South Africa is a beautiful country located in the southern tip of the African continent. The country is blessed with a rich natural wealth of lush green landscapes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, semi deserts, beaches and biodiversity. South Africa also features a mosaic of cultures and excellent cuisine, making your trip to this country very exciting and fulfilling.
Cape Town is the country’s second largest city and its legislative capital. The flat-topped Table Mountain is the highlight of the city’s skyline and you can reach the top by hiking or riding the cableway. Needless to say, you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the city, its harbour and the sea. Watching hundreds of exotic bird species at the Cape of Good Hope (also called Cape Point) and African penguins in Boulders Bay, strolling through the lovely Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, shopping at the V&A Waterfront and relaxing in the beaches are popular things to do in the city.
The Cape Winelands district in the Western Cape region is renowned for its wineries and vineyards. So if you are a foodie, then this is a destination that must not be skipped! Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl are the major towns in this region. Here, you can visit sprawling vineyards on wine-tasting tours, admire Dutch architecture, indulge in mouth-watering food and cycle through the lush valleys. In Franschhoek, you can also visit the Huguenot Memorial Museum which narrates the history of the city’s French community and the Franschhoek Motor Museum with its vintage car collection.
The 300 km long Garden Route that runs between Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth in western South Africa will guarantee you a road trip of a lifetime. This coastal route passes through lovely beaches, charming towns and villages, rolling hills with lush vegetation and picturesque lagoons and lakes. Every turn of the road will present you with spectacular scenery and you will also come across diverse wildlife in the numerous reserves along the way. You can either drive through the entire route, which will take around 14 days or do a short trip of 3-4 days. The Wilderness National Park, Knysna town, Tsitsikamma National Park and Goukamma Nature Reserve are popular stops along the route.
Johannesburg (also nicknamed Jo’burg or Jozi) is the country’s largest city and was a rich gold-mining centre during the 19th-century. The bustling city is home to the Apartheid Museum, which narrates the struggle against apartheid, Mandela House Museum and Constitution Hill Museum, a former prison which once held leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
The UNESCO listed Cradle of Humankind is located around 50 km away from Johannesburg. The site comprises limestone caves which contain the fossils of plants, animals and ancient humans that date millions of years ago. The fossils of Hominids, who are ancestors of the Homo sapiens (that’s us!), were excavated here and that’s why the site is named as the ‘Cradle of Humankind’. You can visit the Sterkfontein Caves, where these fossils were found and the Maropeng Museum to learn more about the site’s history and evolution of man.
The Blyde River Canyon is one of the world’s largest canyons and South Africa’s prized natural treasure. The canyon boasts of rich biodiversity which includes various species of primates, crocodiles, hippos, vultures, eagles, cuckoos, owls and falcons. Due to its lush green landscape, the canyon is often remarked as the ‘greenest’ canyon in the world. The best way to make the most of this wonder is by travelling through the Panorama route and Rte 532, which pass through breathtaking viewpoints like Three Rondavels, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window. You can also explore the canyon by hiking and trekking or even take a spellbinding helicopter tour to witness the canyon in all its grandeur!
South Africa is home to numerous parks that showcase its amazing range of flora and fauna and diverse landscapes. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park with its dramatic sandstone cliffs like the famous Brandwag rock and numerous caves with ancient paintings by the San people, is located in Free State, eastern South Africa.
The Kruger National Park in the northeastern region, is one of the best and largest reserves in the continent where you can spot the Big Five – leopards, rhinos, lions, elephants and buffaloes.
The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park in the eastern region, is a World Heritage Site, popular for its large collection of San rock paintings. Its dramatic sandstone cliffs, rolling grasslands, valleys and gorges are home to various endemic and threatened species, and has amazing trails for hiking and trekking.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park centred around Lake St. Lucia is home to rich wildlife like hippos, crocodiles, giraffes and water birds. The Sodwana Bay in the north of the park boasts of an amazing coral reef system and abundant marine life.
The Cederberg Wilderness Area in the West Coast region, is known for its mountainous terrain and unique rock formations which make it a perfect spot for rock climbing. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lies across the borders of South Africa and Botswana in the Kalahari Basin. It is home to predators like lions, cheetahs and hyenas, herbivores like blue wildebeest and eland and over 200 species of birds including vultures and eagles.
South Africa presents a diverse collection of experiences that cater to every visitor – it has a long history that is narrated by its museums and monuments, breathtaking natural landscapes and amazing wildlife which can be witnessed in its numerous parks and a delicious cuisine that can be sampled by its wide range of dishes.
Kruger National Park is one of the best and largest reserves in Africa.