South Africa is as beautiful and multicultural as it is geographically diverse. With a landmass totaling almost five times the size of Britain, South Africa’s bountiful wildlife and scenic wonders makes it one of the most fascinating destinations in the world.
Home to multiple reserves and national parks that almost always ensures one’s encounter with the Big Five, South Africa promises a wild ride on its famed safaris. But other than wild animals and exotic wildlife, South Africa also fascinates with its rich history. The Cradle of Humankind, for example, has some of the oldest hominid remains – dating back more than four million years old.
Traveling to South Africa is a must when visiting the African continent. But if you’re still on the fence about this mesmerizing destination, here are 5 reasons that will definitely change your mind!
The beauty about South Africa is that it is generally a year-round destination. If you aren’t particular about what you want to see or specific experiences you want to have, you can book a flight into South Africa at any time of the year and can expect an unforgettable experience.
However, if you are there for certain experiences, some months may be better than others. For example, if you are looking to go on safari trips, going from June to August will be optimum as these are considered the winter months where rainfall is less. The dry climate means a shortage of water, which leads to more animals gathering at fewer watering holes. Newborn animals are best seen during September and October. However, as temperatures are quite pleasant year round, you can go on safari trips at any time and still have a great game-viewing experience.
At the top of our list of places to see in South Africa is Kruger National Park. With an area of over 7,580 miles (19,633km), Kruger National Park is touted to be the world’s finest game park. Kruger National Park is brimming with wildlife, with over 100 mammals and 500 different bird species calling it home.
The park’s long history and experience with tourism makes it one of the most equipped and accessible parks in Africa. If you are traveling with young children, Kruger National Park is also considered the most family-friendly park, offering many different types of safari possibilities. Here, you have the option to either go on self-drive safaris, guided classes safaris, or even guided walking safaris.
The most popular attraction in Kruger National Park by faris the Big Five which consists of: the lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo. Your best chance at spotting all of them is at the Mpunalanga territory within the park. While you’re there, see if you can also spot the Little Five animals too!
South Africa is well known for having great beaches where thousands flock during the summer months for a swim. But more than that, South Africa is also known to have some of the most spectacular waves in the world, attracting a great number of surfers from all over the world. Among the many surf spots in South Africa, by far its best is Jeffreys Bay located in the Eastern Cape province.
Jeffreys Bay, or fondly known as J-Bay has waves that can run for up to 800m and features a number of famous surf breaks. The annual J-Bay Open runs in July and attracts some of the best surfers including the famed Kelly Slater and Jordy Smith.
Even if you don’t surf, there is still much to see and do at J-Bay. This quaint and laid-back town offers other beach sport activities suitable for the family such as xxx. For the beginner surfers among us, head on further north to Durban where you will find gentler surfs!
Have you ever wondered what the world was like millions of years ago? Some of your most burning questions that you might have on human history may well be answered in South Africa! Some 50km northwest of Johannesburg lies the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The site contains a complex of limestone caves containing fossil records.
Among the most popular fossil sites in the area is the Sterkfontein Caves where more than 500 Hominids have been uncovered. The Cradle of Humankind site serves to prove the ‘Out of Africa’ theory – where it is believed that human beings have evolved in Africa and subsequently spread out to the rest of the world.
South Africa is not only a great place to see wildlife but also to explore a rich biodiversity. At Table Mountain, you will find over 1470 floral species, with many endemic to the area. While the area is small – only about 57 square km – Table Mountain’s biodiversity is dense, making it the smallest floral kingdom on earth.
Table Mountain earned its name from its distinctively flat top – a 3km level plateau. Leopards were once common around Table Mountain, but have not been sighted since 1920s. Nonetheless, you will still find a variety of wildlife there including porcupines, snakes, tortoises and the Table Mountain Ghost Frog – a rare amphibian found in the area.
There are two ways to climb to the top of the mountain – by cableway or hiking. The cableway is a popular routed up the mountain with as many as 24 million visitors having used the cable cars since it first opened in 1929. Hiking up the mountain, which will take anywhere between 2 to 4 hours, will offer you a much richer experience as you will be able to take in the sights and sounds of the area at your own pace.
Once you’ve experience a safari and explore human history, what’s left to do but indulge your sense of taste? For wine lovers, South Africa is a dream come true! Just 10 minutes away from Cape Town’s city center is Constantia Valley, the oldest wine producing region in the southern hemisphere. The Constantia Valley route will take you through ten wine farms serving up their own distinct and premium wines.
Aside from the delectable taste of wine, you can also explore Cape Dutch architecture in the area. Groot Constantia – the largest wine estate in the valley – was originally owned by Commander Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company. This led to the Manor House within the vineyard being designed in a late Dutch Renaissance style.
Once you’re done sampling wine, try out the array of award winning restaurants nearby to taste the best of South Africa cuisine!
Elaine Clara Mah is a Contributing Writer for BookAllSafaris.com. She is constantly in awe of the majestic animals living in the wild alongside us and does what she can to help conserve their habitat.