The South African region is rich in breathtaking landscapes and almost virgin sites where one can explore nature and admire the fauna. The constantly changing scenery will never make you bored. South Africa boasts a lot of national parks, a golden savanna, large cities with their never-ending nightlife, and a lot of surprises that you are going to discover only if you visit this region. If you are looking for some entertainment in South Africa, you should read this guide on the most attractive places first.
Enjoying the beauties of Cape Town
Founded in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company, Cape Town nowadays is one of the most modern cities on the continent. Moreover, if you find yourself in Cape Town, you will see that it has a lot in common with most European cities, which is due to its long history full of contacts with Europeans. Moreover, Cape Town played a very important role in global trade, which defined its multicultural view of today. The city is among the largest in South Africa with its 3.5 million inhabitants, and a lot of tourists visit Cape Town every year.
Things to See in Cape Town
The city offers a lot of natural and artificial landmarks and interesting sites that you can enjoy. Most visitors start with Table Mountain, a breathtaking natural landmark from which you can admire the surrounding areas. Tourists can either hike it or use a special cable car to get to the top. Along with simply standing and observing the surroundings, visitors have the opportunity to join one of those walking routes.
If you are looking for UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa, Cape Town can offer one. Robben Island is a museum prison where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of imprisonment. Along with this, the island boasts beautiful nature and spectacular views.
The Norval Foundation is another place to enjoy in Cape Town. This is a museum where true fans of art can spend hours admiring various collections.
For those who want to enjoy nature, there is a special half-day safari tour that covers the Big Five (African bush elephant, black rhinoceros, lion, leopard, and Cape buffalo). During the safari, you will stay in a car with a guide, looking for the most hard-to-track animals in South Africa.
Along with all the above-mentioned locations, the city on the cape provides visitors with a lot more sites. Before going there, plan your visit carefully so that you can cover as many of those places as possible.
Kruger National Park
Visitors who want to see the wildlife of South Africa will be pleased to visit Kruger National Park. Those who go there will be able to see the Big Five in their natural habitat. Kruger National Park attracts visitors with its picturesque scenery and a lot of routes to take.
A large network of roads allows Kruger National Park visitors to explore the surroundings on foot. However, if tourists are looking for some adventures or simply want to see all these beauties from above, they have the opportunity to enjoy a hot air balloon trip. As for accommodation in Kruger National Park, visitors can stay in special campsites or book a luxury lodge.
Before planning a trip, do your own research on the sites you want to visit. This will allow you to correctly allocate your time and attend as many locations as possible. Also, think about how much time you are going to spend in South Africa. The country is two times larger than Texas. In addition, keep in mind that it will take you some time to get from one place to another. For instance, a simple trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town will take you about 16 hours.
Cape of Good Hope
South Africa has a lot of locations with unforgettable landscapes that will never erase from memory once seen. The Cape of Good Hope is definitely one of those places. This peninsula is bordered by the ocean, and has a lot of mountains and rocks, which make the whole picture look even more amazing.
For most visitors, Cape of Good Hope is a place to admire the natural landscape, untouched by humans (or almost untouched as there are some artificial structures there) with flora and fauna that can’t be seen in most other locations on the Earth. Cape of Good Hope is Home for 1,100 species of indigenous plants that can’t be found in any parts of the world. Visitors will also have a chance to see one of the most popular landmarks—the lighthouse. It provides tourists with some exclusive views of the Cape of Good Hope. There is a special tour that allows you to see penguins and other wildlife inhabitants of this region.
What is the best time to come to South Africa? The climate in this region is warmer to the north and cooler to the south. Therefore, the best time to visit South Africa depends on what exact part of the region you want to visit. For instance, if you are going to Cape Town or the Western Cape, you should keep in mind that July and August are the rainiest months here. For tourists who plan to visit Kruger National Park, the best time is from May to September, as those are the driest months in the region.
Also known as Joburg, the city was established as a gold miners' settlement in the XIXth century. Nowadays, Johannesburg is one of the biggest cities in South Africa. The city attracts visitors primarily for its museums, theaters, and restaurants that are located in the Newtown and Braamfontein districts. One of the most popular sites here is the Apartheid Museum, where visitors can learn more about this chapter in the history of South Africa. The other sites to admire are:
Top of Africa;
Johannesburg Art Gallery;
Standard Bank Gallery;
Sci-Bono Discovery Center.
The first thing you should remember when arriving in Johannesburg is that the demand for electricity often exceeds the supply, which means that both local residents and visitors may find themselves in darkness. Therefore, it is better to book a hotel or an apartment with a generator.
Tourists often use taxi services in Joburg. It is recommended to download the Bolt app. While Uber is available here, former Taxify provides customers with better deals.
Those who want to take a break from cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town would definitely like to go to this part of the country to admire the magnificent mountains. Drakensberg means "Dragon Mountains", a word that came to the Afrikaans directly from Dutch. The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for more than 600 miles (or 1,000 kilometres), which is a great opportunity for visitors to find their own favourite part of this portion of the Great Escarpment. There are a couple national parks in this region with its wildlife species, some exclusive pieces of flora and jaw-dropping scenery.
If you plan to hike the Drakensberg Mountains, go with at least two companions. All of you should carry a map and a compass, as mobile networks may not be available in some places. Make all necessary preparations for such a trip, pack enough water and food. Pick appropriate shoes and clothes.
Pilanesberg National Park
Only a couple of hours will take you to reach Pilanesberg park from Johannesburg or Pretoria. It is smaller than Kruger National Park, but in general, you will have an opportunity to see all this variety of species on a smaller portion of land, which is an advantage if you are short on time.
The park is located in between the Kalahari (a famous desert area) and the Lowveld, which is famous for a plethora of rains. This makes it very interesting to see climate and landscape changes within one single natural park. Visitors will admire the Big Five as well as many other wildlife representatives, such as zebras, wild dogs, giraffes, and more than 350 species of feathered.
When visiting this park, let the animals come to you to reinforce the experience instead of simply driving around. In order to spot hippos, cheetahs, and lions, go to Hippo Loop. Plan your trip to the park in April, May, or September, as those are the best months to enjoy the trip. Bring some water with you, and never leave the car alone while on safari in this park.
This is one of the most popular locations to relax in South Africa. Moreover, Durban beaches are among the most beautiful in the world with their white sand and warm Indian Ocean. This region also offers some UNESCO World Heritage monuments that you will be able to admire once you get there. There are plenty of ways to begin acquaintance with Durban and one of them is to join a half-day city tour.
What to See
Apart from bleached white beaches that attract herds of Africans and visitors, Durban is rich in various attractions. Durban Botanic Garden is one of the oldest existing botanic gardens in South Africa and one of the most attractive places in the world. Here you will find a lot of plant species, with some trees being more than 100 years old.
Another attraction to find in Durban (apart from beautiful beaches) is the Umgeni River Bird Park. As you may guess from its name, the main attraction here is to watch feathered species. Some of them are exclusively presented in this park, and one can never see them in other parts of the world, even in South Africa.
For visitors who want to see the rich underwater world of South Africa, a good option will be to enjoy Ushaka Marine World. The park is located on Durban’s Golden Mile, and you can go there right after enjoying local beaches.
The best time to come to Durban is from April to September, as the rainy season starts in October and normally lasts until March. Before going there, plan the list of activities and locations that you are going to visit. Durban is not a landmark place, meaning that there are plenty of things to admire there apart from simply relaxing on the beach. Therefore, you should think about the exact sites you are going to visit in advance.
Also known as Jacaranda City, Pretoria lies in the fertile valley of the Apies River. This city is an administrative center of South Africa, which shares a capital status with Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
Being the administrative center of South Africa, Pretoria is home to civil servants and diplomats. There are plenty of industrial enterprises here, which add a huge share to the ZAR GDP. Apart from all the above mentioned, Pretoria boasts the University of South Africa, which is one of the largest educational establishments in the world.
First-time visitors always go to the Pretoria National Botanic Garden, which is one of the largest in South Africa. They can enjoy a lot of exclusive plants there that can’t be found in other parts of the planet. Voortrekker Monument is a South Africa national heritage site, which is dedicated to those who pushed to the north of the country in the XIXth century.
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is another site to visit if you are looking for some contact with the wildlife of the region. This is a great place for the whole family to admire various local animals in their natural environment.
Keep in mind that the price for goods and services may change every day due to the unstable situation with inflation. Therefore, if you are travelling with your home currency, do not rush to change all the money that you have allocated to the trip. The public transportation network is well developed in Pretoria, but it is better to call a taxi if you are going to the hotel late at night.
Enjoy your Trip to South Africa
South Africa is a multicultural region, which will definitely provide you with a great travelling experience. With a lot of locations to enjoy and beaches to relax, the country will open its secrets step by step to tourists. You may have to make several trips to South Africa to see only a couple of its beauties and explore only a part of what is hidden inside.