South Africa’s 12 Best Tourist Attractions
South Africa (officially known as the Republic of South Africa or South Africa), will introduce you to the many beauties of the Black Continent. Here you can find classic African landscapes: golden savannahs, huge gorges and beautiful deserts. In addition, all these places are full of magnificent African animals. Besides the famous safari parks (Kruger or Kgalagadi), South Africa has some of the most magnificent private reserves in the world. Nature lovers come here from all over the world for the African Great Five, which include: lions, buffalo, leopards, rhinos and elephants. Other attractions in the country include coral reefs, shark diving, mountain hiking, rafting, and golden sandy beaches. Traveling through the vast lands and visiting lively cities, tourists can learn a lot about South Africa’s culture and turbulent history. For example, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city of Durban is a melting pot of different cultures and culinary traditions. Johannesburg’s museums and galleries are a must-see, as is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela, who helped bring democracy to this multiethnic country.
1. Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces
Kruger National Park is one of the most famous safari parks in the world. As South Africa’s oldest game reserve, the park is only a 3.5 to 4.5 hour drive from Johannesburg. Here you can see the very same Great Five animals, as well as a huge variety of other species. The park has Bushmen rock paintings and archaeological sites associated with the people. Visitors can explore the park on an extensive road network or through an organized hiking safari. It is also possible to view the meadows, forests and rivers of the park from a bird’s-eye view in a hot-air balloon. Accommodation options range from tent sites to comfortable cottages.
2. Cape Town, Western Cape
Cape Town is one of the most exciting cities in South Africa, the second most populous in the entire country. It is extremely well located between the mountain ranges and the sea. If you want to enjoy great views of the city and its surroundings, climb Table Mountain or take a cable car ride. If you take an hour hike up Lion’s Head, you can also enjoy great panoramic views of the city. On the eastern slope of Table Mountain is the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you stroll along the waterfront, you can watch whales playing in the harbor. Meanwhile, penguins scurry along the golden beaches of Falls Bay. Just south of town lies Cape Point, home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. One of Cape Town’s main attractions is the Victoria and Albert Promenade. Tourists come here to store, eat or visit an entertainment venue like the Two Oceans Aquarium. Kamps Bay is surrounded by beautiful beaches with stores and cafes. At sunset, nature lovers are advised to head to Chapman’s Peak, from which you can enjoy the spectacle of the sun slowly sinking into the sea.
3. Kgalagadi Transboundary National Park (Kalahari), Northern Cape
The park was formed by the merger of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Gemsbok Park located in Botswana. This resulted in one of the largest protected areas in the world. Opened in 2000, it was the first transboundary reserve in Africa. It is located in a relatively remote region of southern Africa called the Northern Cape. The curled camel spikes, red sands, golden meadows, and blue skies make a great backdrop for photos and animal-watching. Among the great variety of wildlife in this protected area, the famous black-throated Kalahari lion, the saber-tailed oryx antelope with its V-shaped horns, and the cute meerkats should be highlighted. In addition, sociable weavers nest in the park, and there are an impressive number of birds of prey. Of course, you can also see “traditional” predators such as: leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas in the reserve. It is recommended to use an off-road vehicle to travel the dubious roads of the park. Similar advice can be given to those who plan to go further into Botswana.
4. Stellenbosch, Western Cape.
The town of Stellenbosch is one of the most picturesque in South Africa. Its scattering of farms, old oaks and white-washed houses are a perfectly preserved reminder of the days of the Dutch East India Company. Today, it is a colorful city with a vibrant atmosphere and amazing scenery. Culinary aficionados will love it, with some of the best restaurants in the country, as well as great cafes. History buffs will also find plenty to interest them. For example, they can take a walk back in time with the Village Museum. It is a group of four reconstructed houses from the period between 1709 and 1850. The Rupert Museum displays important works by artists from South Africa, and the Botanical Garden at Stellenbosch University is a popular attraction in its own right. And for those who prefer the outdoors, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, just outside the city, offers breathtaking hikes on foot and by bicycle.
5. Dragon Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal
The spectacular Dragon Mountains are considered one of the most popular vacation destinations in South Africa. It is also home to some of the country’s highest peaks. The mountain range is home to the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is characterized by stunningly beautiful basalt rocks. In the same mountains there is the Royal National Park Natal, on the territory of which there is the so-called Amphitheatre – a majestic rock, where the two largest rivers of the country take their source. The Giant’s Castle Reserve supports the largest population of Canna antelope. Dense forests thrive in the protected valleys of the reserve, which are home to a huge variety of plant species (there are more than eight hundred of them). Animals feel great in such an environment, too. In summer, the mountain scenery is decorated with lush vegetation, fed by crystal clear springs and rushing waterfalls. In winter, the mountain peaks are covered with snow. Tourists visit these places for hiking and biking along scenic bicycle paths. You can also go trout fishing, rock climbing, and rafting in turbulent mountain rivers. And to fully appreciate the splendor of local scenery will help service ballooning.
6. Garden Route
The Garden Route runs for about 200 kilometers along the southeastern coast of the country, providing travelers with spectacular coastal scenery. The road runs along the Indian Ocean from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape region, to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape region. This popular trail takes you past green meadows, pretty coastal towns, lagoons, lakes and coastal cliffs. Along the way, you’ll encounter such attractions as: 1. The charming town of Naishna, nestled between lush forests and a sparkling inlet; 2. the beautiful Garden Route National Park, with its ravines, tide pools and lush forests; 3. the Oudshoorn Oyster Farm and nearby Cango Caves; 4. the seal colony at Robberg Reserve in Plettenberg Bay. Adventurers can find a host of attractive opportunities along the way, including: elephant riding, whale watching tours, bungee jumping, and so on.
7. Isimangaliso, KwaZulu-Natal
“Isimangaliso” means “wonders” in Zulu, and it’s a fitting name for a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the largest estuary ecosystem in Africa. Previously, the area was called the Great Park of Saint Lucia. Isimangaliso is located on the northeastern coast of the KwaZulu-Natal region. The park combines eight ecosystems including: coral reefs, crocodile rivers, lakes, coastal dunes, wetlands and savannahs. Not surprisingly, a huge variety of wildlife can be found here. There are more than 526 species of birds alone. In addition to these, the park boasts turtles, leopards, rhinos, and the largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles in Africa. The park’s unique natural area allows visitors to combine classic safari and coastal activities in the reserve’s marine area, such as kayaking, fishing and snorkeling.
8. Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga
The beautiful canyon is a favorite stop for travelers heading from Johannesburg to Kruger Park. The reserve boasts the second largest canyon in Africa, as well as a great variety of animals and vegetation. Lush subtropical forests, waterfalls, sparkling rivers and lichen-covered cliffs create stunning scenery. In addition, all the common primates of southern Africa can be seen in the reserve, as well as hippos and crocodiles. The best way to explore the park is to drive its scenic roads or take a guided hike. There is a panoramic vantage point in the reserve called nothing less than the Window of God. If that’s not enough for you, you can go rafting on the local rivers.
9. Cage diving with great white sharks
In this wonderful attraction you are locked in a strong metal cage and lowered into the sea where you come face to face with a great white shark. Believe it or not, this is one of Africa’s most popular thrill-seekers’ attractions. This entertainment has become so popular that new operators of the service appear every year. The best time for diving is from April to October. However, sharks swim in the local waters all year round, which is due to the good food base in the form of seals and fish. Tour operators in Cape Town organize diving in places such as Simonstown, Seal Island, Dyer Island, Mossel Bay and the city of Gansbaai, which has defined itself as the “Shark Capital of the World. Similar tours are practiced in the city of Durban and the Rocky Bay area. Since the diver is in a special cage, no certificates are required of you. Those who are not very confident in their fortitude can watch the sharks from a boat.
10. Robbeneland, West Cape.
In the Table Bay area, Robben Island is a stark reminder of the horrors of apartheid (incidentally, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The notorious Nelson Mandela spent 18 years on this island, imprisoned in a small cell. Other political dissidents were also imprisoned here, along with social misfits. The most interesting thing about the island tour is that the guides are former prisoners. Thanks to this, you can learn about the “charms” of being held here firsthand. The island tour begins with a multimedia presentation at the museum called the Nelson Mandela Gate on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. After that, tourists board a boat and head toward the island. The voyage takes 30-45 minutes. It is advised to book the tour a little in advance, as those who want to go accumulate quite quickly.
11. Durban’s Golden Mile Beach, KwaZulu-Natal
Golden Mile Beach is an excellent coastal area off the city of Durban. It is a legendary place that attracts tourists like a magnet and is also a good starting point for exploring the city. The long, snow-white beach attracts swimmers and surfers. The coastal area resembles Miami Beach with its upscale hotels, restaurants and entertainment complexes. You can walk, bike, or Segway along the local promenade. In addition to the beach itself, check out uShaka Marine World and Moses Mabhida Stadium. Also check out Mini City, a replica of Durban with a miniature railroad, airport and marina.
12. Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng
Johannesburg (locals call it Yo-Burg) is the largest city in South Africa by population and also the starting point for most travelers around the country. Named the “City of Gold” for its large deposits of the metal, it is the economic and cultural center of South Africa. Among the historic sites worth noting are: 1. The Apartheid Museum, which reveals the history of racial oppression up to the time of democracy; 2. Constitution Hill; 3. Gold Rif City Amusement Park, dedicated to the city’s history of gold mining. If Johannesburg can be called the heart of South Africa, the town of Soweto is the soul of the country. The name is derived from an English phrase meaning “southwestern settlements”. It was here that a powerful liberation movement arose, which led to the creation of South Africa’s new democratic constitution. Tours of the town include a visit to Nelson Mandela’s home, which is now a national monument. Not far away geographically, but very far away in spirit, is Pretoria, the administrative capital of the country. There are many parks and gardens in this city, as well as the stunning Fruitcrackers Monument and the magnificent Liberty Park.
What to see in South Africa?
South Africa is the most developed and richest country in Africa. It has a very developed tourism industry, so travelers will have a lot to see and where to rest. South Africa has expensive hotels and restaurants as well as well equipped beaches. Its colonial-style architecture is also noteworthy. But the real highlights are the natural attractions such as the Cape of Good Hope, the many national parks and the dragon mountains. There are also several interesting festivals that offer an insight into the culture of this fascinating country.
South Africa is very rich in attractions, so you can not miss the most important of them.
The city of Cape Town.
This city is located in the most beautiful part of the country, near the Cape of Good Hope. Apart from that, it has very beautiful architecture that can be seen in the old quarters. These are a variety of villas, mansions and other structures that were built according to the traditions of the Victorian era. The people here are very pleasant and cheerful of all different nationalities. Walk on the cozy streets, go to a local restaurant and taste the national cuisine, stroll in the old district and enjoy the houses, which were built in the style of Dutch architecture – all the tourist can do in Cape Town.
City of Johannesburg.
Another important tourist city in South Africa. It is responsible for all the financial support of the country. Here are concentrated firms of major companies, business negotiations are held and very important deals are made. It is here that comfortable hotels and expensive shopping malls, where you can do your shopping. But there is another side of the coin. Johannesburg is also considered the center of crime in South Africa.
Johannesburg Apartheid Museum
This is a very important museum for all black people in the country. It is located in the city of Johannesburg. Tourists who enter its walls learn the whole truth about how black people were oppressed during the colonization period. First it was the Dutch and then they were replaced by the British. This place is dedicated to all the victims of the horrible regime that reigned in the country until 1994.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.Cape Town
This beautiful landmark is located in the city of Cape Town. It used to be a Victorian harbor, but after restoration in the 1990s, it got another name. There are old buildings as well as trendy discotheques and restaurants. In the harbor you can not only walk along the shore and the sidewalk, but also go sailing on a yacht.
It is the only desert on the entire continent, which continues to grow. It has already crossed several borders, and some countries with other deserts have begun to notice the red sands of the Kalahari in their territory. In addition to visiting the desert, tourists can go on an excursion to the local Bushmen tribe. They, just as many years ago, live, hunt and engage in primitive craft. Going to their territory, you can learn more about the culture of this old tribe.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
At the exit of the city of Cape Town there is Table Mountain. It is in its amazing surroundings and is located this botanical garden. In addition, it is one of the largest in the whole world. All the plants that are here are collected from all over South Africa. This is a very well-kept area. Tourists can walk along the specially trampled paths and admire the amazing nature around them.
Kruger National Park.
This reserve is one of the favorite places for tourists. Here you can see Africa’s most popular animals and watch them in their natural habitat. The nature of the reserve is also beautiful and filled with many colorful plants. There are two rivers running through the area that are also home to many wildlife. You can take a jeep tour through the park and view the interesting animals in their natural habitat.
Pilanesberg National Park.
For those who have heard about the “big five” African animals and dreamed of seeing them, you should go to this wonderful national park. To get to him, it is not difficult, because it is located near Johannesburg. The reserve itself is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. In addition to the animals here you can also admire the beautiful, pristine nature and the views that open from its peak.
Tsitsikamma Marine National Park.
This coastline, along with the shoreline, extends for dozens of kilometers. There are river gorges with lush green forests. There is a special laboratory here that studies endangered fish species. This area is rich not only in fauna, but also in flora. Guests will be able to see a large variety of birds and sea creatures.
These mountains have become very popular with visitors to the country, so they are considered one of its most beautiful sights. Part of this mountain range is protected by UNESCO. It even has its own national park. For the local population and some tribes these mountains are sacred. For the government, they are a place of gold and platinum mining. In some of the cliffs you can see ancient writings on the walls. Researchers say they are more than eight thousand years old.
Table Mountain.Cape Town
This mountain is Cape Town’s calling card. It is depicted on many postcards and even on the city’s flag. It is located in the bay, which is also called the Table Mountain. The views of the natural surroundings in this location are spectacular. You can climb the mountain by cable car. Also, this area is interesting because very old artifacts have been found here. This suggests that this mountain is tens of thousands of years old.
Lyons Hel Rock.
In South Africa, there are a large number of natural sites, which must see everything. This place is one of them. It is located on a hill of 670 meters on the outskirts of Cape Town. From the tops of this mountain there is a stunning view of the entire city. There are specially equipped viewing platforms for this. In English the name of the mountain means a lion’s head. The rock and the truth resembles a lion’s head when viewed from above.
The Cradle of Humanity.
This place is fully protected by UNESCO. Excavations are still being carried out here. The remains of the first humans and relict animals have been found here. There are also several large caves that are still being explored here. This is a very important archaeological site in the country, which is definitely worth looking at and touching the age-old history.
Kimberlite Pipe “Big Hole” South Africa.
This name belongs to a huge diamond quarry. This is where these precious metals have been mined since the mid-1800s. This is where the famous “Tiffany’s” was found. What is interesting is that this huge hole was dug by ordinary people, without the use of machinery. Every tourist should visit these places and look at this man-made landmark.
Blyde River Canyon South Africa
This stunning and fabulous place is one of the calling cards of South Africa. There are viewing platforms all over the canyon for the tourists to enjoy the breathtaking view that opens in front of their eyes. And there is a lot to see here. The surrounding scenery is simply amazing. You can hang-glide and admire everything from up here.
Garden Route. South Africa.
Along the Indian Ocean there is a stunning road that connects several towns and ends in a beautiful national park. Here on one side is the ocean with its snow-white beaches, and on the other side are beautiful meadows and groves of stunning colorful gardens. Every tourist wants to take a ride on such a road. Such a trip will bring real aesthetic pleasure.
Cape of Good Hope.
This natural landmark is considered the most visited place in the whole of South Africa. It is very popular among visitors. It is here where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans mix their waters. Warm waters and cold waters meet, and the tourist can see this junction with his own eyes. Vasco da Gama himself stepped on these lands. Many ships crashed here, because of the strong current. And the legend of the Flying Dutchman originated precisely because of these places.
Kango Caves in South Africa
Located in the Black Mountains is a five-kilometer complex of caves. You should only go down to these places with a guide, as you can get lost there. In the caves there are several rooms, the names of which are very interesting. For example, the Devil’s Workshop or the Throne Room. And each of them is blessed with a beautiful illumination. It is an amazing place that every traveler will love.
Robben Island, South Africa
South Africa has many paradises where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One of these places is this island. But this place is not only famous for its picturesque nature. This is where Nestor Mandela was imprisoned. He spent 27 years of his life here. The prison has been on this island for a very long time. It used to belong to the apartheid, then it was converted to a strict regime. Tourists can visit these places with a guide and even visit the famous cell.
Franschhoek Wine Farms.South Africa
South Africa produces some really good wine from very old recipes. This is done in local farms that were built by the French. Due to the fact that the vineyards are grown in sandy soil, the taste of the wine is absolutely different from any other wine. Guests can see this as part of the tour they will be able to taste it. You can also walk through the local vineyards and enjoy the beautiful view.
Sun City, South Africa
This city is the main resort place of the country. Many big stars have visited this place. It has very beautiful landscaping, expensive and chic hotels, and good restaurants. For a rich and luxurious vacation, which affluent tourists seek, this is a great place. It often hosts various championships in the world of sports and even held a contest “Miss World.
In the National Park of Natal you can find this stunning waterfall. This natural attraction is very proud of all the locals. It reaches an incredible, almost a kilometer in height and after the Angel is the highest in the world. There are often guided tours around the waterfall. But guests can also admire these natural beauties on their own.
Another stunning waterfall is located on the outskirts of South Africa. It is not high like its predecessor, but very powerful. Flowing down a narrow gorge and falling into a pool, it creates such a strong current that everything around is filled with spray and mist from the water. Locals call this pool the devil’s cauldron. Only in this cauldron rages not fire, but water. It is an amazing spectacle.
Golden Mile Beach, South Africa.
Beach lovers should visit this chic place. It is located in Durban. This is a real paradise for a good beach vacation. There are hotels, restaurants, and even its own casino. In the ocean are stretched special nets to protect swimmers from sharks, which are found in these places. This place is also famous for its festivals and concerts, which are often held there.
Boulders Beach South Africa
Another beach that is a must-see for tourists. It is not famous for its snow-white sands. People come here to see real penguins which live here in flocks. Approaching and interacting with them is prohibited, but guests can swim near them or look at them from a safe distance. It is a very interesting and popular place for tourists.