11 reasons why you have to visit South Africa
This article was produced in partnership with Tripzilla.
If you’ve always thought of South Africa as a far-fetched dream, it’s time to think again. Blessed with scenic landscapes, diverse wildlife, idyllic beaches and more – it’s no wonder South Africa is a mainstay on everyone’s bucket list.Apart from spotting Africa’s Big Five – the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros – there are so many other exotic activities to do that will certainly take your breath away.
1. Hike or take a cable car to the peak of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most iconic attractions. Voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2011, it promises spectacular sights like no other. Boasting a rich diversity of flora and fauna, keep your eyes peeled for rare sightings of the rooikat (caracal), mongooses, snakes, porcupines, tortoises and more. Set against swirling clouds or the occasional pristine blue sky, the majestic mountain overlooks the city of Cape Town, offering impressive panoramic views along the way up.
Image credit: Table Mountain
Although one can hike up to the peak, cableways are also available. Whichever route you decide to take, a million-dollar view atop the mountain awaits. After taking the cableway up, you can still do some walking by taking the three routes available — the Dassie Walk, the Agama Walk, and the Klipspringer Walk. Do keep a lookout for five dams located at the top which are ideal picnic spots!
Image credit: Table Mountain
For the adventurous and active ones, you’ll enjoy the hike up and down. Several routes include Platteklip Gorge, one of the most popular routes up the mountain which will take around two to three hours; or India Venster which requires more experience and physical stamina. On the other side of the mountain, the easiest route — Kasteelspoort — offers a comfortable hike along with a stunning view of Camps Bay.
2. Catch sight of adorable penguins at Boulders Beach
Want to witness a free-roaming colony of African penguins? Then head down to Boulders Beach! Famous for being home to a colony of more than 3,000 African penguins, watch them as they waddle around the beach or swim into the waters. A truly adorable sight, resist the temptation to approach them for a cuddle or you might become a victim to their sharp beaks!
The idyllic white sands and gentle waves create the perfect setting for a picnic at the beach as well. Filled with large boulders that help to break the rougher waves, you’ll find numerous rock pools in between the boulders where you can settle down for a good soak.
3. Go whale-watching from Hermanus Shore
Image credit: Rob Schleiffert
The fishing village of Hermanus has been recognised as one of the 12 best whale watching spots in the world, and there are many tours available to take you on a guided sea kayaking tour to get up close and personal to the giant beasts! The period between July and November is the best time to enjoy whale-watching here.
Hermanus is also one of the very few spots in the world where you can whale-watch from the coast and even from coastal restaurant windows. To get the best views, make your way down to Grotto, Siever’s Point or Dreunkrans to catch sight of the gentle giants. From beaches to cliffs, the town of Hermanus sure does provide many vantage points to catch breaching whales and a glimpse of their tails slapping the water!
4. Go shark-cave diving
Image credit: Cape Town Tourism
If South Africa had a national adventure sport, it would definitely be shark-cage diving. Did you know that 98 species of sharks (a quarter of the world’s total) inhabit the waters around South Africa, and 40 of these species call the waters surrounding Cape Town home? This exhilarating activity to meet the notorious Great White and its relatives is certainly something adrenaline-junkies wouldn’t want to miss!
Feel your heart race as you get up close and personal with these ferocious creatures, protected by a galvanised steel mesh cage. Don’t worry, there will be experienced dive masters who will guide you through every step of the experience. So, head down to the local fishing town of Gansbaai for this epic adventure you’ll never forget. Plus, gain bragging rights about this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
5. Go wine-tasting along the Constantia Wine Route
Image credit: The Constantia Wine Route
Leaving Cape Town without tasting any wine would be an injustice to your South African trip. Just a stone’s throw away from Cape Town city centre lies the Constantia Wine Route – where you’ll find nine wine farms that date back to the 1600s. The Constantia Wine Route boasts some of the best examples of Cape Dutch architecture, as well as resplendent views and lush greenery.
Head down to one of the valley’s nine wine estates for a wine-tasting session, complemented by a stunning landscape of rows of vineyards stretching into the horizon. Groot Constantia in particular, is South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate so it’s definitely worth a visit. Get your hands on award-winning wines from top class sauvignons to the world-famous Constantia dessert wine. With so much to discover in this region, it’d be a shame to miss out on taking the Constantia Wine Route.
1. Glamp out at Limpopo
Image credit: Village D’Afrique
Despite the allure of starry skies and bonding around bonfires, camping is not for all of us. But what if we told you that you could take pleasure in the perks of camping, without sacrificing comfort and luxury? Also known as glamping, this activity sees the harmonious combination of modern facilities coupled with the ruggedness of a camping environment.
For one of the best glamping experiences, hit up Village D’Afrique in the town of Bela-Bela, less than 2 hours away from Johannesburg city. Nestled in the Shakila game farm, these luxurious tents provide first-class amenities, such as bathtubs, king-sized beds and even private pools. Whenever you’re feeling adventurous during your comfortable stay, the variety of outdoor activities, such as horse riding and ziplining, are right at your doorstep. There’s no better way to marvel at the natural beauty of South Africa than through glamping!
Address: Village D'afrique De Nyl Zyn Oog, Shakila, De Nyl Zyn Oog, Between Modimolle And Bela Bela, 0510, Limpopo
2. Go on a safari adventure at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
Image credit: Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve
Less than an hour away from Johannesburg City lies the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. Can you believe that this vast nature reserve is an abode to more than 600 animals? Granted that it is pretty tough to beat the iconic Kruger National Park, we assure you that the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve comes a close second!
Image credit: Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve
Go on a guided walking tour, game drives, night safari and even self-drives to catch the park’s residents in action. Keep a lookout for endangered species and some of Africa’s Big Five, such as rhinoceroses, lions and buffalos too. There are also lion/cheetah/giraffe feeding sessions available, and cafes or restaurants where you can dine while overlooking pygmy hippo pools or feed giraffes from the deck!
Address: 520 Kromdraai Road, Kromdraai, Krugersdorp, 1739, South Africa
If you can’t wait to explore all these amazing places in South Africa, why not apply for a DBS Altitude Card? Enjoy 3 miles/S$1 spent on online flight & hotel transactions (capped at S$5,000 per month), 2 miles/S$1 spent overseas (in foreign currency), and 1.2 miles/S$1 spent locally.
And the best part? These miles don’t expire! You can take your time in redeeming them as and when you like. So whenever you spend, you’re actually saving up for your next trip! Sign up for DBS Altitude Card today.
3. Unfold the country’s past at the Apartheid Museum
Image credit: Apartheid Museum
Head down to the Apartheid Museum for an immersive experience in learning about the country's colonial history. The museum illustrates the rise and fall of the nation and educates visitors on institutionalised racism and social inequalities that still linger in parts of South Africa today.
Read bone-chilling stories and experience riveting multimedia exhibitions; such as a room with hanging nooses that represent the execution of 131 government rivals, as well as horrific videos of attacks during the apartheid. Even the entrance to the museum is separated by ‘whites only’ and ‘non-whites’ to provide a semblance of what life was like during the era of apartheid. You will also learn about the cruel implementation of the apartheid system on African soil, the struggles against it and the nation’s independence brought by Nelson Mandela. A truly enriching experience awaits you here.
Address: Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
4. Experience Africa’s tribal lifestyles at Lesedi Cultural Village
Image credit: Joburg Tourism
Venture into Lesedi Cultural Village to get an idea of why South Africa is considered the Rainbow Nation! Sitting on the fringes of Johannesburg, this village brings you on a culturally immersive journey into the 5 major tribes of the African continent - namely the Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele.
Explore the village and learn about their diverse heritage, distinctive architecture, traditional artforms as well as their rustic lifestyles in this educational space. Get a first-hand experience of tribal meetings, enjoy tribal dance performances and feast on an array of authentic African dishes, which even includes crocodile and ostrich meat! Homesteads are also available with your host doubling up as your guide throughout your stay. There’s no better way to delve into the world of Africa’s tribal communities than this.
Address: Kalkheuwel Broederstroom R512, Lanseria, 1748 Johannesburg, South Africa
Be it adventurous animal encounters, insightful tribal experiences or just glamping out in style, South Africa just has so much to offer. Uncover these gems of Cape Town, Johannesburg and its surroundings for a memorable trip to the African continent!