A Snapshot of South Africa

When you make plans to travel to South Africa, the mind conjures some very exciting images, even if you have never been there before. 

When you make plans to travel to South Africa, the mind conjures some very exciting images, even if you have never been there before. 

Beauty beyond belief – both in the wilderness and along the coastline. Sights that will continuously take your breath away, and the thrill of being in the vicinity of some of the most unique animals on the planet.

What you definitely won’t know until you’ve had a holiday in South Africa, however, is that so many other parts of your adventure will be spectacular if you give the country the opportunity to shine. SA easily blows visitors away with its cuisine, which delivers fantastic food and fine wine in equal quantities, as well as a selection of captivating urban centers and an island or two thrown in for good measure.

We like to say that our articles barely scratch the surface of the destinations they describe, but merely writing about South Africa gets the pulse racing, so let’s scratch away!

Safaris, National Parks & Ocean Wonders

Let’s start with the juicy stuff. iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and allows you to see one of the widest arrays of wildlife in one location, albeit a large area. Across the seas, beaches, wetlands and sand dunes within its borders, you can get a glimpse of everything from Nile Crocodiles and Whales to Cheetahs and Blue Wildebeest, not to mention the “Big 5” – Rhinoceros, African Buffalos, Leopards, Lions, and African Elephants.  

You can approach exploring iSimangaliso Wetland Park in a way that best suits your style and budget, with many areas accessible without guides or assistance, giving you the chance to drive to parks, beaches and trails and take them in at your own pace. For those who enjoy the benefits of local knowledge, plenty of services are on offer to make your journey fuss free, at a price. 

Among the highlights at the park are:

  • Cruising the wetlands by boat
  • Safaris on horseback or by car
  • Hiking
  • Whale watching

Other options for wildlife adventures in South Africa include:

  • Addo Elephant National Park: Can you guess what this large park is famous for? Yes, you won’t be left wanting if your trip to South Africa was about seeing elephants in the flesh, but among the giants are other captivating animals, including Ostriches, Zebras, Lions and Hyenas.
  • Kruger National Park: Arguably the biggest jewel in SA’s wildlife crown, Kruger is a fantastic place to go on safari and take in the wildlife, but it can get a little crowded.

From Savannas to Concrete Jungles

South Africa is home to some fantastic cities, but to give a real sense of what the country has to offer in its urban splendor, we thought we would focus on the finest city of them all – Cape Town.

Even though Johannesburg is where most travelers arrive is South Africa, Cape Town is where your heart will stay when you leave. Just Google images of this city and you’ll need no further incentive to go. The southernmost city in SA is one of the most beautiful in the world, tucked by Table Bay and surrounded by stunning mountains and crisp blue (and cold) ocean, it can all seem like a fairytale at times. 

There is almost too much to do in Cape Town, but here are some highlights:

  • Table Mountain: Whether appreciated from afar or taken in while hiking, this flat-topped mountain is something to behold. Flanked by the sharper summits of Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head, it is one of the most spectacular backdrops to a city ever. You can also reach the top by cable car.
  • Food: Just like any city worth its salt, Cape Town delivers on the cuisine front too, with its own specialties and South African fare available in abundance. It’s a potent mix of Dutch, Malay, French and Indian that eradicates the word “bland” from your mind. From the rich stew known as Potjiekos, to world-class wines of the surrounding regions, foodies will find their minds drifting back to Cape Town for years after they leave.
  • Robben Island: Think of this as South Africa’s Alcatraz, but with much more historical significance. Sitting just off the coast from Cape Town, this prison was once occupied by political figures such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. History buffs should not miss a tour of a place with such strong ties to the nation’s turbulent history. Also, to be frank, the island is quite beautiful too.
  • Bo-Kapp: This is something of a “Malay Quarter” that stands apart from the rest of city due to its vibrantly-colored buildings and palpable Muslim culture, not to mention the great food on offer.
  • Surf: The surfing and kite surfing in this part of the world are top notch, and Cape Town is home to a few spots of note. Beginners will find Muizenberg to be welcoming, while the reef break at Kalk Bay is where the most steel-hearted surfers will want to go.

Touristy for Good Reason

As our final note for anyone before they travel to South Africa, we wanted to talk about the Garden Route. Best enjoyed if you are willing to rent a car, this stretch of road runs along the coast of SA’s Western Cape between Mossel Bay and St. Francis, taking you through and to some fantastic destinations and attractions that will give you an exceptionally rounded experience of the country. 

Cities along the way:

  • George: A common gateway into the Garden Route, George is a sleepy urban center rich with history.
  • Knysna: The most spectacular city along the route, featuring mountains and coastline that you could stand and appreciate for hours.
  • Nature’s Valley: More a village than a city or town, the area is a like a little slice of dense natural habitat. 

Other beautiful spots:

  • Tsitsikamma National Park: Stretched along the Garden Route, this park gives you the opportunity to enjoy some gorgeous trails, waterfalls, views, suspension bridges over frothy coastal waters (look up Storms River), and even some whale watching if it’s the right time of year.

If there’s one thing we hope you take away from our snapshot of South Africa, it’s that it is a destination whose features fight for your attention at every turn. Traveling through the country is like witnessing one long highlight reel and we would say that trips to South Africa have one of the most lasting impact on travelers of almost any destination around the world.

Chat with a Travel Advisor
Hello 👋
How can we help you?