Top 10 Things to do & Sites to see
Useful Planning Tips Included!
South Africa is a beautiful country worth visiting, in fact it's where my parents are from! Here are the top 10 things that should be on every tourist's itinerary.
10. The Winelands - I'm starting with the one thing I know many are interested in but one I can't be much help in. South Africa is known for its wines. I don't drink wine or anything else. But, Disney only serves South African wines at its Animal Kingdom in Disneyworld... that should mean something.
TIP - Travel with someone who shares the same travel style as you.
9. The culture and townships - Do this the right way, not as a gawking tourist, but a willing volunteer to understand the plight of the poor and one who will take that knowledge home to raise awareness and help. Townships are densely populated shanty-style areas on the edges of cities home to the poor.
TIP - It is NOT safe to travel on your own or at night. Research to make sure the money you spend on this tour goes into the community.
8. Drakensburg Mountains - The highest mountain range in the country, it receives snow on its highest peaks and the colours of the surrounding flora and fauna year-round are a photographer's dream.
TIP - Whatever the activity, arrange for a guide or leader or let someone at your hotel know where you're going. South Africa is not the country to travel alone.
7. Durban's Beaches - One of the largest populations of Indians outside India, this city offers an "eastern feel" of spices, mosques and temples, but also a beach culture with yearlong great weather and the warm Indian Ocean. Beaches stretch on for miles and get very crowded during the holidays.
TIP - Book your hotel accommodation early!
6. Shark Cage Diving - One of the few areas countries of the world that offers this for the adventurous and brave, this is one activity not to miss out. Travel by bus to Gansbaai from Cape Town for a full day adventure. Meet the great white sharks face to face... underwater!
TIP - Not for the faint-hearted.
5. Kruger Park - A safari in Africa is a must! 4 hours from Johannesburg, this is the place to spot the "big 5." Do so with a self-drive or guided tour. There are accommodations for those wanting to stay a few days, that range from luxury to more rustic.
TIP - Animals are most active at night. Do a night or evening tour for the best results.
4. Johannesburg - The largest city by population (not the capital city), this is most likely where your plane will land. O.R Tambo International Airport is the busiest on the continent. Don't be in a rush to leave the city, stay for a day to experience the museum, a football (soccer) game at the new stadium, or nearby Sun City entertainment resort area.
TIP - A city tour will help you orient yourself to the new surroundings. A connecting flight right away will tire you after travelling for so long.
3. The Garden Route - Known as one of the most scenic drives in the world, this route stretches all the way from Durban in the east to Cape Town in the west. Along the way are dramatic coastlines, beaches, forests, hiking, parks and much more.
TIP - Rent a car and drive at your own pace. Stay at quaint bed and breakfasts along the way.
2. Robben Island, Cape Town - Don't miss this symbol of the apartheid to learn about the struggles of Nelson Mandela who was held prisoner here for almost 20 years. Boats regularly depart from the waterfront and on the island a bus tour takes tourists around to see this once dark reminder of the past.
TIP - Book tickets ahead of time, especially when travelling during South African summer (December). Tickets sell out!
1. Table Mountain, Cape Town - Use the famous rotating cable car or hike up for a spectacular view of the city below. On a clear day you can see all the way out to Robben Island. There's several paths to choose from for hiking or sit and enjoy the sunset with a picnic.
TIP - book tickets online, you have 14 days to use the tickets once and can choose the day with the best weather for your needs.