A few must-see places in South Africa
January 1, 1970
by Jeanneli Jordaan
At the Southernmost point of Africa lies South Africa (big surprise), a country that contains many adventures and boasts some spectacular views. When traveling to this marvelous country, it might be a bit overwhelming to decide where to go, since we do not only host some of the greatest natural splendors, but also many cultural, historical and entertaining places that are well worth the visit. This list mostly contains the natural beauties that South Africa has, since it is our greatest attraction, but there are so many places surrounding the areas that are also a must-see that I cannot include in this article alone. So, if you want to experience some of the most beautiful sights in South Africa, these are some of the best that I have seen.
Visit the Kruger National Park
I know, I know. It’s really cliche, but believe me, when you see a lion lazily yawning under an Acacia tree while the litter is playing a few feet away, or when you encounter the majestic elephant along the road, you’ll thank me.
I’ve been to the Kruger National Park a number of times and every time we go through the gates I get giddy with excitement. It’s a one of a kind experience to see the magnificent beasts of the wild in their natural habitat and having lunch at one of the many picnic sites along the road is an adventure on its own.
Most of the campsites offer game drives, which is a great experience since the guides tend to have interesting tales and facts to share. I would suggest taking a morning drive, since it offers wonderful opportunities for magnificent photos and the animals tend to be pretty active in the early mornings.
Another great activity, that most of the campsites offer, is a guided game walk, where a guide takes you out on a stroll into the wilderness, explaining many of the natural wonders around your campsite. This adventure is truly amazing, since you experience the African bushveld like nowhere else and you might even have a close encounter with one of the many predators of the African continent.
See the Golden Gates at sunset
At the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal border is the Golden Gates Highlands National Park, a rather secluded little park in the Maluti Mountains, that holds a mystical aura. This park is a little hidden in the middle of the mountain range and one might not even know it is there until you see the enormous sandstone ‘gates’ emerging behind a mountain. But to truly witness the magnificence of the park, you must wait until sunset.
Take a trip to Clarens, a quaint little town at the edge of the park, and explore its numerous little shops and cute little restaurants. Book a room at one of the many hotels, or at the park itself, and bide your time till the sun sets. Then take the road into the park and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Golden Gates as the sun’s rays illuminate the sandstone of the Maluti Mountains.
Spend the rest of your trip there enjoying the natural beauty surrounding the area, visit the Basotho Cultural Village and even take a guided hike into the park, if that’s your cup of tea. There are many other activities dotted around the area, so make sure to plan a long weekend trip to this magnificent natural site.
Take a road trip along the Garden Route
The Garden Route is probably the most beautiful region in South Africa, with its luscious forests, abundant fynbos and majestic hills, it’s truly a sight to behold. Traveling along the coast is an adventure on its own and there are so many little shops and stops along the way that aren’t always mentioned on sightseeing sites. Around any bend in the road, one might find a hidden treasure tucked away in a corner of the forests.
And if you have a green thumb, this is definitely the place to be. Almost every town has a nursery and the plants that you’ll see along the way are unlike anyting else in the world. The fynbos of the Western Cape is truly one of a kind, since the plants there are unique to the region and are found nowhere else in the world.
When driving through the Knysna Forest, it feels as if you have been transported to another world, where you’d expect a nymph to walk out of the woods at any moment. And, if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the elusive Knysna elephants or the silent loerie.
See the Namaqualand during springtime (Usually from August to October)
I’ve only heard stories and seen photos of this wonderful place during the South African spring season, but it’s a dream of mine to visit the Namaqualand when the flowers erupt out of every nook and cranny of this otherwise barren landscape.
Seeing the myriad of colours and flowers dotting the landscape is an otherworldly experience, but it can be quite confusing to figure out where to go to see the best flowers, because there are about 4000 different flower species that bloom every year in this area and some of their seeds lie dormant for years, which leads to a different painting of flowers every visit. So join a travel group as they take the long trek along the Western Coast to witness this natural wonder.
The Namaqualand area is enormous and has some unique cultural sites that are well worth the visit. Support the locals by going shopping in the numerous little towns along the way.
Visit Cape Town
I need not elaborate much on this magnificent city, since my peers on Travelista have written much about the mothercity and its sights. So if you want a detailed list of places to see and adventures to have, follow this link.