11 Reasons Why You Should Visit South Africa

South Africa is a diverse and vibrant country with a rich tapestry of landscapes, cultures, and experiences. There are several reasons why you should visit South Africa.

With all it has to offer, it really is the perfect place to visit for almost every type of traveler. From solo travelers to families, it has something to offer everyone. My husband and I did our honeymoon in South Africa, and I’m so thrilled we did. South Africa is one of my favorite places I’ve been so I’m excited to share these reasons to visit South Africa with you.

 

1. The Wildlife is Incredible

Few destinations rival South Africa when it comes to opportunities to get up close to and learn about wildlife. There are so many unique and incredible opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts.

Plus, unlike some other destinations I’ve been to, it’s much more accessible. There are flights, plenty of lodging options, and more affordable places to get up close to animals. Here are a few places you can experience unique animal encounters.

 

Kruger National Park

One of Africa’s most famous game reserves, Kruger National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros). On our safari here, we could see all of them on the first day of the safari. It’s incredible for wildlife!

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Private Game Reserves

Beyond Kruger National Park, there are numerous private game reserves and conservation areas where you can see a wide range of animals in their natural habitats. These game reserves will often also have the big five and see fewer visitors daily for a quieter experience. Here are several options through Viator.

South Africa is home to a species of penguin known as the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), formerly known as the Jackass Penguin, due to its braying-like call. These penguins are not found in icy environments like their Antarctic counterparts but inhabit the coastal areas of South Africa and Namibia.
 
One of the most well-known places to observe African Penguins in South Africa is Boulders Beach, located near Simon’s Town, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Boulders Beach is part of the Table Mountain National Park, home to a large colony of African Penguins.
 
Visitors can walk along the boardwalks and beaches to observe the penguins in their natural habitat. The presence of these charismatic birds against the backdrop of granite boulders and white sandy beaches makes for a unique and delightful experience.
 

Swimming with sharks is a thrilling and adventurous activity that attracts many adrenaline enthusiasts. South Africa is known for offering opportunities to experience shark cage diving, where you can get up close and personal with various shark species, including the formidable Great White Shark.

Shark diving hotspots in South Africa include Gansbaai, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Durban. Gansbaai remains the top-rated destination for cage diving with great white sharks, and this is an adrenaline rush!

 

Marine Big Five

Great white sharks, the southern right whales, the bottlenose dolphins, the Cape fur seal, and the African penguin are the marine big five seen in South Africa. The coastal waters of Hermanus on the Cape of South Africa are home to a spectacular range of marine wildlife.
 

The term Marine Big Five originated in South Africa, and observing these prolific species in their natural habitat is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Although sightings are not guaranteed, there are a few destinations along the coast that will give you the best opportunity to witness and spend time with them. These include the Western Cape coastal region, Gansbaai, and the Southern Peninsula.

 
 
 
 

2. Beautiful Landscapes

 

South Africa has a wide array of landscapes that are worth adding to your South Africa itinerary.

 

Table Mountain 

Dominating the skyline of Cape Town, Table Mountain offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding coastline.

 

This is a must for anyone visiting; the views are breathtaking, and each angle offers a different coastline or city view. Not only can you enjoy it from below, but you can also hike to the top or take the Table Mountain Cableway.

 

Tickets are R60 – R1050 and can be combined with the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour, so if you decide to do this as well, I recommend getting the combo ticket to save some money and enjoy both!

 

Kruger National Park

 

In addition to being home to diverse wildlife, Kruger also offers beautiful landscapes. It’s got lots of mountains and hills with gorgeous sunsets. The landscape in Kruger is very green and lush during the summer.

 

Panorama Route

 

The Panorama is a scenic drive between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. It’s renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, deep canyons, waterfalls, and panoramic viewpoints. It provides visitors with a captivating journey through the Drakensberg Escarpment, offering numerous natural wonders and attractions. Here are some key highlights of the Panorama Route:

 

Blyde River Canyon is a spectacular natural wonder located in the northeastern part of South Africa. It is one of the largest canyons in the world and forms part of the Drakensberg mountain range. Here are some key features and aspects of the Blyde River Canyon:

  • Three Rondavels, also known as the Three Sisters. These are three round, hut-shaped rock formations that resemble traditional African dwellings. They are a popular photographic spot and provide a stunning backdrop against the canyon’s cliffs.
  • Bourke’s Luck Potholes are another geological attraction near the canyon. This unique rock formation is created by the confluence of the Treur River and the Blyde River, resulting in cylindrical potholes and deep, smooth-walled pools.
  • God’s Window is a viewpoint along the edge of the escarpment offering sweeping views of the Lowveld and the distant plains. On a clear day, you can see as far as Kruger National Park.
  • Lisbon Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Mpumalanga, cascading down from approximately 90 meters (295 feet). It’s a picturesque spot and an excellent place for photographs.
  • Berlin Falls is another impressive waterfall along the route, surrounded by lush greenery. The falls are named after the miners from Berlin who worked in the area during the gold rush.
  • Mac-Mac Falls is a pair of waterfalls with a total drop of around 65 meters (213 feet). The site is historically significant due to the gold rush era.
  • Graskop Gorge Lift provides an opportunity to descend into the gorge and explore a network of walking trails and suspension bridges, offering a unique perspective of the landscape.
 

Drakensburg Mountains

 

The Drakensberg Mountains, also known as uKhahlamba in Zulu (meaning “Barrier of Spears”), are a stunning mountain range in South Africa, stretching for about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) across the eastern part of the country.

 

The Drakensberg Mountains have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their natural beauty and rich cultural significance. The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is a protected area that encompasses the range and is home to various plant and animal species.

 
 

3. Rich History and Heritage

 

South Africa has a long, rich, and important history. From early inhabitants thousands of years ago to trade during the 1600s to modern-day fights for equality and the ending of apartheid, South Africa’s history is a narrative of diverse cultures, struggles, and triumphs.

 

All of these different pieces of South Africa’s history make it a wonderful destination. Make sure you visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. Today, it is a well-visited landmark in history. Robben Island is a very popular tourist site, so it’s worth booking this well in advance if you know you want to visit.

 

In Johannesburg, visit Soweto and the Apartied Museum to get a better understanding of that dark period in South African history, then head for Soweto to visit both Nelson Mandela’s and Desmond Tutu’s houses.

 

4. Amazing Food

The flavors you’ll find in South Africa are amazing! South African cuisine reflects the country’s diverse cultural heritage, blending flavors from indigenous communities, European settlers, and influences from Asia. The result is a unique and delicious array of dishes that showcase the nation’s culinary diversity.

Below are a few of our favorite dishes:

  • Braai is a South African tradition of grilling meat over an open flame. Almost any meat can be cooked this way, but our favorite was steak. Delicious!
  • Bunny Chow is a uniquely South African fast food dish that originated in the Indian community. It consists of a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry (often chicken or mutton) and is a popular street food.
  • In the 17th century, the Dutch and French landed and settled in Cape Town, bringing slaves from Indonesia, India, and Malaysia, along with their spices and traditional cooking methods. When combined with local produce, aromatic spices such as cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, and chili.
  • Fish & Chips in South Africa is a common dish that is very tasty. You’ll find that this dish is made with hake in South Africa, rather than Cod that you’ll find in England.
  • Seafood is abundant in South Africa! The large variety of fish and shellfish found here include kingklip, snoek, red roman, hake, cod, sole, and tuna, to name some of the more popular ones. Other much-loved delicacies from the sea are abalone, oysters, mussels, prawns, langoustines, calamari, shrimps, and crayfish (rock lobster).

5. Incredible Wine

 

South Africa has a long tradition of wine-making and is renowned around the world for its wine. About an hour from Cape Town, you’ll find Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl, which are all wonderful places to enjoy wine. We visited Franschhoek on our trip, and it was definitely a highlight of the entire trip.

 

A visit to the Winelands includes a guided tour around the vineyards, learning about the history and production of South African wine, and, of course, a generous amount of wine to sample. Consider using the Franschhoekine Wine Tram for some extra fun too!

 
 

6. Everyone is Friendly

 

South Africans are known for being friendly, and you’ll feel welcomed everywhere you go on your trip. We found kind people in every city we visited and locals were very helpful when we had questions. They know how to do hospitality in South Africa.

 

7. Tons of Adventure and Outdoor Activities

 

If you’re looking for a chance for adventure, South Africa is the perfect place to visit. There are a lot of adrenaline-pumping activities you can do while there. Whether it’s hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains, diving with sharks in Gansbaai, or surfing along the coastline, South Africa offers a plethora of outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts.

Below are a few adventurous activities in South Africa:

 

8. Beautiful Coast Lines
 

South Africa boasts picturesque coastal areas. There are so many beautiful places along the coasts of South Africa including several incredible scenic drives.

 
  • The Garden Route, stretching along the southern coast, offers breathtaking beaches and landscapes.
  • Champans Peak Drive offers amazing views, especially during sunset.
  • False Bay is home to many different cute coastal towns, great views, and beautiful beaches.
  • Durban is known for its surf culture and amazing waves on the east side of South Africa.

 9. Cool Cities to Explore

Cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg offer a mix of modern and traditional elements with vibrant art scenes, museums, historical sites, and more. In Pretoria, you can see the beautiful Jacaranda trees that line the streets with their gorgeous purple flowers. In Durban, you can explore the beaches and arts scene. Every city has something unique to explore.

South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” due to its diverse population and cultures. You can experience a blend of African, European, and Asian influences in unique cities across South Africa.

 
 

10. Great Escape from the Cold During Winter (in the Northern Hemisphere)

South Africa experiences a variety of climates due to its diverse geography, which includes coastal areas, mountains, plateaus, and semi-arid regions. The country is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so its seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere.

The weather in many popular places to visit is nice year-round. Here’s a general overview of the weather in South Africa.

Cape Town and Western Cape

Cape Town has a Mediterranean like climate with warm, dry summers (December to February) and cool, wet winters (June to August). Winter temperatures rarely drop below freezing, and summer temperatures can reach the mid-30s degrees Celsius (mid-90s degrees Fahrenheit).

 

Johannesburg and Gauteng Province

 

Johannesburg has a high-altitude subtropical climate characterized by hot summers with afternoon thunderstorms (November to March) and cool, dry winters (June to August). Summer temperatures can range from the mid-20s to mid-30s degrees Celsius (mid-70s to mid-90s degrees Fahrenheit), while winter temperatures can drop below freezing at night.

 

Kruger National Park and Limpopo Province

 

Kruger National Park and the northern regions have a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and milder, dry winters. Summer temperatures can surpass 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), while winter temperatures range from mild to warm.

Durban and KwaZulu-Natal

 

Durban has a subtropical climate with hot and humid summers (December to February) and mild, dry winters (June to August). Summer temperatures often reach the high 20s to mid-30s degrees Celsius (mid-70s to mid-90s degrees Fahrenheit).

 

11. Easily Accessible

There are multiple airlines that offer flights into major cities in South Africa, making it much more accessible than other countries on the continent. Plus, since there are so many airlines, prices are more competitive, so it tends to be cheaper to get to than many neighboring countries.

South Africa’s main cities are well connected by convenient flights as well. The domestic airline with the most extensive network is Airlink, which flies through 17 South African airports, along with others in southern and central Africa. FlySafair is also reliable and recommended, but it reaches less than a dozen destinations.

Uber is readily available in major cities and very affordable. Uber is a convenient, secure, and reliable service that you can count on in most parts of the country.

You can also get to other countries and places easily from South Africa. You could consider extending your trip with an adventure in Chobe National Park in Botswana, Victoria Falls in Zambia and Tanzania, or Namibia. All are accessible by a short flight.

 
Discover reasons to visit South Africa! From diverse wildlife to stunning landscapes and rich history, there's something for every traveler.
Discover reasons to visit South Africa! From diverse wildlife to stunning landscapes and rich history, there’s something for every traveler.
 
 
 
Discover reasons to visit South Africa! From diverse wildlife to stunning landscapes and rich history, there's something for every traveler.
Discover reasons to visit South Africa! From diverse wildlife to stunning landscapes and rich history, there’s something for every traveler.
 
If this hasn’t convinced you to visit South Africa yet, let me just tell you that you won’t regret it. These are just some of the reasons why you should visit South Africa… It’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever been!
Meghan

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