Discovering South Africa: A Journey Through Its Must-Visit Wonders

Wonders of South Africa: Your Ultimate Guide to Adventure, Culture, and Natural Beauty

things to do in south africa

South Africa is a melting pot of diverse landscapes, cultures, and history. From the breathtaking mountain ranges and beautiful beaches of the Western and Eastern Cape to the vast wilderness of Kruger National Park in the north, there is something for everyone in this stunning country. Its rich history spans from ancient times to the 21st century and is a tapestry of events and influences that have shaped it into the nation it is today.

This has made South Africa one of the top travel destinations in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year eager to explore the natural beauty, wildlife, and vibrant cultures it offers. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a nature lover, there is no shortage of things to do in South Africa.

Natural Wonders

A. Table Mountain, Cape Town


Table Mountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in South Africa. It is located in Cape Town and offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors. Hiking up the mountain is popular, with various trails that suit different fitness levels. For those who prefer a more relaxed journey to the top, the cable car offers a quick and comfortable ride with stunning views. Once at the top, visitors are treated to panoramic views of Cape Town’s beautiful coastline and the surrounding area.

B. Kruger National Park

One of the most famous wildlife reserves in the world, Kruger National Park is a must-visit for anyone coming to South Africa. It is home to many wildlife, including the Big Five – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. Visitors can embark on wildlife safaris guided by experienced rangers, providing an excellent opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

C. Blyde River Canyon


Blyde River Canyon is one of the world’s largest canyons and offers spectacular views and activities for visitors. Various viewpoints along the canyon provide breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape. Adventure seekers can also engage in hiking, white-water rafting, and hot-air balloon rides.

D. Robben Island

Robben Island holds significant historical importance as it was once a prison where Nelson Mandela and many other anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visitors can take tours of the former prison led by guides who were once inmates themselves. The island also offers stunning views of Cape Town and Table Mountain.

Cultural Experiences

1. Visit the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is essential for anyone wanting to understand South Africa’s tumultuous past. The museum offers a powerful and moving insight into the apartheid era, showcasing the struggles and triumphs of the South African people during this time.

2. Explore the Bo-Kaap, Cape Town


The Bo-Kaap is a vibrant Cape Town neighbourhood known for its colourful houses and rich Malay culture. Visitors can stroll through the cobbled streets, sample delicious Cape Malay cuisine, and learn about the history and traditions of the Cape Malay community.

3. Attend the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown celebrates arts, crafts, and performances. It is the largest arts festival in Africa and attracts artists and performers from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy various events, from theatre and dance performances to visual art exhibitions and craft markets.

4. Experience Zulu traditions in KwaZulu-Natal.


KwaZulu-Natal is the heartland of the Zulu nation, and visitors can experience traditional Zulu culture by visiting local villages. Here, they can observe traditional dances, crafts, and ways of life. Village visits often include:

  • A tour of a traditional Zulu homestead.
  • A demonstration of Zulu crafts.
  • A chance to taste traditional Zulu dishes.

Adventure Activities

A. Surfing in Jeffrey’s Bay


Jeffrey’s Bay, located in the Eastern Cape, is a paradise for surfers. It is renowned worldwide for its perfect waves and hosts several yearly surf competitions. Whether you are a professional surfer or a beginner, Jeffrey’s Bay offers a range of waves suitable for all levels.

B. Cage diving with Great White Sharks in Gansbaai


For those Great White Sharks in Gansbaai, it is a must. Gansbaa, located near Cape Town for those seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure, is the world’s Great White Shark capital. Visitors can get up close and personal with these apex predators in a safe and controlled environment.

C. Hot air ballooning over the Macalister

Enjoy a tranquil experience by hot air ballooning over the Macalister mountain range. As you float above the landscape, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding area, making it a perfect activity for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

D. Hiking the Drakensberg Mountains


The Drakensberg Mountains offer a range of hiking trails suitable for all fitness levels. From short walks to multi-day hikes, the Drakensberg offers something for everyone. Along the way, hikers are treated to stunning views of the mountain range and the surrounding landscape.

Culinary Delights

Wine tasting in the Cape Winelands

South Africa is famous for its world-class wines, and a visit to the Cape Winelands is a must for any wine enthusiast. The Cape Winelands, located in the Western Cape, is home to some of the most renowned vineyards in the world, including those in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl. Visitors can enjoy wine-tasting tours to sample exquisite wines and learn about the winemaking process.

Savour traditional dishes

South African cuisine is a melting pot of flavours, influenced by its indigenous people and various immigrant communities. Some must-try traditional dishes include bunny chow (a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry), bobotie (a spiced minced meat dish topped with an egg-based topping), boerewors (a type of sausage), and malva pudding (a sticky, sweet dessert). These dishes offer a taste of the country’s rich culinary heritage.

Visit local markets

Local markets are a great way to experience the culinary culture of South Africa. Visitors can find various fresh produce, crafts, and local delicacies. From biltong (dried, cured meat) to koeksisters (deep-fried, syrup-coated doughnuts), there is something to satisfy every palate.

Coastal Gems

The Garden Route


The Garden Route is one of the most scenic drives in the world, stretching along the southeastern coast of South Africa from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. Along the way, visitors can stop at picturesque coastal towns like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay and explore the natural beauty of the Tsitsikamma National Park. The route offers stunning views, outdoor activities, and charming towns.

Dolphin watching in Durban

Durban, located in the KwaZulu-Natal province, is known for its golden beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters. It is a popular spot for dolphin watching, and visitors can often spot pods of dolphins frolicking in the waves. Boat tours are available, which offer a closer look at these playful creatures.

Penguin encounters at Boulder’s Beach, Cape Town.

Boulder’s Beach in Cape Town offers a unique beach experience as it is home to a colony of African penguins. Visitors can observe these adorable creatures up close as they waddle along the beach and swim in the ocean. It is a must-visit spot for wildlife enthusiasts and families alike.

Wildlife Beyond the Big Five


South Africa is renowned for its Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo). Still, it is also home to many other fascinating wildlife.

Whale Watching in Hermanus

Hermanus, located in the Western Cape, is considered one of the best whale-watching spots in the world. From June to December, the Southern Right Whales migrate to the area’s coastal waters to breed and calve. Visitors can observe these majestic creatures from the shore or take a boat tour for a closer encounter.

Bird Watching in Various National Parks

South Africa is a paradise for bird watchers, boasting over 850 bird species. Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park are just a few of the many national parks where enthusiasts can spot a wide variety of birds, from the colourful Lilac-breasted Roller to the iconic African Fish Eagle.

Turtle Nesting Tours in iSimangaliso Wetland Park


iSimangaliso Wetland Park, located in KwaZulu-Natal, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers the unique opportunity to witness turtle nesting. From November to March, loggerhead and leatherback turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the beaches. Guided night tours are available, providing a rare chance to observe this incredible natural phenomenon.

Nightlife and Entertainment

South Africa is famous for its natural beauty and wildlife. It boasts a lively and vibrant nightlife, particularly in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Trendy Bars, Clubs, and Lounges

Whether you are an electronic music, jazz, or pop fan, there is something for everyone. Cape Town and Johannesburg are home to many trendy bars, clubs, and lounges where locals and tourists can unwind after exploring.

Concerts at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

For a more relaxed evening, attend a concert under the stars at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town. The garden hosts outdoor concerts in the summer featuring local and international artists.

Shows at the Market Theatre

Visiting the famous Market Theatre in Johannesburg is a must for those who enjoy the performing arts. This iconic venue showcases a variety of performances, including dramas, musicals, and comedies, making it a perfect spot for culture enthusiasts.

Township Tours

Lastly, for a more authentic experience, take a township tour in Cape Town and Johannesburg. These tours provide an opportunity to experience the lively shebeens (taverns) with live music and dancing. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet South Africans.

Art and Architecture

South Africa, with its rich history and diverse cultures, has a thriving art scene and boasts impressive architecture that reflects its past and present.

Colourful Houses and Street Art in Bo-Kaap

One must-visit neighbourhood is Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, known for its brightly coloured houses and intricate street art. This area, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, has a rich history and is a great place to start your journey of discovering South African art.


Also in Cape Town is the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), the world’s largest museum of contemporary African art. Housed in a converted grain silo, the museum features a stunning collection of artworks from across the continent.

Constitutional Court, Johannesburg

In Johannesburg, a visit to the Constitutional Court is highly recommended. The court is an architectural marvel and houses an impressive collection of art reflecting South Africa’s journey to democracy.

Cape Dutch Architecture in the Western Cape

Lastly, while travelling through the Western Cape, you will encounter the iconic Cape Dutch architecture in towns like Stellenbosch. Characterized by its distinctive roofs, this style of architecture is unique to the region. It is a must-see for any architecture enthusiast.

Safari Options

South Africa is renowned for its wildlife, and going on a safari is a must-do activity for any visitor. There are various ways to experience the country’s natural beauty and observe its fascinating wildlife.

Photo Safaris in Kruger National Park

One of the most popular safari destinations is Kruger National Park. Here, you can go on a photo safari and have the opportunity to spot the Big Five – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. Bring your camera and capture the stunning wildlife and landscapes that this park has to offer.

Guided Safari Walk in Addo Elephant National Park

A guided safari walk in Addo Elephant National Park is necessary for those looking for a more active adventure. This park is home to more than 600 elephants and other wildlife like lions, buffaloes, and various antelope species.

Riverboat Safaris in Chobe National Park

If you prefer a more relaxed approach, try a safari by riverboat in Chobe National Park. While this park is located in Botswana, it is easily accessible from South Africa. It offers a unique perspective of the wildlife that comes to the river to drink.

Horseback Safaris in Makalali Private Game Reserve

Finally, for a truly unique experience, consider a safari on horseback in Makalali Private Game Reserve. Riding on horseback allows you to get closer to the wildlife and experience the natural beauty of South Africa in a whole new way.


South Africa is a land of unparalleled diversity, offering many experiences for every type of traveller. From its stunning natural wonders like Table Mountain and the Blyde River Canyon to its rich cultural heritage showcased in the Apartheid Museum and the Bo-Kaap, there is something for everyone. Adventure seekers can find thrills in surfing at Jeffrey’s Bay, cage diving with Great White Sharks in Gansbaai, or hiking the Drakensberg Mountains.

Food lovers can indulge in wine tasting in the Cape Winelands, savour traditional dishes, and visit local markets for fresh produce and crafts. The coastal gems like the Garden Route, Durban, and Boulder’s Beach offer unique experiences, from scenic drives and dolphin watching to penguin encounters.

Moreover, the warm hospitality of South Africans will make you feel welcomed and cherished throughout your journey. Whether experiencing the lively nightlife in Johannesburg and Cape Town, admiring the art and architecture, or embarking on a safari adventure, unforgettable experiences await you at every turn.

South Africa is not just a destination; it is an experience that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. So pack your bags, book your tickets, and embark on a journey of discovery and adventure in this beautiful land.

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