13 Cool Matters to Do in South Africa

The coastal drive near Cape Town, South Africa
Posted: 03/2/20 | March 2nd, 2020

South Africa is legendary for its gorgeous landscapes, unbelievable wildlife, award-winning wineries, lovely seashores, and its energetic and cosmopolitan cities. I’ve been to the nation twice and all the time depart wanting extra. There’s one thing deeply particular about this place.

Stretching over 2,800 kilometers (1,700 miles) and residential to over 56 million individuals, you would simply spend months right here and nonetheless not see every thing. Heck, simply driving from one finish of the nation to the opposite would take a number of days.

Although there are lots of of matters to see and do in South Africa, right here’s a listing of what I believe are the must-see and must-do actions whilst you’re right here:

1. Go on a safari

a zebra on safari in South Africa
Most individuals come to South Africa to go on a safari — and for good cause. It’s dwelling to among the greatest sport drives on this planet and also you’ll wish to spend at the least a few nights in one of many lots of of nationwide parks. There’s really nothing prefer it.

Essentially the most well-known safari vacation spot is Kruger Nationwide Park, which has unbelievable variety and tons of fantastic wildlife, together with the “Huge 5” (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and Cape buffalo).

I went to Kruger a couple of years again, and it was every thing I’d anticipated and extra. Though you possibly can drive your self across the park, I really suggest utilizing a information as a result of they’ll be a lot better at recognizing animals and also will offer you heaps information about them, their habitat, and the park itself. Since that is a type of “as soon as in a lifetime” experiences it’s value spending the cash to get a educated information.

Whereas Kruger is essentially the most well-known safari vacation spot, there are dozens of different choices throughout South Africa. Listed below are a couple of I like to recommend:

  • Hluhluwe and iMfolozi Nationwide Park – Situated within the east of the nation and is thought for its rhino populations.
  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – On the border with Botswana within the north, it’s recognized for its black-maned lions.
  • Addo Elephant Nationwide Park – Close to Port Elizabeth on the south coast, it is a nice alternative for self-drive safaris.
  • Pilanesburg Nationwide Park & Sport Reserve – Dwelling to the Huge 5 and is doable in a day journey from Johannesburg should you’re brief on time.

Safaris are so frequent in South Africa that just about each worth level and finances is roofed. Lodging choices vary from budget-friendly campsites to upscale guesthouses and resorts.

2. Go to Cape City

Cape Town in South Africa
Cape City is the most well-liked vacation spot in South Africa — and for good cause. It’s a vibrant, multicultural metropolis with energetic bars, scrumptious meals, nice climate, numerous nature and mountain climbing close by. Along with town’s wonderful seashores, the waterfront is bursting with matters to do as properly.

There’s lots to do within the metropolis so take a look at this complete publish I wrote on what to do if you are there!

3. Go Browsing

surfing in South Africa
Each the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean coasts of South Africa supply world-class browsing. Jeffrey’s Bay on the south coast close to Port Elizabeth is essentially the most well-known browsing vacation spot in South Africa and affords huge waves and a number of breaks.

There are additionally numerous good browsing areas close to Cape City, together with Dungeons in Hout Bay and numerous others additional south on the Western Cape, corresponding to Lengthy Seaside.

If you happen to’re a newbie, Durban is a good possibility for browsing classes due to the dependable waves and heat water of the Indian Ocean. Anticipate to pay round 500 ZAR per particular person for a 2-Three hour lesson.

4. Study About Apartheid

Nelson Mandela monument in South Africa
You’ll be able to’t go to South Africa with out studying concerning the horror of apartheid (a system of institutionalized racial segregation), which solid its shadow over the nation from the 1940s all the way in which into the 1990s. Opened in 2001, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg does a superb job of highlighting apartheid’s historical past and legacy.

Whereas in Johannesburg, be go to the Constitutional Court docket. It stands on the location of a former political jail and you’ll tour among the jail ruins and be taught extra concerning the many political prisoners who have been unjustly detained right here.

Additionally, you should definitely go to the District Six Museum in Cape City. It’s a memorial to the individuals who lived within the space within the 1970s who have been compelled to relocate in order that white residents may transfer in. It’s each sobering and illuminating.

7. Go to Robben Island

Robben Island, South Africa
In terms of studying about apartheid, you’ll wish to additionally plan a visit to Robben Island. Situated simply 4 miles off the coast of Cape City, Robben Island was a maximum-security jail till 1996. Through the apartheid period, many political prisoners have been despatched to Robben Island. This consists of Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years behind bars on Robben Island. The jail is now a UNESCO World Heritage website and some of the essential cultural websites within the nation.

Situations on the jail have been extremely harsh, with many prisoners compelled into laborious labor within the limestone quarry. They have been additionally made to sleep on the stone flooring of their cells and not using a mattress as properly.

In the present day, former prisoners are tour guides they usually make clear what life was like right here throughout apartheid. You’ll be capable of see Mandela’s cell and take a bus trip across the island to see the prisoner’s graveyard in addition to the quarry the place Mandela and different prisoners have been compelled to work.

Ferries function Three occasions a day, beginning at 9am (a 4th ferry operates throughout the summer time season). Admission is 320 ZAR for adults and 200 ZAR for anybody below 18, which incorporates the ferry trip. Anticipate to spend at the least 4 hours right here (together with the tour and attending to/from the island).

5. Hike the Drakensberg Mountains

Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa
The Drakensberg area close to the east coast is dwelling to the very best mountain vary within the nation, with rugged, inexperienced peaks, sandstone cliffs, and deep valleys. There are many trails, starting from informal walks to strenuous climbs and loads of choices for each day hikes and multi-day hikes. A number of the standard routes embody the next:

  • Rainbow Gorge: Straightforward and delightful two-hour path within the Cathedral Peak space.
  • Ploughman’s Kop: A half-day path with a steep climb, however lovely rock swimming pools alongside the way in which so you possibly can cool off with a dip.
  • Chain Ladders Hike: A difficult one-day hike, together with ladders connected to the rock face.
  • Cathedral Peak: Greatest climbed with a information, this hike will be break up throughout two days with an evening spent tenting in a cave to interrupt up the hikes.
  • Big’s Cup Path: Usually accomplished a five-day hike, however not overly strenuous.


6. See African Penguins

penguins in South Africa
A part of the Desk Mountain Nationwide Park and a brief drive from Cape City, the Boulders Penguin Colony is dwelling to a number of thousand African penguins. (Enjoyable truth: they’re also referred to as jackass penguins, as a result of the noises they make sound like a donkey braying.)

Sadly, they’re an endangered species because of human impacts like air pollution, oil spills, and habitat destruction. For that cause, you aren’t allowed to stroll on the seaside the place the penguins breed however you possibly can watch them from the close by viewing platforms. There’s additionally a raised boardwalk that begins on the Boulders Customer Centre which is able to allow you to rise up near the penguins. Simply remember that they’re wild animals and the seaside is their dwelling, not yours. Make sure you hold your distance and don’t attempt to feed them or pet them. As cute as they’re, they’re nonetheless wild animals.

8. Take a Street Journey

road trip on the Garden Route in South Africa
South Africa is an superior street journey vacation spot. Essentially the most well-known route is the Backyard Route, which takes you alongside coastal cliffs and thru forests and mountain ranges. Stretching alongside the south-central coast from Mossel Bay within the west to Storms River within the east, the Backyard Route is simply round 200km (125 miles) lengthy however is filled with seashores, lakes, and lagoons.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you possibly can cease at Bloukrans Bridge, the very best bridge in Africa, and go bungee leaping there. Anticipate to pay round 1,400 ZAR ($95 USD) per particular person.

The gorgeous seashores of Plettenberg Bay on the Indian Ocean are additionally a worthwhile Backyard Route cease.

There are different standard road-trip routes in South Africa, such because the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, which winds across the Blyde River Canyon, or the Wild Coast route for exploring dramatic coastal landscapes. You can even decide a road-trip route that takes in a number of nationwide parks, as there are fairly a couple of scattered across the nation the place you possibly can self-drive by the park to see the wildlife.

9. Go Wine Tasting

wine tasting in South Africa
South Africa’s local weather is ideal for grape rising and the nation produces award-winning white, pink, and glowing wines. The wine business right here dates again to the seventeenth century and there are lots of of wineries to be discovered (and sampled in fact).

Within the Cape Winelands area not removed from Cape City, Stellenbosch has over 150 wineries in a really small space whereas a bit additional away, Franschhoek not solely has over 50 vineyards but in addition a few of South Africa’s greatest eating places. You are able to do a wine tour that may take you to a number of completely different or you possibly can keep in a single for an evening or two (many have visitor lodging).

If you happen to don’t have a car and wish to take a tour, anticipate to pay at round 1,000 ZAR per particular person for a half-day tour of the area and its wineries. Many hostels run their very own excursions to the area or have partnerships with native tour guides who can take you as properly. Make sure you store round for one of the best deal!

10. Discover the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve in South Africa
A frequent cease on the way in which to or from Kruger, Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon on this planet. It’s notably lush and inexperienced in comparison with the Grand Canyon and likewise has extraordinarily deep, sheer cliffs. There are quite a few pure rock formations and different pure options on this UNESCO-listed reserve, together with Pinnacle Rock, God’s Window, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. You can even discover historic rock artwork within the Echo Caves.

There are a number of mountain climbing trails in addition to abseiling, mountain biking, and white-water rafting.

11. Go Whale Watching

whale watching in South Africa
South Africa is mostly thought of to be among the finest locations on this planet to go whale watching. If you happen to’re visiting between June and November you’ll have a superb opportunity of recognizing Southern proper whales, Bryde’s whales, and orcas.

The city of Hermanus, situated 120km southeast of Cape City, is the bottom for lots of the greatest whale-watching corporations within the nation. Some respected corporations to take a look at are:

  • Southern Proper Charters
  • Hermanus Whale Cruises
  • Xplora Excursions

Anticipate to pay round 950 ZAR for a two-hour tour. Drinks and snacks are often included and reductions are sometimes out there for college kids, seniors, and youngsters. you should definitely e-book upfront as excursions promote out quick since there’s a restricted window.

13. Go Scuba Diving

tropical fish in South Africa
If you happen to like to dive (or wish to be taught), head to Cape City. The diving right here is world-class because of the blending of heat and chilly ocean currents. Right here you’ll discover rocky shores, numerous reefs, and kelp forests. There are additionally numerous wrecks on each side of the peninsula too.

Anticipate to pay round 1,450 ZAR for a one-tank dive (together with tools rental) and 6,600 ZAR to your PADI certification should you’re a brand new diver.

For extra wrecks, head to Port Elizabeth (which is on the coast midway between Cape City and Durban). There are a number of fascinating wrecks to discover right here, together with the Haerlem (a scuttled navy frigate) and the Doddington (which wrecked within the 18th century). It’s additionally an important space for diving with sharks.

For one thing extra distinctive, go to Port St. Johns to witness the sardine migration. It happens each June with 4 miles of water thick with sardines! You’ll be able to e-book multi-day diving excursions to see the sardines, with most lasting 5-6 days cand costing 30,000 ZAR per particular person.

Sodwana Bay (on the border with Mozambique) is one other high location to see wholesome coral reefs in addition to numerous fish and marine life.


With its excellent climate, unbelievable wildlife, award-winning wine, and culinary delights, South Africa is an underrated vacation spot that deserves your consideration. It’s a rustic I by no means get uninterested in visiting and is among the most lovely international locations I’ve ever been to. You simply can’t assist however fall in love with it — irrespective of your pursuits.

Guide Your Journey to South Africa: Logistical Ideas and Tips

Guide Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite engines like google as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is being left unturned.

Guide Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost resorts.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes improper. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions prior to now. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that provide one of the best service and worth are:

In search of one of the best corporations to save cash with?
Try my useful resource web page for one of the best corporations to make use of if you journey! I listing all those I exploit to save cash after I journey — and I believe they may show you how to too!

In search of extra info on visiting South Africa?
Try my in-depth vacation spot information to South Africa with extra tips about what to see and do, prices, methods to save lots of, and far, rather more!

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