South Africa is a country of high mountains, open plains and rugged coastlines. Its vineyards are some of the best in the world and the opportunities for watching wildlife are second to none. South Africa is a major highlight of the African continent and the scenic drives along the dramatic Garden Route make this country the perfect stop on your round the world trip.
1. Stay in cosmopolitan Cape Town
Cape Town is the cosmopolitan city of South Africa, with the impressive Table Mountain looking down over the harbour. With great beaches and fantastic hikes up into the hills, it’s easy to enjoy the year round sunshine sitting outside one of the many restaurants enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the city.
2. Visit Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island
Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, is a World Heritage site and it’s 300 year history as a prison shows a historic part of South Africa’s apartheid. Boat trips to the island depart from the Victoria and Alfred waterfront where you can get fantastic views of Table Mountain and the surrounding hills.
3. Go whale watching in Hermanus
A little further down the south coast is the town of Hermanus, a popular beach side town where whale watching is a huge hit. Between June and November you can watch the migrating southern right whales from the shore, so it’s a great way to spot some whales if you’re not so keen on boats. Watch them fluke their tails and breach the water completely from the comfort of the cliffs.
For a trip out of the town, head down to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa where you can straddle the Indian and Atlantic Ocean as you see where these two great waters meet.
4. Get outdoors in the Drakensberg Mountains
The Drakensberg Mountains lie to the east of South Africa, with mighty green peaks towering over the rest of the country. Get outside and make the most of the great outdoors here, with loads of adventure activities on offer. Horse ride through the grassy valleys, hire a mountain bike to follow one of the many trails and even spot a giraffe or two in the Weenan Game Reserve.
Drakensberg also has historic links to the Boer Wars, with lots of battle sites including Wagon Hill as well as the British Military Cemetery. There are tours and walks where you can learn more about the history of the wars.
5. Sample the wines of Stellenbosch
Just east of Cape Town lies the wine making area of Stellenbosch, the larger of two wine regions in South Africa. It is easy to reach by car from the city and a delightful area to relax amongst the vines. A tour of the region is a must if you love wine, with tastings and walks through the vineyards to see how the process of making wine happens.
It’s also a great place to stock up! Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon is getting a good reputation in the wine world so why not buy a few bottles right from the source?
6. Take a safari in Kruger National Park
South Africa has a huge array of wildlife and it is one of the main things that people come here to see. Kruger National Park, in the north of the country, is surely the most famous, where you can spot the Big Five (lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino and elephant). Seeing any one of these majestic beasts would be wonderful but South Africa boasts far more impressive stats; it is also home to giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and eland.
Away from Kruger, there are lots of other areas around the country to spot wildlife. In the Addo Elephant National Park, elephant numbers have bounced back from just 11 to over 450. As well as the elephants, it is a great place to encounter the endangered Black rhino too.