Things to do in South Africa

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A destination that promises an adventure, gourmet and beach experience all in one, South Africa is where cosmopolitan cities meet truly wild wildlife and a sombre history paves the way for a promising future. In this exotic melting pot of places to visit and activities to do, we've narrowed down the list to five easy must-dos.

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Group on a safari jeep in front of an elephant

Go on safari

As an incredibly accessible country to spy Africa’s unique wildlife, a South Africa holiday is practically synonymous with a safari experience. As such a popular part of the tourism industry, the country is home to a total of 19 protected national parks and accompanying luxury safari lodges. Outside the luxury abodes of course, is where the real magic happens.

Generally speaking, we recommend taking part in at least three game drives in order to observe as much as possible. The main aim is to witness the Big Five – lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros. Other animals also worth keeping an eye out for include zebra, giraffe, hippopotamus, wildebeest, crocodiles and plenty of birds.

How to do it: There are a number of places in South Africa where you can take part in a safari. Our favourite recommendations include:

Kruger National Park

There’s a reason why Kruger is the country’s most famous national park; it’s not only the largest national park in South Africa but also one of the most diverse and wildlife-rich areas in Africa. Located in the north east of the country near the Mozambique border, the park is home to the Big Five, as well as wild dog and over 300 species of birds. A stay at the park (in the 5-star Jock Lodge Safari) and four game drives is included in our Tastes of South Africa holiday itinerary.

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Easily accessed from Cape Town, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a fantastic place to visit to not only spy the Big Five, but also the incredibly rare white lions. On our Cape Town, Wine & Safari Journey, you’ll enjoy 4X4 game drives in the park as well as 3 nights in a luxury suite at the park’s Gondwana Lodge.

Addo Elephant Park

Located near Port Elizabeth, Addo Elephant Park is a great park to visit along the popular Garden Route drive. While there you’ll enjoy magnificent views of Karoo Plains and the Zuurberg Mountains, as well as incredible wildlife watching opportunities, the notable drawcard being the park’s healthy popular of over 600 elephants. On our Garden Route & Safari holiday you’ll enjoy three game drives in the park as well as two nights’ accommodation at the 5-star Kuzuko Lodge.

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Group of people eating a picnic while on safari

And consider a cooking safari as well

If you consider yourself a foodie then you’re going to love South Africa. And while it’s very easy (and cheap) to find a sumptuous meal, to really experience the full flavours of the country we highly recommend taking part in a safari of a different kind; the Cape Malay Cooking Safari.

Taking place in Cape Town, the safari begins with an intimate tour of the Bo-Kaap Museum followed by a tour around the surrounding historical area where you’ll walk past colourful cafes and storefronts selling local dishes and produce. You’ll then visit a local Bo-Kaap home where you’ll enjoy a cooking workshop demonstrating how to mix Masala, fold Samosas and cook a Cape Malay curry. The safari of course finishes with a full course traditional Malay Meal.

How to do it: The Cape Malay Cooking Safari is included in our Cape Town, Wine & Safari holiday and Tastes of South Africa holiday. As with all of our holidays, we can also tailor make a South Africa holiday for you to include the cooking safari.

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The cable car up to Table Mountain in South Africa

Venture to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

Towering 1000 metres over the city, Table Mountain is undoubtedly oen of Cape Town’s most recognisable icons (it’s even on the flag of Cape Town). Located in Table Mountain National Park to the south of the city, the mountain features a unique 2 mile flat top, making it a great place to visit and enjoy views of the city.

How to do it: There are a number of ways you can visit Table Mountain. One of our favourite ways is via the aerial cableway which offers a scenic journey to the top. This journey is part of the Table Mountain and City tour, which is included in all of our South Africa Journeys. If you’d rather a more challenging journey, there are a number of hiking trails you can follow to the top. Be warned though, even the quickest route - the Platteklip Gorge route – takes around 1.5 hours and isn’t without its challenges, particularly in the heat.

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Vineyards in the Stellenbosch wine region

Dine and Vine in Stellenbosch

While it may be considered locally as a university town, Stellenbosch is known worldwide for its food and wine. In fact, there are over 200 wine producers within the area, some of which date back over 300 years. To truly get a sense of what makes this region so famous, many of the wineries and cellar doors within Stellenbosch offer tastings as well as restaurant and picnic facilities.

How to do it: Stellenbosch is only an hour’s drive from Cape Town and a fantastic starting point for driving along the popular South Africa Garden Route. A great way to explore the region and enjoy its local wine and produce is with a wine & dine tour. Not only will you be able to learn about the region, but you’ll also benefit from having a designated driver. The wine & dine tour is included in our Tastes of South Africa Journey and can be added to any of our tailor-made South Africa holidays.

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Penguins on Boulders Beach in Cape Town

Relax on the beaches

Between safaris and wine tasting, it’s important to take the time to relax in some of the most scenic spots in South Africa; the beaches. South Africa is home to incredible coastline, especially along the Garden Route with places like Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay offering ample opportunities to relax by the ocean with a glass of local wine. Closer to the cities, Boulders Beach in Cape Town is a must visit to see the colony of penguins that live there.

How to do it: There are plenty of beaches to visit in South Africa. A great way to visit a few of them is on our Garden Route in Safari Journey.

For more ideas on things to do in South Africa, see our South Africa Holidays