Whether or not you’ve been following the World Cup, chances are the huge football event may have opened up your eyes to South Africa as an appealing travel destination. Luckily for you, Trafalgar have been touring there for years, so we know a thing or two about the best places to visit in South Africa. Take a look at our top ten attractions below, and let the magic of South Africa lure you to its stunning shores.
1. Etosha National Park
We suggest spending a full day in this world-class game park, visiting a number of waterholes to observe the wildlife. Etosha, translated, means ‘The place of dry water’ and here you can gety our first view of the magnificent pan. Travel along the vast salt-pan with stops at various waterholes and game viewing en route.
See the highlights of Damaraland – one of the last true wilderness areas in Africa. On your way make sure you head through Outjo, Khorixas, the capital of this region. You’ll pass through scenic landscapes and Damara villages before reaching the starck Petrified Forest. Explore the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein and its fascinating geological features such as the Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain. Finish off your Damaraland trip with a visit to the ‘White Lady’, which is situated in the nearby Brandberg Mountains. This three hour hike (requires an average level of fitness) will take you to see the famous rock art paintings, whilst offering some spectacular views of the open plains of the Damaraland.
3. Cape Winelands
Have you ever wondered where your exquisite South African reds are actually grown? Chances are, it will have started life in the gorgeous Cape Winelands; the largest wine growing region in South Africa. Surrounded by staggering mountains, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are the most popular, owing to their prestigious old wine cellars.
4. Cape Peninsula
Take advantage of a full day touring of the ruggedly beautiful Cape Peninsula via the Atlantic seaboard for incredible panoramas that will stay with your forever. If you have time, stop off at the fishing village of Hout Bay too, where you could take an optional cruise to Seal Island to watch the antics of these natural performers too.
5. Penguins at Boulders Beach
You’ll inevitably drive through the quaint naval village of Simon’s Town on your way back to Cape Town from the Cape Peninsula, so look out for the adorable penguins at Boulders Beach. Camera’s at the ready; these adorable animals moved to the beach in 1985, made it their home and haven’t moved since!
6. Table Mountain
While you enjoy the diverse and vibrant city of Cape Town, don’t miss the opportunity to ascend Table Mountain by cable car for spectacular views of the city. So far, this cable car has offered more than 20 million visitors some of the greatest views known to man, and locals are so proud of the flat-topped mountain that it even features on the Cape Town flag. Explore the rest of Table Mountain National Park if you have time, to see the rare fynbos vegetation.
7. Kruger National Park
Enjoy spotting the ‘Big Five’ and the other 147 species of mammals, reptiles and birds during an open safari vehicle drive; the best game spotting opportunities are in the early morning and late afternoon. We recommend following the animals’ example by taking a midday siesta! Gasp at the glory that is God’s Window, a boundless view of forested mountains and fertile plains and make sure you visit the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, one of the natural wonders of Africa as well as the quaint village of Graskop.
8. Tsitsikamma Forest, Port Elizabeth
As you depart Knysna you’ll most likely go by way of the glorious indigenous Tsitsikamma Forest before you arrive in Port Elizabeth. The forest is well known for its dramatic coastline as well as its Otter Trail. Most head to the spectacular Nature’s Valley at the western end of the park, or Bloukrans Bridge where you can see adrenaline-junkies partake in the world’s highest bungee jump!
9. Seal Island
Located on the beautiful beaches of False Bay close to Cape Town, Seal Island is a small land mass of only 5.7km which is so called due to the large population of Cape Fur Seals who live there. It’s a site that must be seen to be believed, and one which animal-lovers will adore. If you’re travelling with the whole family or the grandchildren, this a must-see spot.
10. Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
This rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of Cape Peninsula offers breathtaking wild and rugged scenery, due to it being so unspoiled by humans. ‘The Cape’ as it is often referred to as, is also the home of the legendary Flying Dutchman which is believed to have been crewed and tormented by damned ghosts of sailors. If you don’t believe in ghosts, instead spend your time looking out for lizards, snakes, tortoises and even whales!
There’s so much to see in the great outdoors in South Africa, it’d be a shame to spend all your time in the big cities. Take our advice, and embrace the mountains, valleys, parks and coastline, for the full South African experience.
Have you been to South Africa? If you think we’ve missed an amazing attraction off this list, let us know by leaving a comment below!
Read more about South Africa
See all South African tours:
Namibia & Cape Town Discovery
Contrasts of South Africa
Cape Town Garden Route & Safari
Southern Africa Explorer