South Africa is a diverse land, and with a wealth of attractions to choose from, narrowing down the choices for a limited trip to South Africa will be quite difficult. For those interested in the history and culture of the country, a trip to Robben Island and one of the townships is a must. Wine and food lovers will be enchanted by the Wine Route.
For more general country travel information, our South Africa Country Guide will tell you all you need to know to plan your holiday! To check out specific things to see and do in other destinations around the country, check out these sites:
Things to See & Do in South Africa
South Africa is justifiably famous for its beaches. Having a coastline of over 2,500 kilometres means that a beach is generally never too far away. Whether you are after picture postcard views, perfect sunbathing locales or crashing waves that are a surfer's dream, you will find it all in South Africa.
Thrill seekers will be excited to learn that the southern Cape offers some of the world's most exhilarating bridge jumps. Indeed, the Guinness Book of Records lists Bloukrantz Bridge, at 216 metres, as the highest bungee jump in the world. With an accelaration of around 180 kilometres per hour, a free fall of 5 seconds, and a rebound higher than the Victoria Falls Bridge jump, its truly for the daring!
Oudshoorn offers all things ostrich! A picturesque town, it was once the capital of world ostrich farming, and became extremely prosperous off the back of this. Ostrich farming is still practiced here, and visitors are able to see the process first hand, as well as having the opportunity to ride one of the birds - if they dare! You can also have a look through some of the beautifully renovated "Ostrich Palaces", built off the back of the enormous wealth generated by sales of Ostrich feathers to upper class British women, for whom they were highly coveted.
Table Mountain dominates Cape Town, and any visit to the city must include a trip to the top. Those feeling fit may wish to try one of the many walking routes up the flat-topped mountain. Otherwise, there is a cable car, which does a complete 360 degree revolution, to give everyone the opportunity to marvel at the view. Views from the top are spectacular as well, especially on a clear day, when you almost feel that you could see out to Antarctica!
A tour to a township is essential to understand South Africa. It is an eye-opening experience, and will give you some insight into the living conditions that the majority of South Africans are faced with. And yet, despite witnessing the poverty and hardship, you will also experience the spirit and vitality of the South African people. These tours will usually have a resident as one of the tour leaders, and will often highlight local industry, projects within the community, as well as including a visit to a "shebeen" or township bar.
Robben Island was a place of exile and imprisonment for nearly 400 years. Located about 12 kilometres from Cape Town, it was where rulers sent prisoners and troublemakers. Its famous resident was Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned here, along with his comrades, for decades during the Apartheid era. From Cape Town it is easy to organise a tour of the prison grounds, which include former inmates giving in insight into the prison.
For many people, the thought of visiting Africa brings to mind elephants, lions and safaris. Kruger National Park will definitely not disappoint. As the largest of South Africa's network of national parks, it offers ample opportunity to see a multitude of animals in their natural habitat, including the chance to spot the Big Five. Combine this with the fantastic range of accommodation available, and its size, at roughly 20,000 kilometres, and its no wonder that many consider it to be the best wildlife park in all of Africa.
Stretching along the coast for 600 kilometres, from the Tsitsikamma Forest to Cape Town, this route passes through a succession of small towns, wineries, farms and fantastic scenery. Beaches, mountain views and some interesting and varied vegetation provide much of the natural beauty. As well, there are brilliant whale-watching vantage points, and also the opportunity to do some shark diving, with the infamous Great Whites!
Lovers of fine wine will be in heaven along the Wine Route - even more so if they also enjoy delicious food, gorgeous scenery and homely, welcoming accommodation along the way. The various wine regions offers all of these, as well as the chance to sample, and learn more about, some of the wines which have put South Africa at the forefront of "New World" wine-making countries.