Beaches and bunny chow. Game drives and bungee jumps. Ancient caves and gold mines. South Africa is called the Rainbow Nation; a moniker that represents its diversity. Not just of its people but also of its landscapes, wildlife and myriad ways of life. With this South Africa travel guide, we give you a glimpse of this nation of contrasts and of breathtaking beauty.
There’s always something going on in the Rainbow Nation. February sees the start of the Wine Harvest Festival, the perfect time to visit the vineyards in Western Cape. Music lovers would love the AfrikaBurn festival that is held every May. The western city of Cape Town is known across the world for its arts and culture scene and visitors are sure to be enthralled by a constant stream of festivals
The best time to visit South Africa is during summer, between December and March. With temperatures ranging from 15°C to a toasty 28°C, summers in tourist magnets like Cape Town and Jo’burg are perfect for ambling about town and sightseeing. Of course the winters are completely uninviting. A holiday in Durban or the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, even in winter, is promises sunny days and balmy evening
It’s not without reason that Cape Town is voted “Best Place to Visit” year after year. It has history, culture, fantastic food and natural beauty all in one pretty package. The city clearly has a lot to offer which should make your South Africa travel planning that much more fun. Most South Africa travel guides recommend a tour to Robben Island and we do too. A ferry ride from the V & A Waterfront will take you to the island where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner during his 27 year long incarceration. Also worth a trip is the Table Mountain National Park. The flat topped mountain that will be the back drop of all your Cape Town photos is the most popular tourist attraction in the city. The mountain is part of a larger national park is can be accessed by cable car or old scho
The Garden Route is one of the world’s most picturesque roads and Knysna is its prettiest town. With a population of just under 60000, Knysna offers oodles of small town charm and a punch of seaside fun. Enjoy sailing, whale watching, hiking and oyster hunting during your stay in town. Knysna was built around the Knysna Lagoon, an estuary that leads into the Atlantic Ocean. The lagoon is surrounded by sloping hills covered with forests that offer incredible views of the shore and fantastic trekking opportunities. The town is also very popular with fisherman and hosts an annual oyster festival, the biggest of its kind in the world.
While not as popular as its western cousin, Cape Town, the seaside city of Port Elizabeth is undeniably charming. Nelson Mandela Bay, as it is now known, is located on the Eastern Cape on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The city has a host of restaurants, bars, galleries and museums that rival South Africa’s larger cities. We recommend including a trip to Bayworld in your South Africa travel planning. The complex consists of a museum, snake park, Victorian cottage and an oceanarium that offers live shows and exhibits showcasing the aquatic life of the region. Also worth a visit is Art Route 67, a series of 67 artworks by local artists representing 67 years of South Africa’s freedom struggle.
One of the world’s greatest wildlife reserves, Kruger National Park is often the only reason tourists take the long trip to South Africa. The park is, perhaps, the best place to spot Africa’s Big Five, the lion, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopard and elephant, besides thousands of other less famous animals. To experience the African bush in all its glory we recommend staying at one of the many camps located within the park such as Olifants and Crocodile Bridge and taking a wilderness walk or night game drive.
The exclusive resort and casino is one of the country’s biggest vacation destinations. A few hours’ drive from Johannesburg is an oasis in the bush with 4 luxury hotels, an apartment complex, casinos, golf courses and tons of entertainment options. Visitors could get their feet wet in a giant wave pool, take a tour of a crocodile farm, try the slots at the casino, or watch a movie at the resort’s private theatre. Sun City also has the unique distinction of sharing its boundaries with a wildlife reserve. The Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve is located right next door to the resort with remnants of the Stone Age and a wealth of fauna including lions, cheetahs, leopards and thousands and thousands of impalas.
It may not be the southern tip of the African continent, that’s Cape Agulhas, but the Cape of Good Hope makes up for the lack of that distinction with breathtaking natural beauty. Part of the Table Mountain National Park, the area on the cape is teeming with wildlife with pretty pebbled beaches, viewing points and historical markers including the cross that of Vasco da Gama. The Cape is also a great place to spot penguins, baboons and ostriches as well as a wide variety of critters. Another fantastic reason to add the cape to your South Africa travel planning is the legend of the Flying Dutchman. The cursed ship crewed by ghostly sailors is said to haunt the waters surrounding the Cape. If the paranormal fascinates you, the Cape of Good Hope is the place to be.
Dominating the Cape Town skyline, Table Mountain is a flat topped superstar that finds its way to every SA postcard. The mountain itself is part of the Table Mountain National Park that is home to thousands of endemic flora and fauna and a supporting cast of mountains including Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Adrenaline junkies should add Table Mountain to their South Africa travel planning especially with the wonderful opportunities available for rock climbing, hiking, abseiling, caving and mountain biking. If you prefer something less adventurous, you could always take the cable car to the top of the mountain and enjoy breathtaking views of Cape Town.
Oudtshoorn is ostrich country. Literally. The word literally means “Ostrich Capital of the World” in Afrikaans. The picturesque town in the middle of the Swartberg Mountains, is known for the acres of ostrich farms that dot the region producing meat, leather and fur for the entire world. The region is also home to a South Africa travel guide favourite, Cango Caves. The limestone caves are located a short drive for Oudtshoorn and are home to spectacular limestone formations and prehistoric cave paintings. And the best way to spend an evening out in town is by feasting on ostrich meat at one of Oudtshoorn’s charming colonial style restaurants.