EXPLORING SOUTH AFRICA
This vast country is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth. Fondly known by locals as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, South Africa has 11 official languages and its multicultural inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of cultures. Here is a quick look at all that South africa has to offer and the Regions that are tourist attractions and World renowned, truley remarkable places to visit.
As South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features magnificent stretches of untouched beach, peaceful river estuaries, lush forests, breathtaking mountain vistas, and the arid Karoo Desert landscape.
Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) serves as the province’s primary commercial and industrial centre as well as a gateway to the popular Garden Route where visitors can enjoy ancient forest walks, surfing in the world-renowned surf spot of Jeffrey’s Bay, and even bungee jumping from the world’s highest bridge bungy above the Bloukrans River.
Beyond the Garden route lie some spectacular malaria-free wildlife reserves including the remarkable Addo Elephant National Park, now the only place in South Africa where you can see the Big Seven – elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard, whale and shark. Further east don’t miss the Wild Coast region which, as it is far less developed than the rest of South Africa, offers visitors a glimpse of rural African village life.
Eastern Cape Beaches
The Eastern Cape is endowed with some of the best beaches in South Africa – long stretches of fine white sand backed by hills blanketed with lush subtropical vegetation and, for the most part, blissfully uncrowded. The Indian Ocean waters that fringe this coast are mild throughout the year and support a myriad of marine life, including a wide array of fish species that make the region an angler’s mecca. South Africa’s most legendary surfing destination is located along the Eastern Cape coast: Jeffrey’s Bay, renowned for its long rides and world-class barrels.
Stretching from the spectacularly scenic Zuurberg Mountain Range to the beautiful Sundays River, the Greater Addo area is known for its malaria-free big game viewing opportunities. It is an area rich in history and diverse in culture featuring lush citrus valleys, rolling dunes and abundant fauna and flora. Easily accessible from the large city of Port Elizabeth, Greater Addo boasts numerous private game reserves, which are home to the Big Five. Must-see sites include the renowned Addo Elephant National Park, hosting one of the most densely populated elephant herds in the world and the thriving Nanaga Farm Stall known for its delicious pies. The Greater Addo area offers an exciting array of activities ranging from hiking, horse riding, fishing, canoeing and mountain biking; to bird watching, game safaris and 4×4 off-road adventures.
Addo Elephant National Park
Set in the enchanting Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, the Addo Elephant National Park is the country’s third largest national park and offers a truly unforgettable safari experience. This finely-tuned ecosystem provides a sanctuary to large numbers of elephant, lion, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, antelope, zebra and over 400 bird species. This unique park is the world’s only park with the ‘Big 7’ – the Big 5 plus the southern right whale and great white shark off the coast of the Algoa Bay. Spend your days marvelling at the free-roaming wildlife, enjoy exhilarating 4×4 safari adventures, exciting horse riding excursions, and wonderful night drives where you are likely to spot some fascinating nocturnal wildlife. Famed for its large herds of elephant, Addo provides an ideal, tranquil retreat for those looking to escape the stresses of big city living.
The Western Cape, arguably the most scenic and varied of South Africa’s nine provinces, serves as a major drawcard for visitors to South Africa. Located in the southwest corner of the country, the province is blessed with stunning coastlines, breath taking mountains, indigenous forests, historic wine estates and scorched stretches of strikingly beautiful semi-desert. Visitors can enjoy everything from the magnificent city of Cape Town with its iconic Table Mountain and gorgeous surrounding Winelands, to the exhilarating outdoor activities and spectacular natural scenery of the Garden Route, as well as the fynbos-covered sand dunes, sun-bleached beaches and remote fishing villages of the lesser-explored West Coast region. The Western Cape has just about everything that the rest of the country can offer, all rolled into one easy explorable destination.
Resting at the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, situated between the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain and the glistening sapphire waters of Table Bay, the exceptionally scenic city of Cape Town is in a class of its own. Some cities boast rich culture, vibrant nightlife, a cosmopolitan atmosphere and extraordinary architecture, while others boast breath taking landscapes and extraordinary natural wonders. Cape Town is fortunate to be blessed with all of these attractions and so much more. With its bustling harbour, world-class beaches, top-notch vineyards, and its mountainous surroundings brimming with diverse flora and fauna, Cape Town consistently captivates the hearts of all who visit.
Extending into the Atlantic, the rugged Cape Peninsula marks the southwestern most point of the African continent. It features pristine white-sand beaches met by craggy mountains interspersed with quaint little coastal towns. Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope can be found along the southern end of this spectacularly scenic peninsula, while the northern tip is crowned by the world-famous Table Mountain which towers over the city of Cape Town. Visitors can look forward to a wide selection of activities including: hopping on a boat ride to Seal Island from Hout Bay, exploring the magnificent Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, and viewing the colony of African penguins on Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. Don’t miss the opportunity to take in the breathtaking views from the top of Table Mountain.
Resting at the foot of the Boland Mountains, the Cape Winelands is renowned for producing some of the world’s finest wines. The breathtakingly beautiful landscape boasts incredible mountain scenery and numerous luxury wine farms laden with vineyards stretching across lush fertile valleys. Visitors can look forward to a variety of wonderful activities including: exploring a collection of historic little hamlets and towns dotting the countryside, sampling a wide selection of world-class wine at a historic Cape Dutch farmstead as well as many other wine estates; and enjoying a network of hiking and biking trails traversing the picturesque landscape. While the wine is undoubtedly the highlight of the region, visitors can also enjoy a meal at some of the country’s best restaurants offering delicious food and wine pairings.
A blend of historical architecture, student life, epicurean delights and oak-lined avenues, Stellenbosch is a picturesque university town surrounded by mountains and vineyards. A walking tour of the town centre allows visitors to take in its beautifully preserved Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture, as well as the many enticing art galleries, craft shops, clothing boutiques and gift stores, while foodies may prefer indulging in mouth-watering cuisine and fine wines at one of the chic restaurants or buzzing bistros. Stellenbosch is also the ideal base from which to explore the renowned local wine route, boasting a high proportion of the country’s leading wine estates.
Idyllically situated in the Cape Winelands, this peaceful country retreat is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. The once sleepy little village was named Franschhoek, meaning ‘French Corner’ as it was founded by French Huguenots. The fertile valley of Franschhoek boasts a rich heritage showcased at the fascinating Huguenot Memorial Museum and the Cape Dutch architecture in much of the village remains remarkably well preserved. The town’s proximity to Cape Town allows for pleasant day trips during which visitors can explore the area’s many world-class wine estates and impressive range of excellent restaurants or simply browse the quaint, upmarket boutiques strewn along the town’s lovely tree-lined avenues.
Situated just 140 kilometres from Cape Town and built between the beautiful shores and cliffs of Walker Bay, Hermanus has grown from a small seaside resort town to become possibly the best-known place for whale watching in the world. This town is also famed for its natural scenic beauty, long stretches of pristine beaches and excellent variety of restaurants, cafes and bars. Today, Hermanus is more than just a popular holiday destination and offers visitors all kinds of activities, both energetic and relaxing. Visitors can explore the Old Harbour Museum, which is comprised of the charming fisherman’s village, the old harbour, and the Whale House Museum; hike through the nearby Fernkloof Nature Reserve and sample an array of top-quality wine along the famed Hermanus Wine Route.
Perfectly situated at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, the quaint heritage town of Swellendam is South Africa’s third-oldest town. It is Idyllically positioned in the scenic Overberg area and serves as an excellent base from which to explore the magnificent surrounding landscape including the Little Karoo in the hinterland. The streets are lined with beautifully restored Cape Dutch buildings dating back to 1745. Visitors can explore the Dutch Reformed Church and Drostdy Museum complex, visit the surrounding nature reserves and enjoy the local farm stalls selling an array of locally produced jams, liqueurs and baked goods. Other popular activities include: hiking, kayaking, camping, game viewing, horse riding, and star gazing.
Meandering from the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town to the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, through a series of fascinating small towns and breathtaking scenery, Route 62 is the longest Wine Route in the world. Lush greenery and fertile valleys form a stark contrast against the semi-desert of the Klein Karoo while towering mountains and their rivers and streams provide an awe-inspiring backdrop throughout. Some of the renowned attractions visitors will spot as they follow the route are the Winelands of the Breede River Valley, the majestic Swartberg Mountains, the Cango Caves and ostrich farms of Oudtshoorn, and the fruit orchards of the Langkloof Valley.
Located along the well-known Route 62 in South Africa’s beautiful Klein Karoo, the charming town of Oudtshoorn is known as the ostrich capital of the world. It is surrounded by numerous ostrich farms and the golden arid landscape of the Karoo. Visitors can enjoy the locally produced wine and port; sample ostrich meat and biltong; learn about the ostrich feather boom at the C.P. Nel Museum; and visit the world-renowned Cango Caves, the largest cave system in Africa featuring ancient rock formations and sparkling stalactites and stalagmites. Other popular activities include: mountain biking, paragliding, horse riding, and taking a day trip to the quaint town of Prince Albert over the scenic Swartberg Pass.
Sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains and the glistening Indian Ocean, this lush 200-kilometre stretch of coastal plain between Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth provides one of the world’s most spectacular drives. Visitors typically base themselves at the heart of the Garden Route – either in Knysna, complete with its scenic lagoon; or neighbouring Plettenberg Bay, famous for its excellent beaches – and then spend a few days exploring countless surrounding attractions. Whether you are seeking pristine, uncrowded white-sand beaches, world-class golf courses, ancient forests, top-notch surf spots, extraordinary nature reserves, excellent hiking opportunities or exhilarating outdoor adventures such as bungee jumping or ziplining, the Garden Route has it all.
Sandwiched between the towering Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, Knysna is known as the ‘Garden of Eden’. It is surrounded by world-renowned forests, lovely lagoons and pristine beaches. Visitors can look forward to an array of markets offering delicious food and organic locally-made goods, explore the town’s picturesque waterfront and quaint streets, adventure through the lush forest, skip over streams and catch a glimpse of the multicoloured Knysna Loerie, take a ferry trip to the famed Knysna Heads and sample the local oysters. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of exciting activities including: surfing, swimming, yachting, jet skiing, boating, fishing, and golfing.
Set along the spectacularly scenic Garden Route in South Africa, the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay is a popular holiday destination. The Portuguese explorers called it the ‘Beautiful Bay’, and it’s easy to see why – Plettenberg Bay is a picturesque, charming town with endless pristine beaches, tranquil lagoons, clean rivers, indigenous forests and a dramatic rocky peninsula. Playground to the wealthy, beach mansions overlook the Indian Ocean, often dotted with luxury yachts, while leisure time is given over to polo and golf, among other things. However, all kinds of visitors will feel at peace here as simply swimming in the warm water on a safe beach is a great way to experience the beauty of Plettenberg Bay.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Situated along South Africa’s beautiful coast, the Tsitsikamma National Park is known for its ancient forest, pristine coastline and magnificent rivers. The Tsitsikamma National Park falls within the Garden Route National Park and encompasses a marine conservation belt which stretches five kilometres out into the ocean. It is home to diverse fauna and flora including over 9000 species of indigenous fynbos. Visitors can look forward to hiking to the Big Tree, an ancient yellowwood; and going on an exhilarating kayaking trip at Storms River Mouth, as well as a number of other activities including: cycling, swimming, zip lining, camping, snorkelling, diving, mountain biking, and sailing.
The South African province of Gauteng – the place of gold – is home to one of Africa’s most vibrant cities and sub-Saharan Africa’s economic capital Johannesburg, South Africa’s capital Pretoria, vibrant Soweto, the Magaliesberg Mountains and the World Heritage-listed Cradle of Humankind. While it is the smallest of South Africa’s provinces, it serves as the economic powerhouse of the country. Gauteng is known for its multicultural mix of people, eclectic heritage, and bustling jacaranda-lined cities fringed by scenic natural landscapes. Visitors can enjoy ample nature trailing and hiking opportunities, discover South Africa’s most famous township and explore the origins of humankind.
Johannesburg is one of Africa’s biggest and most vibrant cities. It is the economic capital of Africa and the gateway to Southern Africa. Although not as famous as other South African destinations, there is plenty to do in Johannesburg and nearby Pretoria. The old city is a multi-cultural mixture of traditional medicine shops, Chinese restaurants, taxi ranks and ultra-modern skyscrapers. There are excellent museums, art galleries and organised tours of historical and political interest. The shopping is Southern Africa’s best and the many restaurants cater for all tastes. The nearby township of Soweto is Johannesburg’s most popular tourist attraction.
The cosmopolitan city of Pretoria, also known as ‘Tshwane’, is situated in the province of Gauteng and functions as one of three capitals of South Africa. Pretoria has been dubbed ‘The Jacaranda City’, which is owed to the annual bloom of magnificent purple blossoms that adorn the Jacaranda trees which line the wide avenues of the city. This cosmopolitan city boasts several historic monuments, fine government buildings, and fascinating museums. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of interesting sites including: The Transvaal Museum, a natural history museum showcasing an ancient dinosaur fossil found at the nearby Cradle of Humankind; the Pretoria Botanical Gardens, offering visitors a glimpse of different biomes; and the Voortrekker Monument, a National Heritage Site. Don’t miss the nearby Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary as well as the beautiful Wonderboom and Groenkloof Nature Reserves.
Bordering Johannesburg’s mining belt, Soweto is a township of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng, South Africa. The name Soweto is an acronym for ‘South Western Township’. This township was developed for black South African’s during the apartheid system. Today, it has evolved into a place of pride and social prestige, filled to the brim with vibrant culture and incredible history. Must-see sites include: Kliptown, the Hector Petersen Memorial and Museum, and the former home of President Nelson Mandela. Visitors can explore the bustling Vilakazi Street, sample local cuisine at one of the many traditional restaurants and enjoy a South African beer at a local shebeen. Thrillseekers can look forward to the Orlando Towers bungee jump, and Thespians can catch a show at the Soweto Theatre.
Kwa Zulu Natal Game Reserves
Scattered across the undulating plains of KwaZulu Natal, a wonderful array of game reserves can be explored. These magnificent parks are renowned for their dramatic hilly countryside, diversity of flora and fauna, high standards of conservation and their invaluable contribution to protecting endangered species, including the white rhino, from extinction. It is possible to see the famous ‘Big Five’ animals, as well as a variety of other animals. The area is a bird watcher’s paradise, with the Mkhuze Game Reserve alone home to 420 different species of birds, and species like the Pel’s Fishing-Owl and Pink-throated Twinspot making special appearances. Visitors can enjoy a host of activities including day and night game drives, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, hiking and guided walks. Many of the parks include stunning beaches, which feature turquoise, warm Indian Ocean waters and soft white sands.
The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is the jewel in the crown of the KwaZulu Natal game reserves. Proclaimed in 1895, it is also the oldest game reserve in Africa. Initially two separate reserves, they were joined to create a single 94 000 hectare reserve which is home to one-fifth of the world’s black and white rhino population. It was here that the internationally acclaimed Operation Rhino started in the 1960s, successfully capturing and relocating white rhino to havens within South Africa and abroad. The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park was the first reserve to introduce walking safaris and its Wilderness Trails are internationally renowned. Visitors can also look forward to visiting a traditional Zulu village, enjoying a horse riding safari, and spotting the world renowned Big Five as well as a wide variety of bird species.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
iSimangaliso means miracle, or the greatest thing you will ever see. You won’t be let down when you first glance at the amazing ecosystems of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Centred around the Lake St Lucia lagoon system, Isimangaliso was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999. The Park includes the lake, beaches, grasslands, dune forests and marine reserve. It is home to an exceptional biodiversity featuring over 500 bird species. It is the largest estuarine system in Africa and includes the southernmost extension of coral reefs. Among its attractions are the world’s highest forested sand dunes, large numbers of nesting turtles, whales, dolphins, whale sharks and huge numbers of waterfowl including large breeding colonies of pelicans. In recent years, buffalo and elephant have been reintroduced onto the eastern shores of the lake.
Located on Kwa-Zulu Natal’s coast within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Sodwana Bay is known primarily as a top diving destination. The Southern Coral Reef is the only tropical dive site in South Africa and one of the few places in the world where dive sites are reached by weaving a path through breaking waves. Divers can enjoy warm water; deserted beaches; exciting coral reefs; and a great diversity of seascapes, marine life and spectacular night dives. In summer, loggerhead and leatherback turtles can be seen nesting on the beaches, and dolphins, manta rays, whales, and black, blue and striped marlin are prevalent here. Other popular activities include: boating, angling, fishing, whale watching, snorkelling and canoeing. For those who prefer staying on land, there is still plenty on offer in the form of nature walking, and bird watching.
Encircled by the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, St Lucia lies on the magnificent St Lucia Estuary which is one of the largest in Africa stretching over 85 kilometres. It features abundant wildlife, pristine natural beauty, and a wide range of wonderful activities. This haven of tranquillity offers a variety of activities including excellent mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and deep-sea fishing. Visitors can also look forward to thrilling night drive safaris, hippo and crocodile cruises, and many comfortable accommodation options.
Extending along the spectacularly scenic northern coast of KwaZulu Natal to the border of beautiful Mozambique, Zululand is known for its wild landscapes, traditional cultural heritage and an array of protected game and nature reserves. This breathtaking natural landscape features magnificent beaches, mangrove swamps, unspoilt estuaries, rivers, lakes and rolling grasslands scattered with indigenous forest and scrublands. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities including: visiting Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, world-renowned for its rhino conservation; exploring Ithala Game Reserve, inhabited by abundant wildlife and rare bird species; as well as spending a day at Shakaland, a film location that has been transformed into Zululand’s tourist epicentre featuring the best of the Zulu culture.
Dubbed the ‘Dolphin Coast’, the KwaZulu Natal North Coast is known for its abundant population of bottlenose dolphins that surf in the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean. The Dolphin Coast is one of the province’s main attractions offering a rich cultural heritage, excellent fishing, and spectacular golden beaches fringed by fields of sugarcane interrupted by pretty coastal holiday towns. This exceptionally scenic coastline stretches north from the metropolis of Durban, passed well-developed beach resorts and golf courses to more remote areas featuring long stretches of unspoilt beaches, wetlands and lake systems. Visitors can enjoy the sunshine-filled days with a fantastic array of activities including: swimming in tidal pools, surfing incredible waves, lazing on beaches all day; or taking a guided walk through the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve.
Stretching from Amanzimtoti to Port Edward, South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal South Coast is all about stunning beaches, excellent fishing and fantastic golf locations. Well-developed resort towns dot this lush coastline and cater to every need from diving to dining, with top-notch golf courses often forming the basis of holidays to the area. Animal lovers flock to the Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary, home to 150 bird species including Giant Kingfisher and Hamerkop. Adventure sport enthusiasts can take a brave leap at the Oribi Gorge’s Wild Gorge Swing, the highest swing in the world, equivalent to a 55 storey building. The KwaZulu Natal South Coast offers visitors an endless summer with a variety of activities including excellent swimming, snorkelling, hiking, birdwatching, dolphin spotting and viewing the annual sardine run.
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains
Located in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains fall within the eponymous park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its exceptional natural beauty featuring soaring mountains, hidden caves, dramatic rock formations, and sandstone embankments all blanketed by lush greenery. Visitors can spot an array of endemic species that thrive in the Drakensberg’s diverse habitats including many endangered plant and bird species, discover the most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa and soak up spectacular views of the magnificent Tugela Falls, the highest waterfall on the continent. Other popular activities include: hiking, bird watching, 4×4 excursions up Sani Pass, kayaking, hot air ballooning, and horse riding.
The friendly farming town of Underberg lies at the feet of the mighty Drakensberg Mountains, in Kwa-Zulu-Natal’s Southern Drakensberg region. Surrounded by verdant swathes of green hills and plains, pretty mountain streams, and dramatic peaks, this is a popular destination among hikers, mountain bikers and photographers. There are also three pristine golf courses on offer. Underberg lies on the Sani Pass, also known as the ‘roof of Africa’, an incredible network of hikes winding into Lesotho from the Drakensberg Mountains (where thirsty travellers can also enjoy a drink at the highest pub in Africa). Arts and crafts enthusiasts will delight in the charming Underberg Pottery Studio and the quirky Funky Cow shop, where they can buy traditional Basotho blankets and souvenirs.
Royal Natal National Park
The Royal Natal National Park is home to one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most spectacular attractions – The Amphitheatre. Forming the boundary between South Africa and Lesotho, The Amphitheatre is a striking escarpment topped by a flat plateau. The Tugela Falls plunge over the edge of the escarpment, plummeting down approximately 1000 metres to the Royal Natal National Park below. A fantastic network of hiking trails meander through every part of the park, and range in difficulty from the leisurely Fairy Glen walk to the challenging hike up the Crack and down the Mudslide. Horse riding is another popular activity, as well as trout fishing in the dam, Mahai and Thukela rivers. There are many picturesque spots perfect for picnicking and swimming. There are also guided climbs against the dramatic rock faces available.
KwaZulu Natal, also known as KZN, is steeped in history and littered with battlefields from the struggles of the Zulu Civil Wars, to their clashes with the Boers and the British. This picturesque area features sweeping views of rolling hills scattered with rugged rock formations. The most well-known and well-visited sites are those of the legendary Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Visitors can also explore the famous Anglo-Boer War fields of Spioenkop, Colenso and the Siege of Ladysmith, which drew characters like Winston Churchill, Louis Botha and Mahatma Gandhi onto the same stage.
Divided by the Drakensberg Escarpment, Mpumalanga – meaning ‘where the sun rises’ – is a province in eastern South Africa. Known as the Highveld, Mpumalanga’s western region features grassland, with the eastern ‘Lowveld’ region mostly comprised of savanna. Popular tourist attractions include the Sabi-Sand Game Reserve, known for its amazing leopard sightings and the Kruger National Park, home to the renowned Big Five. Visitors can also look forward to a wide selection of wonderful activities such as excellent wildlife viewing, white water rafting down the Sabie River, and visiting the iconic Blyde River Canyon, one of the world’s largest and greenest canyons. Other popular activities include: camping, bird watching, hiking, swimming, abseiling, canyoning, fishing and guided nature walks.
Connecting the Lowveld and the spectacular Drakensberg, sandwiched between the Kruger National Park and the Highlands Meander, the historical Panorama Route is a scenic road in the Mpumalanga Province. The route features sensational views of breath taking natural wonders, fascinating rock formations, impressive waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and a myriad of fauna and flora. The quaint little town of Graskop serves as the gateway to this wonderful route. Panorama’s undoubtable highlight is the verdant splendour of Blyde River Canyon, one of the world’s largest green canyons featuring lush subtropical vegetation. Some other popular natural attractions along the route include: the spectacular Lisbon, Berlin, and Mac Mac Falls, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels and the astonishing God’s Window. Don’t miss the world-famous Kruger National Park and the picturesque gold rush town of Pilgrim’s Rest, a historic living museum.
Surrounded by subtropical fruit orchards, Hazyview is a small farming town and a gateway to the southern part of the Kruger National Park and the Panorama Escarpment. The town and its spectacularly scenic surroundings serve as a popular adventure capital with a remarkable array of exhilarating outdoor activities on offer to suit all ages, tastes and fitness levels. These include, among others: mountain biking, quad biking, ziplining, tubing, abseiling, and river rafting. Whether you are eager to hike the Panorama Route with its breathtaking views and impressive waterfalls, visit the Shangana Cultural Village, or horse ride along the banks of the magnificent Sabie River, Hazyview has something for just about everyone.
Perched on the edged of the Drakensberg escarpment, the little forestry town of Graskop, meaning ‘Grassy Hill’ is set in the heart of Mpumalanga’s Panorama Tourist Route in northern South Africa. Once a gold mining camp, today it serves as a thriving tourist stopover and base from which to explore the countless natural wonders of the surrounding area. Highlights include: the famous Kruger National Park, the world-renowned Blyde River Canyon, Pilgrims rest, the unique formations of Bourkes Luck Potholes and the three rondavels. Some spectacular waterfalls to view are: Mac Mac Falls, Motitsi Waterfall, Lisbon Falls and the Berlyn Falls. Other popular activities include: descending into the Graskop Gorge on the Graskop Gorge Lift and enjoying a pancake at the ‘Pancake capital of South Africa’.
Situated in a valley on the escarpment of the Drakensberg, overlooking the Sabie River, Sabie is a quaint, country town surrounded by stunning natural scenery, such as cascading waterfalls and tranquil mountain streams. It is the centre of the local timber industry and home to the statues of the famous dog, Jock of the Bushveld.
KRUGER PRIVATE GAME RESERVES
Scattered along the unfenced western boundary of the world-renowned Kruger National Park, private game reserves combine with the Kruger to establish one of the world’s largest game reserves. This incredible destination offers visitors excellent Big Five game viewing opportunities and an array of luxury safari accommodation complete with world-class cuisine, relaxing spas and private pools. Visitors can look forward to fascinating night-drive safaris, guided nature walks, and open-top safari adventures. Some of these prestigious private reserves include: Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, and Timbavati Private Game Reserve, to name a few.
Kapama Private Game Reserve
Stretching across 13 000 hectares, towards the Kruger area in South Africa, Kapama Private Game Reserve provides an authentic African safari experience. The reserve provides a range of stylish accommodation across refined lodges and bush camps. Offering a wide range of options, from a traditional African safari camp to top-notch luxury suites. Kapama is home to the Big Five and is known for its diverse wildlife experiences which can be enjoyed on one of many game drives offering fascinating encounters with plentiful wildlife. Visitors can look forward to a variety of wonderful activities including: excellent game viewing, enjoying a relaxing spa experience and stargazing after a lamp-lit dinner under the African night sky.
Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve
Adjacent to the Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is a private premier game viewing destination. It was the first-ever private nature reserve established in South Africa. The landscape features 65 000 hectares of savannah-covered land interspersed with watering holes, dry river beds, Lowveld woodlands, and the perennial Sabi and Sand rivers. This spectacular reserve offers exceptional game viewing opportunities with frequent sightings of the renowned Big Five as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe, and a variety of antelope. Visitors can enjoy excellent wildlife viewing, dining under the stars, guided bush walks and enjoying a stay in some of South Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges.
Thornybush Game Reserve
Neighbouring the Timbavati Game Reserve near South Africa’s northeastern border, the Thornybush Game Reserve boasts over 12 000 hectares of pristine wilderness. Lying adjacent to the world-renowned Kruger National Park, Thornybush is home to the Big Five and an array of other African wildlife. The landscape is characterised by open savannah and woodlands interspersed with shrublands and thorny scrub. Visitors have a wonderful choice of upmarket accommodation to choose from and can look forward to an array of activities including: enjoying day and night safaris offering excellent game viewing opportunities, luxury spa pampering, and sampling delicious cuisine.
Klaserie Private Game Reserve
Situated on the northeastern edge of South Africa, Klaserie Private Game Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. It is one of the largest privately owned reserves in the country comprising 60 000 hectares of seemingly endless plains of unspoilt African bushveld. This scenic wilderness sanctuary is home to the renowned ‘Big Five’ as well as an impressive array of wildlife including: African elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, African wild dog, lion, leopard, and an abundance of buck. Visitors can look forward to enjoying a variety of outdoor activities such as guided walking safaris, game drives, and thrilling wildlife tracking excursions. The reserve is known for its incredible birdlife boasting over 500 species including the endangered Southern ground hornbill and the white-backed vulture.
Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Located in the Mpumalanga Province, north of the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve shares a fenceless border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. This 60 000 hectare reserve is best known for its two very rare white lions that were discovered here in the 1970s. The name ‘Timbavati’ refers to these two unique creatures, it means ‘the place where something sacred came down to earth from the heavens’. It is home to a number of exclusive African-style bush lodges set amidst spectacular African savannah and abundant game including over 40 mammal species, 360 bird species and the famous Big Five. Visitors can enjoy a wide selection of activities including: daytime safaris, night game drives, guided bush walks, and bird watching.
Balule Private Game Reserve
Situated in the Limpopo Province and forming part of the Greater Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, the Balule Private Game Reserve is known for its abundant free-roaming wildlife, fascinating birdlife and is home to the renowned Big Five, which includes lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard. While the big game is the undoubtable highlight of the reserve, visitors can also look forward to spotting an array of other African wildlife such as a variety of buck, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and over 250 bird species living amongst the savannah, riverine forest and wooded mountains. Other popular activities include: boating down the Olifants River on an exciting water safari, visiting a cultural village, or horse riding, white water rafting and hot air ballooning through this spectacular landscape.
Makalali Private Game Reserve
Situated in the Lowveld region of Limpopo, the Makalali Private Game Reserve – also known as the Makalali Conservancy – covers over 22 000 hectares of pristine African bushveld stretching across a series of rolling hills. Makalali, meaning ‘Place of Rest’ in Shangaan aims to create a sanctuary for the diversity of fauna and flora in the area and re-establish the ancient wildlife corridor that connects the Drakensberg Mountains with the Kruger National Park. It is home to the infamous Big Five which includes lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. Visitors can look forward to soaking up magnificent views, spotting an abundance of wildlife and enjoying magical African sunsets. Don’t miss the opportunity to jump on a thrilling safari through the African bush. Other commonly spotted species include: cheetah, kudu, giraffe, and zebra.
Kruger National Park
Stretching over more than two million hectares, the Kruger National Park is one of the world’s largest game reserves and a truly remarkable destination. Owing to its exceptional size, visitors are able to experience fantastic diversity – from changing scenery and ecosystems to an impressive array of animals, plant life and birdlife. The park is home to over 130 mammals and over 500 bird species. Visitors can look forward to learning about the area’s prehistoric past, enjoying a host of accommodation options, and viewing abundant wildlife including the famed Big Five. The diversity sheer density of wildlife makes Kruger National Park an unforgettable and potentially life-changing experience.
A few recommended Malaria Free Game Reserves in South Africa
Welgevonden Game Reserve
Situated in the Waterberg District of South Africa’s Limpopo Province, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve stretches over 36 000 hectares of mountainous terrain cut by deep valleys. It is home to the world-renowned Big Five, one of the largest populations of white rhino on a private reserve in Africa, abundant antelope, over 250 bird species, and several rare wildlife species. Tourists can enjoy an exclusive, peaceful experience with only a limited number of guests allowed in at one time. This malaria-free reserve forms part of the UNESCO-listed Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and is dotted with a number of luxurious private game lodges. Other commonly spotted species include: elephants, buffalo, giraffe, and warthog.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Bordering Botswana in South Africa’s North West Province, the lesser-known Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth largest reserve in South Africa. It is home to a wild dog reserve, abundant wildlife including the world-renowned Big Five and over 300 bird species such as vulture, ostrich and the large kori bustard. The landscape is characterised by vast grasslands, woodlands, and the rugged Tshwene Tshwene hills sheltering a host of wildlife. Visitors can look forward to sunset drinks overlooking the Madikwe Dam, ample game viewing opportunities and a variety of accommodation options ranging from community lodges to luxury safari lodges in a malaria-free zone.
Pilanesberg National Park
Located northwest of Johannesburg, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve lies inside a 1300 million-year-old extinct volcanic complex and offers a wide variety of beautiful landscapes featuring grasslands, wooded valleys and unique rock formations. Pilanesberg is home to a great diversity of plants and animals including the Big Five and over 360 species of bird. It has some great game drives for both day-trippers and visitors staying in the various camps. Those looking to mix a little glitz and glamour with their wildlife viewing, South Africa’s leading resort, Sun City, is only minutes away.
Amakhala Game Reserve
Located between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown and just east of the Addo Elephant Park, the Amakhala Game Reserve is an ideal choice for Big Five Safaris. Featuring spectacular topography created by the Bushman’s River, the reserve is home to a huge array of animal species – besides the big five, visitors can also spot cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, plenty of antelope species, and many other smaller interesting animals. Amakhala also boasts fantastic bird watching opportunities, and idyllic boat cruises offer a delightful way to experience this. Other highlights include a variety of fantastic game drives, guided walks, and horse trails. Just outside the park, there are plenty of attractions to discover, including the Amakhala Craft Centre, and the Bushman Sands Golf Course and Health Spa.