South Africa is a beautiful country with a heavy past and a bad reputation concerning the safety of travellers. As a former exchange student in South Africa, I got to experience a great deal, but not even close to enough, of the country. Here are my top destinations in South Africa:
Let’s start off with the most scenic road trip you will ever have the pleasure to experience – Garden Route. Where this coastal route starts and ends is debated, however I believe that starting in Port Elizabeth and ending in Cape Town will give you a full experience of what the coast has to offer.
Photo: Wilderness, Garden Route
When driving along the Garden Route you will never lack activities or beautiful scenery – the area has everything from small coastal towns with great restaurants to bungee jumping and quad biking. Of course you can also enjoy the beaches and along the route there are several opportunities to engage with animals such as ostriches and lions. Two things I would especially recommend is to swim with seals in Plettenberg Bay and to spend a night in Sedgefield to enjoy the amazing beach which is somewhat of a secret to all except locals.
Photo: Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay
Here you have to visit Long Street and the legendary restaurant Mama Africa, as well as the upscale Camps Bay for the people watching and beautiful beach. Table Mountain is centrally located in the city, and was in 2011 named one of the New7Wonders of Nature, and is well worth a visit. Furthermore a day trip to Stellenbosch – the wine landscape is wonderful as the wine is delicious.
Photo: Camps Bay, Cape Town
Northern Drakensberg area
If you are a fan of hiking, then the Northern Drakensberg area is the place. Here you can do day hikes either up the Amphitheatre or in the amazing gorges that can be found in between the mountains.
Photo: The Amphitheatre, Northern Drakensberg
The Gauteng-area includes both major cities Pretoria and Johannesburg, and especially Johannesburg is important to visit in order to understand the heavy history of the county. Also if you’re planning to visit Kruger National Park (which I highly recommend) it’s only a 4-5 hours’ drive from central Johannesburg.
Photo: Johannesburg downtown from the skyscraper “Top of Africa”