If you want to travel around the country of South Africa, the smartest itinerary would be to arrive in Cape Town, spend a few days there, then take a car, visit Cape Peninsula and then drive along the Garden Route with stops and night overs in Stellenbosch, Cape Agulhas, Knysna, Tsitsikamma park, drop a car in the nearest airport and fly to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to visit the Kruger National Park. Spend a few days there enjoying the safari, then make a layover in Johannesburg and take a direct flight to Victoria Falls airport to visit the popular waterfall in Zimbabwe. The whole tour will take you around 15 days.
In this article, I will tell you about the impressions of the most interesting spots in South Africa.
When I traveled to South Africa for the first time I expected everything but the Australian landscapes, Californian villas, the Caribean vibes, the dutch architecture, and the fluently speaking English people with such a good sense of humor. The country rapidly converted into my favorite destination in the world.
Yes, I understand, and I want my readers to understand, that the reality of the country is very challenging. It has a very dangerous and ugly side of the coin. But the advantage of being a tourist is to notice the good stuff and avoid the sharp angles, which I advise you to do.
1. Cape Town
Today’s Cape Town is one of the most important economic centers of the country with many offices of banks, multinational corporations, and shipping companies. Also, the city is called the most beautiful city in RSA. For me, it is a kind of Barcelona in Africa. It has mountains on the one side and ocean on another. You have to stay here for 2-3 days to visit the most popular attractions such as Robbenisland, Bo Caap, Table Mountain, Waterfront, Hout Bay.
The symbol of the city is the flat plateau-like peak – Table Mountain – it is even depicted on the flag of Cape Town Read my dedicated article: How to visit the Table mountain in Cape Town.
2. Cape of good hope
The Cape of Good Hope embodied the hopes of the Portuguese, who in the 15th century were looking for a way to India. It was originally called the Cape of Storms, but King Joao II was superstitious and therefore decided to rename this point.
Cape of Good Hope is the most popular and must-visit place in South Africa. The stunning landscapes and mysterious legends bring here thousands of tourists every year. This is the guide to help you organize your trip.
3. Boulders beach
Boulders Beach is located on the Cape Peninsula near Cape Town and Cape of Good Hope. This lovely bay among the large granite boulders became popular 30 years ago when a colony of African penguins decided to live here. So now there are hundreds of penguins living their free wildlife that made the place a must-visit for tourists.
Read my notes, to plan the best experience of the place.
Stellenbosch is Provence or Italy on the African continent. The vine region, in other words. Here you will find yourself being surrounded by typical Italian landscapes. You will stay in a spacious lodge with an amazing field view, eat in local restaurants with amazing views, and try African wine.
The town of Knysna is a true pearl of South Africa. It amazes the tourists with its natural picturesque attractions, green mountains, sparkling blue water of the Indian Ocean, boutique shops, hotels, and gourmet restaurants. If you drive along the Garden Route Knysna can be a very good place for a night over and spending the day.
The Tsitsikamma national park is the first African marine park, located in the heart of the scenic Garden Route. This is 80 km of rocky coast with quiet bays, ravines, forests, and sandy beaches. The park is home to many animals, while the marine part of the reserve provides excellent opportunities for diving. You can’t even imagine, how many things you can do there: Canopy tour, rafting, hiking, Kayaks, and bungy jumping and everything with the breathtaking ocean view. You can check the list of full activities on the official website.
The closest town to the natural park of Tsitsikamma is a Plettenberg Bay. Read my article Discover the best things to do and the best places where to eat in Plettenberg Bay.
7. Kruger National park
Kruger National Park – is the oldest reserve in South Africa and one of the largest national parks in the world. Also, it is the most popular and must-visit place in South Africa for those who want to experience the wildlife safari. Often people travel to South Africa because of the Kruger National Park.
In the Kruger Park, all members of the Big Five are represented: the lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo – the most powerful and dangerous representatives of the African fauna. There is a variety of different activities including the night safari, sunrise safari, etc. On the official website, you can check all the directions, rates and where to stay options.
8. Blyde river canyon
I have never visited this place, but it is a highly recommended place by my South African friends, so I felt obliged to tell you about it. And of course, I myself desire to go there. This is the 3rd biggest canyon in the world, the biggest green canyon on Earth one of the most beautiful places to visit in RSA.
The canyon located 150 km from Kruger international airport and Kruger national park and can be reached by car. You can explore the site by hiking, horse-riding, boat trips, biking, and enjoying different activities as rafting, hot-air ballooning, fly-fishing paragliding, and so on. The reserve is equipped with convenient viewing platforms from which you can take amazing photos.
Check the official website for more info.
If you travel around South Africa, take a chance and fly to Zimbabwe to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the World. There are direct flights from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls airport at quite cheap Top-8 must-visit places in South Africa (I saw 30$ tickets for one-way flight).
Best movies to watch before your trip to South Africa
Of course, there are more films, but the following films are those that I have watched.
- “Long Walk to Freedom”. The film about the destiny of Nelson Mandela
- “Little One”. It’s a South African movie about real life in a Township.
- “Holiday in the Wild”. Kind of these sweet Hollywood movies about Love among the decorations of South African nature.
- “Invictus”. The film is about the Rugby World Cup in 1995, that united the country after the fall of apartheid.
- “Out of Africa”. This film is about another country – Kenya. But it is an interesting African story with Meryl Streep.
Top-7 foods to try in South Africa
I am not a big expert in African food, cause my knowledge is limited with meat, but let’s see, what I can recommend to you according to my personal experience.
- T-bone steak. Ufff. It’s just good. I still can’t decide where the meat is better: in Italy, Brazil, Argentina or RSA? But the T-bone steak in Africa is a must-try. Follow this link to read where to try the T-bone steak in Plettenberg Bay.
- Biltong. It is jerky. It is very tasty (much tastier than in any other country). And it’s one of the best souvenirs from RSA, as it is the long-term meat.
- Bobotie. The very traditional meal. Curried minced meat (beef, lamb, or pork) topped with a savory custard, added with species, and cooked in the oven.
- Malva pudding. It is a Dutch dish. A sweet pudding made with apricot jam and served with a hot cream sauce.
- Amarula liqueur. Just entering the country you will see many advertisers of this African liqueur.
- Oysters in Knysna. I have written about it in this article.
- Cheesecakes. This is unexpected, but the cheesecakes in South Africa are wonderful! And their taste is a bit different from all over the world.
Read also: ALL guides and articles about South Africa, to help you to plan your trip.