Anyone can list the highlights of South Africa: going on safari in the Kruger Park, the Garden Route, visiting Cape Town … but where can you find those special places that other tourists don’t know about? Here are the travel tips for South Africa from Pascale, our travel specialist who has been living in South Africa for years.
SOWETO FAIRTRADE TOUR
See another side of Soweto and visit it by bike! Learn the local language, visit a shelter and feel what life is like in Soweto, one of the largest townships of Africa.
AGULHAS NATIONAL PARK
The Agulhas National Park is known for its beautiful nature, where some species haven’t been discovered yet. This is also officially where the southernmost point of the country lies (as opposed to the Cape of Good Hope).
DWARS RIVER ESCAPE ROUTE
This route is not only natural, cultural and historically interesting, but it also brings you past various social initiatives including an arts center, a school, and several farms. Read more about the route here.
WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK
The West Coast National Park is situated on the Atlantic coast. The biodiversity in the park is enormous; it is home to many water birds and unique flowers, which makes for beautiful images between August and October.
CLIMB LION’S HEAD
Lion’s Head mountain, with its distinctive shape of a lion’s head, is situated next to Table Mountain. After one and a half hours, you will reach the top of the mountain, and be rewarded with stunning views of Cape Town and its surroundings.
SWAZI SECRETS PROJECT
If you are visiting Swaziland, this project is an absolute must to visit! The Swazi Secrets project is designed to enable women to generate more income from natural, local products. See how the women work and try to crack the marula nuts yourself. Read more about the project here.
AT THE BEACH WITH THE PENGUINS
At Boulders Beach you can have a real penguin experience! These animals walk on the beach and swim in the sea and while you stay seated at an appropriate distance, they will walk right up to you!
This area is famous for its rock formations and named after the rare cedar tree, which still grows there. You can find well-preserved paintings on many of the rocks, the oldest of which was created some 6,000 years ago.
TSITSIKAMMA CANOPY TOUR
An adventure in the rainforest of Tsisikamma; a zip line whizzing through the woods at an altitude of about 30 meters. At this altitude, you can get acquainted with special flora and fauna.
VISIT A WILDLIFE SHELTER
In several places, including for example in Hoedspruit of Storms River, you can visit a rehabilitation center where injured animals are taken care of before being released. See for yourself how elephants, monkeys or felines are taken care of here.
This route is called the Panorama Route for nothing; the views are truly breathtaking. God’s Window, the Pinnacle, the Blyde River Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes are all special places shaped by nature and part of the Panorama Route.
SURFING IN ELANDS BAY
Because the west coasts aren’t often visited by tourists, the locals go here to surf. Elands Bay may pride itself in having similar waves as Jeffreys Bay, but less crowded!
The rugged area of the Drakensberg is perhaps one of the most romantic places in South Africa.
The wine trail takes you past Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson, and Wellington. Along this road lies all the beauty that this region has to offer: beautiful nature, old wineries, and of course lots of wine! South Africa is actually the country that produces the most Fairtrade wines in the world; as many as 2/3 of all Fairtrade wines come from here.
Normally a coastal route by itself is beautiful, but the drive over Chapman’s Peak is unique.
BOOMSLANG AERIAL WALKWAY
The Boomslang Aerial Walkway was opened in 2014. This trail of about 130 meters long is located in Cape Town, between and above the trees. If you walk along the path, you will have a beautiful view of the enormous Botanical Garden which is worth visiting in any season.
STAYING IN A HOMESTAY
A must is staying with the locals. In many places, such as around Cape Town, in 1000 Hills of Kwazulu Natal, you can experience South African hospitality and discover the way of living in their community. You will share everything in the house with the people; not just the bathroom but also the food.
Lesotho is the only independent state in the world which lies at an altitude of over 1000 meters. It is completely surrounded by South Africa and is situated on top of the Drakensberg. This spectacular view, together with the villages, the people and the national costumes (blankets) make visiting really worth it.
AUGRABIES NATIONAL PARK
One of the lesser-known parks in South Africa is Augrabies, located in the Northern Cape. This does not mean that a visit to this park is not worth it! Augrabies houses one of the oldest landscapes in Africa. The main attraction of the park is the 56 meters high waterfall, which is a spectacular sight in the arid landscape of the Karoo. The park served as the setting for the BBC series, Walking with Cavemen.