Here is our selection of the top 25 attractions in South Africa. We will link to recommended tours and some travel bloggers who have experienced these areas to give you their own opinions of each attraction and what to see.
The Sanbona Reserve
Featured in the photo above and one of South Africa’s largest private game reserves, Sanbona Reserve is located near Cape Town and is a top attraction in South Africa. Widely regarded as the best attraction on the western Cape, the Sanbona Reserve was named after the impressive San people who have lived in this arid environment for hundreds of years.
The reserve itself sits below the Warmwaterberg Mountain Range in an area of South Africa known as Little Karoo, which is a semi-desert region with boundaries defined by surrounding mountains. This area was once farmland and the animals were removed, but has been protected and the animals have been returned in honor of the environment and the San people who live here.
A great way to explore the San environment is on the Sanbona Explorer Camp to get a more intimate experience with nature and a classic safari adventure experience. With the great views of mountains and the high amount of wildlife, the Sanbona environment is a fantastic South African destination.
The Sanbona Explorer Camp operates during summer to make the most of the experience and begins in October with the last excursion taking place at the end of April. On the Explorer Camp, you will explore the reserve over two days to find the different wildlife and learn about the San people. Of an evening, you will then head back to camp for some delicious meals.
You will enjoy guided tours in the Sanbona Reserve on foot and by safari vehicle to spot fantastic animals. Within the reserve, you can find all members of the Big 5, including lions, rhino, buffalo, leopard, and elephants, plus a great many others such as wildebeest, zebra, kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, and the iconic springbok. The reserve is also home to around 200 different birds.
Your camp itself is unfenced, so animals can wander right up to your tent and each of the camps is spaced far enough apart to maintain privacy, which also recreates the excitement and adventure of a traditional African safari.
The Kruger National Park
The most famous and popular location for an African safari, Kruger National Park is a great starter for Africa with its incredible wildlife and facilities. The national park is very large and covers 2 million hectares, which is larger than some countries. Not just a magnificent park to visit for a safari, Kruger is also historically significant as this was the country’s first national park.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, Kruger ranks as one of the world’s top protected areas. Over this vast park, you can find all the iconic African wildlife, including lions, leopards, elephants, rhino, giraffe, hippo, and zebra. With all the iconic and favorite animals to see, you can also find over 500 different birds.
In addition to wildlife, there is some stunning scenery in the park and great lookout points, which you can visit on some of the best safaris. While out scouting for wildlife, you will rest in these areas and enjoy some delicious food.
There are some fantastic ways to experience Kruger National Park and we will mention two of our favorites. If you would like to enjoy a traditional safari camp in the style of the first African explorers, you have the Jock Safari Camp. The camp has been carefully designed to copy the accommodation of the first explorers complete with lanterns, the same style beds, and canvas washings basins.
The explorer camp is a two-day experience where you head out to encounter some of the impressive wildlife. Of an evening, you will enjoy fantastic meals around a campfire and hear the story surrounding Percy Fitzpatrick and the foundation of Kruger.
As in true explorer style, the Jock Explorer Camp is unfenced so animals can wander through the campsite to provide a true and adventurous safari experience. The camp operates in the cooler months with the first safari in April and the last safari at the end of October.
For a more comfortable experience and positioned inside Kruger National Park itself, we recommend the Jock Safari Lodge. This is a luxury-class experience where you can watch the wildlife from the comfort of your personal deck and have exclusive access to around 6,000 hectares of the protected area. The lodge has 12 very comfortable and individually thatched rooms, plus a spa, lounge, bar, swimming pool, and a fantastic restaurant.
The Jock Safari LodgeJohannesburg, South AfricaPrice per person from $Jock Safari Lodge is situated where the Mitomeni and Biyamiti Rivers flow as one in the south-wester More info
While at the lodge, head out with some of the best and most knowledgeable guides in South Africa to explore the park and encounter some fantastic animals, including elephants, monkeys, rhino, giraffes, hippo, buffalo, wildebeest, and lions.
The Shamwari Reserve
Another fantastic private protected area, the award-winning Shamwari Reserve is one of South Africa’s most successful conservation initiatives and is located close to Port Elizabeth. The area of the Eastern Cape is malaria-free and covers 25,000 hectares
You can enjoy some fantastic encounters with African wildlife and all members of the Big 5 live in the Shamwari Reserve. One of the best ways to explore is to enjoy the Shamwari Explorer Camp.
The Shamwari Explorer Camp is an African safari adventure that takes place over two days in the summer months. This is a walking safari that starts on Friday and although it’s offered as a two-day package, you can add an extra night if desired.
The Shamwari Explorer Camp differs from some of the others above as despite going back to basics for an adventure experience, luxury is high on the list to create a comfortable camp. Relax with very comfortable beds and bedding, a light for night time use, your ensuite bathroom, outdoor hand washing basins, and insect repellent to keep you comfortable.
Aside from offering a little more luxury, another difference from the first two explorer camps on this list is that the camp here is discreetly fenced for visitors who would like a little more separation and security from the wildlife, but who still want to be out in the same environment. This creates the same ambiance of an explorer camp
When back at camp after your safari, you will enjoy delicious meals over the campfire complete with silverware and crystalware to compliment the comfortable tents. In the morning, you will have a choice of tea or coffee and of an evening we provide a portable bar where you can enjoy a traditional gin and tonic overlooking the reserve.
Shamwari Explorer CampPort Elizabeth, South AfricaPrice per person from $Shamwari Explorer Camp offers a unique walking safari in the diverse Shamwari Reserve for a traditio More info
For a very luxurious and more lodge-like safari camp, you can choose the Bayethe Luxury Tented Lodge. The lodges provides all the comforts while keeping you connected to the African environment in a more open style. Enjoy very comfortable accommodation and exhilarating safaris in the Shamwari Game Reserve. In addition to these excellent options, there are several other recommended lodges for the Shamwari Game Reserve.
The Bayethe Tented LodgePort Elizabeth, South Africa, AfricaPrice per person from $Bayethe Tented Lodge offers a luxury tented accommodation in the Shamwari Game Reserve. Designed for More info
One of the country’s fantastic cities, Cape Town is located on South Africa’s coast and is known for its remarkable landmarks, such as Table Mountain which we will mention later. Cape Town is a fantastic place to visit and won the best place in the world to visit in 2014 from the Daily Telegraph in the UK and the New York Times in the USA.
There are some great botanical gardens and parks around the city making it a nice place to explore. This is also a great place to enjoy some more adventurous activities, including mountain biking, hiking, and paragliding off Table Mountain. Around Cape Town, you can find nice places to explore, including one of the world’s largest winelands growing award-winning wines. Additionally, Cape Town is one of the world’s best places to see whales and the intimidating great white sharks. The hiking spots are also fantastic with the nearby stream-filled forests and just outside the city, you can find some iconic wildlife, such as zebra and wildebeest.
Influenced by Dutch, French, English, and local culture, Cape Town ranks as one of the world’s most colorful and attractive cities and is full of modern bars, art galleries, designer shops, and restaurants with a traditional African flair. The surroundings add to its beauty complemented by ocean views. Despite the often cold Atlantic, there are also some fantastic white sand beaches nearby.
A travel blogger who have visited Cape Town is Liz from Youngadventuress.com.
South Africa’s Beaches
South Africa has some of the world’s best beaches where you can enjoy white sands, beautiful scenery, and gently lapping waves. Some of the best beaches include Camps Bay, Santos Beach, Muizenberg, and North Beach.
Although the water itself is quite cold, Camps Bay offers one of the most popular beach destinations with excellent places to relax, restaurants serving delicious food, and some great bars.
North Beach is another favorite and is located near Durban. This is consistently ranked as one of the country’s favorite beaches. This is a hit for surfers, body boarders, swimmers, and sunbathers. Tourists are drawn to the beach because of the fantastic conditions, facilities, and the many different restaurants nearby.
Another of the favorite beaches, the Santos Beach is not only a beautiful location but there is a little B&B made from a train that provides views over the ocean. Enjoy your own carriage for the night and laze on the beach during the day with water great for swimming.
Muizenberg then offers the quintessential white sandy beach, which is often a hit with families because of the low lapping tide. This is also a recommended place to learn to surf as waves get higher the further you go out, but are still easily predictable.
Great White Shark Diving
South Africa is one of the best places in the world to cage dive with great white sharks and there are three places where you can enjoy this exciting activity, which are Seal Island in False Bay, Seal Island in Mossel Bay, and Dyer Island in Gansbaai. Dyer Island then has the most tour operators.
The sleepy fishing village of Gansbaai is a two-hour drive from Cape Town and offers its own charm with friendly locals. This unassuming town is a draw for visitors from all over the world because this is one of the best places on Earth for seeing great white sharks near Dyer Island. The sharks patrol these waters because of the populous seal colony of 30,000 that inhabit the island.
Although the adventure and excitement is mainly linked to our fear of sharks from movies like Jaws, the sharks themselves are more curious than anything and combined with a very high standard of safety, it makes for an experience to be enjoyed by anyone. To be so close to such an incredibly powerful and prehistoric predator in its natural environment is an experience of a lifetime.
Gansbaai is the most popular area for great whites as the chance of seeing them here is highest. There is an area famously known as ‘Shark Alley’ between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock where sharks take their pick from the 30,000 or so seals living in the area. Despite this being one of the best places in the world to see the sharks, there is an optimal season between May and September and despite better chances of seeing sharks, it is quite cold.
The boats often provide breakfast and lunch onboard and supply your snorkeling equipment for the experience. As the water is cold, we recommend bringing some warm clothes for the journey back to land.
Seeing the world’s most famous shark is a great add-on experience to your African safari in Kruger National Park, Shamwari Reserve, or the Sanbona Reserve mentioned above. Seeing the most formidable ocean predator is a perfect compliment to seeing the Africa’s Big 5. However, there is currently a debate in the conservation community over its benefits and impacts on the sharks themselves with good arguments both for and against the activity.
Some travel bloggers who have seen great whites in South Africa are Mathew from Expertvagabond.com and Ellen from Travellingtheworldsolo.com.
The Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is a series of archaeological sites and cave systems spanning 47,000 hectares about 50 km from Johannesburg. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, within the limestone cave complex researchers have found many different remains from human ancestors, such as a 2.3 million-year-old fossil of Australopithecus africanus and a 2.5 million-year-old complete Australopithecine skeleton. Nearby sites have also revealed fascinating discoveries, such as an early species of the Homo genus, the genus that we ourselves share. Thousands of fascinating discoveries have been found in the cave systems, which ranked the area worthy of being covered by UNESCO.
In 2015, researchers also found another species of Homo, which they named Homo naledi and found some similar behaviors between this species and our own, such as similar burial traditions. The species ranks as one of the earliest examples of our own genus emerging just after the Australopithecines.
Combined with these burial rituals, these caves are such a gold mine for Hominids as predators such as leopards would bring their kills into the caves to eat or the individuals would fall into holes. These remains are now found today, millions of years after, along with their stories.
The first discovery of Australopithecus africanus known as the Taung Child reveals talon marks in the child’s skull. The probable event that took place was that the child was out with his mother and wandered too far away. The unfortunate child then ended up as prey for a large eagle that dropped scraps from its meal below and into the cave system. It was these discoveries, dated to a much older time than anywhere else, that highlighted South Africa as the cradle of mankind and subsequent finds confirmed the theory.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Cradle of Humankind are Rob from Stophavingaboringlife.com and Heather & Lisa from Klipdrifters.com.
The Cape of Good Hope
Accessed from Cape Town in the country’s south, the Cape of Good Hope is South Africa’s famous headland and points into the Atlantic Ocean. The fame of the Cape came from sailors, as this was a point on the route between the far east and Australia. The name Cape of Good Hope is thought to be linked to its Portuguese discovery and indicates that India could be reached from Europe.
The entire peninsula is home to eight protected areas, which are together recognized as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in the Cape Floristic Region. You can enjoy fantastic walks, birdwatching opportunities, beaches, and beautiful scenery. There is a two-day Cape of Good Hope Trail, which takes you on a circular route around the cape, plus a number of other shorter trails.
For wildlife lovers, over 250 different birds have been spotted on the Cape, including ostriches and cormorants. There are also a high diversity of different plants with nearly 3,000 different varieties to be found. Some of the other animals you can see in the region include mountain zebra, clawless otters, and antelope. However, the most famous animals are the 3,000 or so penguins at Boulders Beach where you can enjoy a walking trail to see the birds. We will cover these little guys later.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Cape of Good Hope are Tim, Julie, & Family from Earthtrekkers.com and Audrey from Thatbackpacker.com.
The Apartheid Museum
When visiting a new country, it’s always worth visiting museums and memorials to have a glimpse of the country’s history. The Apartheid Museum is certainly that. Learn the struggle many South Africans faced in the not so distant past from 1948 to 1990 with the segregation of people based solely on race. The museum depicts the apartheid system with text, audio, and film and will have a significant effect on anyone who is not already familiar with South African history.
The struggle South Africans had towards a non-racial democratic government was extraordinary and life in apartheid South Africa greets you at the museum entrance with separate doors for ‘whites’ and ‘non-whites’, which will be determined by your entrance ticket.
The extension of this system didn’t just mean there were separate buses and water fountains, but that racial identity meant people could have their land taken from them, had curfews, were limited in movement, and were denied economic opportunities. Because this was the white minority that placed themselves at the top of power, it meant the unprivileged were not the few but the many, as it represented the majority of South Africa’s population.
Some travel bloggers who visited the museum are Nicole from Treasuretromp.com and Carol from Wanderingcarol.com.
The Addo Elephant National Park
The Addo Elephant National Park is near Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s Eastern Cape and covers around 120,000 hectares of land. This makes it the third largest national park in South Africa after the impressive Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The park was originally founded in 1931 to help protect the 11 elephants that were left in the area. Since this time, the elephant population has grown to 600 individuals and the park helps to protect a diversity of other animals.
You can find Africa’s Big 5 in the park, including the buffalo, lion, elephant, rhinoceros, and leopard, plus a diversity of others, such as zebra, eland, kudu, ostrich, hippo and hyenas. This is a great place for a representation of South Africa, as five of the country’s seven biomes are included within the park. As the only large protected area on the coast, you can also find an area of marine environment and coastline home to whales and great white sharks.
There are many different activities to enjoy in the park, including game drives to see the iconic African animals, horse riding, walking safaris, birding tours, and also marine eco-tours. The park is located very close to the Shamwari Reserve above where you can enjoy a bit more comfort, including the very comfortable Shamwari Explorer Camp.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Addo Elephant National Park are Heather from 2summers.net and Marilu from Maggieinafrica.com.
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
The world’s third largest canyon, and arguably one of the most beautiful due to its covering of sub-tropical vegetation, the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve covers 29, 000 hectares. The canyon itself, named the Motlatse Canyon, is a gigantic and beautiful geological structure of red sandstone of iconic importance for South Africa.
This is one of the country’s most beautiful areas and is found near the town of Graskop. There are many different lookouts for incredible views from the reserve, including the favorites of the Devil’s Window and God’s Window where you can see as far as Mozambique and into the Kruger National Park.
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve includes different waterfalls you can visit, fascinating geological features, and some fantastic wildlife. Over 1,000 different plants are found within the reserve, including the favorites of orchids, lilies, and tree ferns. You can enjoy seeing all five primates that live in South Africa, such as vervet monkeys and baboons, plus a lot of other animals. Enjoy spotting kudu, wildebeest, zebra, and then crocodiles and hippos in the river. There is a fantastic amount of birdlife to see in the reserve, including a number of birds of prey, such as black eagles, peregrine falcons, lanner falcons, black-chested snake eagles, and long-crested eagles.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve are Dries & Marilize from Dewetswild.com and Heather & Peter from Conversanttraveller.com.
The Cango Caves
Another of the must-visit attractions in South Africa, the Cango Caves are a series of limestone caverns, tunnels, and chambers in the Western Cape. These are the most popular in the country and are some of South Africa’s finest cave systems.
Enjoy guided tours to explore the caves that stretch under the earth for over four kilometers. This was already a very popular place to visit, but research in the 1930s added interest by showing that people had lived in the cave throughout the stone age.
You can choose how adventurous you would like to be on a choice of two different tours. Choose from either the General Tour to show the larger sections of the cave or opt for the Adventure Tour, which includes crawling through tunnels and climbing up cave walls.
There are some fascinating formations to see in the caves and the walls are illuminated so you don’t miss out. Enjoy the shapes the caves have taken with the iconic stalagmites and stalactites. Hear from your knowledgeable cave guide about the history of the area, as you are guided around grottos and water bodies deep underground.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Cango Caves are Kevin & Ruth from Travelwithkevinandruth.com.
The island where Mandela was imprisoned, Robben Island is known to all South Africans and is located in Table Bay near Cape Town. Mandela was housed here for 18 years of the 27 that he served behind bars during the time of apartheid.
Robben Island is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Heritage Site. The island has a history as the place for incarcerating political prisoners since the 17th Century and three presidents of South Africa were jailed here. The guided tours around the island are all led by Robben’s former political prisoners. You will visit the maximum security prison and see the cell where Mandela lived, which has been kept as it would have been during his imprisonment. You will also visit the lime quarry where Mandela and other prisoners performed hard labor.
The island was also home to a whaling station built in the mid-1900s and a leper colony in the mid-1800s. You can visit the Robben Island Museum to learn about the history, which also features a restaurant and shop to enjoy before your ferry back to the mainland.
Some travel bloggers who visited Robben Island are Kelly from Asideofsweet.com and Jeff from Jeffsetter.com.
The iconic geographical feature of Cape Town, Table Mountain is protected within the Table Mountain National Park, which also includes the Cape of Good Hope above. The giant flat-topped geographical structure is definitely the centerpiece of the park, but there are other beautiful things to see, including fantastic scenery and a diversity of animals and plants.
Protected within the UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site, you can enjoy a cable car up to Table Mountain to enjoy fantastic views over Cape Town and there are also some great hiking trails up the landmark.
The Table Mountain itself is home to over 2,000 different plants with 70% of the flowers here found nowhere else. The botanical garden at the bottom helps provide information on the different species, plus plants from all over the world are housed in the large conservatory.
Animals you can find on Table Mountain include the baboons, rock hyraxes, caracals, and the penguin colony at Boulders Beach.
Some travel bloggers who visited Table Mountain are Carol from Wanderingcarol.com and Bryan from Thewanderinggourmand.com.
The Cape Winelands
One of the world’s finest winelands producing some great wines, the Western Cape was introduced to wine in 1652 when the Dutch East India company established a refreshment station on the Cape of Good Hope. Nowadays, the winelands are split into six main wine regions, which all have their different wine routes.
Not only a fantastic place to tour, taste and stock up on some great wine, this part of South Africa is famous for its beautiful scenery. Enjoy the rolling wine country and looking into the mountains.
After its foundation and when more settlers arrived on the Cape from France and Germany, the winemakers in the community found the surrounding hills ideal for growing different grapes. The climate here mirrors the Mediterranean and the soil was ideal for grapes. A variety of vines were grown, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. The region has now branched out into many different local cultivars and the traditional favorites.
The KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields
For history enthusiasts, you can visit some of the famous places for South Africa’s Boer Wars and Zulu War. This area is where the majority of the country’s most significant battles took place and you can take guided tours to learn about the different battles. You can also visit the different Zulu Culture and Heritage sites.
Your guided tour of the area can begin from either Durban or Johannesburg where your guide will collect you and drop you back after your tour. See the areas where the British were defeated, the fields where the Boers were finally weakened, and where the Zulu battles took place.
There are different ways to explore the areas, which include self-driven tours with a good guidebook, a guide who collects you and drops you off at your hotel, or seeing the sites on horseback. The recommendation is to use the services of a qualified and knowledgeable guide to make the most of the experience.
In the area, you can see Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift where Zulu warriors armed with traditional spears and shields beat back British forces. This is one of the very few battles where the British were defeated by an indigenous group armed with traditional weaponry. Another site known as Spioenkop was where Winston Churchill once worked as a war correspondent and Mahatma Gandhi was a stretcher bearer. You can see battle re-enactments and enjoy good music, food, and some more adventurous activities nearby.
The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve
Once a royal Zulu hunting ground, the Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve was established in 1895 and is the oldest nature reserve in Africa. Located about 300 km north of Durban and covering just under 100,000 hectares, you can find all the iconic animals here, including the lions, leopards, hippos, elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo, plus many others, such as zebra, cheetah, kudu, eland, and giraffes . The park is also fortunate to contain the world’s largest white rhino. For bird lovers, you can find over 300 different species in the reserve.
The Umfolozi area in the south of the reserve is mainly grasslands, which then turns into woodlands. The Hluhluwe part in the north is more mountainous with more forest, but there is also African savannah areas. There are some fantastic viewing areas across the reserve, such as hides placed near watering holes to watch the wildlife at close range.
Within the reserve, you can find different safari lodges ranging from luxury lodges, through self-catered accommodation, to explorer camps. From these lodges, enjoy game drives, river tours, and walking trails to find some of the reserve’s different animals and plants.
Some travel bloggers who visited Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve are Kelly from Bushbabyblog.com and Heather & Lisa from Klipdrifters.com.
The St Lucia Estuary
Although an estuary may not be the majority of people’s preference for an attraction, remember that we are in sub-Saharan Africa and St Lucia is one of the largest on the continent.
You can see the 800 strong hippo population and a fantastic assemblage of birds. There are also over 1,000 Nile crocodiles to spot in the water. The area is also home to kudu, leopards, and rhino. Because of its rich wildlife, the estuary and surroundings were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the first to be established in South Africa.
Different stone tools and other evidence of early human ancestors from as far back as 130,000 years ago have been found in the St Lucia Estuary. Researchers have found almost 7,000 different stone tools from just one cave here making a great place to tour important places of human origins.
Some travel bloggers who visited the St Lucia Estuary are James from Nomadicnotes.com and Namrata from Miamusings.com.
The Howick Falls
Howick Falls is located in the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa and reaches almost 100 meters in height. The falls has been important in regional Zulu culture and was known as KwaNogqaza, which translates roughly to ‘the place of the tall one.’ The local mythology surrounding the falls regards the pool below as the place of ancestral spirits and also home to a giant snake-like creature.
This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country and visitors often combine a tour here with a number of other waterfalls and cascades in the region. The Howick Falls, however, is often regarded as the most magnificent.
The views from the top of the falls are incredible and there are a number of walks to enjoy, including the popular Howick Falls Gorge Walk.
The Amphitheatre, Drakensberg
One of the most stunningly beautiful scenic areas for a hike, the 500 meter high and 5 km wide Amphitheatre can be found in the Royal Natal National Park and offers one of the world’s most dramatic looking cliff faces. If this wasn’t magnificent enough, you can also see the world’s second largest waterfall from the amphitheater, which is called the Tugela Falls. There is some argument that this the world’s highest and actually exceeds Angel Falls in Venezuela.
The area is home to a fantastic hiking trail that takes you up onto the Amphitheatre via chain ladders for incredible views. This view is regarded as one of the world’s finest and this is the only day hiking trail to the top, which takes around five hours to complete.
There are a variety of other trails in the region ranging from day hikes to multi-day adventures. This is one of the favorite areas in South Africa for its landscape and walking tracks. There are different rivers winding their way through the area and you can enjoy walks to the falls and through indigenous forests for great scenery and wildlife. For any hikers, make you visit the camp to fill in the register at the Visitor Centre before you set off for safety and collect your map of the walking trails.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Amphitheatre are Sonja & Jerry from Myhammocktime.com.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Protecting a vast expanse of the famed Kalahari Desert, among the scrubland and dunes live springbok, eland, and wildebeest moving with the availability of food and water. The frontier the park crosses is the border between South Africa and Botswana with the merging of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park.
The park covers an incredibly large area of over 3.6 million hectares and ranks as one of the world’s largest protected areas. Although the landscape may look sparse in many areas, there are some fantastic animals to see. The dominant predators are the black-maned Kalahari lions who share the area with meerkats, antelope, hyenas, Namibian cheetahs, leopards, and much more. The park is also well known among birders for its abundance of birds of prey.
As we are in a southern portion of the Kalahari, the water here is very limited and the rivers only briefly flow after large thunderstorms. The vegetation you can see on the Kalahari is instead fed from underground river systems. The weather can be extreme with temperatures ranging from -10 °C and up to 45 °C in the summer, so make sure you plan your month to visit carefully.
A travel blogger who visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is Louise from Greengirlsinafrica.com.
The Mkuze Game Reserve
Mkuze Game Reserve is a 40,000-hectare area located in a prime part of South Africa, as it sits on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal. The reserve is positioned in the middle of Zululand and is home to all of the iconic Big 5, such as lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo, but also giraffes, zebra, cheetah, hyenas, Nile crocodiles, hippo, and wildebeest. The area is also well known among birding enthusiasts for the abundant species seen in the reserve and there are over 400 different birds to find.
The reserve protects grasslands, mountains, forests, and waterways. The main conservation initiative within the reserve is to continue the work of restoring the population of white rhinos, which were brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1950s.
You can choose from many different safari accommodation options within the reserve to head out and find the varied and iconic wildlife. The reserve contains three different hides to help you get as close as possible to the action and allow for some incredible photography opportunities.
The Garden Route
South Africa’s most famous drive, the Garden Route is on the minds of many visitors to the country. The route runs between the Southern and Eastern Cape and provides some very beautiful scenery. The small villages and destinations enroute adds to the popularity and provides a fantastic introduction to the country.
The towns many people enjoy visiting on the route include Oudtshoorn with its ostriches, Calitzdorp, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Although there are many little bays enroute, Plettenberg Bay provides a great place to spot whales and other marine life from the land.
The route itself stretches around 300 km along the southern coast between Mossel Bay in the west and Plettenberg Bay in the east. You can also visit the Garden Route National Park, which contains ancient forests and beautiful lakes with a few different walks you can enjoy.
Some travel bloggers who enjoyed the Garden Route are Elaine from Thewholeworldisaplayground.com and Emily from Justglobetrotting.com.
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
A quintessential bustling and attractive waterfront filled with over 80 restaurants, many shops, malls, and entertainment, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a must-visit area if you’re in Cape Town. The different malls mean you can find almost anything your shopping needs desire, including the major brands and boutique shops.
For entertainment, enjoy two cinemas, which includes a luxury complex to enjoy your movie in utmost comfort. You can also enjoy the fantastic Two Oceans Aquarium on the waterfront and some different museums. As the surrounding area is a working harbor, you can enjoy the activity of the dock as tug boats travel out to sea and ferries shuttle visitors to the nearby Robben Island.
A travel blogger who enjoyed the waterfront is Nadeen from Thesophisticatedlife.com.
The Boulder & Foxy Beach Penguin Colony
Last but not least and probably the most loved group of animals near Cape Town, the Boulder Beach Penguin Colony is a 2,000 strong population of African penguins. You can enjoy a boardwalk from the visitor center and you can even get onto the beach with the penguins themselves. Although Boulder Beach is the most popular, you can get better penguin viewing at Foxy Beach. Do remember to keep a respectful distance as the penguins can peck with sharp beaks if they feel threatened.
The group is protected within the Table Mountain National Park mentioned above, but many people make the trip just to see the penguins. The African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) you can see are actually an endangered species and the colony was founded in 1982 by two breeding pairs. With the reduction in fishing activity in the bay, which previously devastated the penguin’s food of small fish, the population number has rocketed up. There are a variety of nearby eateries and accommodation options to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Some travel bloggers who saw the penguins are Laura & Lance from Traveladdicts.net, Hilary from Hillaryfox.com and Jolie from Joliejanine.com.