South Africa is vast. It is also jam-packed with things to do and see, and places to visit.
Once you open the guide books you’re lost in a maze of options – anything from our eight World Heritage Sites to Mandela-infused icons and Table Mountain.
We’ve narrowed it down to a list you cannot afford to be without. The definitive list of things you must see and do when in South Africa …
1. NESTING TURTLES ON THE ELEPHANT COAST
The strip of coast between St Lucia and Kosi Bay is known as turtle country. Visit the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, for a tour. See leatherbacks and loggerheads.
2. MAINLAND PENGUINS
South Africa has two mainland African penguin colonies – Stony Point, near Betty’s Bay, and Boulders Beach in Cape Town.
3. THE ADDO ELEPHANTS
Addo Elephant Park is home to one of the densest elephant populations on earth.
4. THE TUGELA WATERFALL FROM ABOVE
Climb to the top of the Drakensberg’s Amphitheatre to view the world’s second-highest waterfall (arguably the highest) from above (find out if it has recently rained, or the falls could be dry).
5. THE BLYDE RIVER CANYON
The only true canyon in South Africa, the Blyde River Canyon is one of South Africa’s 10 natural wonders.
6. THE MEERKATS OF THE KALAHARI
The huge semi-arid and sandy savannah that is the Kalahari is home to most of Africa’s meerkats.
7. RHINOS AT HLUHLUWE IMFOLOZI GAME RESERVE
The home of Operation Rhino, Hluhluwe Imfolozi is renowned for its black and white rhino populations.
8. WHALES IN HERMANUS
Some of the world’s best land-based whale watching happens on the cliffs overlooking the bay.
9. NAMAQUALAND DAISIES
The best place to see the annual (August/September) explosion of wild flowers is Namaqualand.
10. MABONENG, JOHANNESBURG
A seriously trendy, downtown live/eat/sleep experience, this is one place you must head.
11. FLORIDA ROAD, DURBAN
The heart of Durban’s eateries.
12. LONG STREET, CAPE TOWN
Pubs, clubs, restaurants, markets, cafés, coffee shops and cocktail bars – Long Street pumps day and night.
So into food they have an exclusive Artisan Food Route and a Food and Wine Route.
14. SNOEK BARBECUE, WEST COAST
It doesn’t get better than open-air seafood; restaurants like Die Strandloper , Muisbosskerm and Bosduifklip.
15. CRAFT BEER
Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, a craft beer festival in Clarens, SA on Tap – if you didn’t know it before; South Africans are seriaas about their craft beer.
16. RIDE AN OSTRICH IN OUDTSHOORN
The Karoo town of Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the country.
17. SURF AT J BAY
The list of where best to surf along our coastline depends on whom you ask; but Jeffreys baycontinuously tops the list as one of the best surf spots in the country.
18. HIKE THE WILD COAST
This unspoilt, undeveloped coastline is a hiking mecca and one of the most beautiful parts of the country to which to escape.
19. DIVE WITH GREAT WHITES
The great white shark gets a bad rap (electrocution by your toaster is more likely than an attack by a shark) yet shark cage diving is one of South Africa’s biggest tourist attractions.
20. TAKE THE BLUE TRAIN
Do it in style with Rovos Rail (experience the luxury of a bygone era).
21. CANOE THE ORANGE RIVER
Because it really is the definitive river experience.
22. MEDITATE UP SANI PASS
Known as the ‘roof of Africa’, Sani Pass gives you unbelievable up-close views of the Drakensbergpeaks, 3200 metres above sea level; if you can manage it when others are not around.
23. PARTY IN NEWTOWN
An entire precinct alive with arts and cultural activities; expect anything in Newtown – from theatre to dinner at Gramadoelas.
24. CLIMB LION’S HEAD BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON
A popular Cape Town ritual because it takes only 90 minutes to reach the top (pretty strenuous uphill). Return by the light of the full moon.
25. SWIM IN THE SEA
South Africa’s coastline is beach mecca; Durban’s beaches, the Dolphin Coast, the Eastern Cape’s beaches or the Atlantic beaches.
26. DRIVE CHAPMAN’S PEAK
For some of the best views in the world.
27. TAKE THE CABLE CAR UP TABLE MOUNTAIN
One of the top tourist attractions when in Cape Town.
28. DRIVE THE AKKEDISPASS
Because the arid beauty of the Richtersveld deserves exploring.
29. DISCOVER SAN ROCK ART
South Africa has one of the richest collections of rock art in the world.
30. ZIPLINE FROM TREE TO TREE
South Africa has at least three forests offering canopy top tree slides.
31. GO ON SAFARI IN THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
The largest game reserve in the country promises one of the best wildlife experiences.
32. DISCOVER OUR ANCESTORS AT !KHWA TTU
Descendants of the ancient hunter-gatherers, and some of the earliest people on earth, the San culture remains a living tradition, celebrated at Khwa ttu.
33. DRIVE THE GARDEN ROUTE
The southern coast’s scenic coastal corridor is a Pandora’s box of ancient forests, rivers, wetlands, dunes, beaches, lakes, mountains and indigenous fynbos.
34. IN A TREEHOUSE
In a Limpopo conservancy, at a game lodge, in Tulbagh or just outside Sedgefield.
35. UNDER THE STARS
In the southern Sabi Sand Game Reserve , Mapungubwe, in a riverside sandstone cave near Barkly East, or on a walking safari in the Kruger.
36. ON A BOATHOUSE
Floating accommodation in style.