Well-designed infrastructure makes nature tourism especially appealing in South Africa. One can access all manner of natural wonders thanks to hiking trails geared toward all fitness levels. Popular routes include a trek to the Amphitheatre rock formation in the Drakensberg Mountains; and to the whirlpool holes in Blyde River Canyon (sometimes referred to as "Bourke's Luck Potholes" after an adventurer who found gold here).
South Africa boasts more than 1,800 miles of coastline. In some places, its rugged and spectacular shores are better for viewing than swimming; in others, the dreamy sands and idyllic lagoons line up like pearls on a necklace. On the mild east coast, a paradise for water sports enthusiasts awaits. Beginning in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province and ending in Mossel Bay to the west, the 137-mile Garden Route offers incredible views of the sea and hinterland. As the road’s name implies, you’ll see verdant and abundant plant life — including vast areas of rain forest — all along the way. It's also home to South Africa's oldest trees: Yellowwoods, which can live up to 800 years.
Landscapes to Love
Urban & Intriguing
Evidence of the country's layered history can be seen not only in the juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers and Victorian buildings in its major cities, but also in the archives of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg or the District Six Museum in Cape Town. In Johannesburg's Fashion District, young designers produce and sell fashions in a fetching array of vibrant colors and patterns you can only find here.
This cultural fusion offers eye-opening opportunities and experiences for every visitor — and the chance to support local economies. In townships like Khayelitsha and Langa in Cape Town; and the famous Soweto in Johannesburg, tourists from all over the world frequent small restaurants and street food outlets. These start-ups are livelihoods for many of the local people. As visitors indulge in authentic South African plates filled with beef stew, spinach and polenta; or oxtail, steak and tripe, they get a taste for the local flavors while directly giving back to their cultural hosts.
The boulders around the Cape of Good Hope's beaches are strewn as though by a giant playing marbles. At Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of the continent, cool Atlantic waters meet the bath-water-warmth of the Indian Ocean, resulting in a just-right marine microclimate that attracts seals and penguins in droves.
South Africa's unique flair is also shaped by its warm-hearted people. The "Rainbow Nation" boasts a wide array of nationalities and cultures, and has continued to meld since the end of apartheid in the '90s.
Endlose Strände, atemberaubende Berge und eine exotische Tierwelt, dazu die bunt-beschwingte Kulturszene der Metropolen Kapstadt und Johannesburg: Südafrika ist eines der faszinierendsten Reiseziele der Welt. Unvergessliche Erlebnisse und unzählige Highlights bringen Sie immer wieder zum Staunen. Kaum ein anderer Fleck der Erde bietet diese Vielfalt – von den Pinguinen am Kap der Guten Hoffnung bis zum Löwenrudel im Krüger Nationalpark, vom Prachtbau längst vergangener Kolonialzeiten zum aufregenden Lifestyle der Gegenwart.
Das Land am Kap ist mehr als dreimal so groß wie Deutschland, aber deutlich dünner besiedelt. Da bleibt viel Raum für Entdeckungen, Abenteuer und das Genießen nahezu unberührter Natur. Wo sonst auf der Welt liegt die Buschlandschaft mit ihrer exotischen Tierwelt voller Löwen, Büffel und Elefanten so nahe am Hochgebirge mit bizarren Schluchten, mächtigen Wasserfällen und tiefem Wald als in Südafrika? Wo sonst ziehen die Giganten der Meere, große Wale und Weiße Haie, zahlreicher ihre Bahnen als in den Gewässern vor der Küste des Landes?
View All South Africa Offers
KrUger National park
This is a place where getting up early truly is worthwhile. Tours begin at 5 a.m. daily, offering up-close views of animals you can otherwise encounter only at the zoo. The famous "Big Five" — lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and leopards — can be admired in the wild at this sprawling national park. At times, the slopes and roads become zebra crossings in the literal sense; and giraffes lower their long necks to greet safari vehicles. This wildlife haven is a must-do on any South Africa itinerary.
A metropolis steeped in history: The struggle against the end of Apartheid began in South Africa's largest city. That's why a tour of the township of Soweto — including a visit to Nelson Mandela's former home and a visit to the Apartheid Museum — is a must while you're in town. Head out into "Joburg" (as it's affectionately known) to explore the city's culinary scene and chic boutique shops. You'll be traveling a long-inhabited region: a 3.6-million-year-old skeleton belonging to a human ancestor was uncovered close to Johannesburg.
Set against a dramatic high mountain backdrop, five cascading gushes that constitute South Africa's highest waterfall plunge 3,110 feet into the depths. "Amphitheatre" is the name of this section of the Drakensberg Mountains, where towering rock walls in heights of up to half a mile form a magnificent, nature-made semicircle. Both of these marvels are part of Royal Natal National Park, whose network of well-maintained hiking trails is open to visitors year-round.
the CApetown Region
The "mother city" of South Africa often tops lists of the most beautiful cities in the world, and it's little wonder. The majestic Table Mountain — a must-see phenomenon — creates an unreal backdrop, and the streets are lit up with the vibrance and diversity of the Rainbow Nation. Gorgeous beaches, world-class wineries and the legendary, often windswept Cape of Good Hope are all in easy reach. Once the site of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment, Robben Island is now accessible to the public by ferry ride and serves as a historical museum.
The Big Hole
How deep is man's hunger for diamonds? The answer lies at the bottom of the "Big Hole." At half a mile deep and a quarter mile wide, the Kimberley Mine was excavated as a hunting ground for diamonds over the course of 40 years. Nearly 6,000 pounds – or 14.5 million carats – of diamonds were mined there until 1914, and unimaginable wealth generated. Today, the largest man-made hole has become a tourist attraction, and the region's diamond mining efforts have moved elsewhere.
The country's most famous road runs for about 136 miles along the south coast of the country, snaking between beaches set on the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua and Tstsikamma Mountains. Adventurous types will want to stop in Mossel Bay for the chance to dive in a cage surrounded by great white sharks. Plettenberg Bay is also a must-see, as visitors can spot whales and seals off the coast, especially in the colder months. Knysna, with its ancient forests, scenic lagoon and cosmopolitan vibe, is another popular stop along the route.
Bizarre rock formations rise from the depths of the gorge. Waterfalls rush downhill. Over millennia, the Blyde River has carved its deep groove into the northern Drakensberg Mountains. The canyon is one of the most impressive landscapes in South Africa; and the road that runs through the area offers some of the world's most stunning vistas. On your descent, you'll cross through several ecosystems, including grassland, subtropical rain forest and riparian forest.
There's much to learn in this dynamic country — its local delicacies, famous citizens and intriguing geography, just for starters. Are you ready for a trip to South Africa? Test your knowledge with our quiz.
Think you know South Africa?
The red-tinged, undulating sands of the Kalahari desert comprise an otherworldly environment that must be seen to be believed, and visitors can get an up-close view via tours that cover everything from desert camping to helicopter rides. In the far north, South Africa and Botswana share the cross-border Kgalagadi National Park. The area, which is slightly larger than the state of Maryland, avoids the use of fences so that the animals are unhindered in their natural movements. Each evening, the setting sun bathes the dunes in warm light before the horizon gives way to a sea of stars.
While South Africa’s terra firma is home to the world's largest land mammals, the waters around the cape host behemoth marine animals. Intrepid adventurers take to the water to meet great white sharks — ideally through the bars of the protective cages provided by numerous tour operators. Those who favor marine animal encounters of a calmer kind can whale watch from the shores of False Bay or Cape Agulhas on the southwestern coast. Southern right and humpback whales are best seen during South Africa’s winter months — between June and September — when they approach the coast to calve, feed and delight their human fans. As an added bonus, onlookers are likely to spy spectacled penguins and colonies of seals frolicking on the beaches and rocks.
To protect its bountiful wildlife, the country began establishing national parks across large areas of land starting in the 1930s. Covering 7,500 square miles, the largest protected area is Kruger National Park, where travelers eagerly pursue the chance to capture — on camera, that is — lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes and hippos. Don’t blink, or you might miss the springbok at Kgalagdi Transfrontier National Park on the border with Botswana — the animal that can accelerate to a 40-mile-per-hour sprint in a matter of seconds. These and 17 other national parks offer visitors a well-maintained network of routes, hiking trails and accommodations.
The sheer volume of animal life in South Africa is staggering. The country is home to more than 300 different mammal species and more than 500 bird species. In addition, there are myriad reptiles and insects – 670 different butterfly species, for example.
Breathtaking nature, majestic animal life, fascinating cities and singular atmosphere – South Africa is full of remarkable highlights. Click on this map's seven symbols to learn more.
The Whole World in One Country
In collaboration with:
Stunning beaches, breathtaking mountains and intriguing wildlife are just a few of the features that make South Africa one of the most fascinating destinations in the world. Add to this the vibrant cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, and you’re in for a trip filled with unforgettable experiences.
No other part of the world offers sights this diverse — from the penguins at the Cape of Good Hope, to the lions in Kruger National Park; and from architectural remnants of colonial times to today’s buzzing modern towns — there’s something new to see at every turn.
Amid South Africa’s 471,400 square miles, you’ll find plenty of room for discovery, adventure and basking in unspoiled nature. In this singular place, you’ll find savanna and its resident lions, buffaloes and elephants steps away from towering mountains, jaw-dropping gorges, mighty waterfalls and lush forests. And a trip to the coast will reveal more of nature’s majesty, in the form of crashing waves, numerous whale species, great white sharks and double-crested cormorants, among other native birds.
The whole world in one country
View All South Africa Offers
Ready to go?
Find more inspiration and itineraries on the
South Africa Tourism website.
Ready to go?
Find more inspiration and itineraries on the
South Africa Tourism website.