There are many things that make South Africa one of the world’s most intriguing tourist destinations. Sure, South Africa has an abundance of wildlife, it’s home to some of the oldest cities in Africa, and it has an amazing natural scenery but there a lot more good reasons why you should visit South Africa. From adventure activities and safari experiences, ethnic and cultural diversity, food, wine, and stunning landscapes, South Africa truly is a country that has it all and this article will show you why it is a destination worth visiting. Let’s start!
If you’re an adventure seeker looking for a different experience, South Africa is the perfect holiday destination for you. It’s a county that offers a wide range of activities, such as shark cage diving, paragliding off of a mountain, cave exploring, ostrich riding, bungee jumping, or even riding on the world’s fastest zip slide in Sun City at 75 mph. With the great outdoors scenery, amazing climate, and so many adrenaline activities to indulge in, one can never feel bored in South Africa. Hence, it’s no wonder you’ll often time hear people referring to South Africa as the adventure capital of the world.
And if that’s not enough, you can also…
2. See the Big Five
There are some countries where you can go for a Safari tour, but only South
Africa can offer you Kruger National Park, one of the largest safari parks in the world and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. The park covers an area of 19,485 square kilometers and is the most famous Big Five destination in the world; Kruger National Park is home to lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants, and buffalos. And in addition to this, South Africa also has an abundance of giraffes, hippos, zebras, wildebeests, wild dogs, hyenas, ostrich, and one thing a lot of people don’t know you can find in South Africa:
If you thought that you can only find penguins on the poles and in the zoo, you’re wrong. You can actually find a huge colony of penguins around the Boulders Beach in Cape Town. The colony consists of approximately 3,000 penguins living in their natural habitat. If you’re lucky enough, you can even pet Rocky, the resident rockhopper penguin. You even also take a private tour, get a closer look of these magnificent creatures, and even adopt penguins (that for some reason can’t be released back to the wild) from the center. If you didn’t get it by now, this means that…
4. Even in the big cities, you just can’t escape the proximity of nature
We’ve all seen viral pictures of wild animals wandering off in the middle of a city and this isn’t a rare occurrence in South Africa. Whether it’s spotting cavorting baboons near the iconic Cape Point or seeing zebras on Table Mountain’s slopes, in South Africa, you can never escape the proximity of nature, even in the big cities. Hence, encounters like these:
But there are a lot more reasons why to visit South Africa than just adventure and wildlife. For example…
5. One of the world’s greatest luxury train journeys
The 27-hours-long journey from Pretoria and Cape Town is one of the most luxurious train rides in the world. The train offers luxury suits with some rooms having a single bed, double beds, and even full-sized bathtubs and covers 994 miles with one stop in each direction; the historic town of Kimberley on the southbound journey and the old town of Matjuesfontein on the northbound journey. Meals, drinks, and even luxury cigars are included in the fare (close to $1,000). Additionally, there’s also a gift shop that sells diamonds and a cigar lounge with an open-air bar and a VPN service that allows you to surf the internet freely.
However, if you don’t feel like spending $1,000 in just one day, there’s a budget alternative. You can travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the Premier Classe for around $150 or the Shosholoza Meyl Sleeper for only $45. Whichever you choose, along the way, you will definitely encounter…
6. A lot of spectacular sights
South Africa has no shortage of spectacular sights that you can see only here and nowhere else. Like the sheer cliffs of the picturesque Valley of Desolation, the mesmerizing rock formations of Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Chalkey Treehouse, probably the world’s most photogenic treehouse, Cango Caves- the largest showcave in Africa, and of course, the Cape Agulhas where the two oceans meet which is also a great destination for…
7. Whale watching
If you’re looking for more reasons why to visit South Africa, this country happens to be home to some of the world’s greatest whale watching destinations and this is one of the most amazing experiences one can encounter while traveling. In South Africa, you can see whales from the coast, from cafes, restaurants, and in some places (like Hermanus), even from the comfort of your own hotel room. Furthermore, between June and November, you can even get a glimpse of the great migration of the Southern Right Whales (from Cape Byron to Antarctica). And if this migration isn’t great enough for you, you can witness…
8. The Sardine Run- the greatest migration on Earth
The Sardine Run is one of the greatest global events on the marine calendar. This migration features so many sardines migrating north along the Eastern Cape that our numeric system doesn’t have enough numbers to count all of them. This event occurs between the months of May and June every year. The main reason for the migration is the current of cold water that heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique during this time of the year.
So far, we covered a lot of wildlife-related reasons why you should visit South Africa. However, that’s not all. Another good reason to visit South Africa is its…
9. Ethnic and cultural diversity
South Africa’s nickname ‘The Rainbow Nation’ is a rather vivid description of the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Here, you’ll find people with different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds living together as one nation. Additionally, South Africa has 11 official languages and a lot of people are bilingual, trilingual, or speak more than three languages in addition to English. And with so much cultural diversity, if you want to understand and fully experience South Africa, the best thing to start is by learning its…
South African history goes all the way back to 2.3 million years ago, the era from which the famous Mrs. Ples, one of the oldest discovered human fossils in the world belongs to. If you would like to see some more old fossils and remnants of the first human civilizations, you can always visit sites like the Cradle of Humankind, located a short drive away from Johannesburg. However, there are a lot of other historic sights to visit to learn about South African History, like Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), The Castle of Good Hope (one of the oldest buildings in Africa), the Isandlwana Battlefield where the Zulu warriors surprisingly defeated the British troops, the Apartheid Museum, Nelson Mandela’s house, etc.
A lot of these sights are located in or in near proximity to Johannesburg, a city that happens to be…
11. The world’s largest city away from a river, ocean or lake
When talking about reasons why to visit South Africa, seeing Johannesburg has to be mentioned on this list, mostly due to one peculiar fact; that it’s the world’s largest city in the world that wasn’t built next to a river, lake, or ocean. The city is also home to over 10 million trees and the largest man-made forest in the world, which is only another reason to visit Johannesburg. One thing this city doesn’t have but you can get in a lot of other places in South Africa are…
12. The pristine beaches
You can find a lot of mesmerizing beaches in the Western Cape, along the Garden Route, and in Plettenberg Bay. Additionally, you can also find a lot of amazing beaches in Cape Town, the city with arguably the world’s most beautiful urban beaches. One of them is the above-mentioned Boulders Beach, but also Llandudno, Glen Beach, and Oudekraal. You can also find long stretches of golden-sand beaches on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, a region that’s famous for beaches and…
13. Rugged Mountains
If you thought that South Africa had anything except for hiking opportunities, you’d be wrong. Located in the south-eastern part of the country on the Indian Ocean coast, the KwaZulu-Natal Province is the second largest in South Africa and home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and most dramatic mountaintops. In this region, you’ll find The Lebombo Mountains and the Drakensberg Mountains, home to 47 of South Africa’s 50 tallest mountaintops. The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometers and is the perfect destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
But all that hiking and walking will surely make you hungry. That brings us to my next point…
When a country has as much ethnic and cultural diversity as South Africa, the food is expected to be outstanding too and in South Africa’s case, that’s true. South African cuisine has been influenced by European, Indian, and Asian cuisine back from colonialism times. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any local traditional delicacies like bobotie or boerewors because well, people used to eat before the colonial era too.
It is a well-known fact that one of the most delicious meat is served in South Africa. You will not only taste beef and pork but might get a chance to try some Ostrich meat as well. This dish is common in South Africa and can be found almost in every menu. If so, you might also come across a Kudu dish. South Africa also has its own barbecue sauce, known as the Braai sauce that gives South African barbecue a very distinguishing flavor.
Finally, South Africa has some amazing street food dishes too. One of the most memorable dishes might try is the Biltong, a South African version of beef jerky.
And speaking of gastronomy, did you know that South Africa has…
15. The oldest wine industry outside Europe
Did you know that South Africa’s wine history started 350 years ago at the Winelands of the Western Cape? Today, even though many people don’t realize this, South Africa is actually the world’s 9th largest wine producer and its Route 62 is the world’s longest wine route. Route 62 stretches for 850 kilometers between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and covers the four main wine regions in South Africa; Stellenbosch, Wellington, Franschhoek, and Paarl but if you’re a wine lover, you’ll definitely love Cape Town, a city with more than 200 wine cellars where you can taste the finest of South Africa’s signature Pinotage grape.
However, even if you want to visit some more cities and taste different varieties of local wine, you can because South Africa has…
16. A solid infrastructure
As a popular tourist destination, South Africa has a relatively solid infrastructure with several international airlines and numerous international airports around the country. Additionally, a lot of the country’s transport infrastructure and tourist facilities were greatly improved for the 2010 World Cup, making South Africa one of the rare countries in Africa where a self-drive holiday is recommended. In fact, there are some great deals for renting cars too; you can use this Auto Europe special offer to save up to 30% on all car rentals in South Africa.
Another great reason to visit South Africa is the fact that it has…
17. Family-friendly activities throughout the year
South Africa has a lot of child-friendly activities and accommodation options, particularly around Cape Town and the Garden Route. Additionally, there are a lot of family safari options, like Madikwe, Pilanesberg, or Eastern Cape. And if we haven’t given you enough reasons to visit South Africa yet, we’ll finish this article with one of the biggest reasons to visit…
South Africa has a lot of luxurious restaurants, lodges, and five-star establishments, but it also provides an amazing value-for-money when it comes to food, accommodation, tours, safaris, rental cars, etc. All this makes South Africa one of the most pocket-friendly destinations in the world.
Helpful resources for visiting South Africa
Are you looking for a cheap flight to South Africa? Check out Qatar Airways’s Oh-la-la deals and save up to 15% on all flights to South Africa.
If you want to save on accommodation anywhere in South Africa, use this Booking.com discount code.
Planning to rent a car in South Africa? Save up to 30% with this special offer by Auto Europe.
Finally, if you’re planning to visit South Africa, travel insurance is mandatory. Personally, I recommend you choose World Nomads. Sure, they might be more expensive than most average travel insurance providers but they will have your back no matter what happens, unlike some other travel insurance providers that offer cheap packages but don’t provide coverage for a lot of emergencies.
Did this article give you enough reasons why to visit South Africa? Do you think we didn’t mention some other important things about this beautiful country? Let us know in the comments!
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I have seen lots of beautiful photos of South Africa and I agree that it is really worth visiting. Capturing those spectacular sites and whale watching would be topping my list. I loved that this country has various landscape forms like rugged mountains and pristine beaches too. A perfect place for all kind of travelers.
Tuesday 17th of March 2020
Great to hear that, Yukti.
Tuesday 17th of March 2020
I never thought South Africa has this very exciting tours and activities.These tours look amazing and as you mentioned its affordable. I have always thought of Safari when hearing about travel in Africa. But there seems to be a lot more!
Tuesday 17th of March 2020
Monday 16th of March 2020
I have never visited South Africa but after reading your post, I am very much interested. It would be nice to see these animals out in the open. Whale watching also a wonderful experience. I'm pretty sure my family would love it.
Tuesday 17th of March 2020
Great to know that, Clarice.
Monday 16th of March 2020
South Africa has been on my list for a long time now. In better times, I would love to get there and spend some time on their beaches with the penguins, of course! Did not know about the sardine migration but that sounds like an amazing thing to see. Am quite intrigued by the luxury train - not sure if I can ever afford it but no harm in dreaming!
Tuesday 17th of March 2020
Great to hear that, Ami.
Sunday 15th of March 2020
South Africa is such a beautiful part of the world. I had no idea that whale watching and penguins were a thing there! That train ride would be at the top of our list for sure, after the national park. We want to visit one day and I will save this post to reference when we do! So many great ideas.