South Africa has always been the number one destination for travelers wanting to experience the breathtaking views of wildlife up-close in nature. It is a truly magnificent land, covered in miles of endless grasslands and bushveld. Starting at the rocky, fynbos-covered cliffs of Cape Point in the South, all the way through the lush, green foliage of the Tsitsikamma Wilderness in the East, to the arid, hot regions of the Limpopo border in the North. Being able to fully explore and enjoy the diverse wilderness this country has to over could take a lifetime, of which would be well worth it, however, since the average traveler has just a few weeks to take in this trip, here is a list of some of the most memorable activities and sights not to miss.
A total of 3.5 million travelers visited South Africa since August of last year, according to a report by Stats SA. Of these visits, 90% of them were for recreation. The primary reasons for South Africa being a popular holiday destination are its rich cultural diversity, stunning, scenic country sides and rife, noteworthy wildlife species like the lion, elephant and zebra.
Go Visit A Game Reserve or National Park
If there is one thing you cannot miss when visiting this country, it is the opportunity to experience a truly authentic South African safari. Nothing comes close to the beauty and magnificence of seeing a herd of elephants grazing on the savannas, or a pride of lions lazing on a ledge. A safari allows for an up close experience with nature. Being able to witness the biodiversity of wildlife and nature in an unspoiled landscape is an incredible event.
One can go on a full-day guided bush drive, and learn about these wild animals and their habits. There are also plenty of smaller self-guided walks and drives where you can decide just how much, or how far you want to go. For those wanting to experience the magic from the air, some reserves offer hot air balloon rides and helicopter flights.
With over a hundred different game reserves to choose from, one needs not travel far to find a safari experience. Most game reserves are very flexible with budgets, and can accommodate visitors ranging from couples on a romantic getaway, to massive families looking for a lodge to stay at for the weekend. Whether you are a golf enthusiast, or bird watcher, or prefer something more luxurious, like a spa or pampering, there is a game reserve out there to cater for this need.
Mingle With The Locals
One of the pleasures of travelling abroad is getting the opportunity to experience life outside the box. It is easy to forget what goes on outside our borders. We don’t realize just how different other countries are: their cultures, languages and ways of life.
In South Africa alone there are 11 different official languages. It is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” because of its rich diversity of cultures like the Afrikaans or Zulu. It is difficult not to experience this cultural diversity on any given day. You can see it in the music, fashion, food and sport. South Africa has a long history which has shaped the way it is today. From the mighty Table Mountain, the prison of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, the Cradle of Human Kind, the Cango Caves to the wine routes of Stellenbosch, you are guaranteed to meet locals that will educate you and leave you with an authentic story.
Drive through the Garden Route
This is a scenic stretch along the Eastern coast of South Africa. It takes you on a journey adjacent to the sea, passing through colorful contrasts of vegetation and wonderful lagoons and lakes. Along the route one can visit popular towns like Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn and George. In Oudtshoorn you can explore the natural wonders of time at the Cango Caves, or take an adventurous ride on an ostrich. There are many bays along the Garden Route that provide excellent spots for whale-watching, surfing, swimming and staying the night.
Experience the thrill of being face to face with a Great White Shark in South Africa. If you want to really make your trip unforgettable, why not get lowered down into the deep blue ocean and watch as this might creature circles your cage. Guests are dressed in wet suits and safely lowered down in a large floating cage, from there they can enjoy the thrilling underwater views of this majestic predator. The Great White is a surface feeder and enjoys feasting on Cape Fur Seals. There is a strong success rate in sightings all year round, and is well worth the experience.
Situated just several hours outside of Cape Town, the Namaqualand is home to the famous spring flowers, which carpet this flat, semi-arid land in colorful shades of white, orange and yellow. Over 6000 species of flowers fill the fields and mountainsides, making for a perfect day trip. Pack a picnic, put on your walking shoes, and spend the day outdoors at this spectacular area. The floral display can be enjoyed from August till early October. It is recommended to book early to avoid the risk of not getting into one of the conservation areas.
Everything else South African
The above are just a few of the highlights one can look forward to on their journey to the country, however, there are really endless more exciting opportunities and activities to go on. The tourism industry in South Africa is well established, and information for tourists can be found readily in every city. There are also many useful guides and tips available online to assist you further. Sunny South Africa is definitely a destination you need to add to your bucket list, if you haven’t already done so. Let us know your thoughts, and what other memorable experiences you’ve had in South Africa, below.