border, with a high population of black-maned lions. For a self-drive safari, look at Mkhuze Game Reserve or Addo Elephant National Park.
If you’d rather go over water than land, then there are plenty of activities for you. iSimangaliso Wetland Park has plenty of activities, from a tour on a platoon boat, or a kayak adventure with the crocodiles and hippos. (If you don’t already know how to kayak, you should probably stick with the boat, as these animals have been known to kill)
If you want a safer but equally thrilling kayak trip, visit Orange River in the Augrabies Falls for Class V rapids or easy paddling.
Cape of Good Hope
The road out of Cape Town is one of the most beautiful drives, so rent a car and pass Boulders Beach, which is filled with a colony of penguins. Two breeding pairs in the 1980s are responsible for the sanctuary, so feel free to take photos of the sight, though don’t touch and definitely don’t feed (their bites are incredibly painful!).
Keep driving and consider a bus tour, cycling, or the two-day Cape of Good Hope trail. If you want something shorter, get the Flying Dutchman Funicular up to the old lighthouse, and walk 30 minutes along the ridgeway to look down at the new lighthouse and the cliffs that plunge straight down to the crashing waves.
Watch the 250 species of birds, whale-watch, enjoy the scenery, go sandboarding, or drive a few hundred miles south to get to the most southerly point of Cape Agulhas.
South Africa is filled with impressive vineyards and wineries, particularly the Stellenbosch region and the Cape Winelands. Here, the cultivation of grapes and wine has been ongoing since the 1600s, and most wineries now offer accommodation, food, tastings and tours.
The wines are now becoming more adventurous, with Chenin blanc and pinotage alongside Bordeaux blends, Shiraz and champagne. Methode Cap Classique (MCC) is a South African sparkling wine made with a champagne method. Try the Babylonstoren Sprankel MCC, a Kanonkop Pinotage or a Beyerskloof Pinotage.
For the best tour, consider booking a tour, or call the wineries you want to visit and consider options a bit further out.
There is a plethora of hiking trails across South Africa, from long-distance walks along the coast, or short adventures in the rugged mountains. Some of the famous trails are the Fanie Botha trail in Mpumalanga or the Rim of Africa in the Western Cape mountains. For more adventure and less structure, go to the Wild Coast (Transkei) or the Drakensberg Mountains, the highest mountain range in South Africa.
For a shorter hike (or a cable car), visit the top of Table Mountain, 3500 ft above Cape Town. The whole of the Table Mountain National Park is gorgeous, filled with wildlife like booted eagles and African harrier-hawks, but the view from the top of Table Mountain is incredible.
UNESCO world heritage sites
South Africa is home to eight different UNESCO World Heritage sites, home of great cultural or natural importance. iSimangaliso Wetland Park mentioned above is one such site, filled with incredible natural areas. Vredefort Dome is one of the largest meteor craters, with a collision thought to have shaped evolutionary history.
The ruins of Mapungubew, an ancient kingdom, the Cradle of Humankind, where ancient ancestral fossils have been found, and the natural areas of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, and the Wonder Caves are incredible areas of natural beauty.
The eighth site is Robben Island, which was used as a prison until 1996. It is still preserved as a memorial to the incarcerated, such as Nelson Mandela. Take a ferry ride, get a tour, or just visit the free museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway or the small museum at the Waterfront’s Jetty 1 – the old departure point.
Other important historical places that you should spend time at are the various museums and memorials. The Apartheid Museum highlights the history of segregation and oppression, showcasing how it was implemented and how the country has struggled towards democracy. District Six museum celebrates the area that used to be very multiracial area but was destroyed during the apartheid.
Constitution Hill is split across four areas, the Old Fort, Number Four Jail, the Women’s Jail and the Awaiting Trial Block. Tours cover the facts of incarceration, legal and historical ramifications, political activists (such as Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela and Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi). Freedom Park honours fallen South Africans in major conflicts across the globe. The park has the //hapo museum covering South African history, the garden of remembrance Isivivane, the main memorial, amphitheatre and Wall of Names, S’khimbuto, with 75,000 names inscribed, and a spiral path through the landscape Mveledzo.
So whatever you want from your time in South Africa, there will be something for you. If you are planning to move, contact us for help, and take a look at our Guides to Moving to South Africa. If you are just going for a short time, consider self-storage for your stuff to keep them safe.