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Travel guides covering numerous destinations across the globe with a focus on: must-visit cities, places of historical and culture significance including Unesco World Heritage Sites, and opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitats.

Read up-to-date tips and advice for expats based on my own experiences of expat life including our recent move to Australia.

 

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80 things to do in South Africa Part 1

80 things to do in South Africa Part 1

80 things to do in South Africa Part 1

(As recommended by South Africans!!)

Click this link to find out about UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa 

THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN SOUTH AFRICA

There are a total of  9 provinces in South AfricaFree State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. If you are planning your itinerary for SA I would suggest having a look at what each province has to offer and planning around that – I would however highly recommend visiting Cape Town!

I will look at the top things to do in South Africa by looking at each province but one great experience that can be had all over SA is my top choice for the NUMBER 1 SPOT.

1. VISIT A GAME RESERVE

Visit one of the many game reserves  – and spot the big 5! These are elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard!

There are game reserves all over South Africa  – both private and public – with Kruger National Park perhaps the most well known of the public parks. Other parks include

Read  – NINE REASONS TO VISIT THANDA SAFARI KWAZULU-NATAL

Tip – book game drives at various times of the day – don’t just do one! I have been out one day and seen very little and the next day seen just about every animal going! Remember the animals are wild so it can be luck sometimes seeing some animals (particularly the big cats). If going on an early drive then dress warmly – it can be chilly in the mornings particularly during the South African winter. Also some game reserves are malaria free so check on this if it is something you wish to ensure!

Lets see what the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Western Cape have to offer

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the great things these 3 provinces offer visitors!

2. STAND AT THE TOP OF Table Mountain!

 

Where – Cape Town!!!

Why? Because the views are fantastic! And come on…who doesn’t want to stand on top of that beautiful mountain!!! If you are planning to travel overland to Cape Town from Kruger Park check out this great 2 week itinerary for planning the drive!

TIP – Check the weather as the tablecloth (cloud) can appear, cover the mountain and ruin any views!! The last time I was in Cape Town we had already booked a tour for the one clear day we had during our stay so we didn’t go to the top that time and I wasn’t happy!! 

Cape Town

3. TAKE A STROLL ALONG THE V&A WATERFRONT

 

Where?  Cape Town

Why? For great shopping, great restaurants and great views of Table Mountain!

TIP – check out the website for visitor information. I usually stay close the the waterfront as there is always loads to see and do and some great restaurants. For hotels in the area of the Waterfront click HERE!

4. VISIT THE PENGUINS AT Boulder’s beach 

 

Where – Simon’s Town near Cape Town

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Why? Because who doesn’t love penguins!!

TIP – Go early to get parking! 

things to do in South Africa

5. Spend some time trying wines in the Cape!

 

Where – There are some outstanding vineyards to visit in the Cape – head out from Cape Town t0 Franschhoek and Stellenbosch the most well known of the wine growing areas in SA and home to many fabulous vineyards!

Why? If you like wine then some of the best in the world comes from the Cape. With the exchange rate being favourable for those with hard currencies (not sure the £££ fits these days!) then it is cheap!

TIP – go and stay at a vineyard! There are some excellent tours available too which you can check out HERE!

To find out more about wines around the world including in the Cape check out the wine travel guides on Carpe Travel. 

winelands

6. Visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

 

Where – Kirstenbosch a beautiful botanical garden is found against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

Why? It is probably set on the most beautiful setting of any botanical garden in the world!

TIP – Definitely go on the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway. This is new since I was last there and is said to give great views across the tree canopy of the mountains and gardens.

Kirstenbosch

7. Visit Robben Island

 

Where – Robben Island is a small island in Table Bay about 12 km off the coast from Cape Town.

Why?  One name – Nelson Mandela. He was held on the island for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned. The island is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site

TIP – Book your tickets in advance – I have missed out twice through not booking ahead of our arrival in Cape Town!

Thanks to Travelgal Nicole from Nicolelabarge.com for this fantastic photographs!

8. Drive the Garden Route from a popular and scenic stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa.

 

Where – A 200 km drive from Mossel Bay in the west  to Plettenberg Bay and the Tstisikamma Forest in the east.

Why – One of the world’s most beautiful drives with beautiful coastlines and scenery. Pass through towns such as George, Wilderness and Knysna on your way.

TIP – Plan at least 5 days to drive the route and add lots of activities into your itinerary as there is a lot to do on the way! Book hotels/B&B’s along the route click here for suggestions!

winelands

9. See lots of ostriches in Outshoorn

 

Where?Outshoorn  which is on Route 62 an alternative drive deviating from the Garden Route which takes you through the Klein Karoo. (It runs from Cape Town to Outshoorn and is another great driving option)

Why? – it is the ostrich capital of the world!

TIP – Don’t just visit the ostrich farms also head for Cango Caves an underground wonderland of limestone formations in all sorts of beautiful colours – be sure to book in advance as they are a popular attraction.

10. Sharks – go cage diving to see great white sharks!!

 

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Where – off Cape Town

Why? Because you probably are fearless.. or this is on your bucket list!!!

TIP – there are lots of companies who offer the chance to go cage diving with Great White Sharks. I would research options thoroughly before committing.

shark

Thanks to Travelgal Nicole from Nicolelabarge.com for this fantastic photograph!

11. Stand at the most south-western tip of the continent of Africa!

 

Where?Cape Point is at the tip of the Cape Peninsula which is 60 kms south of Cape Town and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cape Floral Region.

Why? Bragging rights! What a great photograph too! (If you want a photograph at the most southern point of the African Continent head to Port Agulhas!)

TIP – Be extremely careful of the baboons – they will take food from you and can be very aggressive.

Cape Point

12. Go whale watching in Hermanus

 

Where? – Hermanus is situated on South Coast of the Western Cape.  (90mins from Cape Town) and is famous for its incredible  

Why? – For viewings of Southern Right Whales this is the place to be from late Sept to early October when the whales arrive to give birth. The whale season runs from June to late November.

TIP – check to ensure whales are around when you plan to visit as the season can vary slightly. 

whale tail

Thanks to Travelgal Nicole from Nicolelabarge.com for this beautiful photograph!

13. Visit Addo Park

 

Where? The third largest game park in South Africa Addo is situated 72km from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

Why? If you want to see elephants!

Tip – There are also lots of outdoor activities available such as hiking and horse riding in the Addo area.

14. See the wild flowers in Namaqualand.

 

Where? head to the Northern Cape (see Springbok on the map) for the Namaqualand flower route during the months of August and September

Why?  To see stunning spring flower displays.

Tip – Stop off at the tourist informations on the way as they will know where the best displays of wild flowers are!

Desert in the spring, flowering Desert, Namaqualand, Goegap Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa

Desert in the spring, flowering Desert, Namaqualand, Goegap Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa

15. Peer into the big hole in Kimberley!

 

Where? Kimberley (the diamond city) is the capital of the Northern Cape province.

Why? Because it is a seriously massive hole!! It was the centre of diamond mining during the diamond rush in South Africa in the 1870’s.

Tip- It gets very hot in this region in the summer (December/January) so try to visit at other times. To get around use the trams which are the only city in SA with a tram system!

the big hole

Thanks to Sara of  inafricaandbeyond.com for the beautiful photograph!

16. Visit Tsitsikamma National Park

 

Where? The Tsitsikamma National Park incorporates 80km of coastline and is on the Garden Route Trail between George and Port Elizabeth.

Why? If you are a fan of outdoor activites then spending time at Tsitsikamma National Park is a must. There are a multitude of activities including hiking trails, bungee jumping, swimming and also the famous Storms River Suspension Bridge which spans 77 metres across the Storms River mouth and is a very popular attraction in the park.

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TIP – There are lots of great activities to do in the area so make sure you are kitted out before setting off! Check out tours on my Viator page HERE!

Knysna

17. Visit the Valley of Desolation in Graaff-Reinet

 

Where?  In the Camdeboo National Park near the oldest town in the Karoo Graaff-Reinet the site is a 14 km drive from the town.

Why? One of the greatest natural wonders in the world – see the unique landscape, ecosystem and scenic beauty of the Great Karoo.

TIP – Make sure you fill up with fuel and supplies in Graaf Reinet before you go!

Graaf-Reinet

18. Visit the Owl House 

 

Where? In the small village of Nieu Bethesda just past the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet. (see number 16!)

Why? The Owl House is a museum of the work that was created by Helen Martins between 1945 and 1976. It is a work of outsider art – read what that is HERE! She created hundreds of sculptures using concrete, crushed glass, mirrors and wire amongst other materials.

TIP – For some background before you visit! Athol Fugard wrote a play about Helen Martin’s life called The Road to Mecca. It was made into a film of the same name. 

The Owl House

19. Visit The Crags

 

Where? On the Garden Route beside Plettenberg Bay.

Why? There are loads of activities to do! This includes Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani, Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary, Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre, The Elephant Sanctuary, Hog Hollow Horse Trails, Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve to name a few! Check out the details HERE!

TIP – give yourself time as there are lots of things to see and do! 

Birds of Eden

Aviary at Birds of Eden

20. Visit some of the many museums in Cape Town

 

Where? In Cape Town there are many excellent museums including The District Six Museum, the Heart of Cape Town museum and the South African Jewish Museum.

Why? Learn more about the history and peoples of Cape Town

Tip – If museums are not your thing or you have kids then a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium may suit you better!

aquarium



 

I hope you enjoy planning a trip to South Africa and including some of these – things to do in South Africa – activities in your itinerary – for a more detailed look at what CAPE TOWN has to offer then check out this post – An Insider’s Guide to Cape Town! Check out some tours available through Viator for the Cape Provinces HERE!

If you have something I have missed for the Cape provinces please let me know! If you want more inspiration for why you should visit South Africa then read 10 reasons why you should visit!

Pin for later – 80 things to do in South Africa Part 1

 

80 THINGS TO DO IN SA

80 things to do in south africa


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98 Comments

  1. March 13, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    What a great list and so many more reasons for us to visit South Africa again. I am happy to say that we did most of these, but some are still on my list – I would love to travel in spring just to see those flowers in Namaqualand, and we never actually made it to Addo Elephant Park either.
    Looking forward to the part 2!
    Jurga recently posted…The Highlights of Strasbourg with KidsMy Profile

  2. Linda
    March 13, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Brilliant Tracy!!!!! Really want to go now, so much to see. Looking forward to the next instalment ??

  3. March 15, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    Aw man, you’re making me want to visit South Africa! So why aren’t you moving back there instead of Australia!? 😉 I’d love the penguins and wine the most!

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:22 pm

      Its in the plans for a bit further in the future Alex! I want to housesit our way around – lots of slow travel!

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      I am sure you will love it! Seeing the big 5 is an amazing experience!

  4. March 16, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    Great list of ideas here including some I hadn’t heard of. I’d love to visit South Africa. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

  5. March 16, 2017 / 3:01 pm

    I studied abroad in Cape Town and managed to do about half the things on the list…shamefully I did not make it to Robben Island, and the boat on our cage diving trip broke down so I didn’t see any great whites. I’d love to go back though, it’s such a beautiful country.

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:15 pm

      I love visiting CT – I could happily love there!

  6. March 16, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    South Africa is my favourite holiday I have ever been on and you included many of the wonderful things we did here. I haven’t been to Kimberley though. Love your photos thanks for reminding me of fantastic times I’m looking forward to taking my children one day.

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      Thanks Jo SA really is a fantastic destination!

  7. March 16, 2017 / 4:45 pm

    Wowee! I am going to pick my top three – Addo park (love elephants), Robben Island and the wineries. Cant wait to explore South Africa with these tips in hand. Thanks Tracy #FarawayFiles
    Katy Clarke recently posted…Faraway Files #22My Profile

  8. March 16, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    I’m going to love reading this series of posts! I haven’t been to South Africa yet so it’ll be a great taster, thank you! #FarawayFiles

  9. March 17, 2017 / 12:07 am

    So much to see and do… wow! I have travelled to South Afria a few times with my husband on business trips – he spent a few months a year there for many years and I really didn’t see as much as I would have liked. Thanks for such a comprehensive series. Annette #FarawayFiles

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:24 pm

      Thanks Annette – I would go back! Excuse to see more of the things you missed!

  10. March 17, 2017 / 1:33 am

    Whoaaaa! All those places look great! I am glad you chose the game reserves as number one (not that the list is on order) since that is where I would go first. I will like to visit the penguins and ostriches too. #FarawayFiles

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      Definitely highlights of any trip to SA! And the penguins are cute!

  11. March 17, 2017 / 3:47 am

    I’d love to travel to south Africa! My parents just came back from there and they had a great time! # Farawayfiles

  12. March 17, 2017 / 6:36 am

    I’ve read a couple of your blogs about South Africa and I love your passion for the country. It sounds so beautiful and I would love to visit one day and see everything you’ve talked about with my own eyes!

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      Thanks Annalise – I hope you do as sure you will love it!

  13. March 18, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    Wow, so many great ideas. This will be really helpful when I make it to South Africa. I want to see as many animals as possible and also do some hiking, but wow there is so much more. Looking forward to the rest of the series! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
    Anisa recently posted…Spend One Night at AlcatrazMy Profile

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      loads to do there and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

  14. March 18, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    Great list, Tracy. You’ve got some of my favourite things to do in South Africa here, including some not-so-well-known places. And thank you for featuring my photo of the Big Hole in Kimberley.

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:18 pm

      its a pleasure sara thanks for letting me use it 🙂

  15. March 18, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    The vineyards look very appealing to me right now! This is an excellent comprehensive list. I’ve just been nosing at your ‘about’ page and see you’re also in the UK (for now!) but I’m so impressed with your travel history. What an adventurous life you lead. Fantastic x

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:17 pm

      Thanks Caroline! I have been in the UK for 20 years so its a big step going on the move again but exciting!

  16. March 18, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    Such a great list! I definitely have to save this to when I go to South Africa. It is so much to do there.
    I would love to check out the Boulder’s beach penguins 😀 Thank you for sharing this awesome list 😀

  17. March 19, 2017 / 7:18 am

    Neat resource for when I do eventually get out to South Africa (I once said on a whim I would go there for my honeymoon, if I do one day get married; so, now, I’m sticking with it!). I would absolutely love to check out the game drives and the cage diving with sharks. Wowzers. What a comprehensive list. Plus, such a cute photo of the penguin. Thanks for sharing!

    • March 19, 2017 / 1:53 pm

      Thanks and SA would be a fab honeymoon destination!

  18. March 19, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Wow, you certainly have a lot of love for South Africa and it’s easy to see why – it’s such a beautiful country with so much to do – natural beauty, wildlife, long history, the list goes on! Fascinating and I look forward to reading the next part!
    Travel Lexx recently posted…Bangkok: Ultimate Travel Guide – Part 3: Essential InfoMy Profile

    • March 19, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      I did live there for 8 years and 2 in Botswana so it is close to my heart 🙂

  19. March 19, 2017 / 5:27 pm

    Three of my favorite things in ZA – Cape Town, elephants, and wine. I’m definitely saving this because there are a few things here I missed. Love that area so much and can’t wait to go back!

  20. March 19, 2017 / 10:32 pm

    Awesome list! I wish I’d gotten to go to the top of Table Mountain when I was in Cape Town but the weather wasn’t cooperating (rain, wind, fog). I loved Addo Elephant park and seeing the penguins though!

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:32 pm

      I have made it up Table Mountain twice but on the third visit didn’t and I was gutted – next time for both of us!

  21. March 20, 2017 / 3:25 am

    How fabulous! I have always wanted to go to South Africa and this has inspired me. I love the idea of doing a safari and heading up Table Mountain 🙂 The wineries are also a big draw for me! Looking forward to the next 3 chapters in your series 😉
    Janine Good recently posted…Souvenir Savvy- Tips to Conquer Your Travel ClutterMy Profile

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks Janine! I hope you go – it is a wonderful destination!

  22. March 20, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    I spent 3 weeks in SA so managed to tick off most of your choices 🙂 Unfortunately I was ill when I was due to walk up Table Mountain so didn’t get a chance to do it so this is on my list for when I return. This is a great list (which I can say whole-heartedly having spent some time in this amazing part of the world). Nothing beats a safari in my opinion but you know me, I love safari on land and in the ocean 🙂 #feetdotravel

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks Angie!It is a wonderful place and somewhere I can happily return to again and again!

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:29 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting Nell! It is a lovely place and I love the Waterfront!

  23. March 20, 2017 / 10:01 pm

    Wow, what an array of great things to do. One of my long life dreams is to go on a safari in Africa. You gave me so many reasons to visit South Africa, Tracy. Thanks for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard this weekend.

  24. March 21, 2017 / 8:18 am

    What an amazing country! It’s been my life-long dream to go to a safari in Africa, but so far it didn’t happen. I’ve heard the country is a very civilized and safe country (despite the general political instability). Your picture caught the very essence of this exotic place. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  25. So much wildlife to see in South Africa – and so many ways to see it! I will pass on the shark diving, but would love to see the baby whales. And of course a safari! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:28 pm

      I would too Erin! (Skip the shark diving!)

  26. March 22, 2017 / 1:01 am

    Wow. We want to do all of these, especially hang out with penguins and drink delicious wines! We have tried some really interesting wines from South Africa, we can’t wait to visit one day to try more.
    Scarlett Begonias recently posted…How to travel across America with your pupMy Profile

    • March 22, 2017 / 5:36 pm

      The penguins are cool and the wine is delicious! Perfect holiday!

  27. March 22, 2017 / 9:39 am

    It’s so common just to think about seeing the wildlife when you think of Africa. Thanks for sharing what a diverse area of the world this is, both in landscape and activities. Thanks for sharing on #theweeklypostcard

  28. March 22, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    What a wonderful article on many things to do in South Africa. Great links and information and so much that I am having a hard time deciding which places I would like to visit. I think a visit to the Game Reserves & Cape town is a must. Stunning photos. I will pin this for my later use. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 #feetdotravel

  29. March 24, 2017 / 4:35 am

    This is a massive list!! I would need like a whole three months for everything haha! I am definitely going to SA some day and will check out Table Mountain, Robben Island, the penguins, the wineries and of course the wild african animals! This makes me so excited to see what else have you got up your sleeve! And yeah, cage diving with sharks? Thanks, but not thanks hahaha!
    Kreete recently posted…Grand Canyon And Clifftop HikeMy Profile

    • March 26, 2017 / 8:00 pm

      Haha me neither for cage diving – I won’t even swim with fish!!!

  30. March 24, 2017 / 5:34 am

    What a great list, Tracy. I am saving South Africa for when I have more holidays because there is so much to see. I would love to see the penguins and the whales – I mean, I want to see everything ☺️. Thank you for this posts, I am looking forward to reading the next ones.

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:59 pm

      Thanks Oana – make sure to plan to go for a month at least as there is so much to do!

  31. March 26, 2017 / 7:50 am

    Oh wow! We spent a month in South Africa and just loved it! We can’t wait to go back!!! #flyawayfriday 🙂

  32. March 26, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Such a comprehensive list! Bookmarked. We had a similar experience with monkeys. They are quite aggressive. They stole my father’s glasses.

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      Yes they are terrible aren’t they – really quite scary. I was bitten as a child too by a monkey so am very wary of them.

  33. April 4, 2017 / 12:22 am

    Oh my goodness Tracy, you are the ultimate writer of travel guides! I LOVE this post! It makes me want to visit South Africa! Can’t wait for all the other posts! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday – hope to see you again this weekend! xo
    Kana recently posted…Touring the Grand Canyon with Pink Jeep ToursMy Profile

  34. April 4, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    I love this post! I want to go to SA so bad and absolutely love the picture of the penguin haha (they’re my favorite animal and I’m obsessed with them!!) I’ll defiitely have to book mark this one for whenever we make it to SA!
    Chloe recently posted…Cute Grey Maternity Dress by Ingrid & IsabelMy Profile

  35. April 26, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    Oh my goodness! I love how comprehensive this list is! South Africa is up at the top of my travel wishlist!

    • April 26, 2017 / 6:58 pm

      Thank-you! There are another 20 coming soon!

  36. April 27, 2017 / 9:41 pm

    Great list! You’ve definitely made me want to visit again. I’m afraid I’ve only done the Safari part on your list at Kruger. It was amazing. Will have to get ticking the others off…the Penguins definitely appeal! Thanks for linking #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…City Tripping #73My Profile

    • April 28, 2017 / 11:47 am

      Great! I really want to keep highlighting what a fantastic destination SA is! The penguins are also cute!

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HI THIS IS ME – TRACY

Hello from Australia

Traveller, teacher, train lover, and milkshake connoisseur.Now living and working in my 7th country and experiencing life in Queensland, Australia.

I write to inspire others whatever their age to explore the world - near and far!

I have travelled for over 30 years including solo in my 20's , as a single parent in my 30's and now in my 40's and beyond with my husband. House sitter and aspiring grey nomad a life of location independence is my goal.

Over 40 years ago I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live!

Dream it, plan it, do it!!

Carpe Diem

Tracy

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“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
-- Michael Palin