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  • Writer's pictureThe Traveling Locals

18 Things To Do In South Africa

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

South Africa is a wonderful place and there is so much to see and do from wildlife, to spectacular views, great food, adventure, and relaxation. I hope if you are planning a trip here this helps, and if you weren't sure about going I hope this makes up your mind to do so.

1. Kruger National Park

I can only assume if you are visiting South Africa that one of your reasons is to see the wildlife, it is of course known for it. You will never be so amazed by anything in nature as you will be to ride in an open aired vehicle next to some of the most magnificent creatures in the world. Whether its herds of kudu or zebra, a lone giraffe, a pack of wild dogs, or a family of elephants trotting down the road next to you, you will be amazed. While there we even witnessed lions mating and brothers fighting to get to the female lion as it happened. Wow! What an experience!! The landscape was so beautiful even though we were there in the dry season.

2. Take A Safari

Wherever you are staying in Kruger should offer safari trips. I know when we were looking to book we didn't coma across any lodges that didn't. It should sound like a know brainer to go on a safari while in Kruger, but most of these lodges and resorts are so nice that people like just coming to relax and enjoy. You can see animals right from the balcony of your private rooms, and all around the lodge. But you can't truly say you have been to Kruger or say you have experienced it until you get out into the vast open lands and get up close with the animals that make this place such an amazing destination to come to.

3. See The Big Five

Once you start your journey towards your lodge from the airport you will start to see animals around every corner. But sometimes the Big Five can be a little harder to spot and can take some more time and effort to find. So, first of all you should know what the Big Five are. These animals include the African Elephant, the Cape Buffalo, the Black Rhino, the African Lion, and the African Leopard. Now because some of them can be more difficult to locate at times, make sure you plan to stay long enough to give time for this. We stayed for four days, and it was the exact enough time to see everything we came to see. And we did both the morning and evening safaris that our lodge had to offer in order to maximize what we could see. The game drivers are very good at what they do and will do everything in their power to make sure you get to experience the Big Five. We also went during the dry season as well. The dry season is typically a better time to come to South Africa for game viewing. There isn't a lot of water around, therefore the animals are out in the open more often in search of water. Also, the area isn't as lush and green which makes for better spotting and viewing. This can be a very difficult time for the animals though because of the lack of water and foliage.

4. Watch a sunset in Kruger National Park

We can all agree that sunsets can be absolutely stunning wherever we are, but there is something magnificent about seeing the sun set behind an Acacia tree that makes it so special. But whether you are its behind the famed tree or just watching the sun set on the vast plains of this incredible national park, I can assure you it will be beautiful and well worth it. That's not all though. Once the sun makes its way down and the shadows turn to complete darkness around you will witness something absolutely magnificent! Which brings me to #5.

*Note: We did not take this photo. Unfortunately at this time we do not have a camera that would be able to catch the night sky like this. This photo was bought and paid for by us from Shutter Stock, and is being used as an example as to what we saw while in South Africa, specifically Kruger National Park.

5. Marvel At The Milky Way

If you have never seen the Milky Way in person, I can only tell you that no picture you have ever seen does it justice. Here in Kruger National Park where you are far away from the city lights, its this beautiful cluster that lights up the night. And what better way to take this incredible site in, then to sip a glass of wine and eat biltong (South African jerky).

6. Cape Town

Cape Town is awesome! It is a beautiful city, and the people are so friendly. There is so much to see and do. Its a great city to walk around and shop and find great unique finds for souvenirs or to take home yourself. They also have a very large shopping mall there with all the chain stores you can find in your own hometown too, in case you forgot something or just feel the need to shop. Cape Town has great restaurants, coffee shops, attractions and beautiful streets to walk through. We ended up falling so much in love with this city that we actually looked at real estate while we were here.

7. Visit Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a beautiful area in Cape Town where we spent most of our time while there. It is filled with shops and restaurants on the waterfront over looked by Table Mountain. whether you are just wanting to walk around, shop, eat, or drink, you will find everything you are looking for right here.

8. Table Mountain

Once you are in Cape Town you will be able to see Table Mountain immediately since it towers over the city. It along with Lion Head (right beside Table Mountain) and both quite a sight to see. The way the clouds hover over the top is beautiful. It truly gives a wonderful backdrop to an already beautiful city. But looking at the mountain from the bottom is not where all of its wonder lies. Take the cable car up the side of the mountain. Once you get to the top you will get to see Cape Town in a whole new way and the Arial view is magnificent! This is a must do while in Cape Town.

9. Take In A Street Performance

Throughout the day at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront different performers will come out and perform traditional dances and music while wearing traditional dress and it is so fun to be apart of the crowd. At times the performers will pull in bystanders which I always find fun. They are truly entertainers!

10. Hike Table Mountain

Yes, there is a cable car to the top like I mentioned before, but if you have the ability to do this hike, it is more than worth it. I will say this though...we asked multiple people what the ability level this hike was and were told every time that it was easy. We had a slightly different experience. Although, we were in the worst shapes of our lives on this trip. Still, be warned that it will take a couple of hours and at times it can be very steep, but all in all it was a good hike. And don't worry, you can take the cable car down, so just because you hike it up doesn't mean you have to hike it down. Also, make sure to take water. If you want to go the extra mile like we did, take a bottle of wine (don't forget the corkscrew), some cheese (don't forget the knife), and make a little picnic out of it once you make it to the top. There are restaurants and cafes once you get to the top if you don't want to carry the extra weight. Don't forget to take your camera, you will want it!

11. Take the cable car

It was an absolutely beautiful experience hiking up Table Mountain, but for those who don't want to hike it or have a limited amount of time, taking the cable car is a wonderful option. It's a great way to see the area and take in some spectacular views of Cape Town. There is a café and a shop at the top if you need a snack or souvenir.

12. Watch The Sunset Over Table Mountain

So again, sunsets can be beautiful anywhere you go in the world, even your back yard, but there is something so special about watching it set over Cape Town and Table Mountain. Watching the shadows cast over the streets of beautifully colored houses, and the masses of ships at the waterfront is spectacular, and shouldn't be missed.

13. Boulders Beach

While yes, this beach does have many boulders that is not what is know for. This beach is known for its very cute residents...Penguins! Boulders Beach is full of lots and lots of penguins! Now just as a can't touch them. They are protected. But I promise, they will not shy away from you. They are very used to people being around as tourist flock to see them every year (no pun intended). Also, you won't just find these adorable little creatures on the beach. They are everywhere. As we walked down the street to the park entrance, they were walking right along side of us, they were in residence's front yards, and hanging out in the parking lot to greet us. We highly recommend that you take time during your trip to visit them. This experience was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

14. Cape Of Good Hope

While this is not the southern most part of Africa like most people think, it is still an iconic landmark to see. People line up to get their picture taken in front of the famed sign, and we were no exception. The views are beautiful and we were fortunate enough to see wild ostriches with their babies. Very cute!! If you are interested in seeing the Southern most point, Cape Agulhas, is not far down the road from here, unfortunately we did not make it.

15. Old Cape Point Lighthouse

If you are looking for stunning views, this is your place. With beautiful blue waters, and beaches below you will want to just sit and hangout for a while. Then take a very short trek up the stairs to the lighthouse and see 360 degree views of the Cape. It is breathtaking every direction you turn.

16. Go Diving With The Sharks

This is an experience that I could never forget and one I would do again and again. Due to these magnificent creatures lurking around in the waters of South Africa, I would highly recommend NOT swimming here. But if you want to see a great white shark and have the added protection of a cage, this is your opportunity. You will not regret it. On top of the fact that you get to experience something most probably have not, most of these companies do a lot of work with these sharks. By tagging, tracking and altogether looking out for their safety, you can rest assured that you are helping in the research and protection of the beautiful giants. If you want to do something truly exhilarating, this is it! Squeeze yourself into a wet suit, climb down into a cage, and submerge yourself beneath the shark filled waters. I can assure you that feeling these magnificent creatures banging against your cage or watching them dart up from beneath you will be a truly amazing experience.

17. Go birdwatching

Even if you are not an avid birdwatcher you should keep your eyes open for all the feathered creatures in this area. There are over 800 bird species in the country of South Africa. The lilac breasted roller, which is pictured above, is my favorite and it shouldn't take much to figure out why. So, if you are making plans to journey to South Africa make sure you add birdwatching to your list of things to do. Also, check out these books on birdwatching and wildlife in South Africa...

18. Wine tasting

While this one might be last, it is certainly not least! We have only become wine lovers over the past few years, so before starting our research on South Africa we would have never known it was so well known for its wine. We will never make that mistake again. It was a phenomenal experience learning about the wine and how it is grown, especially the Pinotage, which is what South Africa is know for. Getting to meet generations of wine makers and hearing their stories was so much fun. The wine it's self is was all fantastic and we highly recommend the experience. And don't forget to bring some back with you!!

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