Mountains, Safaris, and gardens, oh my! South Africa has sweeping landscapes and ample opportunity for adventure. Situated at the southern tip of Africa, South Africa is edged on three sides by nearly 1,865 miles of coastline which meet the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. Known for its long, sunny days, South Africa has a temperate climate, making it the perfect destination to check off your bucket list!
1. Boulders Beach
Sheltered from wind, the bays of this beach are home to over 2,000 endangered African penguins. Located in the Cape Peninsula, near Simon’s Town, this popular tourist spot forms part of Table Mountain National Park. This is one of the few locations in which you can watch the penguins live freely in their natural habitat.
2. Great White Sharks Boat Excursion
Experience the largest predatory fish of the sea up close and personal while on a boat excursion to Geyser and Dyer islands. You can stay in the safety of the boat to take photos as the sharks feed on the surface along the boat, or if you dare, take the plunge into the sea to cage dive with these creatures. Just be sure to let the tour guides know so they can make prior arrangements and have enough equipment!
3. Table Mountain Cableway
Ascend Table Mountain by a cable car and experience a bird’s eye view of the city on a clear day. Once at the summit of this magnificent mountain, you can walk on the clouds and gaze at the horizon.
4. Robben Island
Robben Island is probably the most well-known island-prison in the world, being that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration. As a visitor, you can go on a tour of the prison and learn more about its history.
5. Boat Tour of St. Lucia Estuary
Declared a World Heritage site in late 1999, this is the largest estuarine body of water in Africa. On a boat tour, you will be able to discover and observe some of the 800 hippos and 1,200 Nile crocodiles that inhabit the estuary, not to mention the abundance of bird life.
6. Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Go on an open-top safari adventure in one of South Africa’s most popular game parks. The wide range of plant life in the park gives diversity to all of the animals. The “big five” – lion, black and white rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard can all be seen in the park along with a variety of other species including cheetahs, wild dogs and giraffes.
7. Cape Town
Filled with modern culture and living, Cape Town has everything from markets and boutiques to outdoor adventures. Simply take a day to explore the beauty of this wondrous city. From sweeping sea vistas to nature preserves, your inner outdoor enthusiast won’t regret stopping to take in the scenery.
8. Drive the Garden Route
Looking to see ancient forests, secluded communities and mountain hideaways sprinkled between modern homes and breath-taking beachfront? The Garden Route Highway will be worth your time. Named for its abundance of plant life, the Garden Route runs along the western Cape coast for about 124 miles.
9. Blyde River Canyon Nature Preserve
This canyon is the third largest in the world and the largest green canyon. Make the most of your visit by taking in the view from the top and from the bottom! If just a visual of the canyon isn't enough for you, several hiking trails meander through the reserve that are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.
10. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Nestled at the bottom of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, these gardens were founded in 1913 and are dedicated to indigenous plants and flowers that are unique to the Cape. Over 9,000 plants are grown here and the gardens are located only about 8 miles from the Cape Town city center.