Located in the extreme southern part of the African continent, South Africa makes a unique tourist destination. Home to one of the most diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife and world renowned cities, any visitor to South Africa will be amazed by what the country has to offer. Having visited South Africa many times over the last years, I can only say that once you have discovered a part, you will want to come back for more.
Being married to a South African just opened more opportunities for me to discover the great outdoors, the lesser touristy areas and the off the beaten path. I would say, no more excuses, here are my 13 reasons why you should visit South Africa.
1. Abundant Wildlife
South Africa is home to an abundant variety of wildlife, nearly 300 species of mammals and 850 species of birds. There is excellent game viewing all over the country in the various national parks. Going on a safari and spotting the famous Big Five animals is high on top of many people’s bucket lists.
2. Adventure Capital of the World
South Africa is a great destination for any adrenaline junkie. There is not much that cannot be done in the country when it comes to any adrenaline indulged activity. From bungee jumping, to paragliding, abseiling, kite surfing, rafting, mountain biking, hiking, skydiving, deep sea fishing, surfing, scuba diving, even skiing…and so much more. With the great outdoors scenery and the beautiful climate, there is never a dull moment in South Africa.
To name a few important activities, at 216 metres, the Bloukrans bungee jump is recognised as the highest commercial jump in the world, the Cape Argus Cycling Tour is the worlds largest individually timed cycling race and the Comrades marathon is the worlds oldest ultra marathon race.
3. Oldest Wine Industry Outside Europe
Even though South Africa is considered as one of the new world wine countries, it’s wine history dates back some 350 years. The first grapes were pressed in 1659. Today, South Africa is the worlds 9th largest wine producer. The famous Route 62 is said to be the worlds longest wine route, with seemingly countless wine farms, vineyards and even brandy cellars. The Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape and makes an excellent blend of wine.
When in South Africa, visit the Cape Winelands, with its sunlit vineyards and dramatic mountain ranges.
4. Cape Town
Cape Town is considered to be one of the most international cities in the world, a cosmopolitan melting pot of people, culture and food. It’s a vibrant city with lot’s of atmosphere and things to do for any visitor. Cape Town is also one of the most visited cities in Africa. Who would not like to have a look at one of the worlds natural wonders, Table Mountain?
Read also: Interesting Facts about Cape Town
5. A photographer’s paradise
With some of the most spectacular landscapes, amazing wildlife, beautiful people and famous landmarks, South Africa is a haven for any photographer, professional and amateur.
6. Culinary variety
South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, which of course also has an influence on the food scene. The variety in flavours, ingredients and ways of cooking is just phenomenal. One can have a spicy Indian curry, a hearty stew made in a cast iron pot over an open fire, an outdoor braai (barbecue), a sweet Malay curry, sushi, ‘pap en vleis’ and so much more.
Read also: 7 of the most popular dishes of South Africa
7. Great value for money
Any type of budget will be suitable for visitors to South Africa. There is something for every wallet, from very luxurious to highly affordable. South Africa is not reserved for a specific visitor with either lot’s of money or on a tight budget. From luxury indulgence in a private game resort to a budget safari in Kruger National Park, from highly priced activities to free hikes in the mountains, from luxury 7 star hotels to a dormitory bed in a backpacker hostel.
8. Ethnic and cultural diversity
South Africa is also known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, meaning a nation that joins a great variety of cultures and languages, all living together as ‘One Nation’.
South Africa has a rich history, which dates back to some of the earliest human settlements, to the first inhabitants, the San, to the Bantu speaking tribes and more recent the European integration in the country. Various sites can be visited to see and experience the different stages of history. For example, the Battlefields, the Cradle of Humankind, the Bushman rock paintings, various cultural villages and places of more recent history such as Soweto and Robben Island.
9. Premium Game Reserves
South Africa has a great collection of wildlife and game reserves, either private or public. Each and every one of them has unique scenery, climate and landscape, with wildlife adjusted to that specific area. With nearly 1 million visitors per year, the largest and most famous wildlife park by far is Kruger National Park. Other largely visited game parks are St. Lucia Wetlands, Hluhluwe and Addo National Park.
Apart from the national and public parks, South Africa hosts lot’s of private game reserves, each and every one being unique and special.
10. Whale Watching
South Africa is also one of the worlds best destinations for whale watching. Being it from a boat or even from the coastal shores, every year multiple whale species migrate from the cold waters of the Antarctica area to warmer climates en route via South African waters.
Read also: Safari in South Africa – A practical guide
11. Very diverse landscapes
South Africa is the worlds 3rd most biodiverse country and is the only country in the world holding its own floral kingdom. This means the country has some of the most spectacular landscapes and diverse scenery. A large part of the country is semi-desert, but there is also a very long coastal line, multiple mountain ranges, as well as plenty flower varities, forests, and savannah areas.
12. Family friendly travelling
South Africa is a very family friendly destination. Hygiene standards are high, hardly any medications need to be taken and the countries infrastructure is world class. Most campsites or accommodations will cater for families with children. And there are plenty of activities that are enjoyable for kids, like going on a safari and spotting wildlife, huge play parks with trampolines, as well as hiking and swimming, to name but a few. It’s a great country for a first time visit to the African continent for any family and the kids will be excited about all the great indoor and outdoor experiences they will encounter.
13. 4×4 lovers
The off-road and 4×4 culture in South Africa is huge. Even though the general road infrastructure is really great, there are many 4×4 trails for any off-road lover. Even some national or nature parks are best explored with a 4×4 vehicle.
The famous Sani Pass between Lesotho and South Africa should only be visited with a 4×4, same for the Baviaanskloof and some routes in national parks like Mountain Zebra and Karoo NP.
Read also: Sani Pass – The road to the sky
Read also: Backpacking South Africa: Ultimate Travel Guide from Janet Newenham’s blog Journalist On The Run
Have you ever visited South Africa or are you planning to visit soon? Which reason would convince you most to visit South Africa?
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