20 Must-Dos When You Are In South Africa

20 Must-Dos When You Are In South Africa
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South Africa, commonly known as the Rainbow Nation, showcases diverse cultures all under one roof. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with its stunning natural environment, eye-catching attractions, delicious cuisine, fascinating wildlife, exquisite architecture, and the ever-friendly residents. It is the southernmost country of Africa, with a long coastline and amazing views.

Discover some of the finest places to visit in South Africa:

1. Climb Table Mountain, Cape Town

Table Mountain is known as a hiker’s paradise. It is a protected national park with some remarkable features that make it a must-see landmark for any nature-lover. The large and unusual flat-topped rock sits proudly in the bay, home to distinguished flora and fauna. The weather is unpredictable, so it is advisable to take warm clothes when climbing. You can find some restaurants on top of the mountain, and you can marvel at the delightful views.

2. Explore the Apartheid Museum

South Africa-Johannesburg-Apartheid Museum001
Source: Photo by user NJR ZA used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located close to Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum focuses on the infamous system of racial discrimination and oppression that is synonymous with South Africa’s history. It gives a chilling insight into the lives of people and the inequalities they faced through various media, including text, audio, and video. It is hard not to feel emotional. Infact, even the entry tickets are issued depending upon your race. You are then ushered accordingly through the 2 separate museum entrances marked ‘White’ and ‘Non-White’. You cannot help but become immersed.

3. Drive the Garden Route

20 must-dos when you are in south africa | drive the garden route
Source: Photo by user

One of the most stunning highways in the world, the Garden Route connects Heidelberg in the Southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape Border. With unique scenic beauty along it, the Garden Route is difficult to resist. There are many homes along the Garden Route, with affluent people choosing to live here for its outstanding beauty. Pack your binoculars and camera to capture the best views of the area’s natural beauty.

4. Have thrilling fun on bungee jumps and rope swings

20 must-dos when you are in south africa | have thrilling fun on bungee jumps and rope swings
Source: Photo by user

South Africa is a much sought-after destination for people interested in extreme adventures. You’ll find high and exciting rope swings and thrilling bungee jumps. Infact, the world’s highest rope swing hangs above South Africa’s Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. It stands at a height of 350 feet (107 meters) - that’s definitely one high swing!

Bloukrans Bridge, which is the Africa’s highest bridge, is also famous for being the world’s highest commercial bungy bridge (708 feet / 216 meters high) and, as per many enthusiasts, it is one of the smoothest bungies on the earth. Another popular one is the Magwa Waterfalls Rope Swing in Eastern Cape.

5. Swim with fearsome sharks

Sharks outside cage
Source: Photo by user kalanz used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Africa is the land of adventures. and South Africa is no exception. It is an international destination that brings people from across the world to fulfill their thirst for adventure and excitement. Shark cage diving is one such adventure sport that is on the list for many adventure seekers. The great white shark cage diving hotspot of the world, South Africa will bring you face to face with the world’s largest predator. There are many companies that offer this spine-tingling adventure; choose one that has an exemplary safety record, impeccable procedures, and a proven track record to make this encounter a safe and memorable one.

6. See the Big 5 on a game drive at Kruger National Park

2013-02-24 06-16-11 South Africa Mpumalanga - Kruger National Park
Source: Photo by user Hansueli Krapf used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Kruger National Park, with 7,500 square miles (19,425 square kilometers) of bush and savannah, is one of the biggest game reserves on the continent. It has more of the famous Big 5 (lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and buffalo) than any other park. There are guided game drives that run multiple times a day. There are early morning departures for early risers, and mid-morning drives for those who prefer a later start. Mid-morning drives last for a shorter amount of time though. Late-night drives are the most popular, and participants have the best chances of spotting the Big 5 on a safari. The best time to visit is from May to September, and travelers can also enjoy lush, scenic natural beauty at all time of the year.

7. Go on a township tour of Soweto

The Nelson Mandela House
Source: Photo by user A. Bailey used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A trip to South Africa is incomplete without a visit to its most famous township, Soweto. It is located to the south-west of Johannesburg and is known is for its importance in the struggle against apartheid. It houses many sites that have immense historical significance, such as Regina Mundi, Mandela House, and the Hector Pieterson Museum. The tour will give you a taste of the vibrant and gritty street life that the township is known for. This township is proud to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners; the legendary Nelson Mandela and Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. There are several taverns lining the streets where you can stop and relax for a while. Soweto also has the world’s largest hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and Orlando Towers, which is known for good bungee jumping. You can choose to explore for a short while or stay overnight for a more immersive experience.

8. Surf along the coast

Surfing at the cape of good hope
Source: Photo by user Octagon used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

South Africa is surrounded by oceans on three sides and hence provides some of the finest surfing. That’s why South Africa is one of the top surfing destinations in the world! There are also areas where kids can surf safely and have fun. The country provides training by top international surfers for everyone, whether you are a novice or a pro. One top surf school is the Waves School of Surfing in Mossel Bay on the Southern Cape. You will receive complete information regarding surfing, like how to surf safely how to get off the board, riding the waves, and how to stay safe in the sea. Above all, they teach you how to respect the sea. Those taking long vacations should take these classes to learn something interesting.

9. Spot whales in Hermanus

As declared by WWF, Hermanus is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world. You can watch whales from land, from a boat, or even from air via flight. The best time for seeing these large marine creatures is between July and November. You can even take a guided sea kayaking trip, which is sure to shoot up your adventurous adrenaline. Walker Bay is the breeding area for southern right whales and the mating and calving is at its peak from July to November.

10. Hike the trails in the Drakensberg Mountains

Amphitheatre Drakensberg View
Source: Photo by user PhilippN used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The highest mountain trails in South Africa, head to the Drakensberg Mountains for spectacular views of incredible natural beauty. The mountains are 3,482 meters (11,424 feet) high and the range extends for 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). The Drakensberg Mountains are also known as uKhahlamba in Zulu. The mountains are rich in biodiversity, and attract many tourists. The rich wildlife includes some rare and endangered species. With incomparable sandstone caves and the awesome collection of more than 40,000 rock paintings by San Bushmen, you can enjoy the best of everything, be it a hot air balloon ride, rock climbing, lazy walks, or fishing.

11. Go golfing on scenic coasts

Strand Western Cape and Golf Club
Source: Photo by user SkyPixels used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you are a nature-lover and want to experience wildlife on the greens, a golfing safari is ideal. Especially for golf-lovers who want to play while surrounded by wildlife, you’ll find golf courses that have been developed near or within game parks. It’s an indescribable experience to golf in these surroundings, so why not have a go?

12. Go on a wetland safari

Rietvlei wetland reserve - Cape Town 2
Source: Photo by user Abu Shawka used under CC0

South Africa offers a number of diverse safari options. Among them is the popular wetland safari, which is basically performed in areas where rainfall occurs almost throughout the whole year. In such areas, people have created lodges and guest houses for tourists in order to make your visit a lavish one. These wetland safaris offer tourists scenic beauty to the fullest, where you get to see a bunch of wildlife at every footstep.

13. Swim with penguins at Boulders Beach

RSA Boulders
Source: Photo by user Fluglotse2000 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Boulders Beach, situated in Simonstown, draws visitors from all around the world who come to see the penguins that flock to the beach. Though the population of penguins has decreased due to pollution, overfishing, and eggs being eaten by predatory seabirds, Boulders Beach is the only place in the world where tourists can see the penguins so close that they even can swim with them. You can lie down calmly and chill out at Boulders Beach with your endangered penguin friends.

14. Explore Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town

Van Riebeeck's Hedge, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Town-006
Source: Photo by user Leo za1 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Below Table Mountain lies a wonderful land of flora: Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens provide marvelous views of the famous Table Mountain and you will also be able to explore a large variety of flora planted in themed gardens. It is home to around 7,000 species of plants, including some rare or threatened ones. It holds a number of themed gardens, like the Fragrance Garden where you can explore a variety of familiar or uncommon smells, the Medicinal Garden where you can discover medicinal plants, and the Water-Wise Garden that shows you how to grow plants using very little amount of water.

15. Wine tasting at Cape Winelands

Source: Photo by user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Cape Winelands’ 2 brandy routes and 18 official wine routes feature many historic wine estates that date back to centuries ago. It is a premier Western Cape visitor attraction, and is among the most scenic routes in the world, not to mention being the origin of some of the world’s most popular wines. Explore this magnificent part of South Africa’s Western Cape in leisure and go on a wine-making tour, a wine-tasting tour, or even take a lesson in wine-making history. Most wineries boast massive vineyards with picturesque mountains as a backdrop and classic Cape Dutch-style buildings.

16. Unearth history at old Transkei

Xhosa brickmaker at kiln near Ngcobo
Source: Photo by user Gregorydavid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

In the 19th century, Transkei was a scene of tussles between European settlers and native Africans over cattle possession and grazing land. The territory was later taken over by Britain to be merged into the Cape Colony. Transkei was one of the first self-governed black areas within South Africa. It got its independence, but was not recognized as an independent state, later being reabsorbed back into South Africa. It has many spots that hold historical value, like Nelson Mandela’s birthplace, Qunu, his museum in Umtata, Port St. Johns, the stunning natural rock features known as Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay, and more. It provides a look into South Africa’s history, and must be on your to-visit list!

17. Visit the famous Robben Island

20 must-dos when you are in south africa | visit the famous robben island
Source: Photo by user

Robben Island was once a high security prison for political prisoners. Today it is a testament to the struggles for freedom and democracy and the fight against racial discrimination. The island is known as the land for leaders of the struggle. Many people visit due to its scenic beauty, and to visit the former cell of Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous previous prisoners. Seeing its political importance, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has chosen this area as a ‘triumph of the human spirit’. Many former leaders and presidents have visited this island in order to pay homage to the undying spirit of Nelson Mandela and others. Visit Robben Island Museum and take a half an hour ferry ride from Nelson Mandela’s Gateway at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.

18. Soar high in a hot air ballooning at Magalies River Valley

soar high in a hot air ballooning at magalies river valley
Source: iStock

In the heart of the enchanting Magaliesberg Mountains lies one of South Africa’s most exotic spots: Magalies Meander. It has a great historical and cultural past and is famous for its gorgeous river valleys, hills, and hot air balloon safaris. To get there, you can take the once-a-week train from Johannesburg to Magaliesberg and enjoy the best countryside views. And, if you choose to drive there yourself, there are several attractions, like the Elephant Sanctuary and the Mountain Sanctuary Park, to visit on the way. The Magalies River Valley is famous for its overwhelming surroundings and it gives the perfect view within few minutes to balloon safari lovers.

19. Unwind at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town

Waterfront panorama
Source: Photo by user Damien du Toit used under CC BY 2.0

Located at the foot of Table Mountain and very close to Cape Town Stadium, within the heart of Cape Town’s harbor, the V&A Waterfront is one of the most beautiful and unforgettable places in South Africa. It has multiple indoor shopping and entertainment options that come alive with breathtaking views, fresh sea breezes, and the warm African sun that adds to the overall atmosphere. You can satisfy your hunger with more than 80 restaurants that have a wide array of international foods.

20. View the world from the tip of Africa at Cape Point

Cape Point Lighthouse, South Africa
Source: Photo by Flickr user Matt Kieffer used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cape Point is the extreme south-west tip of Africa. It is home to breathtaking bays, beaches, and green hills and valleys. It is located just 60 kilometers (37 miles) outside Cape Town. Cape Point is also a part of the Cape Floral Region, a World Heritage Site. You can plan to spend your day here in the park or on the beach, go hiking or mountain biking, and dine in the plentiful restaurants here. You can also see the most powerful lighthouse on the South African coast, which serves as a guiding light for many ships. There are many animals like zebra, eland, reptiles, small mammals, and chacma baboons that have made this place their home.

Reasons to visit the beautiful nation of South Africa

There are many things that will make you realize what a beautiful place South Africa is. With plenty to see and do, from wildlife encounters and beaches to adventure and nature, South Africa is a dream vacation destination for many. Book your trip and go and explore; you are bound to fall in love!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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