a lioness in the wild

Exploring South Africa

From iconic wildlife to charming small towns, glittering entertainment, shopping and dining destinations to peaceful retreats, South Africa truly is a world in one country. Here we explore some of the diverse destinations and heritage that make the Rainbow Nation such a popular choice for tourists from across the globe, and hopefully uncover a few hidden gems along the way!

Unforgettable wildlife encounters

While famous parks like the Kruger are magnets for those seeking to view the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – there are hundreds of state and private game reserves across the diverse biomes found in South Africa.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the first Unesco World Heritage Site in South Africa, is just one of those places – and boasts a remarkably varied landscape from woodland to wetland to beaches and coral reefs. Situated in the stunning St Lucia area, visitors can expect to see a plethora of hippos as well as the country’s largest population of Nile crocodiles. iSimangaliso is the richest mammal conservation area in South Africa, home to 115 separate mammalian species, including elephant, hyena, wild dog, various antelope species, and of course a multitude of water birds.

For those staying in Cape Town, African penguins, right whales, bottlenose dolphins and even great white sharks can be seen a relatively short drive from the city at Hermanus – and for those situated up north in Gauteng, Glen Afric just outside of Pretoria offers horseback safaris, game drives and even 90 minute guided walks with an elephant family to keep you company! Many of the animals here have starred in TV series and movies, so they’re not exactly camera-shy either.

Buckets of small-town charm in Bloemfontein

For those seeking old world charm and a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, the ‘City of Roses’ might be just what you’re looking for. With art and historical museums, excellent farmers markets, unforgettable cheetah encounters and the unique Free State national botanical gardens which are part garden, part wildlife haven, there’s plenty to fill your days while staying in keeping with the laidback style the town is known for. You won’t have to forego the amenities and comforts of home either, with a variety of upmarket yet affordable accommodation Bloemfontein to choose from.

Adventure and Adrenalin

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for the very opposite of laidback – South Africa has plenty to get your heart racing too. From bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bungy in the Tsitsikamma National Park, skydiving, sand boarding and paragliding in Cape Town, to shark cage diving in Durban and canyoning and rappelling tours in Wilderness, it’s no surprise so many Adrenalin junkies flock to South African shores each year.

Glitz and Glam in Sandton, Johannesburg

‘Africa’s Richest Square Mile’ is the place to be if you’re looking for non-stop entertainment, bright lights, and unbeatable shopping. The Montecasino entertainment complex is upmarket hotel, casino, fine dining and shopping all rolled into one glamorous package, and the Sandton City shopping mall is the perfect place to shop ‘til you drop.

Even here nature isn’t all that far away, with the Johannesburg Zoo, the Bird Gardens, Johannesburg botanical gardens and Zoo Lake, as well as various small private nature reserves all in the area too. For those seeking a little culture, the SAB World of Beer and Liliesleaf heritage site both make for a fascinating day out.

Sun and Sand in Durban

The eastern coast of South Africa is famous for its gorgeous subtropical climate courtesy of the Indian Ocean, which makes it a popular holiday destination for locals as well as visitors from overseas. The Kwazulu-Natal capital of Durban takes full advantage of the weather and stunning beachfronts and is well worth a visit if you’ve been craving some fun in the sun. If you’re travelling with kids, uShaka Marine World, which combines aquarium, entertainment and waterpark in one exciting package is an absolute must. Aside from shopping, dining or just lazing on the beach, the area is also a great starting point for a drive down along the lush south coast, where adventure and hidden treasures await behind every bend, from bird parks, nature reserves and blue flag beaches to paintballing and mini golf.

Culture and heritage

While a tour of Soweto, where great leaders like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu left their mark on history forever, is the most sought-after cultural experience in South Africa, the country offers hundreds more too. The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, arts, culture and wine in Stellenbosch, the birthplace of the Bushmen at Kagga Kamma in Ceres, the Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves in Johannesburg, and the Shakaland cultural village in KZN are just a few.

With such a huge variety of experiences on offer, it’s no surprise that many visitors keep coming back again and again to South Africa – and we hope you’ll join them!

*This is a collaborative post*

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