South Africa's Top 10 Attractions
South Africa has so much to offer in the way of beautiful sights, exciting
activities and world-class facilities. Every year, between 8 and 10 million
tourists enter South Africa’s borders, about a fifth of whom are
from other African countries. A trip to South Africa is not complete without
experiencing its top 10 attractions:
1. The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is a world-renowned reserve and, at almost
2 million hectares, one of the most prolific in terms of the fauna and
flora to which it is home. It was established in 1898, making it the country’s
oldest national park too. This history means that Kruger is more than
just a natural wonder. It boasts rock art sites as well as important archaeological
areas that resonate with those with a keen interest in the ancient history
of this land.
Kruger is home to an impressive number of species. There are 147 types
of mammals, 507 recorded bird species, 114 reptiles, 34 amphibians and
49 different fish species. These can be seen while on game drives, walking
safaris or hiking trails throughout the vast reserve. Exploring the reserve
with an experienced guide adds enormously to the experience, as they are
able to point out spoor, droppings and elusive species that may otherwise
be missed. The Kruger National Park offers plenty of accommodation
2. The Garden Route
The Garden Route’s official borders are Storms River in the Eastern
Cape and Heidelberg in the Western Cape. This is part of the N2, and is
so named for its lush beauty and magnificent jade-green setting. The Garden
Route boasts hundreds of kilometres of pristine coastline, sheer cliffs,
dense forests, abundant valleys and mountain ranges that tower over those
in the coastal towns below.
The towns along the Garden Route are some of South Africa’s most
popular in terms of holiday hotspots. They include Knysna, Plettenberg
Bay, George and Mossel Bay. Most of the route and its towns are flanked
by the Indian Ocean on one side and impressive mountain ranges (the Outeniqua
and Tsitsikamma) on the other. As a whole, it has the world’s second
most temperate climate.
3. The Beaches
South Africa boasts thousands of kilometres of beautiful beaches. The
Eastern Cape, parts of the Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal benefit from
the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The West Coast has the icy Atlantic
Ocean waters. Most of the beaches are safe for swimming, and are ideal
for family vacations spent under the warm African sun. Some of the best
beaches in the country are Kosi Bay (KwaZulu-Natal), Kings Beach and Humewood
Beach (Port Elizabeth), Noordhoek, Llandudno and Clifton beaches (Cape
Town), Mdumbi (Transkei), and Durban North Beach (Durban).
4. Table Mountain
This magnificent mountain has become an icon for Cape Town, characterised
by its flat top and flanked by Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak.
It looms over the City Bowl, and some of the most luxurious homes are
perched on its slopes. Visitors can enjoy breath-taking views of the Mother
City and Robben Island from the top of the mountain, accessible via a
modern rotating cable car or a number of hiking trails. This flat top
is about three kilometres in width.
There are restaurant and ablution facilities on the mountain, as well
as curio shops.
The mountain has a great variety of plant and animal life, including
stunning fynbos, which is endemic to the area. Even critically endangered
fynbos species can be found on the peaks of Table Mountain. Wildlife includes
plenty of hyraxes (rock rabbits or dassies), as well as porcupines, mongooses
and tortoises. The rooikat is a rare sight, but is known to live on these
5. Sun City Resort
This resort is one of the best and most popular in the country, comprising
an awesome casino and no fewer than four different hotels. These range
from opulent 5-star resorts to more affordable options for families to
enjoy. Sun City is all about fun, and visitors will find no shortage of
things to do and see. It is situated in the North West Province, about
two hours away from Johannesburg.
While the casino has always been a major draw card, the resort is very
popular amongst those that want to relax, or enjoy an exciting holiday
with family and friends. Its facilities include water parks, an aviary,
golf courses, restaurants, shops, a cultural village and nightclub.
6. Robben Island
Although Robben Island was the place at which a number of well-known
figures were imprisoned for many years during the Apartheid regime, it
is best known for being the home of Nelson Mandela between 1964 and 1982.
Other prisoners included Jacob Zuma, Govan Mbeki, Dennis Brutus, Tokyo
Sexwale and Walter Sisulu.
The island is just a few kilometres from the Cape Town coast and is accessed
via ferries that depart from the Robben Island Museum at the V&A Waterfront
six times a day. Tours of the island and the prison are conducted to give
visitors a real sense of life as a political prisoner, and the trials
endured by the men that are, today, such revered political figures in
The island has an interesting faunal and floral value too, home to a
huge population of both penguins and rabbits.
7. Cape Town's V&A Waterfront
Cape Town’s Waterfront is more than a busy harbour. It is a shopping
Mecca and an entertainment hub that is simply not to be missed. Its offering
includes boutiques, retail outlets, speciality stores, jewellery shops,
restaurants, cinemas and cocktail bars. It is always abuzz with visitors
from all over the world, making it a cosmopolitan hotspot with international
The V&A Waterfront is home to the Two Oceans Aquarium as well as
the Robben Island Museum and the handy Tourism Information Bureau.
8. The Drakensberg Mountains
These mountains are some of the country’s most beautiful, historical
and exciting ranges to explore. The scenery is breath-taking, making for
stunning photographs and even more special memories. The Drakensberg is
ideal for those that love the outdoors and want to get a real taste of
the local countryside. Activities here include hiking, walking, white
water rafting, quad biking, mountain biking, rock climbing, abseiling,
ziplining over the forests, and camping. The Royal Natal National Park
can be found here too. The Drakensberg comes with a warning - once you
have experienced this beauty, you may never return to your homeland.
Soweto is the biggest township in the country and one of its most politically
and socially significant. It is just outside Johannesburg and is currently
home to about 3.5 million people, although it covers only about 90 square
miles (or 233 square kilometres).
A formal township tour of Soweto is fascinating, fun and exciting. Some
of the famous sites that you are likely to see are the former home of
Nelson Mandela, the Hector Pieterson Memorial, Freedom Square, schools,
a typical home of one of the locals and a shebeen (a traditional informal
10. The Cape Winelands
Many of the wines that come from the winelands
in the Western Cape are internationally renowned for their
beautiful flavours and excellent quality. This area is steeped in colonial
history and is one of particularly beautiful landscapes, making the Winelands
a delight, no matter how many times they are visited. Most of the farms
offer wine tastings, as well as tours of their cellars and on-site purchasing
facilities. Surrounded by the magnificent mountains and vineyards, a visit
to any of these wine farms is truly spectacular.