You have just decided to travel to South Africa and now you are interested to look at the best place to visit in South Africa. Welcome to this blog, you have reached the best place for advice on the internet.
Don’t worry, I grew up in South Africa and know the land like the back of my hand. In this blog, I wish to reveal the secrets to you, and easy access you can have in South Africa. Fabulous places you must visit in South Africa.
Let’s start off with the introduction and to get you to travel taste buds into the right flavour, we call it to travel flavours of South Africa.
As you touch the ground on the international airport in SA, one can smell the fresh air, filled with subtle notes of industrialization from the City of Johannesburg. Johannesburg are the main hub of SA and have developed from a rich history with gold discovery. As you move into the northern territory of SA, the landscape and biosphere dramatically change and the scent of the local fauna and flora will fill your senses the same way it filled the senses of the pioneers that took this very same road more than 100 years ago.
Below are the top places I would recommend plus; I am getting into the details of how to save a few bucks in SA while you are travelling there among the beaches and the mountains.
First let’s look at the most historical area, Cape Town. In a few facts, my family heritage is from Holland and arrived in CP in 1658 on the ship De Drie Croonen. That is 359 years ago! This means my family has been in SA this long more than 300 years! From the South, we established some of the first refresher stations to provide fresh fruit and veggies to the other ships and we also have tangible records of planting the first vines in SA. Producing wine and most probable drinking most of it…LOL
The Cape of good hopes are full of rich adventures and promising cultures from all over the world. People come here to enjoy the calm cool weather the Atlantic Ocean has to offer on windy days.
A few good things to keep in mind about visiting this historical area;
A visit to Table Mountain
You can buy a ticket online for either a morning or afternoon trip to the top by cable car. However, an excursion to the 3,500-foot summit always depends on the weather, so check it before you go. It’s wise to bring a sweater or jacket with you and wear sunblock and proper footwear. If you plan to hike to the peak or along one of the three trails at the summit, be safe and bring water, snacks and a friend.
How safe is it?
As in any other city you visit, it’s always best to keep your wits about you. It is recommended to take a taxi in Cape Town at night, rather than walking, and be on your guard when withdrawing cash at an ATM. If you’re curious about visiting a township, then go with a group led by an experienced guide.
When to go?
Cape Town has a temperate climate. October to April offer warm and dry weather, but the notorious south-easter winds occur from December through January. February to mid-April has great beach weather, and hiking enthusiasts will enjoy crisp, clear days from late April to early June.
How many days should you spend in Cape Town?
Four to five full days allow you to experience the sites and sounds of the Mother City at a leisurely pace. Stay longer if you’d like and use the city as a base to explore the beautiful, surrounding areas in the Western Cape, such as the wine region of Stellenbosch.
The District Six Museum provides context to a time when this vibrant and multicultural community of freed slaves, artists, merchants, and immigrants was declared to be ‘whites-only’ – and over 60,000 of its residents were forcibly ejected from their homes. As they were moved to the Cape Flats shantytowns, their houses were reduced to rubble. It’s honest, eye-opening, and raw.
Cape Town has an incredibly strong creative culture and nowhere is it more evident than in Woodstock; a vibrant, up-and-coming suburb just out of the city.
Here, over 100 pieces of colourful street art adorn almost every corner; extremely talented works of art that also bring to life important political or environmental messages. Head out on this guided walking tour to understand who painted them and their meaning in this colourful, eclectic neighbourhood.
You probably won’t have ever visited a suburb quite like Bo Kaap before. Nestled under Signal Hill on the edge of the Cape Town CBD, the Malay Quarter of Cape Town could also be confused for a gigantic bag of exploded skittles. Really.
Each house is cheerily painted in vivid colours – pinks, blues, purples, green – transforming the suburb into one of the most instagrammable places in the city.
It’s also a melting pot of Muslim culture, and with that comes scrumptious food! Enjoy the aromatic spices that waft through the air, join a cooking class with Lekka Kombuis and learn more about the distinct Malay culture – while mastering the delicious Cape Malay cuisine! Read reviews of the Lekka Kombuis cooking class on Tripadvisor.
If surf, sand, and vitamin sea are your remedy, then visiting the beach is one of the best things you can do in Cape Town. There’s a huge laidback surfer culture here, and for good reason – the beaches and surf are epic!
Check out Clifton’s four beaches – the beaches to both see and be seen at, and take it all in during summer. Palm-fringed Camps Bay is equally busy, and also has a tonne of trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars just across the road. Did someone say cocktails in the sun?
Then there’s Muizenberg with its iconic colourful beach boxes, and Bloubergstrand with its views back to Cape Town and Table Mountain if you have time for the drive.
South Africa knows how to do wine, and if you’re a person who enjoys places that do wine well (we like you already!) – you need to get yourself to the Cape Winelands.
Only a scenic hour’s drive from Cape Town and home to many of South Africa’s famous wine estates, the wine region is all rolling vineyards, towering mountains, and historic colonial architecture.
The most famous town of the Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch, is beautiful and definitely worth a visit – but for an equally delicious day trip with as much eye-candy, we recommend spending more time in Franschhoek. One of South Africa’s oldest towns, it’s got splendid wines, delicious food, epic scenery – and all minus the crowds of Stelly.
If you’re keen to indulge in a tipple or two, consider booking this guided tour of the Winelands – with your own guide and driver. Or, if you’re feeling like a total splurge, how about a heli tour of the area and a gourmet lunch in Franschoek?! We promise the views are absolutely worth it.
We can also promise you that Cape Town will never, ever, EVER leave you wanting for tasty food. We were stuck in an endless cycle of food heaven and food coma!
The wine regions of Paarl, Franschoek, and Stellenbosch produce some of the finest wines in the Cape Winelands, surrounded by lush mountains and rolling vineyards. On this tour, enjoy a comprehensive introduction to South African wine as you visit four different wineries; sample a wide variety of red and white wines, including port brandy and sparkling wine; stop at a local restaurant for lunch; and taste regional specialities including cheese and chocolates.
Visit four Cape Winelands wineries in one day: expert-led wine tastings Delicious a la carte lunch with wine at a local restaurant Hassle-free hotel pickup and round-trip transport from Cape Town Small group tour: intimate wine tasting experience
See South Africa’s wildlife on with this overnight glamping safari adventure trip from Cape Town.
Overnight at 4-star Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, resting at the foothills of the majestic Swartberg mountains in one of their secluded, free-standing luxury tents – overlooking a nearby waterhole. Glamping in style with this unique bushveld experience in the heart of the Klein Karoo. Travel along the scenic Route 62 and keep a lookout to spot most of Africa’s famous Big Five animals with two included 4×4 game drives at popular Western Cape game reserves, a guided walking safari as well as a chance to walk alongside orphaned elephants. Overnight in the ostrich capital of the world and get a chance to try local delicacies, giving you a taste of authentic South African culture. This small-group tour is led by a local tour guide and ideal for couples, group of friends, families or solo travellers that only have a weekend to see the local wildlife.
Tours to Robben Island typically sell out early every day. Ensure your visit by booking this early-morning guided tour that transfers you from your hotel to the Robben Island Gateway at the V&A Waterfront, and then onto the boat to the island.
This is a tour which will allow you to see some of Cape Town’s highlights in one day with a highly qualified, registered tour guide who is trilingual (English, French and Portuguese). Skip the line to purchase Table Mountain Tickets as this tour comes with a pre-booked Table Mountain ticket for you. See and discover: Table Mountain; Seal Island; Taste Fine Wine; See Penguins and explore the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. The Best Cape Town Sightseeing Tours in One Day. Small-Group, Better Experience.
The second place we want to look at is moving into the far northern territory.
These areas were defined by major conservationists and declared a national park some 100 years ago by Paul Kruger. Most of you might have heard about the Kruger Rands, which was buried by the millions and never found these cold coins are still missing to date… While travelling in South Africa, you’ll discover this area as the oldest most preserved natural habitat in SA. This area has expanded in recent years into the adjacent countries expanding the zone where elephants and buffaloes can roam more areas.
Kruger National Park is a South African National Park and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the “Biosphere”)
The park has nine main gates allowing entrance to the different camps.
The park lies in the north-east of South Africa in the eastern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. Phalaborwa, Limpopo is the only town in South Africa that borders the Kruger National Park. It is one of the largest national parks in the world, with an area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi). The park is approximately 360 kilometres (220 mi) long, and has an average width of 65 kilometres (40 mi). At its widest point, the park is 90 kilometres (56 mi) wide from east to west.
To the north and south of the park two rivers, the Limpopo and the Crocodile respectively, act as its natural boundaries. To the east, the Lebombo Mountains separate it from Mozambique. Its western boundary runs parallel with this range, roughly 65 kilometres (40 mi) distant. The park varies in altitude between 200 metres (660 ft) in the east and 840 metres (2,760 ft) in the south-west near Berg-en-Dal. The highest point in the park is here, a hill called Khandzalive. Several rivers run through the park from west to east, including the Sabie, Olifants, Crocodile, Letaba, Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers.
I highly recommend this booking for the Kruger national park, you can also take a quick flight from Cape town and if you’re able to organise you own operator, they’ll pick you up and do all the needed things for you. Like transportation to the safari area. Check you into the lodge or hotel and take you on the most adventures safari you have eve seen in your life.
Again, I wanted to emphases the fact that I grew up in this area, where tiger fishing and chasing hippos was a weekend sport. Back in the day, I attended the technical school about 40km from this world heritage site, and national park the most famous Kruger national park. Thinking back in the day, how amazing was nature and how raw was this area. Weekend after weekend we will go to sleep with the howling of hyenas…
Let’s move onto the fact and best lodges in this area.
It’s pretty hard to begin planning for your first safari without coming across Kruger National Park. It is the largest South African National Park and has one of the highest densities of the wildlife of all the national parks. Kruger is home to approximately 517 birds, 147 mammals, and 118 reptiles.
Visitors to the park are offered a wide range of services. The park offers guided drives, bush walks, backpacking trails, and golf. It’s also the only park we’ve visited in Africa where the rest stops are stocked with cappuccinos, tasty snacks, and even souvenirs. If you’re looking for a park that has all the creature comforts of the west than Kruger National Park is the one for you.
This is the question a lot of people end up asking themselves. Should you drive yourself through the park or hire a bush guide with a safari truck? Our advice, as well as many others more experienced than ourselves? Do both! To get the best experience we firmly believe in doing both self-drive and a guided tour. You get the best of both worlds.
With a self-drive, you are afforded the ability to stay in a climate-controlled comfy car, move at your own pace, explore, and have a more relaxing experience. The game drive offers you an expert who is connected to the “bush telegraph” and will find animals that you would miss on your own.
Tips for Self Drive
• Arrive early. There are a number of reasons to be the first at the gate. There are a max number of visitors let into the park each day. You want to see as much as possible.
• Bring a thermos with coffee or tea to keep warm in the mornings.
• Drive slowly and keep your eyes peeled on the bush, you will see anything that is on the road.
• Don’t be afraid to ask passing cars about sightings. It’s an unwritten rule to share information with others about interesting animal sightings.
• Pick up a map at the gate. (As of July 2016 the cost is 40 Rand)
• Make sure to pack a lunch or prepare for a braai. The main camps do have food and some of it’s not too shabby. However, the best experience comes from stopping at the more remote picnic spots and having a meal in the bush.
• If you see several cars stopped it’s almost always a sure sign that there is an interesting sighting. Approach with ease and someone will eventually let you in, and even point out where to look.
• Bring binoculars and a telephoto lens for optimal viewing and photography.
Tips for Guided Tour
• Dress Warm! This is a must. Driving around at the crack of dawn in an open-air vehicle is cold.
• Tip your guide. South Africa is a tipping country and should do likewise. From our understanding, 10% is always a good ballpark for a tip.
• Ask questions. Seriously, if you’re paying an expert to drive you around use your resource and ask away. Don’t squander your guide to Kruger.
• Don’t go too photo happy. It’s something else watching a safari truck pull up with a load of tourists and then the sound of all the cameras that go off. Just tone it down, and enjoy the sights.
• Grab a warm cup of coffee or tea for the morning.
• Pack binoculars and a telephoto lens for viewing and photography.
• Always verify what’s included in the booking. We always make sure to know what we get in order to avoid an unpleasant surprise. Is lunch or breakfast included? How about the conservation fee?
The third area I absolutely love, is another place location and one of the best places in South Africa, is the western section of SA, a very barren but diamond-rich area. Areas that brought thousands of travels all over the world to come and discover their diamonds, the rich and famous. The far most deserted place, I use to ride my bike trough and camp on my solo trip, check out my blog for more information and details on that trip.
This area is not so popular among tourists, the only tourists are the ones transferring to Namibia for dessert safaris there, that is a whole new blog on its own. However, the vastness, barrenness and the endless Rocky Mountains, there are rich history here and also the area produces amazing reasons and variety of dry land wines.
The Northern Cape (Afrikaans: Noord-Kaap; Tswana: Kapa Bokone; Xhosa: mental-Koloni) is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, an international park shared with Botswana. It also includes the Augrabies Falls and the diamond mining regions in Kimberley and Alexander Bay. The Namaqualand region in the west is famous for its Namaqualand daisies. The southern towns of De Aar and Colesberg, in the Great Karoo, are major transport nodes between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. In the northeast, Kuruman is known as a mission station and also for its artesian spring, the Eye of Kuruman. The Orange River flows through the province, forming the borders with the Free State in the southeast and with Namibia to the northwest. The river is also used to irrigate the many vineyards in the arid region near Upington.
Native speakers of Afrikaans comprise a higher percentage of the population in the Northern Cape than in any other province. The Northern Cape’s four official languages are Afrikaans, Tswana, Xhosa, and English. Minorities speak the other official languages of South Africa, and a few people speak indigenous languages such as Nama and Khwe.
The provincial motto, Sa ǁa ǃaĩsi ‘uĩsi (“We go to a better life”), is in the Nǀu language of the Nǁnǂe (ǂKhomani) people. It was given in 1997 by one of the language’s last speakers, Ms Elsie Vaalbooi of Rietfontein, who has since died. It was South Africa’s first officially registered motto in a Khoisan language. Subsequently, South Africa’s national motto, ǃKe e ǀxarra ǁke, was derived from the extinct Northern Cape ǀXam language.
The Northern Cape was one of three provinces made out of the Cape Province in 1994, the others being Western Cape to the south and Eastern Cape to the southeast. Politically, it had been dominated since 1994 by the African National Congress (ANC). Ethnic issues are important in the politics of the Northern Cape. For example, it is the site of the Orania settlement, whose leaders have called for a Volkstaat for the Afrikaner people in the province.
The Northern Cape is also the home of over 1,000 San who immigrated from Namibia following the independence of the country; they had served as trackers and scouts for the South African Defence Force during the South African Border War and feared reprisals from their former foes. They were awarded a settlement in Platfontein in 1999 by the Mandela government.
The precolonial history of the Northern Cape is reflected in a rich, mainly Stone Age, archaeological heritage. Cave sites include Wonderwerk Cave near Kuruman, which has a uniquely long sequence stretching from the turn of the twentieth century at the surface to more than 1 million (and possibly nearly 2 million) years in its basal layer (were stone tools, occurring in very low density, may be Oldowan. Many sites across the province, mostly in open air locales or in sediments alongside rivers or pans, document Earlier, Middle and Later Stone Age habitation. From Later Stone Age times, mainly, there is a wealth of rock art sites – most of which are in the form of rock engravings such as at Wildebeest Kuil and many sites in the area known as ǀXam -ka !Kau, in the Karoo. They occur on hilltops, slopes, rock outcrops and occasionally (as in the case of Driekops Eiland near Kimberley), in a river bed. In the northeastern part of the province, there are sites attributable to the Iron Age such as Dithakong. Environmental factors have meant that the spread of Iron Age farming westwards (from the 17th century – but dating from the early first millennium AD in the eastern part of South Africa) was constrained mainly to the area east of the Langeberg Mountains, but with evidence of influence as far as the Upington area in the eighteenth century. From that period the archaeological record also reflects the development of a complex colonial frontier when precolonial social formations were considerably disrupted and there is an increasing ‘fabric heavy’ imprint of built structures, ash-heaps, and so on. The copper mines of Namaqualand and the diamond rush to the Kimberley area resulted in industrial archaeological landscapes in those areas which herald the modern era in South African history.
The national spotlight will fall on Upington on 24 September 2019, as the official host city for this year’s Heritage Day celebrations. This honour comes in the same week as World Tourism Day on 27 September 2019, making it the ideal opportunity to highlight the many attractions of the Northern Cape’s second-largest town.
SAnews.gov.za reports that Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the city was chosen for its historical and heritage significance since this year was declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations.
Upington is located on the banks of the Orange (Gariep) River and is sometimes referred to as the Northern Cape’s “river city”. As the closest major centre to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the town is seen as the gateway to the Kalahari Desert, a region that is home to a number of Khoi, San and Nama people.
Mthethwa said it is important to value the languages, culture and heritage of indigenous communities and to protect these practices and customs from dying out.
Here are 10 facts you may not have known about Upington:
In the mid-19th century, the northern reaches of the Cape Colony were awash with cattle rustlers, gun runners, river pirates and outlaws. Koranna chief Klaas Lucas (the Koranna are one of the five main Khoisan groupings) appealed for a mission station to be set up to bring stability to the region, and one was duly established by the Reverend Christiaan Schröder in the early 1870s. The settlement was originally called Olijvenhoutsdrift (or Olyfenhoutsdrift) due to the abundance of olive trees in the area.
Today, the Schröder mission station and church house Upington’s Kalahari-Oranje Museum. This landmark is famous for its life-sized bronze donkey statue, which pays tribute to the animal’s contribution to the development of the region. There’s also a camel and rider statue outside the police station to recognise those who patrolled the harsh desert territory on camelback.
What is now the Kalahari-Oranje Museum was founded in 1875 as a mission station run by Reverend Christiaan Schröder. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)
Upington was renamed in 1898 in honour of Sir Thomas Upington, who was attorney general and, briefly, prime minister of the Cape Colony in the late 1800s. He had visited the town in 1879 and established a police station outpost there in a bid to curb the lawlessness in the area.
Upington truly epitomises the Northern Cape’s tagline of “the Province of Extremes”. Located on the northern banks of the Orange River, it is a contrasting region of lush, green irrigated vineyards juxtaposed with red semi-desert vistas. This oasis-meets-desert character has led to the area being dubbed the Green Kalahari.
Upington Bridge Copy
Upington is the central town of the Green Kalahari region and is linked by air and road to most parts of the country. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)
According to OpenAfrica.org, 10% of South Africa’s vineyards (or 23.5-million vines) are located in the Green Kalahari region. Upington is home to the award-winning Orange River Cellars, the second-largest wine cooperative in the world. Its wine grapes originate from some 900 producers along the banks of the Orange River.
Upington is said to be the sunniest location on the planet for three months of the year (during the southern hemisphere summer). From November to January, it records on average between 11.4 and 11.8 hours of sunshine a day.
Northern Cape River Rafting 4 Copy 2
Expect to witness stretches of intense green on the banks of the Orange River, which is incomplete contrast with the surrounding dryness of the Green Kalahari. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority)
Upington is the main town in the Dawid Kruiper Municipality, named after the ‡Khomani San leader and cultural rights activist. Kruiper (1941-2012) appeared in the 1989 Jamie Uys film The Gods Must Be Crazy II, and was invited to speak about the rights of indigenous people at the United Nations in 1994. Many credit Kruiper for paving the way for the successful land claims of South Africa’s indigenous people, and for agitating for the preservation of the San languages. He was outspoken about the alleged theft of traditional knowledge – particularly the medicinal properties of the succulent plant hoodia – by Western pharmaceutical companies.
Upington International Airport, previously known as Pierre van Ryneveld Airport after the founding commander of the South African Air Force, boasts one of the longest tarred runways in the world – 4 900m. According to the Airports Company South Africa, it’s the longest civilian runway in the southern hemisphere and one of the few able to land a space shuttle.
Would you land your space shuttle here? Upington International Airport, with its almost 5km-long runway. (Image: Upington International Airport)
Upington’s Date Palm Avenue is said to be one of the longest and densest palm avenues in the southern hemisphere, at over 1km in length. More than 200 date palms were planted there in 1935 and today two rows of towering, majestic palms escort visitors to Die Eiland holiday resort.
Many San, Basarwa and Khwe (Kehoe), the aboriginal people of the Kalahari Desert, live in the Upington area. They were traditionally hunter-gatherers, but have increasingly turned to farm. Archaeological and genetic evidence suggests that the San have lived in Southern Africa for at least 22 000 years and that they are one of the oldest peoples – if not the oldest – in the world. Some experts have hypothesised that the San are the “genetic Adam” from which all humans can ultimately trace their genetic heritage.
Happy travelling and be safe !!