Planning a trip to South Africa? If you are, congratulations! If you’re not, you should be – and here are 15 of the best reasons why…
Black-maned lions framed against Kalahari dunes; powdery beaches lapped by two oceans; star-studded desert skies; jagged, lush mountains – this truly is a country of astounding diversity.
From the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape to the roaming wildlife of the Kruger National Park, South Africa is an untapped wonderland of unforgettable experiences. Expand your horizons and explore this beautiful land.
1. The sun is shining!
We’re not sure that a South African winter would stand up against the nose-tingling temperatures of a Northern Hemisphere cold spell. But nonetheless, winter is over in SA, and in Cape Town, there’s six months of wall to wall sunshine, blue skies, and Vitamin D to look forward to.
2. It’s whale watching season
From June to November, South Africa’s southern Overberg coastline sees the return of the majestic Southern right whales to calve and nurse their young. It’s a special experience, and the area, with its off-the-beaten-track wineries and the pretty town of Hermanus, is a top-notch destination at any time of year.
3. Cape Town
This teeny tiny paragraph most definitely isn’t enough space to extoll the virtues of Cape Town, but trust us. It’s mind-bogglingly beautiful, there are mountains and beaches, award-winning restaurants and cafes, wine, penguins, boutique hotels, and excellent shops, museums and galleries. If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, add Cape Town to your itinerary now.
4. You can sleep under the stars
Book the Malori Sleep Out Deck at Motse Lodge in the Tswalu Kalahari and spend an alfresco night in the heart of the bush. There really is nothing better in life than sleeping under a star-spangled sky, listening to the snuffling wildlife below.
5. The hiking is excellent
If walking is your thing, head to the misty Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu Natal, and hike along forested trails and up craggy peaks. On the western side, the Cederberg Mountains are beautiful, mysterious, and coated in ancient San Busmen rock paintings.
6. The restaurants
From exquisite, Michelin-starred eateries, to braai shacks in the remotest of villages, and more coffee houses than you shake a stick at, South Africa has it all in the way of mouth-poppingly tasty cuisine. The Test Kitchen in Cape Town has even made it onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
7. You can spot the Big Five
Planning a trip to South Africa will probably involve a safari, and the Kruger National Park isn’t just famous in South Africa – it’s probably one of the world’s most well-known parks. Visit and you’ll see lions at dawn, elephant at breakfast, and rhino at sundowners. And that’s just day one.
8. The Zeitz MOCAA opened
South Africa’s art scene has truly up and come with the opening of the long-awaited Zeitz MOCAAin Cape Town. The converted grain tower houses no less than nine floors of contemporary arty treasures, and the swanky hotel, The Silo, is the cherry on top.
9. The accommodation is unbeatable
It doesn’t matter where you stay in South Africa, you’ll be blown away by the quality of the hotels and the hospitality you’ll receive. Top of our list are The Cape Cadogan in Cape Town, the Peech Hotel in Johannesburg, Emily Moon River Lodge just outside Plettenberg, and Birkenhead House in Hermanus.
9. The history is fascinating
South Africa has a long and varied history that many overlook. Visit the Hector Pietersen Memorial and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg to brush up on your knowledge, and in Cape Town a trip to Robben Island is a poignant experience, as is the District Six Museum.
10. The beaches are beautiful
Whether you’re looking for the ultimate tanning spot, or to swim in a bay that no-one else knows about, South Africa has some of the world’s best beaches. The long stretch of sand at the quaint fishing village of Paternoster is dotted with chilled-out crayfish restaurants and is one of our favourites.
11. You can get your adrenaline going
South Africa is something of an adventure destination – you just have to know where to look. Conquer the world’s highest bungee at Bloukrans Bridge on the Garden Route, or dive with great white sharks in False Bay. If that sounds too heart-pumpingly scary, Cape Town offers paragliding and kite-surfing experiences that are hard to beat.
12. Wine, wine, wine
The Cape Winelands aren’t just magnificently picturesque, they’re also home to some of the world’s most delicious grapes in over 200 vineyards. Try South African special Pinotage, a fruity red-blend, or MCC, the country’s very own, perfectly delicious bubbly.
14. You can take the kids
It might be a long flight, but South Africa is brilliant for kids. There’s no time difference, so no grumpy little ones; there are hundreds of activities all over the country, from beach-combing to penguin-hunting, to keep them entertained; and you can safari, malaria-free, in the fabulous Madikwe Game Reserve.
15. It’s got some of the best scenery in the world
Where do we start? Most people know about the Garden Route, a craggy coastal drive through the country’s most iconic landscapes. For an off-the-beaten-track version, try the rugged, windswept plains of the Wild Coast, or the Cederberg Mountains for dramatic rock creations.