A land of great diversity and incredible beauty South Africa has become one of the most sort after travel destinations in the world. Our guest blogger Aly from Wanderessaly explored this country for a whole year…
I first visited South Africa in 2007. At 17 I had left my friends and family behind to live and study in Cape Town for a year. In a matter of days I was in love – with the people, the culture and the natural beauty. I took full advantage of my year travelling all across South Africa at every opportunity, here’s my top ten choices for the most beautiful places to visit in South Africa…
Tshukudu Game Reserve
This is a stunning place to visit in South Africa and if you can I would recommend staying at The Bush Lodge. The Bush Lodge is a very romantic place built high atop a hill that overlooks the vast plains of the Tshukudu Game Reserve consisting of 5000 acres. Your mornings will start with a casual stroll with the resident Cheetah, Savannah, your days can be spent traversing the African Bush in search of the Big Five and the cool evenings sitting on the patio watching the sun set behind the Drakensberg Mountains that border the horizon. This is one of the best places to get a feel for the wildness of Africa.
This is a beautiful small South African town located on the Knysna Lagoon and is a delightful place to visit in South Africa. Those who live in Thesen Harbour Town – an island just off the mainland of the inlet – seem to use boats more than vehicles to get to where they want to go as they navigate the waterways. Across the lagoon is Featherbed Nature Reserve and an outdoor restaurant sheltered from the elements by the giant Milkwood trees it was built around. Their thick canopy of leaves protect it from sun and rain. The low lying mountains around the town are a deep luscious green and the waters of the lagoon a clear turquoise making Knysna a perfect place to lounge and soak up the natural beauty.
Part of the Panorama Route, God’s Window is a vantage point over South Africa’s Lowveld and is, in my opinion, the most amazing view in the world. Standing and looking out across South Africa, on a cloudless day, you can see clear across the landscape into Kruger National Park. It’s as if you’ve found the edge of the world!
Home of over two thousand African penguins, this beach lives up to its name with white sand and large scattered boulders. The boulders create inlets sheltered from the wind and in the summer you can find quite a few other people enjoying the beach or swimming in the waters.
Blyde River Canyon
Located in Mpumalanga the Blyde River Canyon – one of the largest canyons on earth – is where you’ll find a scenic river winding past red sandstone cliffs as it crosses the Lowveld. You can stay up high and get some breathtaking photos of the river and cliffs or head down to the river itself and take a boat tour where you may even spot a hippopotamus or two.
The Cape Winelands are a beautiful South African gem and Paarl is a small city in the western Cape and is dominated by classic Cape Dutch houses and large gardens. Surrounding the city is fertile farmland used mostly for vineyards and olive farms. As a result there are two known routes in the area. The Paarl Wine Route and the Cape Olive Route. There are plenty of accommodations available on vineyards making them a great vacation destination. What better place to enjoy a sundowner than the peace and quiet of a vineyard in the middle of wine country?
The Waterfront, Cape Town
The Waterfront in Cape Town is a great place to be. You can sit down at a café and watch the ships roll into the harbour, take scuba diving lessons in their Kelp Forest or hit up the art market filled with hundreds of stalls of African art. There’s also plenty of gorgeous photo opportunities to be taken around the waterfront including a stunning view of Table Mountain.
Pringle Bay is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. Just over an hour drive there are plenty of holiday homes available for rent. What was once a small collection of houses has become a popular destination for Cape-Tonian retreat and you’ll find plenty of activities available. Just a word of caution though, keep doors and windows closed as there’s a family of baboons in the area that are not afraid to help themselves to your fridge. The beach is definitely the main feature of this small town but the mountains that surround Pringle Bay offer a beauty all their own with hiking trails abound for those of all fitness levels.
Most people mistake this as being the most southern point of Africa but regardless it boasts some really spectacular views. An easy hike to the point you can glance far below where the waves crash against the cliffs or look out at the edge of the world where the ocean dips below the horizon. The water’s below are so clear I could see a seal swimming beneath the surface even from the top of the cliff and all around me were birds gliding in circles on endless currents of air. Just gorgeous!
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma is a reserve stretching along 80 kilometers of pristine coastline. It is best known for its giant indigenous trees, such as Milkwood or Yellowood, and its many hiking trails, including the Otter Trail. There’s plenty of amazing things to experience in the Tsitsikamma Park such as a suspension bridge over Storms River or a Canopy tour that takes place 30 metres above the forest floor. On the canopy tour you will navigate from platform to platform, zip lining along steel cable suspension. The best part, the platforms and zip lines are held in place by tension only so no trees were harmed in the making of this product!
All words by Aly from www.wanderessaly.com. Aly has been obsessed with travel since her parents sent her off to Sri Lanka just after her 16th birthday to volunteer for three weeks. Since then she has visited numerous countries around the world and thoroughly explored her own backyard of Canada.