Top 7 Things to Do in South Africa

by Jules on July 16, 2012

South Africa is a magnet for all wildlife enthusiasts thanks to a fascinating diversity; see the Big Five on safari at the world-famous Kruger National Park, watch penguins mingle at Boulders Bay, gawp in awe at the huge hippos and crocodiles in the Limpopo River area and time your visit to South Africa to catch the passing whales at Hermanus. And throw in a whole heap of stunning landscapes, amazing food, buzzing nightlife and local culture, and you’ll have the perfect holiday on your hands.

Enjoy a game drive in the Kruger National Park

Those looking for an authentic African safari will need to look no further than the world-renowned Kruger National Park. The park was established in 1926 to protect the natural habitat of South Africa and it is a huge place at 19,485 sq. km (7,523 sq. miles). Today the park is a protected biosphere reserve and is recognised by UNESCO, thanks to its position as a leader in the management of environmental procedures.

Most Kruger visitors come for one main reason; to see the Big 5, which include: lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalo and black rhino. As well as rare birds and attractive flora there are also other animals such as hippos, giraffes and cheetahs to spot here on safari too.

Visitors explore the park in a variety of ways as hiking, biking and driving are all ways to get around. Guided walking tours are available as well as the popular “Hop in and Ride” option which allows guests to be driven around the park to spot the Big 5.

Take a ferry to Robben Island

For a fascinating look at the history of South Africa, a visit to Robben Island gives visitors an inside look at the years of division. Robben Island is 7km off the coast of Cape Town in Table Bay and for years, Robben Island housed not just common prisoners, but well-known politicians and religious leaders, most notably Nelson Mandela. Tours depart by ferry at the Cape Town waterfront regularly. The island now has a museum and tours inside the actual prison walls, which give visitors a startling look at the division in the prison and how prisoners were treated. Visitors should plan a half a day to tour Robben Island. The ferry ride gives a beautiful view of the Cape Town waterfront.

Eat, shop, drink and play at the V&A Waterfront

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a working dockland steeped in rich history as former stopover for Dutch ships sailing the Far East. Today it is the most popular tourist site in South Africa with over 70 restaurants with all tastes catered for from curry, sushi to fast food. Travellers can stay at one of the luxury hotels or even berth in the waters. Dedicated shoppers will be in their element with over 450 shops and boutiques on site. Entertainment ranges from watching a movie at one of the cinemas to experiencing an adrenalin adventure onboard a high speed boat. There are many activities and adventures offered from the V& A marina complex including bike rentals, city tours, helicopter tours, boat charters, two oceans aquarium, the Cape Town Diamond Museum, Robben Island Ferries, scuba diving trips and so much more.

Go cage diving with Great White Sharks

For the true adventure enthusiast this experience is one of a kind; diving within a cage to get up close and personal with Great White Sharks! There are a handful of operators in South Africa that can take you out to where the sharks are located, most in an area called “Shark Alley” about two hours from Cape Town in Gansbaai. Take a cage diving package trip which typically starts in the morning and lasts 4-5 thrilling hours.

Explore Table Mountain by cable car

One of the most prominent landmarks in South Africa is also the flattest topped mountain in the world. Towering over the city of Cape Town at 3,558 feet (1,085 m), Table Mountain is a breathtaking sight. Some daring adventurers choose to hike to the top of Table Mountain but a more sedate option is to take the cableway instead, which breezes to the top in an easy 10 minutes. Whilst on the cable car journey you’ll enjoy stunning 360-degree views of the Cape Peninsula and once you reach your destination you can enjoy walking around the mountain and spotting an interesting variety of local plants and animals.

Learn some important history at the Apartheid Museum

Located in Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum takes visitors on an emotional journey through the history of the 20th century. This is a historical experience for visitors to learn about the rise and fall of the racial segregation system known as Apartheid. This museum opened in 2001. The exhibits are well put together and guide people through the disturbing history and show how South Africans today are coming together to overcome the past and work together as one. When visiting the museum plan on at least a two-hour visit to get the most out of the exhibits.

Try touring and tasting your way through the South African Winelands

To the east of Cape Town, situated among the mountains are the wonderful Winelands of South Africa. Here you will find an abundance of wine estates offering wine tasting and vineyard tours. Visitors can either rent a car and take a few days to tour the area or join an organised tour (no driving involved!) to sample some of the luscious locally produced wines. The most popular towns in the Winelands include; Stellenbosch – South Africa’s second oldest city in the heart of the Winelands, Franschhoek – Known for not only it’s wine estates but it’s fine dining restaurants and Paarl – Home to the World’s Largest Wine Cellar.

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