South Africa is known for its iconic tourist attractions. Table Mountain. Robben Island. Sun City. But Mzansi has some of the weirdest and wackiest attractions you may never have heard of. These unusual attractions will have you itching to explore:
1. Eco Shrine, Hogsback
Nestled in the Amatola Mountains, the Eco Shrine can be reached via a leafy tunnel of hazelnut trees. It includes a 6m tree sculpture of an angel carved out of a redwood tree that was struck by lightning and a circular enclosure with oil paintings and glittering mosaics. The artist will lead you on a tour, explaining the inspiration behind each piece.
Cost: R20 per adult, free for children
22 Summerton Drive, Hogsback | GPS: -32.601964, 26.922887 | Open Wednesday, Friday – Sunday, and public holidays, 09:30 – 17:30 | +27 (0)45 962 1136 | firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The Big Pineapple, Bathurst
Known as the Pineapple Capital of South Africa, Bathurst is home to the largest artificial pineapple in the world. At 16,7m, it’s 70cm higher than the Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. You’ll find an auditorium with a 12 minute film on pineapple production, an exhibition on local agriculture, and an observation deck.
Summerhill Farm, R67, Bathurst |GPS: -33.508126, 26.846938 | Open Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 17:00 (16:00 in winter) |+27 (0)46 625 0833
3. Owl House, Nieu-Bathesda
The Owl House is chock-full of concrete and ground glass sculptures. Helen Martins and her assistants spent many years creating this colourful house and fantasy garden, with mirrors, candles, and lanterns positioned to catch the light at different times of the day.
Cost: R50 per person
Martin Street, Nieu Bathesda | GPS: -31.867722, 24.552892 |Open daily, 09:00 – 17:00 (08:00 – 18:00 during December holidays) | +27 (0)49 841 1642
4. Cat Statue, Aberdeen
The Cat Women of the Karoo, Petronella Lynz and her daughter, have created a feline orphanage for hundreds of stray cats. A giant statue made in their honour stands outside the Aberdeen Heritage Archive & Tourism Bureau. A metal cage has been installed around the cat so it cannot be stolen.
Corner Grey & Meintjies Street, Aberdeen | GPS: -32.478958, 24.039298 | +27 (0)49 846 0014
5. Valley of Desolation & Giant Flag Project, Graaff Reinet
The Valley of Desolation is filled with vertical cliffs and dolerite columns towering 120m into the air – the result of 100 million years of volcanic forces. Nearby, the Giant Flag Project is a South African flag currently being created completely out of plants that will be so large, it will be visible from space!
Cost: R30 per adult, R15 per child
Camdeboo National Park, Graaff-Reinet | GPS: -32.283380, 24.466679 | Open daily, 06:00 – 20:00 (season dependent) | +27 (0)49 892 3453
6. Giant Post Box, Calvinia
This 6,17m neglected water tank has been transformed with a lick of fresh paint into an enormous red post box. Letters posted here are hand-stamped with a flower emblem.
Hoop Street, Calvinia |GPS: -31.475405, 19.771594
7. Spider Lady, Hanover
Not for those who suffer from arachnophobia, Marie de Jager has turned her home into a living museum with tanks full of scorpions and spiders, including the six-eyed crab spider, tarantula, and small brown button spider.
Driekoppen Farm, Hanover, N1| GPS: -29.682742, 23.612801|Open by appointment only |+27 (0)53 642 1740
8. The Big Baobab, Modjadjiskloof
The Big Baobab at Sunland Nursery isn’t known as the “Big Baobar” for nothing – the massive 47m wide tree holds a pub within its trunk. Standing 22m, it’s the largest baobab in the world and estimated to be around 6,000 years old.
Sunland Nursery, Modjadjiskloof | GPS: -23.621019, 30.198064 | +27 (0)15 309 9039 | email@example.com
9. The Shoe House
The Shoe House calls to mind the nursery rhyme of the little old lady who lived in a shoe. It has a small museum, art gallery, Alfa Omega Cave, curio shop, and tea garden. Stay overnight in the Shoe Guest House.
- R3 per person for museum and art gallery
- R50 per person for the cave
R36, 20km from Ohrigstad | GPS: -24.585121, 30.632622| Museum and gallery open: Monday to Sunday, 09:00 – 16:00 and cave open: Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 16:00 and Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, 09:00 – 15:00 | +27 (0)13 238 0304
10. Dick Heysteck’s Game Farm, Lydenburg
You’ll have no problem spotting all of the Big Five at Dick Heysteck’s Farm as they’re all made out of concrete, chicken wire, and steel. Each giant sculpture took around 2 months to complete.
R36, Lydenburg| GPS: -25.010194, 30.494471 | Open Monday to Friday, 08:00 – 18:00, Saturday – Sunday, 08:00 – 17:00 | +27 (0)13 235 2213