Located as far south on the African continent as you can get, South Africa often tops many a bucket list. Cradled by the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, let Cabeau help you explore what to do in South Africa as we take you on a tour through a geographical terrain like no other.
Our South Africa itinerary takes you from the cosmopolitan views of Cape Town through the isolation of private nature reserves, and back into the city life of Johannesburg. South Africa offers an enticing clash of civilization and culture alongside peaceful vistas and safari scenes. Grab your binoculars: you’re in for the wildest ride of your life!
Tip 1: Focus on Geography: Visit Cape Town & Surrounding Areas
The best way to explore what to do in South Africa is through a geographical lens. So, begin your stay in Cape Town for a taste of the stunning coastal and mountain views that await. The country’s legislative capital is cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse. Leave at least two or three days to see all the stunning views and capes surrounding the city. Take your pick from this list, or see it all!
Urban Life: We recommend planning a stay in one of the hotels near the heart of the city’s historic center. One of our top South Africa travel tips for staying in Cape Town: find a room with a view. Request a view of Table Mountain. Then, hop on the cable car and see the city from the top down.
Capes: There are many capes boasting the best views but our top vote is for the authentically (and least crowded) southernmost point of the country/continent. Cape Agulhas cradles the geographical divide between the Atlantic and Indian oceans and offers stunning ocean views. A full day private tour gives you enough time to explore the cape, located just a few hours away. If you have more time, hit up a restaurant or pub in the area and chat with some true locals.
Coastal Peninsulas: Next, onto even more great views as you spend another day on the nearby Cape Peninsula. A driving tour along the coast can be self-guided or with a group. Either way, you’re sure to see why this is one of the best scenic driving tours in the world. Between lighthouses, penguins, whales and seal colonies, it’s hard to know what to do first. In South Africa, you can build your itinerary around your interests.
Now that you’ve taken in some stunning views, slow down a little and ponder the past – but don’t forget your camera!
Tip 2: Know the History of South Africa: Cape Town and Beyond
While you’re still in Cape Town, leave at least a day to explore historical areas and monuments dedicated to the public education of apartheid. Here are a few sights that will help you ponder the closeness of historical events that changed the country of South Africa forever.
Historical Robben Island: Visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners spent decades behind bars. A 45-minute bus tour offers an informative overview of the daily life of prisoners.
District Six Museum: Follow up your trip to the island with a visit to the District Six Museum, which serves as a memorial to victims of apartheid. One of our top South Africa travel tips: If you want a guided tour, make sure you book this one in advance.
Now you’re ready to travel beyond Cape Town, but what to do next? In South Africa, anything goes, but let us make one classy recommendation while you’re visiting this great area.
Tip 3: Sample South Africa’s Great Wine
You’ve probably had a typical bottle of South African table wine at some point if you dine out or imbibe casually. But to truly taste the freshly-produced wine of the region, seek out major wine-producing areas located not far from vibrant Cape Town. Let the next stage of your journey include taking in the history of South Africa at Stellenbosch.
Stellenbosch: When you’re making a list of what to do in South Africa, plan to spend a day or two overnight in Stellenbosch, the country’s second-oldest town. Once again, our South Africa travel tips prioritize always getting a room with a view – but this time, aim for an estate view with a pool or spa. From here, you can tour freely as you sample some of the region’s best reds and whites. On the way, pause at the Afrikaans Language Monument for some Instagram-worthy panoramas. Walk along Dorp street among some of the oldest surviving buildings in South Africa.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect bottle of wine to pack in your suitcase, it’s finally time to move onto one of the main events: your safari adventure.
Tip 4: Now, Book a Guided Safari: But How?
You may already have a specific park or tour in mind, but you’ll notice that we’ve underlined the word guided in the above heading because you’ll want to have a professional from the area show you the ropes if you’re headed on safari for matters of safety.
What to do in South Africa for your safari tour leaves many a traveler stumped by all the choices available in the region. Some tours offer tents, some offer lodges. You can hike, ride or fly. Whatever tour you choose, bring Cabeau’s cozy Fold ‘n Go blanket for those cool nights, and let us share one of our best South Africa travel tips for safaris. Pick the specific area you want to see first, and then look at tours later. Kruger National Park is by far the best, but it covers a massive area, so let us help you narrow your options even more.
Timbavati Private Nature Preserve: Loop back to Cape Town from wine country, and catch a flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. For a discounted rate, look to book your flight and safari tour together. Timbavati Private Nature Preserve will offer many options for tours through a specific region of the park boasting sights of the “Big 5.” The more specific your area, the easier it is to tailor a safari tour to your personal preferences as you ponder what to do in South Africa next. Choose the tour and timeline that works for you.
After you’ve taken in safari scenes and incredible wild animals, it’s time to elevate this trip to new levels. Head 2000 meters above sea level to the young and bustling city of Johannesburg for the last leg of our South African journey.
Tip 5: Live it Large in “The City of Gold”
Johannesburg is dearly known as Joburg, Jozi or “The City of Gold,” the latter name is based on its historical roots as a mining town, founded in the midst of the gold rush in the late-1800s. Boasting some impressive claims, one of our best South Africa travel tips is to spend the last leg of your trip living it large in Joburg.
It’s earned the title of the world’s largest city not built on a coastline, boasts the largest man-made forest, and is the second-largest city (after Cairo) on the African continent. As you ponder what to do in South Africa next, you may be running out of time for your trip, but trust us – Johannesburg has some highlights you’ll want to squeeze in near the end of your itinerary.
Cradle of Humankind: Ponder the birth of humankind at this UNESCO World Heritage site, located just northwest of the city. View fossils and models of human ancestors and take in the most intact ancient remains found in South Africa.
The Apartheid Museum: A self-guided tour of the Apartheid Museum will take about two hours. A great follow-up to the District Six Museum in Cape Town, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg covers the time period up to the first democratic elections held only a few decades ago.
Constitution Hill: From the Apartheid Museum, visit the birthplace of South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Sitting on the Johannesburg Fort and one of the country’s notorious prisons, you’ll get a glimpse into the future of South Africa too.
Before you know it, you’ll be wondering what to do in South Africa on the sequel to this epic journey. Now that you’ve had a chance to explore our South Africa travel tips, don’t be surprised if this itinerary leaves you wanting to see even more.
Book your tickets and get ready for adventure! Before you leave, shop Cabeau online and pick up a comfy Evolution travel pillow for the long-haul flight. Pair it with a bundle for the ultimate journey and shop some comfort items that are sure to come in handy on safari too.