South Africa is a land where a great mix of diverse language, tradition and culture works harmoniously. A country that is dotted by wildlife Safaris, tourists are attracted by the beauty of its natural resources and the tireless effort to preserve its rare and endangered animal species. A wealth of minerals is buried in South Africa’s rocks.
Today, South Africa is one of the great driving forces of the continent’s economy. It exports more diamonds than any other country on Earth and has the world’s biggest gold field in Witwatersrand, near Johannesburg.
Check out the top ten not to be missed places in South Africa.
Cape Town Central
The Table Mountain in Cape Town is a breathtaking sight and a must for every South African stay. It is 1087m high and is located right next to the capital city. The top can be accessed by a 15 minute ride on board a gondola. The cable cars are ingeniously designed as it rotates around its own axis, which is intended to prevent a scramble for the best seats. The view from Table Mountain itself is gigantic. There is no barrier or railings and you can independently move up to the edge to make great photos.
On this area hiking trails are created where you can practically explore the whole side of the mountain. Everything up there is green and rocky with colorful flowers and completely flat landscape. Due to the constantly blowing wind, the tablecloth (clouds) can quickly put them back on the mountain and you see nothing for hours. There are times when the mountain is constantly shrouded in clouds. If the sky is clear and the mountain is free, you should take the opportunity and go up quickly and take lots of pictures. You will get a good overview of the city, the villages, and the beaches. The trip takes about half a day to complete.
Along with the Kruger National Park Reserve, the two greatest wonders of South Africa, Cape of Good Hope alone deserves a full day visit. By car, it is approximately 45 minutes from Cape Town. The narrow winding coastal roads leading to the Cape which were excavated in the rocks is a road trip adventure at the same time. It’s a beautiful view from the lighthouse (the Cape itself is half a kilometer to the east, and is still accessible by trail).
Everything is clean and well maintained, No one gets lost on the trail because information boards are placed everywhere. Tourists encounter baboons running around on the street and on cars and at the same time still enjoy the idyllic views. The cape itself is a huge rock extending into the sea and you can climb to enjoy the whole scenery. A great experience that you should not miss!
The Apartheid Museum is part of Gold Reef City complex beside an amusement park and a casino. With a ticket you get a card that has either “black” or “white” stamp and you have to use the appropriate entrance to the museum. The museum documents the history of this dark past of South Africa. It evokes a very emotional and detailed insight into the racial segregation that spanned over nearly 5 decades that only ended with the release of Nelson Mandela.
Part of the museum is devoted to an explanation of exactly what was apartheid with the screening of films of the recent period 1990-1994 (years of great political uncertainty for South Africa), while another part is dedicated to Nelson Mandela, his life and his struggles up to his incarceration. The Apartheid Museum is an absolute must for any first-time visitor of Johannesburg.
Gautrain is an excellent public transport system linking the OR Tambo International Airport to the main districts of the city of Johannesburg. The cars are clean, spacious and very well organized. It is totally modern, quiet, and uses 12 minutes from Standton to the airport, a trip that takes at least 30 minutes by taxi. The first train travels at five thirty in the morning and then they go every quarter, this is done to avoid the long waiting time for passengers in every station. There is plenty of room for both travelers and their luggage. The train assigns one armed guards in all cars to secure the peace and safety in every coach.
The Voortrekker Monument and Heritage Site is the right place to learn the history of Dutch colonization and the colorful past of Pretoria. It is dedicated to the heroic world view of the Boers. The template of this building is the Battle of the Nations Monument in Leipzig. The whole museum is bounded by a circular wall with carved ox cart rack design.
Inside the monument, you can look down from above on a carved sarcophagus. The whole building is built of granite and impressively reflects the social situation in South Africa during the mid-19th Century resistance era.
The uShaka Marine World is a huge entertainment center on the beach with water slides, inflatable boats, entertainment show (Dolphin, penguins, seals, etc.). It is a theme park located on the boardwalk along the waterfront. One of the most interesting attractions is an aquarium constructed in the shape of an abandoned ship, which made the ride very different and fun. It’s a magical marine world exploration park with many unusual species of tropical fish. The sharks are observed in large sub-basins. Behind every corner, you can learn about the marine inhabitants of the small and large ocean.
The Moses Mabhida Stadium was the stage of the 2010 World Cup that has now become a tourist attraction in the city of Durban. The highlight of the stadium is the journey to the “Skycar” (glass elevator) that goes straight up to the arch that supports the stadium. There are lots of photo opportunities with the impressive skyline of Durban as background. Next to the football field stands the Rugby stadium, which is also worth a visit.
The Jonkershoek Nature is a favorite family trekking area that is located at the back of the Stellenbosch Mountain. The road to get to Stellenbosch may be bumpy and half paved but the biggest reward is seeing this attraction. After a long path through the valley you can find the waterfalls. It is not very heavy and it leads to a secluded dense green cave where you can bathe in icy puddles while you admire the down pouring water sprays. Everything is clean here and even the water can be drunk safely.
There are park rangers and conservationists who monitor every activity within the preserve park. The waterfalls, panoramic views, nature, plants and animals – the Baboons (monkeys), it’s a stunning mix of the rugged mountain scenes and wildlife as far as the eye can see.
The Kragga Kamma Game Park is smaller by far compared to the Addo Elephant Game Park and requires a much shorter time to explore but at the same time it has a high animal density. The highlight of the park is the enclosure in which you can come into close contact with the cheetahs. Under the supervision of a wildlife conservationist one may join small groups in an enclosure and observe the habitat of 2-3 cheetahs. Inside the mini safari attraction, a rented Suzuki small truck can take you to the middle of the habitat and interact with the Giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and elephants that are all just within an arms reach.
The Seaview Lion Park is an ideal place and a good opportunity to see lions, tigers, leopards in captivity and to interact with their young. It is a navigable zoo that is not as large as many other parks, but you can see giraffes, zebras and the rest of the protected wildlife of South Africa. You can even drive through a lion’s den by car or walk through a great small-scale zoo over wooden bridges. The highlight of this attraction is the undisputed baby lion. On its habitat, you can have the rare chance to feed them and caress the little ones. It is a unique experience that must not be missed when in Port Elizabeth.
The Knysna Elephant Park is an informative place to spend a fun afternoon in the company of elephants. When you get to the park, to pay the entrance you must buy buckets of food (30 ran each) to help feed them. If you’re with kids one for each well is also required so they can join in the fun. Then you are assigned a guide and bucket to a room where you see a video explaining the origin of the park and its activities. It is important to note that the 12 elephants that are there were rescued from zoos or other places where they had them in captivity, so they cannot be reimbursed to its wildlife. Some of the elephants still have the makings of abuse that they received.
After the orientation, you go to the outdoor area and begin contact with these protected marsupials. First, you feed them, then they are assigned a guide per family and begin to interact with a single elephant (you can touch it, you can give grass to eat, if there are children, the guide helps them up). Then the trekking into the lush jungle begins with you at the back of the elephant and the guide walking beside you. There are elephants of various ages and sizes. No limit with photographs, the guide will take pictures with your own ride. It is a unique experience.
Camps Bay is located right outside the gates of a fabulous, long and wide beach with clear water that is nestled between large rocks. On the beach you can wander up and down over the rocks and watch one dream house after another. The water in the Atlantic Ocean is known to be quite cold. Water temperature usually fluctuates from 11 to 16 ° C. The wave strength is highly dependent on the movement of the wind. There is also a tidal pool on the south side that hides behind the rocks that is so separated from the shore.
There is also a sea water pool with a playground and a lawn with trees for the families. Motor boats are not allowed within the waters of this attraction so that the visitors and traveler scan swim undisturbed. The fine sand, deep blue waters and a long clean visually appealing promenade make this beach a popular spot for commercials, movies, photo shoots etc.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve with floral gardens can be reached by taking the long drive towards the Gansbaai road up to Hermanus. There are clear road signs and the reserve is located a couple of kilometers from the main road. Admission is free. The locals roam around the nature park mainly for jogging or an early morning walk. In the gardens there are many paths that lead to the surrounding mountains.
For visitors it is an opportunity to see a beautiful garden and take pictures of animals that frequent the area. There are migratory birds that come to visit like; colored and red breasted sugarbirds. A walk with nature and a little view of the wild side, the rich biodiversity of the flora and fauna of this preserved nature park is simply incomparable. It is home to its most photographed attraction, the Fynboos (an exotic plant).
The Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is located just 20 minutes away from the bay area and is easily accessible with a normal car. The Horse Safari provides the great opportunity to get close to the animals as they are accustomed to the well trained horses.
Astride a horse you can observe rhinos, giraffes, zebras, hippos, wildebeest, water buffalos, antelopes, tigers and a pair of lions that freely roam around their protected natural habitat. The game reserve is not that large but it offers a very diverse landscape of mountains, grassland, lake, and more.