Things Not To Miss In South Africa

South Africa has shrugged the turbulence of its past and re-merged as a fascinating wonderland full of a million possibilities. A grand introduction to the African continent, South Africa is like a plethora of experiences rolled into one. Exciting wildlife, spectacular vistas, lush rolling hills and miles of vineyards will be the highlights of your trip to South Africa.

South Africa takes its tourism quite seriously and has invested wholeheartedly in tourist amenities and hotels. Everywhere you look, there's a mental picture waiting to be taken; from ancient rock art to heartwarming sunsets and bountiful hamlets to glorious wildlife South Africa is where you can experience it all.

There are so many aspects to South African tourism that a short vacation  would not do justice to this charming country. Take time off and explore all the amazing opportunities that this place has to offer. South Africa is full of warm, friendly people who love their country and are proud to show it off. South Africans have held their history close to their heart and that is evident in the many heritage sites that date back to the country's difficult struggle for freedom. Many of the country's cultural roots are still visible in fascinating tribes like the Sangomas. They are people with supernatural powers that are highly revered in the society and are often visited for spiritual and medicinal reasons. South Africa is a kaleidoscope of religions and people that add to its ethnic diversity.  The country has 11 official languages although many more are spoken here.

 

South Africa has been declared as one of the 18 mega-diverse destinations in the world. It has about six places declared as World Heritage sites. Some of our top things not to miss in South Africa are:

NATIONAL PARKS

Where else will you get to experience glorious animals roaming around freely? South Africas national parks are renowned for their abundant wildlife that includes the Big Five of the forest: lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. Travelling to South Africa would get you up, close and personal with its crowds of wild animals and virgin nature that runs amok in this bewitching landscape. Just imagine the feeling of watching the sunset over one of the national parks beautiful horizons and a pride of lions strolling in a place they call home. Besides the world famous Kruger National Park , there are a number of other protected areas that are a must visit in South Africa and are counted amongst its best tourist attractions:

  • Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape

The third largest park in South Africa, Addo National Park started off as an elephant conservatory but has since expanded to include a diverse range of animals. Addo stretches over a mighty 444700 acres of wild landscapes that are teeming with flora and fauna. At Addo, you don't just get to see the Big Five but in fact the Big Seven which includes the southern right whale and the great white shark too.

  • Mountain Zebra National Park, Eastern Cape

This national park is a natural preserve for the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra. It is situated near Cradock and is spread across 28000 hectares. Besides the zebra, the park also provides a safe abode to the black rhino and cheetah.

  • Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape

Just the legend about the biggest cache of diamonds piques curiosity about this magnificent national park that is located near the Orange River. It is also where Augrabies falls are located and provide a magical sight to travelers looking to connect with nature. Few sounds are as refreshing as the thundering and deafening sound of water falling on rocks. The waterfall in 56 meters tall and shares space with the enchanting moon rock, Swart Rante and some wildlife like Zebra too.

  • Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State

A mecca for ancient rock art paintings and the orange, golden and ochre hues of the indigenous sandstone cliffs, Golden Gates National Park is truly a blessed land. It is home to a host of rocks and shelters that have a number of ancient rock art paintings. Wildlife featured at the park includes mongooses, eland, zebras, and over 100 bird species. It is the Free State's only national park, and is more famous for the beauty of its landscape than for its wildlife.Yet, it is counted as on South Africa's best tourist attraction.

  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Endless red dunes and shrubs act as home to herds of  blue wilderbeest, black mane lions, leopards, gemsbok and  springbok. Spread over 3.6 million hectares, this national park is an amalgamation of two national parks. Scanty vegetation provides clear views of wildlife and gives amazing photographic opportunities.

National Park

 Surfing and Snorkelling in Jeffreys Bay

Located at the Eastern Cape, Jeffreys Bays is a surfers dream come true. The warm, tempting waters of the Indian Ocean are ideal for all kinds of water activities. This place is known for its spectacular waves that are perfect for surfing. During the summer months of December to March, the waters are pleasant and can be swam in regular swim suits.  The waters boast of abundant under sea flora and fauna and are great for snorkeling and scuba diving which are perhaps the most interesting things to do in South Africa.

Surfing

Hiking on Table Mountain

This trail-less trek is relatively easy and highly rewarding. Unbelievable views await you at every nook and the surroundings are untouched by commercialism.  This trail also leads to the Phelps Trail that takes you to another high peak after one mile of steep trekking.

 Bungee on Bloukrans

If you are looking for a serious adrenaline rush, try bungee jumping from the highest bridge in Africa! Fall face down towards the beautiful Bloukrans valley and experience a rush like you have never felt in your life. There are few other adventurous things than throwing yourself 200 meters down towards a glimmering river.

 White Shark Viewing

Dive down the turquoise waters to witness the Great White Sharks in their playground. Shark Cage diving is very popular in Gansbaai. Feel the excitement and fear of coming face to face with the oceans biggest predator as you are suspended under the sea for an experience of a lifetime.

Shark Dive
 Off Roading in North Cape

South Africa is great for 4X4 adventures. There are a number of trails across South Africa's national parks that are suited for off roading. Some noteworthy trails are in Namaqua National Park, Augrabies national park, Marekele National Park, Karoo National Park. Off-roading is a good idea if you crave exclusivity and excitement. It is now becoming quite popular among tourists.

Skydiving and Paragliding

Skydiving and paragliding are popular sports in South Africa because of its clear skies and spectacular scenery. South Africa boasts numerous long established and reputable skydiving clubs close to Pretoria, JohannesburgCape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, on the Wine Route, along the scenic Garden Route, and in some of the smaller university towns, such as Grahamstown.

Driving along the Garden Route

One of the most scenic routes in the country, The Garden Route is probably one of the best drives in the world. It is a mix of golf courses, blooming flower beds, artists communities, mountain hideaways and pristine beaches. Great for honeymooners, this route is full of many exciting opportunities. There are a number of glorious secrets to be unveiled on this drive.

Wine Tasting in the Winelands

Home to some marvelous sights and crisp, delicious wines, the Winelands in the south of this country are quite popular with connoisseurs and romantics.Expect unparalleled scenery and lush green wine fields that dance rhythmically as you drive past. Don't miss a visit to the university town of Stellenbosch and nearby Franschhoek. There are also some excellent hiking opportunities in the nearby mountains.

Exploring the Cradle of Humankind

There are a number of unmissable sights in South Africa. Out of those, it will be a shame to miss out on Cradle of Mankind which has been named a World Heritage Site because of the wealth of fossils found in this region. Some of the finds are as old as 3.5 million years old. You can go hot air ballooning in Magaliesberg and take a tour of Maropeng Visitor Center or visit the fossil sites of Drimolen and Sterkfontein. If you are curious about the famous Gold Rush period, visit Kromdraai Gold Mine that is as fascinating as it is informative.

Whether it is the liveliness of cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg or the quiet hushes of nature in the wilderness of the country, South African experiences are mercurial in nature. South Africa will stay with you for a long time after you return.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RESHMA DEWDA RESHMA DEWDA

A hippie hiding in civilized clothes, a borderline feminist and a dreamer stuck in a practical avatar, Reshma is an incorrigible idealist who lives in a black and white world. A robin hood in her own right, she loves to come to the rescue and most times , she ends up rescuing herself in the bargain.

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