Without a doubt South Africa is one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries. It offers breathtaking landscapes, an exceptional amount of wildlife, a rich history and culture and beautiful beaches. It’s hard to find a country in the world that offers so much diversity. If this doesn’t convince you, then I’m happy to give you more reasons why South Africa should really be on your bucket list. Believe me, once you’re there, you won’t want to leave. Or you’ll want to return as soon as possible.
1. Stunning nature
Imagine this – you drive on the Panorama route across the beautiful mountainous Drakensberg. Gigantic waterfalls, imposing mountains and the largest green canyon in the world (Blyde River Canyon) surround you. Three unique round mountain peaks tower above the landscape, the Three Rondavels. Another impressive natural wonder in this area are the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where the swirling water of the rivers has made huge holes in the rocks. Continue your way along the scenic southern coast (Garden Route) where you can enjoy lakes, mountains, lagoons, rainforests and dunes. Delve into one of the world’s most beautiful caves, the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn. And enjoy the enchanting green valleys filled with vineyards on the Cape’s Wine Route. Closer to Cape Town you will see the famous Table Mountain rising in the distance. This 3 km wide, flat mountain is a beautiful work of Mother Nature. You can never get enough of the view, whether the sky is bright blue or the mountain has its cloudy ‘tablecloth’ on. This is why South Africa should be high on your bucket list.
2. Big Five on land & underwater
With over 20 national parks, South Africa is one of the most popular safari destinations. The Kruger National Park is of course at the top of the list when you visit South Africa. In this beautiful, world famous park you won’t only spot the Big Five, but 145 other types of mammals as well. Also in Addo Elephant Park you can gaze at elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffaloes, plus great white sharks and whales. For that reason South Africa is the only country in the world where you can see the Big Seven. You could also call it the Marine Big Five: shark, whale, seal, dolphin and penguin. A unique combination of wild animals on land and in the ocean, all in one country. Port Elizabeth is the dolphin hotspot and a top location to see whales. While Hermanus, Gansbaai and Plettenberg Bay are the places to be for white sharks and whales. Not to mention the sardine’s trek along the Wild Coast and the nesting site for giant turtles, iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Close by this park are the St. Lucia’s Wetlands, where you can spot hippos and crocodiles from a boat. And in one of South Africa’s oldest parks, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, you can see the world’s largest population of white rhinos. Furthermore there are also lesser-known gems such as the bird Paradise Camdeboo National Park and Tsitsikamma, Pilanesberg, Karoo National Park, Golden Gate Highland and the Augrabies waterfalls.
3. Beautiful beaches
With a coastline of almost 3000 km, surrounded by two mighty oceans, South Africa has a wide range of beaches. From the trendy Camps Bay and beautiful Llandudno in Cape Town to the pristine white Cape Vidal beach on the east coast. From divers paradise Sodwana Bay (KwaZulu Natal), which is enclosed by subtropical forests, to the hippie beach Port St. John’s (Wild Coast). Brilliant spots for swimming enthusiasts are Thompsons Bay Beach (near Durban), Central Beach (Plettenberg Bay), Grotto Beach (Hermanus) and Muizenberg Beach (Cape Town). And surf lovers looking for surf heaven must head off to Blouberg Beach, Llandudno Beach (Cape Town), Jeffrey’s Bay or Mdumbi (Eastern Cape). Whether you’re a sun worshipper, or favour beach walks, surfing, fishing, snorkelling or swimming, South Africa has a beach for every wish.
4. Colourful culture & traditions
With over 50 million inhabitants, 11 official languages and a wide variety of population groups, South Africa is also known as the Rainbow Nation. The country is a captivating mix of many indigenous cultures, with Dutch, British, Indian and German influences. This is reflected in the music, art, customs and South African cuisine. A good way to get to know the country and people is by immersing yourself in South African daily life. Explore local markets, stroll through the little towns and villages, or go for a meal at one of the many local restaurants. What’s also great fun: go to a live show at the Comedy Club (Cape Town), or enjoy live music in one of the many local bars. In case you want to learn more about the turbulent history you can visit the Apartheidmuseum in Jo’burg or the District Six Museum in Cape Town. And of course not to be missed: Robben Island, the wine lands in Stellenbosch and Lesotho and Swaziland.
5. Adventurous outdoor activities
Whether you fancy adventure, excitement or activities, South Africa will not disappoint you. The country offers hundreds of outdoor activities that increase your adrenaline levels. Surf enthusiasts looking for the right waves can indulge in Jeffrey’s Bay, Blouberg Beach, Llandudno, Buffalo Bay Beach, Muizenberg or Durban. While hikers can discover the country on foot during a trekking in the Drakensberg, Tsitsikamma national Park or by climbing Table Mountain. With so many rivers and lakes, you can also enjoy beautiful kayak or canoe trips. And what about sandboarding in the dunes of Alexandria Dunefields or snorkeling with seals and dolphins in Plettenberg Bay? The real daredevils can head to the highest bungee jumping spot in the world, the Bloukrans Bridge, or dive with great white sharks in Gansbaai or slip off the world’s fastest zipline at a speed of 160 km per hour (Sun City). South Africa offers an overwhelming amount of choices. You almost won’t have time to catch your breath 😉
6. Delicious food & drinks
The South African cuisine is a unique blend of flavours and dishes from different cultures. It varies from marinated kebabs and African stew to bobotie, sushi and delicious spicy curries. And of course the braai (barbecue) that South Africa is known for. Braai is an important part of the culture and social life with friends and family. Just like beer and wine. In South Africa you can enjoy delicious food with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc or Castle beer for very reasonable prices. In the restaurants you get top quality for the price of an average Dutch bistro. You can explore the culinary delights in South Africa in expensive restaurants as well as affordable eateries and low-budget cafes.
Check also my blog: 5 nice affordable restaurants in Cape Town.
South Africa is a cheaper travel destination than many other African safari countries. This is partly because the South African Rand is weak against Western currencies, but also cause the prices are fair in general. That’s why you can enter the Kruger National Park for 23 euro and go to the top of Table Mountain by cable car for 18 euro. Also, the costs of eating and drinking in South Africa are very reasonable. For example, you can have a delicious dinner for 15 euro and pay 1.50 euro for a cappuccino in most places. The price for gasoline is around 0.95 euro per litre . And for 60 euro per night you already have a double room in a nice lodge or hotel. South Africa offers real quality, without paying top-shelf prices.
These are the 7 reasons why South Africa deserves a place on your bucket list. Of course there are many many many more reasons why South Africa is such a top-notch travel destination.
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