South Africa’s cosmopolitan mix of cultures, spread across its provinces, offers travelers unique and exciting experiences to explore the best of the southern bowl of Africa. There are many destinations that are travelers’ favorites – but there are also some hidden gems that offer the most incredible travel experiences that travelers simply don’t know about.
Global travel search engine Cheapflights.co.za shares a list of 9 exciting destinations in South Africa – some that are popular and some that are not the “usual suspects” offer surprising and interesting experiences for travelers. And with September being Tourism Month in South Africa and 27 September being World Tourism Day, it’s the perfect time to explore some of SA’s most attractive and experiential destinations.
1. Kruger Park
The world-famous Kruger National Park is another visitor hotspot, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in SA’s Big 5 wildlife experiences as well as explore its vast birdlife of over 500 species. The 360 km long park is the third largest national park in the world, has five vegetation zones and is considered the best place in the world to spot leopards.
2. City of the Sun
Sun City is often a popular destination for domestic and international travelers, many of whom include the destination in their itineraries due to its collection of water resorts, Valley Of The Waves Water Park and entertainment offerings. It is also surrounded by beautiful nature reserves, including Kwena Gardens Crocodile Sanctuary, Madikwe Game Reserve and Pilanesberg National Park.
3. East London
East London is an interesting destination for travelers who want to discover something different. There are fascinating attractions such as the Museum of East London and the East London Aquarium, as well as the old Friesland dairy bar which was established in 1924. Going more eclectic, visitors can enjoy tea in the trees or see the excavation site of the oldest fossil human footprints (124,000 years!) at Nahoon Point Nature Reserve.
George in the Western Cape is the gateway to the beautiful Garden Route, with outstanding destinations for tourists to experience the history and visual beauty of the city and its surroundings. The Outeniqua Transport Museum is a converted railway station where visitors can see Paul Kruger’s coach and a coach from the Royal Train from 1947. There are also scenic drives that visitors can take such as Montagu Pass, The Seven Passes Drive and Outeniqua Pass .
5. Saint Lucia
An intriguing destination, Saint Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal is a World Heritage Site and has the largest population of free-roaming hippos in South Africa. In addition, St. Lucia is also known for Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs on the beaches in the summer months, as well as its amazing sightings of Humpback Whales and Whale Sharks.
Bloemfontein is often called the City of Roses for its abundance of roses and the annual rose festival. It is also located near the beautiful Free State National Botanic Gardens, a 70-hectare garden with over 400 different species of plants and an ancient settlers’ cottage. Flora lovers can also visit the Orchid House at the foot of Sea Hill, where they can see hundreds of these exotic flowers.
Hoedspruit is located between the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon, so it’s a perfect stop on a travel itinerary between the two. From horseback safaris and interactive elephant experiences, visitors can also enjoy hot air balloon safaris and some R&R in a wellness spa.
8. Tulu sign
Tanda Tulu is a camp and nature reserve in the Timbavati Nature Reserve, on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park. The reserve is known for its white lions, which were historically worshiped by the Shangaan tribe, who believed they were sent by God. Today, visitors to Tanda Tulu can learn more about the Elephant Conservation Project and gaze at the stars in the crystal clear night sky. There are also horse and balloon safaris, as well as micro-lighting over the Klaserie Game Reserve.
The lesser-known Mtunzini in KZN is located along Mtunzini Beach and offers visitors fishing expeditions, explorations of Tembe Elephant Park and Umlalazi Nature Reserve, and a unique experience at Zululand Brewery – known as the smallest family-owned brewery in KZN. Brew Route (the route is an experience in itself!). Flagship Zulu Blonde was voted number one ale at an international ale festival in 2010 and has since been supplied to UK pubs.