1. Cape Town
Is definitely one of my favorite cities in the word where one is never bord. Often referred as the “Mother City”, Cape Town is a melting pot of African and European cultures, mix of tradition and modern, surrounded with beautiful nature and perfect place for hiking, surfing, exploring new traditional African cuisine, wine tasting.
Once in Cape Town, the main places to see: colorful houses in Bo-Kaap area, shop The V&A Waterfront, Two Oceans Aquarium, wander Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, take a gondola to the top of the Table Mountain, hike to the top of Signal Hill or Lions Head, take a boat to Robben Island. Also, the city center with its local markets, shops, restaurants and museums are worth of your visit.
TIP: Consider take a hop-on hop-off red bus to explore the city. It is the best way how to explore Cape Town.
Located on a peninsula, Cape Town is surrounded by stunning beaches.
My Top 14 favorite beaches in Cape Town:
Hout Bay Beach
Camps Bay & Clifton Beaches
Mouille Point Beach
Muizenberg Beach – surfing
St. James Beach
Boulders Beach – penguins
Blouberg (Dolphin Beach, Small Bay, Big Bay) – kitesurfing
Long Beach – Cape Town’s longest beach – 8 km long (in the suburb of Kommetjie on the Atlantic coast).
2. Cape Peninsula
Is one of the most spectacular regions of SA. This is one of those places that you don’t want to miss once in Cape Town.
The Top Highlights of the Cape Peninsula route trip include: Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Simon’s Town with Boulders Beach (Penguins), Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, Ostrich Farm, Chapman’s Peak Drive, 12 Apostles coastline from Hout Bay to Camps Bay, Clifton Bay.
In Hout Bay you can take a boat to see a seal colony on Duiker Island (Seal Island).
You can stop for a wine tasting in Groot Constantia, wine region in Cape Peninsula.
3. The Garden Route
Is another impressive region in SA. The Top Highlights include: Mossel Bay, George, Oudtshoorn (famous for its ostrich farms and Cango Caves), Wilderness, Knysna (don’t miss Heads and the Featherbed Private Nature Reserve, Elephant’s Park, Brenton-on-Sea), Plettenberg Bay (Storms Rivier), Robberg Nature Reserve, Storms River, Tsitsikamma National Park, The Crags or Nature’s Valley; Addo Elephant NP.
4. Kruger National Park
If you want the best wildlife safari experience in South Africa, then Kruger National Park is definitely the place to be.
Kruger NP is a home to the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo) and is the biggest NP in SA with 2,000,000 hectares (20,000 km2). Kruger is really huge, so you need at least 2-3 days in Kruger and make several game drives. To explore Kruger NP, you can either drive with your own car or you can take private safari rides, organized tours and stay in private lodges.
TIP: You should combine a visit to Kruger NP with Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. Also, a great experience is visiting Nourish ECO Village in Hoedspruit (amazing Community Conservation Projects).
5. Blyde River Canyon & Panorama Route
Is one of the most beautiful attractions of South Africa and together with Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon is one of the most popular places in South Africa.
The majestic Blyde River Canyon with beautiful panoramic view is situated next to the Kruger NP in Mpumalanga region. It is the third largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in the US and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia but it’s definitely the largest “green canyon” with its beautiful greenery.
The main highlights of Panorama route – the Pinnacle, God’s Window, Wonder view, Lisbon Falls and Berlin Falls, also Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Lowveld viewpoint and Echo Caves. But the most impressive of all is the Three Rondavels viewpoint.
Is a small town with beautiful coastal walking path. It is a great place to see whales and dolphins in South Africa. You can take either a whale watching boat tour or you can watch whales and dolphins from the shore.
The best time to see whales in Hermanus is between August to October.
TIP: GANSBAAI (Goose Bay) is a fishing town with beautiful coastline and popular tourist destination for its dense population of great white sharks and as a whale-watching.
7. SA Wine Region: Stellenbosch & Franschhoek & Constantia & Worcester
South Africa is famous for its wines, beautiful wine farms and wine tasting experience.
Short drive from Cape town and easy to visit are beautiful wine regions Stellenbosch (more than 150 wine farms), Fraschhoek (over 45 wine farms, you can hop on the wine train and explore more wine farms in one day), Paarl (over 15 wine farms within the Paarl Wine Route).
TIP: Worcester is another beautiful wine region, which is less touristic, however, definitely worth a visit. Its beautiful valley offers an unforgettable experience. Worcester is known for its “Wine & Olive Route” with its 12 award winning wine estates and 2 world class olive producers.
8. Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden
Once in Stellenbosch, you can visit the unique Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden. Definitely worth your visit. As soon as you enter the garden, you will feel like you are in another world. You can explore Stellenbosch's Aboriginal Carved Garden with over 60 sculptures made by Dylan Lewis, overlooking the mountains. This magnificent 7 hectares garden with its unique sculptures has been carefully laid out along 4 km of paths. Before you decide to visit this beautiful garden, do not forget to book a visit date, only a certain number of people are allowed per day.
9. Cape Agulhas
Is the Southern place in South Africa – the place where Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean. Definitely worthy to visit once on your way to the Garden Route.
10. Drakensberg Mountains
Drakensberg is the mountain range between Lesotho and KwaZuu Natal province in South Africa, just 3 hours drive from Durban and is famous for its hiking routes with spectacular views.
Popular destinations in this region of the Drakensberg include Cathedral Peak, Monks Cowl Reserve, the Giants Castle Game Reserve, the Highmoor and the Kamberg.
Cathedral Peak includes the Didima Valley, which is famous for its many scenic hiking routes and San Bushmen rock art sites.
Sani Pass (also known as the "roof of Africa”) - winding dirt road through the mountains in the West of KwaZulu-Natal, connecting Underberg in South Africa to Mokhotlong in Lesotho). The pass traverses the Great Escarpment of southern Africa in its highest region, the Drakensberg Mountains, which reach an elevation of over 3,000 meters.
TIP: If you stay around the Underberg area, you can cross over the border and visit Lesotho.
11. Addo Elephant National Park
South Africa’s third largest National Park with hundreds of elephants, lions and black rhinos.
Addo National Park is located close to Port Elizabeth, just few hours drive from the Garden Route.
TIP: You can easily explore the park on a self-drive safari or you can book a guided safari tour.
12. iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of the outstanding natural wetland and coastal sites of Africa. It is one of the best places to see hippos and crocodiles in KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa.
TIP: You can take St.Lucia boat tour to see the hippos and the crocodiles.
13. Pilanesberg NP
It is a great place for a wildlife safari in South Africa, just 2 hours drive from Johannesburg.
Pilanesberg's largest water reservoir, the Mankwe Dam, is a man-made lake. Located in the heart of the National Park, is used as a drinking waterhole for wildlife including zebras, lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards.
TIP: You should visit nearby Sun City, with luxury resorts and casinos, waterpark, golf, outdoor activities, wildlife viewing, and hot air balloon safari.
14. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, formerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, is the oldest nature reserve in Africa with Big 5 as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe, hyena. 280 kilometres north of Durban in central KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts.
96000 hectares in size, smaller than the Kruger National Park however easier to witness those magnificent animals that frequent the reserve
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve is the largest reserve in KwaZulu Natal and only 54km away from St Lucia (home to the largest population of Hippos in South Africa, an abundance of Nile Crocodiles and Bird Life).
15. West Coast National Park
Offers beautiful beaches, stunning coastlines, scenic hiking trails, wildlife and wildflowers. Just an hour drive from Cape Town.
TIP: Definitely worth visit Langebaan Lagoon (eat at the unique seafood open-air restaurant Diestrandloper) and Paternoster Fishing Village. You can hike in Cedeberg and Clan William.
Durban was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Cosmopolitan Durban, a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, is known for its African and Indian influences. The seafront promenade runs from uShaka Marine World, a huge theme park with an aquarium, to the Moses Mabhida World Cup Stadium. Worthy to visit is also the Durban Botanical Gardens.
Once in Durban, you should visit and explore Hluhluwe-iMfolozi NP, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Drakensberg Mountains.
TIP: Visit Shakaland and take a Zulu culture day trip.
17. Johanesburg & Pretoria
The main highlights including:
NIROX Sculpture Park
Pilanesberg National Park Safari
Sun City (Lost City)
Soweto guided tour and Apartheid Museum - Soweto is the largest township in South Africa with a population that is over a million people.
Maboneng Street Art Tour
Pretoria City Tour
Shopping in Sandton, Johanesburg