Today, we will go deeper to the south of Africa, all the way actually, with an ultimate travel guide for South Africa.
Lay back and think about South Africa – what do you see? Probably the sunny beaches, picture-worthy deserts, and exotic safaris.
Honestly, these are only the southern parts of the African content, commonly known as South Africa.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this country has a lot to offer, and it’s everything you need for a thrilling vacation after the hectic work and personal life. This is probably why it’s called “The World In One Country”, accrediting to its cultural and geographical diversity.
Ranging from fantastic museums to breathtaking deserts and diverse wildlife, South Africa has it all. In fact, Durban and Cape Town are the ultimate spots for cuisines and culture. Not to forget, it delivers a roller coaster ride of culture and history, so let’s go!
Table of Contents
But First, Where Is South Africa Located?
South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world and is located in the southernmost part of Africa where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.
The country borders Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana to the North and Swaziland and Mozambique to the east.
Click on the picture below to see where it is located on Google maps!
How Is The Climate In South Africa?
It is almost always warm in South Africa, due to the temperate climate. Summers can be hot and sunny, winters are dry and cool.
In the Southwest of South-Africa, the climate is almost opposite, with the most rains in winter.
The temperature in summer in the highlands of South Africa is around 30 degrees. In the South African winter, the temperature can drop to zero and it can even snow in the mountains!
The 12 Best Places To Visit In South Africa
If you are going to South Africa, the trip is simply incomplete without a trip to Cape Town.
To begin with, Cape Town is one of three capitals of the country, and everyone falls in love with the rich experience this destination has to offer.
In fact, this is a multiethnic city and is the second most famous city where modernity and tradition ride along with each other.
Also, if you visit Cape Town, make sure you visit False Bay, especially if you want to freshen up your eyes with nature.
The city has botanical epitomes, a turquoise-colored sea, and the highest mountains.
In addition, you can visit Table Mountain for its flat top, while Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is a must-visit as it’s a UNESCO heritage site.
Also, if you are fond of traveling, we are sure you’ve heard about Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony, and you must visit it to check out some endangered African penguins.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind walking, go to Bo Kaap to enjoy the vibrant neighborhood.
Not to forget, if you want to dance your night away, there are various clubs and restaurants while Victoria Wharf Shopping Center and Canal Walk are perfect places
The Garden Route
The Golden Route spans along the southeast coast of the country, and its scenic beauty is all you need to forget about the hustle and bustle of personal life and just drown in relaxation.
This is a 200km long route with beautiful scenes. This might surprise you, but it also stretches between the Storms River and Mossel Bay. However, don’t waste the route by just driving through, so it’s best to explore it for several days.
You can visit Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Congo Caves, Oudtshoorn’s ostrich farms, and the national park.
In addition to the Great Route National Park, you can also visit Knysna Reserve Park, particularly if you like elephants. On top of everything, the Garden Route Mall is ample for shopaholics.
7 tips are below in this great video of things to see or do on the beautiful garden route!
Kruger National Park
Popular as one of the biggest and the oldest national parks of South Africa, Kruger National Park spans over 2,000,000 hectares of area.
There is a wonderful wildlife safari experience in this national park, and it’s one place you will never forget.
Kruger National Park is home to hundreds of different animal species but rhino, cape buffalo, leopard, lion, and elephant are most popular.
There are day-time and night-time safaris available, and you can also hire guides for personalized day tours and safaris.
Since it’s so huge, you cannot witness every speck of beauty in one visit, which is why your visit should be for three to four days. If you are wondering about the residence, you can find various restaurants and resorts.
In case you want to visit the picture-perfect and peaceful town, don’t even think about skipping on Stellenbosch.
This is a university town and is the second oldest town as its history dates back to 1679. If you want to enjoy the real essence of this place, you need to step foot in Stellenyrk Museum and Village Museums.
The town is lined with oak streets, and there are Cape Dutch houses. Even more, there are wine estates for an impeccable wine-tasting experience. Lastly, there is an incredible range of art galleries, nightclubs, restaurants, and cafes.
ISimangaliso Wetland Park
This is a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s located on KwaZulu Natal province’s northern coast.
For those who don’t know, iSimangaliso is known for miracles and wonders and is apt for witnessing the wonders of nature with more than 526 species of animals and birds.
A wetland park is a perfect place for checking out the water animals, such as turtles, crocodiles, and hippos. Even more, there are some buffalos, baboons, rhinos, and zebras.
Here’s another video that I wanted to share with you of this very interesting park. I want to go there some day!
Commonly known as the Dragon Mountain, this is the highest peak in the country.
The Drakensberg spans over 200km and is loaded with mountain streams, caves, and waterfalls.
It is impeccably placed between the KwaZulu Natal province and the Kingdom of Lesotho. In addition, you can visit uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park to enjoy the rock arts.
Even more, you can mesmerize the beauty of over 800 flowering plant species in the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve. In case you have an adventurous side, choose some mountain trails for parasailing, rock climbing, hiking, river rafting, and biking.
Pilanesberg National Park
It is one of the most easily accessible national parks of the country and is placed in Johannesburg city.
However, you will need to drive for 2.5 hours, but the park is perfect for a quick safari.
Pilanesberg National Park has an artificial lake known as Mankwe Dam and huge grasslands. The national park is home to diverse wildlife.
In addition to the big five animals, you will be able to find some African wild dogs, zebras, giraffes, antelopes, along with hundreds of bird species.
Again, thé best way to show you what something is all about, is through a video!:
Kgalagadi Transnational Park
Located in the northern side of South Africa and placed between Botswana and South Africa, Kgalagadi Transnational Park was recently made in 2000.
The park has gemsbok and springbok. In addition, there are various animal predators, including hyenas, cheetahs, and Kalahari lions.
On top of everything, there are red dunes, amazing wildlife, and barren wilderness, which makes this national park one of the best.
This is a small town in the Western Cape and is incredibly touristy.
For those who don’t know, Hermanus is known as the Whale Capital, and many people just come here to see dolphins and whales.
There are phenomenal whale watching tours on boats, but you can also check out the whales and dolphins from cliffs.
If you want to check out the dolphins and whales, it’s best to go during June and December.
In addition, every September, there is a special Whale Festival, and you can even take a walk along the cliff sides on a beautiful evening.
Take a look at this breathtaking video made by a drone of the whales!
Known to be the biggest city of South Africa in reference to population, Johannesburg is also known as the City of Gold for its gold-mining points.
Some common attractions of the city include the Gold Reef City, Constitution Hill, and Apartheid Museum.
In addition, there is a Collector’s Treasure with eight stories that are filled with rare books. This is the primary reason this treasury is the biggest bookseller of rare and second-hand books.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the vibrant environment and shop, you can go to the Neighbourgoods Market.
In addition to this, you must visit Soweto (yes, this is where Nelson Mandela was born). There are two Orlando Towers in Soweto, which are perfect for bungee jumping.
Also, there is a Satyagraha House, which is a well-known guest house because Mahatma Gandhi would live here when he would visit South Africa.
Located at a 45-minutes drive from Cape Town, Paarl is known for its immense cultural and historical heritage, and it’s pretty small.
The city is located on the Paarl Mountains’ crest. There are some amazing buildings around the city, including Cape Dutch, Victorian, and Edwardian buildings.
In addition, there are some amazing restaurants and cafes made on the city’s main road. On top of everything, you must visit the Great Tower of Fairview Cheese & Wine Farm, the wine estates, and Afrikaans Language Monument.
If you are ready for some sun and water, Mossel Bay is one of the most popular beaches, and you can try a variety of water sports, shark cage dives, and skydiving.
In addition, you must visit the Post Office Tree and Bartholomeu Dias Museum.
To illustrate, the Post Office Tree is located in the museum complex, and it’s a six centuries-old milkwood tree.
While you are there, make a visit to the Point of Human Origin, Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse Complex, and Garden Route Casino.
Have a look at these 7 things to do in Mossel Bay :
Things To Know Before Visiting South Africa
If you have made a list of must-visit destinations of South Africa, you can also check out the following tips to make sure your vacation is as convenient as possible;
- Language is not a huge barrier as long as you speak English because it’s one of the official languages. In simpler words, there won’t be any communication problems. South Africa has 11 languages in total!
- A one-week trip is not sufficient to check out the beauty of South Africa.
- There won’t be any problem getting your hands on essentials, such as clothing and electronics.
- It’s a perfect place for people who have a limited budget. In fact, you will even find affordable alcohol and food. On top of everything, the accommodation is pretty affordable.
- The food is incredibly cheap and diverse. The best thing about South Africa is that it’s perfect for enjoying traditional food as well as fine meals like steaks.
- South Africa is a tourist-friendly country, but there are many scammers and pickpockets around, so keep your belongings safe. In addition, it’s best that you don’t flaunt your valuables, expensive jewelry, and latest electronics.
- Always rent a car because the taxis won’t be readily available and the public transport isn’t fast enough.
- Make sure you keep a water bottle with you, particularly when visiting the bushveld and countryside because the water isn’t drinkable there. However, water in big cities is safe to drink.
Essential Documents For Visiting South Africa
To make sure that you successful board the plane and set foot in the country, you will need to carry a few documents with you, including;
- Visa – you need the South African visa because it’s important to show when you reach South Africa. When you are granted the visa, you will be able to check the electronic visa on the email but always travel with a hard-copy.
- Passport – you must have your passport with you.
- On the other hand, if you are traveling with kids, you must have your kid’s custody papers or proof of guardianship. In addition, if you aren’t the guardian or parent, there must be a letter from their parents or guardians, and it should include the contact information.
Whether you need vaccinations for South Africa depends on your health situation, length of stay of the areas that you will visit, and your accommodation in South Africa.
Here is an oversight:
- Yellow fever is not obliged, (because it is not present in South-Africa), but it is when you are travelling from another country where yellow fever can occur.
Also when you have been in transit for more than 12 hours at an airport in a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Covid 19 : the rules of a country conserning vaccinations and testing constantly change, so check out the latest information on their website.
- Hepatitis A is recommended for all travellers
- basic vaccinations like Polio, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Whooping Cough, and measels-mumps-German measles are always a good thing to have!
- Talk to your physician about the necessity to get vaccinations for: Typhoid, Rabies, Hepatitis B, the flu and Pneumococci
Other health issues:
The risque of catching Malaria depends on the location that you are traveling and the time of the year:
- In the North of South Africa, where it borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique (including Krüger Park), there is a high risk of catching Malaria from September to May.
We would recommend applying mosquito reppelent measures from dusk to dawn, in combination with taking malaria medication.
There is a low risk of Malaria from June to September, than mosquito repellent measures from dusk to dawn should be sufficient.
- In the North on the border with Botswana there is a low risk for Malaria from September to May. We recommend mosquito repellent measures from dusk to dawn. There is no risk from June to September.
- In the Northeastern part of Kwazulu/Natal (up to the Tugela River), there is a low risk of Malaria. Again, we recommend mosquito repellent measures from dusk to dawn for that area.
- The rest of South-Africa has NO risk for Malaria!
- Other health risks like parasites? Please talk about those with your physician, so you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest!
My Final Conclusion.
Ranging from small picturesque towns and villages to huge shopping malls and restaurants serving delicious food, South Africa is everything you need to have diverse adventures.
I hope that I could help you out with this expansive travel guide for South Africa! (this is not the only blog post where I will discuss so much more about this beautiful country, so please bookmark my website!)
If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask below or join me on my social media channels for more pictures and follow me on my journeys!