South Africa ranks among the topmost mega diverse countries and is known for its biodiversity and ecotourism. It is a popular tourist destination for both international and domestic tourists with the wide variety of options it presents which include the picturesque natural landscape and game reserves, diverse cultural heritage and highly regarded wines. Eight South African sites are recognized by the UNESCO and are part of the World Heritage List.
Sights in South Africa
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town Kirstenbosch is one of the most acclaimed botanical gardens of the world. Touted as the most beautiful garden in Africa, it was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa. The 36 hectare garden is part of a nature reserve and lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region. It is the first botanical garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.
A place which stands testimony to South African struggle for democracy and equality, Robben Island is a must visit place when in Cape Town. The ferry ride to Robben Island Museum will take you through the cell in which Nelson Mandela, the world’s most famous prisoner, was held for 18 years where he emerged as a leader of the African National Congress. He and other prominent leaders laid the foundation of a new South Africa here. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee aptly chose to mark this location for its ‘triumph of the human spirit’.
One of South Africa’s top shopping destinations, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town is well-known for swanky retail outlets hosting international brands to exclusive local boutiques, entertainment venues, world-class hotels, restaurants and all that spells luxury! A working harbor since 1860 it was transformed and redeveloped into a 21st century trading hub in late eighties. Accommodation ranges from budget to five-star allowing one to choose their stay. You may indulge in seal watching at the Two Oceans Aquarium or the Maritime Museum or hop in a boat trip around the harbour or even go on an exciting helicopter tour!
Pilanesburg National Park
Easily accessible at a three hours’ drive away from Johannesburg, Pilanesberg National Park offers the perfect opportunity to explore another world. It is set within the crater of an ancient volcano, formed 1.2 billion years ago by overflowing magma. Innumerable native species of flora and fauna, rare animals and birds are found here making it an ideal location for nature lovers and photographers. Enjoy a safari ride or get holed in a photographic dens waiting for the perfect shot!
A view from the Table Mountain Top is an exhilarating experience and not to be missed when in South Africa. The ride in the cable car gives a 360-degree view on the way up gives spectacular views over the Cape Peninsula. Those looking for adventure may hike to the top, which was the route before the cableway was introduced in 1929 or even take guided cycling tours. Table Mountain National Park’s spectacular beauty and rich bio-diversity form part of the Cape Floral Region’s protected areas thereby part of the World Heritage Site.
Get up close to the famous African Penguins just outside Cape Town at the Boulders Beach, the only place in the world where one can do so. Camp at the Boulder Beach and take a stroll on the boardwalks around Foxy beach to get a wonderful view of these cute birds. South Africa’s penguins are under threat from the loss of habitat, declining fish and marine pollution. But steady conservation efforts by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, and SANParks help these precious penguins survive.
Cape Point Vineyards
Located in a unique setting Cape Point Vineyards is an Award Winning Winery, in Noordhoek at merely 33km from Cape Town. The picturesque setting provides a 360 degree view of mountains, greenery, vineyards, and glorious sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean. The vicinity to ocean facilitates cool breezes ideal for the cultivation of World Class Sauvignon Blanc wines. You can enjoy a leisurely picnic at the vineyards.
Best time to visit
Owing to a temperate climate all year round if you are planning a trip to South Africa, the best time to visit depends upon what sort of experiences you are looking for. June to August, winter time in SA is best time for game viewing. Summers are ideal for enjoying the wonderful weather, beautiful beaches and outdoor adventures. Hiking can be enjoyed all year round.