If you are an adventurous traveler, you definitely cannot miss South Africa, the land of so many amazing experiences on offer, from its wonderful golden savannah, magnificent mountains, and hauntingly beautiful deserts to an array of wildlife and coast with whales spouting from the harbor. You can go off-road on a safari or even dive with great white sharks. Trust me, you will have a special unique experience that you will never be able to forget.
Apartheid ended 29 years ago, but much of the nation still struggles with poverty and there remains an immense disparity between wealth and race. Traveling around this vast land and touring the beautiful cities, you can learn about the rise and fall of the nation's history — in Cape Town, one of the world's most vibrant cities. Or you can explore the cultures and culinary art of Durban, the poignant museums and galleries in Johannesburg, and the birthplace of Nelson Mandela in Soweto, who helped birth democracy here.
And here is my suggestion for you about the most amazing and interesting destinations in South Africa. Pack your bags and explore South Africa with me!
1. Cape Town
The Mother City is nestled between a rugged mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, separated from the rest of the continent by a ring of mountains. Cape Town is one of the planet's most breathtaking cities, it has a superb natural setting, sophisticated infrastructure, pristine beaches, and a special mild, Mediterranean climate. If you come here, make sure you won't miss this city's rolling vineyards, thriving nightlife, sizzling cuisine, and, of course, the spectacular Table Mountain. For a spectacular overview, glide up on the cableway, or hike to the summit. If the gondola to the top is open, go there first. It usually gets closed because of high winds, so don’t leave it for the last day. Cape Town is also known for its beautiful boulder-flanked beaches, residents here love their coast so much that at sunset, they stake a spot along Chapman's Peak Drive to toast the sunset in a dusk tradition called "sundowners."
Cape Town is now the most famous city in South Africa, as it hosts a hodge-podge of cultures that contributes to the city's food, eclectic music, and festival scenes. But the most valuable thing is what the city has experienced. Suffering from decades of racial and economic oppression invoked by apartheid has caused a festering wound. Don’t only concentrate on Cape Town's great scenery or luxurious hotels, go to Robben Island to visit Nelson Mandela's jail cell, or take a trip to The District Six Museum to experience this vibrant city's overcast color.
The port city of Durban is South Africa’s busiest city. The southern hemisphere winter with average temperatures in the mid-20s from June to July makes winter simply doesn't exist here! That is why you must visit Durban's Golden Mile, a 3.7 mile stretch of sandy beach, lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, which invites surfers and swimmers to enjoy it. Spend your days surfing the waves on the east coast of South Africa or diving into beautiful swimming pools along the esplanade. Hop into a rickshaw and ride along the beach; later, dine and dance at a beachside restaurant, luxury hotel, or trendy club. Don’t forget to explore life beneath the waves with a snorkel or dive.
Back on land, Durban is known for its excellent curry. This city is especially the largest Indian community outside of India! Taste the traditional bunny chow, which has curry served in a half loaf of bread to join the custom of this place.
There's fine dining, shopping, and entertainment along Durban’s Florida Road, and until they close late in the evening, that's when the trendy bars and clubs start buzzing. You can take in a Zulu experience to learn more about the culture of South Africa’s largest ethnic group. If you find yourself in Shakaland, visit kraal, the traditional village of Zulu. To explore their food and spiritual culture, taste the typical Zulu lunch and come to see a traditional Zulu healer or shaman, which is called sangoma, to experience communicating with your ancestors by using methods like throwing bones,...
3. Kruger National Park
While Kruger National Park was established as far back as 1898, it was only in the 1920s that the park opened to the public. It’s one of South Africa’s most famous and accessible game reserves. Located in the northeast of the country, Kruger National Park is the best option to explore the wildlife here. The Kruger National Park is a wildlife lover’s dream because the Big Five – buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhinos – all reside here.
Traveling to Kruger will bring you as close to nature as possible. Kruger is also a birding paradise, so remember to bring your binoculars!
This wildlife paradise is home to more than just animals. There're giant baobab, fever, and marula trees towering above the park's savanna, thornveld, and woodland landscape here. In addition, Kruger's Marula and Xanatseni regions house the Albasini and Masorini ruins, where Portuguese colonists and members of the indigenous Ba-Phalaborwa ethnic group once traded metal products, beads, clothes, and more.
4. Cape Winelands
Located just a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Cape Winelands is one of the most picturesque wine-producing regions in the world, where endless leafy vineyards stretch towards purple mountains in the distance, and also the paradise for wine connoisseurs.
I suggest visiting Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, two of the most popular destinations. Foodies will be overwhelmed with quirky coffee shops and bars in Stellenbosch and award-winning restaurants in Franschhoek, the gourmet capital of South Africa. You also find a variety of luxury hotels in the Cape Winelands, which offer sparkling swimming pools and beautiful boutique bedrooms opening right onto the vineyards.
Your tour to Cape Winelands would remain incomplete without planning to cycle around the Winelands to enjoy an outdoor adventure. Consider a cycling tour along beautiful back roads, taste wine, and have lunch at several restaurants.
5. Blyde River Canyon
The Blyde River Canyon is the third-largest canyon on Earth and one of Africa's most spectacular sights. Its mesmerizing sight is dotted with sensational hotspots – from waterfalls to unusual geology. Spun into the river-bottom by the effect of swirling water, the mass of huge potholes in the Bourke’s Luck Potholes is a destination that is worth coming to.
Besides, there are more waterfalls here than anywhere else in South Africa, and in summer people often come and swim in some of the water holes at the base of the falls. In addition, hiking trails in the canyon and around the waterfalls of the area are perfect activities for those who enjoy the outdoors.
The Blyde River Canyon is a popular spot for exploring by car, on foot, or horseback. Keep an eye out for its lush valleys, mountain scenery like the Three Rondavels, and astonishing viewpoints like the appropriately named God’s Window. Along the way, you also can say hi to a variety of wildlife, such as African fish eagle, Knysna lourie, Samango monkeys, Cape vulture, hippos, crocodiles,...
It's the best time to visit the nature reserve from March to Mid-June and from August to November. Taking a trip at this time will show you the most perfect weather of this place.
Bloemfontein acts as the Free State’s capital and as South Africa’s judicial capital, it is sometimes called “the city of the roses” due to the rose festival held here every year. This city is the perfect central base for tourists wishing to explore the Free State Province. Plan to stay at least a couple of days in Bloemfontein because the interesting destination lists are endless.
For a start, adventure Cheetah Experience, home to several threatened or endangered species including wildcats, wolves, meerkats, and Siberian tiger. For round two, try to visit the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, where is named after the wild olive trees. Visitors will be surprised with the uniquely South African Art collections there which have many masterpieces and artworks from famous names. This art gallery has a variety of popular artists' works, such as Pieter Wenning, Willem Coetzer, Thomas Baines. And then, don’t forget to visit Free State National Botanical Garden, one of the most romantic places to visit in Bloemfontein. Visiting the famous National Museum is also a great idea to explore the nation’s special history. Established centuries ago in the year 1877, this museum gives fair knowledge of 19th and 20th century Africa with its vast collection of fossils as well as a repository of information about the local traditions and music.
The visitors to Bloemfontein can experience a great variety of tourist accommodations. Facilities in the city include exclusive country retreats, luxury hotels, cozy bed and breakfasts, self-catering chalets, and excellent camping facilities.