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Der Lion's Head (= Löwenkopf) des Tafelbergs, Bild: Retha Wepener / shutterstock

The most popular destinations in South Africa

South Africa owes its attractiveness to its scenic beauty, the breathtaking biodiversity of flora and fauna and, last but not least, the attitude to life of the local population, which can be felt in many places. The landscapes of South Africa have something for every type of holiday: from lonely sandy beaches and bays to lively stretches of beach, from the red, parched soils of the Kalahari to the lush green forests along the Garden Route, from Cape Town and Pretoria on the cold Atlantic to Durban on the warm Indian Ocean, from extreme heat in the Kaaro to cool temperatures on the high Drakensberg Mountains.

#Die diverse natural conditions of South Africa create habitats for an overabundance of plants and animals. There are 16,000 species of plants, around 300 different mammals and over 830 species of birds. Africa’s national flower is the protea, an evergreen shrub with large inflorescences that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. In South Africa , it exists in over 400 forms.

Wild South Africa

South Africa’s diversity of game reserves and national parks is the country’s main attraction, offering holidaymakers some of the continent’s most thrilling safari experiences. In the reserves, there are a wide variety of landscapes, from forests and deserts to coasts and mountains, which are home to every imaginable animal species. The so-called “Big Five” – elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard – are at home in several reserves and can be observed and photographed by travellers. If you also want to see running ostriches, zebras, giraffes and wildebeests as well as cheetahs and lynxes or a herd of graceful antelopes in their natural habitat, a visit to a South African national park is worthwhile.

The world-famous “Kruger National Park”, which with an area of about 20,000 square meters is half the size of Switzerland , is one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Africa. From the dainty antelope species of the dikdiks, which is not even 50 cm tall, to the elephant colossus of 6 tons, many animals are at home here. The biodiversity is gigantic. The national park is home to around 150 species of mammals, 114 reptiles and over 500 species of birds. The 12 main camps with restaurants, shops and gas stations resemble small towns and ensure a pleasant stay of several days in the national park. Some of the most popular camps include Lower Sabie, Orpen, Letaba, Olifants, and Pretoriouskop.

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During a car ride through the “Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park”, one of the oldest African wildlife reserves, travellers can, with a bit of luck, discover the endangered white rhinoceros in addition to elephants, buffaloes, cheetahs, lions and wild dogs.

Lively South Africa

Cape Town

South Africa, Cape Town
View of Cape Town, Image: michaeljung / shutterstock

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and therefore one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Africa. The oldest city in the country and the immediate surroundings offer visitors an interesting mix of colourful multiculturalism, recent history of the country, harbour feeling and shopping pleasure as well as spectacular natural formations. Founded in 1652 as a supply station for shipping, the city is located at the foot of the majestic Table Mountain. The old fort from 1666 is the oldest building in South Africa. In addition, there are a number of buildings in the Dutch colonial style to visit.

Cape Town’s landmark is the mighty Table Mountain, which travellers can easily reach by gondola. For all those who like it more sporty, about 300 hiking trails with different levels of difficulty lead from the valley station to the summit. Due to its location, about 1,500 different plants grow on the Table Mountain massif. All nature lovers can admire this extraordinary variety of plants in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. One of the most popular destinations in Cape Town is the notorious prison island of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned until 1982. Other highlights include the lively entertainment and strolling district “V&A Waterfront” and an organized township tour. No one knows exactly how many people really live in the townships. For those who want to understand the history of South Africa, a visit to Soweto is a must on their trip.

Johannesburg and Pretoria

Skyline Johannesburg
View of the Johannesburg skyline, Image: Nataly Reinch / shutterstock

The province of Gauteng, with the two metropolises of Johannesburg and Pretoria, which are only 50 kilometres apart, is a popular holiday destination for all travellers interested in history. Here you will find important testimonies to the very eventful history of the country. The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is one of the most interesting and provocative museums in the world. Other sights include the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Museum Africa and the reconstructed old gold mining town of Gold Reef City. South Africa’s capital Pretoria fascinates with magnificent avenues, imposing government buildings, historical sights and a variety of interesting museums. Highlights include the impressive Union Buildings complex, the Pretoria Art Museum and Church Square Park with the Palace of Justice and the Kruger Museum.

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Sporty South Africa

The Golden Mile, Durban
View of the “Golden Mile” of Durban, Image: Alexandre G. ROSA / shutterstock

In South Africa, there are no limits to active holidaymakers. With almost 3000 km of coastline, the country offers plenty of opportunities for all kinds of water sports. Although the Atlantic Ocean is too cold for swimming, there are also some magnificent beaches in the Cape region. From Cape Agulhas eastwards, the Indian Ocean with its warmer sea water invites you to swim and bathe. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal and especially on the Garden Route there are beautiful sandy beaches.

The city of Durban, with its wide sandy beaches and beautiful lakeside promenade, is a popular holiday destination for all swimmers and sun worshippers. The South African coast offers a diverse habitat for marine animals and is therefore a diver’s paradise. Dives to the coral gardens of Aliwal Shoal and Sodwana Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, to the kelp forests and wrecks around the cape, as well as whale watching, lagoon diving around Knysna are unique experiences. Brave divers can get up close and personal with great white sharks in a cage. South Africa is considered a surfing hotspot. The best surfing areas are the coasts of Jeffrey’s Bay and Durban.

On foot, by bike or on horseback, holidaymakers can explore the country. There are countless hiking routes. Going on a walking safari with an armed ranger in the “Kurger National Park” is exciting and an unforgettable adventure. There are various mountain bike trails throughout the country, even in some national parks. Riding enthusiasts will get their money’s worth on the beaches of the Cape Province and in the Drakensberg Mountains. With some local providers, you can also book horseback safaris in wildlife sanctuaries.

The sky-high Drak Mountains on the border with Lesotho are particularly popular with hiking enthusiasts. Here, sporting activity can be wonderfully combined with unique nature experiences. The “uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park” comprises a total of 12 nature reserves with a total area of almost 2,500 square kilometres. During hikes through the fascinating natural landscape with imposing mountain giants over 3,000 m high, the second highest waterfall in the world, discreet mountain lakes, holidaymakers are offered magnificent views and even ancient cave paintings