Things to do in South Africa
South African sights tend to fall into 2 categories: natural and historic. Making the most of the country’s sun-filled climate affords many options for the nature and outdoor enthusiast from the rugged Cape Point at the very southwestern end of the South African peninsula to the Limpopo Province and the Kruger National Park bordering Zimbabwe in the northeast of the country. The Eastern Cape is the place to go for the world-class surfing areas of Jeffreys Bay and Durban, while the Cape Floral Region of the Western Cape is simply spectacular during spring bloom.
Head to Table Mountain National Park to take advantage of over 300 hiking trails for all fitness levels and fantastic scenery that ranges from the view of Cape Town and surrounds from Table Mountain to ancient indigenous fynbos forests and secluded sandy beaches. Diamonds and the desert are some of the attractions in the Northern Cape, while there’s plenty of opportunities to spy lions, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, cheetahs and more in massive nature and game reserves across the countryside.
On the history tip, amazing interactive attractions such as the Cradle of Humankind and Origins Centre showcase the intriguing archaeological finds unearthed in South Africa that answer questions about the evolution of our species spanning over five million years.
South Africa’s modern history is also on display with sobering explorations of the country’s apartheid regime of the 20th century and the impact of state-sanctioned racial segregation. The past injustices are acknowledged at sites such as Robben Island Museum near Cape Town, Soweto’s Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill in Johannesburg as part of the reconciliation process and a move to a unified ‘Rainbow Nation’. Quite simply, South Africa is so rich and so varied, it’s no wonder visitors find their holiday here is a life-changing experience. Here are some of the must-see sights on a South Africa holiday.
Variously a prison, defence station, leper colony and now a World Heritage site, Robben Island is best known as the site of part of Nelson Mandela's 27-year incarceration. Accessible only by guided tour, Robben Island Museum is a sobering journey into Cape Town's apartheid past.
The iconic, flat-topped mountain towering above Cape Town offers the opportunity to hike, abseil and take a scenic cable car ride up the cliffs to check out the amazing views of the city, ocean and surrounds. Choose one of over 300 walking trails to get the heart pumping.
A must-see site, Soweto's Apartheid Museum takes the visitor on a confronting journey of the reality of life under state-sanctioned racial segregation. From the dark days of apartheid to democratic freedom, a new South Africa is realised through knowledge and acknowledgement.
Go back to where it all began with the world's richest source of human ancestor fossils at the 12 excavation sites of Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg. The fascinating Sterkfontein Caves allow visitors to venture underground to the site of archaeological digs.
For an insight into the evolution of humans, the Origins Centre in Johannesburg poses intriguing evidence and interactive displays about the origins of our species. From Stone Age tools to DNA testing, it's all about the meaning of life.