Top 10 Tourist Destinations in South Africa

May 15 08:26 2009 Claire Dinnie Print This Article

South Africa is fast becoming one of the travel hot spots of the world. This article showcases some of its gems.

So you have been given the green light to arrange your next exciting overseas travel adventure. You have chosen South Africa is the travel destination but in your planning process,Guest Posting you’re at a loss to know what best to include on your itinerary. You’ve accepted the long haul flight from your home country and want to make the most of every moment of your time in South Africa by including the most exciting highlights.

You may ask what South Africa’s highlights are and maybe the first thoughts that jump to mind are Cape Town and the Kruger National Park. Well, can I take this opportunity to tantalize your taste buds?

Cape Town and Kruger National Park are the biggest selling destinations in South Africa, but wow, there is so much more to explore in this beautiful country! Let me divulge on its “must see and do’s”.

Cape Town, Western Cape Province

Just recently been voted “the 3rd Best City in the World” by US Travel and Leisure Magazine 2008. Cape Town offers a huge diversity of things to do including culture activities and theatre shows, great shopping, casino entertainment, outdoor adventures and scenic nature tours, historic tours, wine tasting, beer tasting and brandy tasting. You will find a number of things here to keep you entertained. She’s beautiful, she’s vibrant and she’ll leave you with lasting memories.

Cape Winelands, Western Cape Province

The Cape Winelands refers to the beautiful wine growing area stretching from Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch all the way over the Hottentots Holland mountain range to Montague and Robertson showcasing over 200 different wine estates. These world-class estates offer wine tasting and some offer cellar tours providing a fascinating insight to the winemaking industry. The scenery is magical with dramatic mountain backdrops and endless vineyards that change colours with the changing seasons.

Hermanus, Western Cape Province

Known as the best land based whale-watching destination in the world, Hermanus is visited by Southern Right Whales between May and December every year. Moving north from the cold Antarctic, attracted by the warmer waters along the South African coastline and the calm waters of the protected bays, they come to mate and calve. The most spectacular close up sightings of these gentle giants can be seen from the rocky coastline or from a licensed chartered boat offering exhilarating boat-based whale watching. Witness them skyhopping, lobtailing or breaching, typical actions that when seen close up leave you breathless. September month seems to attract the majority of numbers and this is also when you can experience the colourful Hermanus Whale Festival, festivities celebrating the return of the whales.

Garden Route, Western Cape Province

The coastal area stretching from Mossel Bay to Tsitsikamma is known as the Garden Route. A beautiful area made up of rugged rocky coastline, long white sandy beaches, fairytale evergreen forests, protected endemic fynbos vegetation and botanically rich lakes and estuaries. The popular coastal towns of George, Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay attract a huge number of tourists every year who come for the temperate climate, natural beauty and numerous outdoor activities.

Game Reserves of the Eastern Cape Province

Africa is well known for its exciting wildlife but also for its malaria. The Eastern Cape offers excellent Big 5 game viewing in a malaria free zone, a big draw card, especially for families travelling together with young kids.

Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Kwazulu Natal Province

Listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in December 1999 in recognition of its superlative natural beauty. Covering about 240,000ha, with a further 84,000ha in, on or under the sea, this is a large chunk of sub-tropical paradise stretching 220km along the East Coast from St Lucia to the Mozambique border. As well as a mind-blowing range of natural systems, ranging from dune, swamp and coastal forests to rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs and submarine canyons, mangroves, savanna grassland and the largest protected wetland in southern Africa, it is a culturally fascinating area and has immense fun potential. Game drives, bird watching, hippo and crocodile cruises, cultural tours, fishing, canoeing, scuba diving, snorkelling and whale watching are some of the activities that can be enjoyed.

Kruger National Park, Limpopo and Mpumalanga Province

World renowned as an exceptional wildlife destination, Kruger National Park is approximately 2 million hectares in size and is South Africa’s largest game reserve. Unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga Province

The Sabi Sand Reserve is the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism in Southern Africa, and is the oldest of all the private reserves in South Africa. It has only ever been a wilderness area and is home to a vast wildlife population, including The Big Five, and a number of endangered species too. Flanking the Kruger National Park, animals pass unhindered between the reserves. This is where you will find some of the oldest and well-known private game reserves such as Londolozi, Mala Mala and Singita offering their exclusive luxury lodges and the authentic all-inclusive African safari experience.

Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng Province

The Cradle of Humankind Site covers 47 000 hectares of land, mostly privately owned and is made up of 12 dolomitic limestone caves containing the fossilised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and most importantly, hominids. The dolomite in which the caves formed, started out as coral reefs growing in a warm shallow sea about 2.3 billion years ago. The Maropeng Visitors Centre, an internationally acclaimed tourist attraction, highlights, by means of interactive, visually stunning exhibits, the universal relevance of the Cradle of Humankind as our ancestral home. A fascinating display and a definite “must see”.

Soweto, Gauteng Province

Soweto - melting pot of South African urban culture, rich with the history of the struggle against apartheid. Soweto is the most populous black urban residential area in South Africa with a population count of close to 900 000. The name Soweto is an acronym for South Western Townships, a cluster of townships sprawling across a vast area 20km south west of Johannesburg. Soweto is best visited accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will not only give a real sense of its history but help you understand its ongoing evolution. A tour to Soweto would normally include the Mandela Museum, where Madiba once lived; a stop at the Hector Pieterson Memorial; a drive down Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu); Freedom Square, where the ANC's Freedom Charter was proclaimed to thousands in 1956; and the Regina Mundi Church, the "Parliament of Soweto", where the bullet-marked walls are witness to ex-security-police brutality.

These suggestions offer a basic insight to South Africa’s ability to “wow” her visitors but there are many more hidden gems under her veil. The “off the beaten track” areas are sometimes even more spectacular so be sure to investigate these. Also combining a visit to a neighbouring country like Botswana, Namibia or Mozambique adds great value as well. So is South Africa a great travel destination? I believe you will find it absolute fabulous!

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Claire Dinnie
Claire Dinnie

Specialists in travel to Southern Africa with many years of first hand travel experience, Africa Tamed Tours and Travel designs and coordinates value added all-inclusive luxury holiday packages throughout South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.

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