South Africa is the type of country that is absolutely teeming with diversity. You can travel across the hugely varying terrain of the Kruger National Park, which houses an astoundingly large number of different species of wildlife. You can travel along the Garden Route and savor the stunning natural beauty (from golden beaches to indigenous forests to grassy hills to lakes and lagoons) while you simultaneously savor some of the amazing meals, be it seafood or Italian, served in restaurants along the way. Oh, and the wildlife. Have we mentioned that there’s a lot of it? Lions, elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, zebra, rhinoceroses, and ostriches, to name a tiny fraction of everything you might see here.
And then there’s the history of South Africa. It’s decades of systematic oppression called the Apartheid forms a blemish in South Africa’s past, still so recent that many who lived through it are around to tell the tale. But since the defeat of the National Party in the 1994 election, the country has risen above the ashes and entered a dawn in which all people are equal. It now is the type of country ideal for international sports tournaments, such as the highly successful FIFA World Cup in 2010. Nowadays, South Africa is a beautiful and interesting destination for visitors – why not hop on a plane and witness its diversity for yourself?
01. Cape Town
If you’ve heard anything about Cape Town already, then you probably already know that it’s a place worth visiting. If not, here’s all you need to know: it has a remarkable mountain range along the coast, immaculate white beaches, and shockingly vibrant greenery. In addition to all of that, Cape Town is located right next to a wide array of wildlife. Spending time in Cape Town will make you feel like you’re living in an oasis surrounded by the wild.
02. Table Mountain
Table Mountain is indeed a mountain that resembles a table. You can access it via the cableway and will easily spend plenty of time up there exploring the panoramic views, embarking on a summit hike, soaking in the exciting and unique flora and fauna that reside atop the mountain, or eating at the cafe perched there with glorious views. With its distinctive flora and fauna, Table Mountain is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is easily the biggest tourist destination near Cape Town.
03. Kruger National Park
As one of the biggest game reserves in the entire gigantic continent of Africa, you can imagine that it is absolutely huge. Some might even go as far to say it is the most exciting safari location. Whether you “just” go on a classic safari tour, you stay at a game lodge, or you go for a luxurious all- included package, it is safe to say you will have the time of your life at Kruger.
Often lovingly referred to as Jo’burg or Jozi, Johannesburg is the heart and soul of South Africa. It has certainly had its historical ups and downs, but now it has a distinct patched-up vibe that includes a cleaned up inner city, neighborhoods teeming with young hipsters, and an overall feeling of city-wide raw, creative energy. While the city is still far from perfect, it has a sense of realness unmatched by most other cities in the world.
One of the stops along the world famous Garden Route of South Africa, your time spent in Knysna will be characterized by oysters, kind locals, and amazing views of the surrounding landscape. In Knysna, you can have both exciting adventures and tranquil relaxation. Located along the southwestern coast, it is not uncommon to spot dolphins from the banks of this town; it is equally common for visitors to decide to stay for longer than they had originally planned.
Occupying a valley between mountains, Franschhoek is in the heart of South African wine country. Its people have French and Dutch roots, and they are experts in their field. Visitors are welcomed with the warmest of hospitality, ensuring they will absolutely adore their stay. World renowned for its top notch wine growers and even chefs, Franschhoek Valley is a place to enjoy delicious food and drink alongside the serene surrounding scenery.
07. Plettenberg Bay
Endearingly nicknamed “Plett,” Plettenberg Bay is the ideal place for holidaymakers – that is, people who are really looking to relax. You can imagine what kind of landscape Plett has to offer, then: gold sandy beaches, lagoons, forests, clean rivers, and vineyards. Plett is the kind of place that makes a perfect middle stop in a whirlwind trip around South Africa, or else a grand finale of relaxation towards the end.
Stellenbosch, the City of Oaks, is a university town and another place settled by French refugees. This, of course, means more vineyards and famous wineries with French names. You can combine a wine tour with these wineries and the ones at Franschhoek to hit two birds with one stone. The historic town offers many an old colonial building that provide a clear, in-person illustration of life back then. But most people visit for the wine and the charming atmosphere that this historic town supplies.
Oudtshoorn is the home of immensities: immense birds, immense caves and immense beauty. As the ostrich capital of the world, it is a point of interest for anyone fascinated by African wildlife. The Cango Caves, located in this area, are Africa’s largest system of caves, which house not only mysterious dark abysses but also the convergence of three separate plant biomes. The amazing landscape of the Oudtshoorn region includes the massive peaks of Swartberg as well, making up the Cape Floral World Heritage Site.
10. Blyde River Canyon
The Blyde River Canyon may not be the biggest in the world (it is behind the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia), but you won’t notice the difference in size when you see it – it seems like nothing could be as vast as this canyon. It is covered in vivid green foliage and includes waterfalls, named rock formations, breathtaking viewpoints and plenty of hiking trails.