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South Africa has become one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, thanks to its stunning natural beauty, diversity of cultures, and fascinating wildlife. This vast country offers so many things for you to see, from incredible national parks to breathtaking beaches with vibrant coral reefs.

Below, we’ve rounded up the top five incredible places you need to see in South Africa.

 

  • Pilanesberg National Park

Overshadowed by the more popular game reserves of South Africa, such as Kruger,  the Pilanesberg National Park is perfect for safaris – a real hidden gem. It’s a malaria-free area, where you can see the Big Five and a hundred different species of birds. As you explore the park, you’ll find fascinating landscapes, such as an extinct volcanic crater and lush grasslands home to incredible wild animals.

Not far from Johannesburg, the Pilanesberg National Park is one of the most accessible national parks in South Africa. It features an excellent infrastructure for game viewing, with more than 200 km of paved roads. Since it’s not as vast as the other national parks, there is a higher chance of encountering wildlife in Pilanesberg. The park sits on 57,200 hectares of land area, which is smaller than Kruger’s 1.9485 million hectares.

One of the highlights of the Pilanesberg National Park is the Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex, a rare circular feature that emerged from an ancient volcano. It’s one of the biggest volcanic complexes of its kind, with unique rock types and formations, home to rare animals. Another great thing about the Pilanesberg is that it’s malaria-free, which makes it a safe place to explore for families with kids.

 

  • The Panorama Route

South Africa is a vast country. Therefore, one of the best ways to discover it is on a road trip. One of the country’s most scenic routes is the 160 km Panorama Route, which takes you through the country’s most incredible natural landscapes, from rugged mountain peaks to majestic waterfalls and flourishing flora and fauna.

One of the attractions you’ll come across on your drive through the Panorama Route is the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world and a truly breathtaking sight. Stop at one of the numerous viewpoints along the way, where you can marvel at the panoramic vistas of the Drakensberg Escarpment. You’ll also find several waterfalls in the area. If you have plenty of time, you can hike through the hiking trails within the canyon and the surrounding waterfalls.

You can drive through the Panorama Route when making your way to Kruger National Park. It starts in the town of Lydenburg and takes you through Sabie and Graskop. Your journey ends near the Echo Caves, a network of caves close to the border of Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

 

  • Kruger National Park 

The Kruger National Park is arguably one of Africa’s most popular sports for safari. It’s a vast tract of land covering almost 20,000 sq km of area in the country’s northeastern section. The park runs along the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, along South Africa’s border with Mozambique. Offering overnight stays, day visits, and self-drive safaris, Kruger National Park is the best destination for an ultimate safari adventure.

When going on a safari in Kruger, you can choose to drive a rented car or take a guided game drive. A guided safari is highly recommended, especially for first-timers. For a more exciting way of exploring the park, take a guided walking safari, which you can book through one of the camps. Kruger’s incredible size means it features a wide variety of ecosystems, including woodland and savannah. Such diversity offers an ideal habitat for fascinating species of large animals. Aside from seeing the Big Five, you will also find cheetahs, endangered African wild dogs, and other incredible wildlife species.

Consider partaking in conservation volunteering on your visit to Kruger National Park. Being part of these conservation projects is an exciting opportunity to assist in preserving wildlife and contribute to the park’s long-term sustainability.

 

  • The Garden Route 

South Africa’s Garden Route is a scenic road along the Western Cape and one of the country’s most famous driving routes. Stretching just 204 km, starting in Mossel Bay and running through Storms River Mouth, Garden Route features incredibly diverse landscapes, from lush forests to idyllic beaches and charming towns and villages. The Garden Route may be relatively small, but it offers many amazing things to see and do along the way.

Known as South Africa’s adventure capital, the Garden Route offers exciting outdoor activities well-suited for adventurous travellers. It has three of the best golf courses in the country, making it a great place to explore for avid golfers. It’s home to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, a forested coastline with rugged cliffs, sea caves, and several scenic hiking trails.

If you want to take up hiking, visit the Tsitsikamma Forest, one of the most popular attractions of the Garden Route. It’s where you can walk through a suspension bridge over Storm’s River. Some hiking trails will take you to viewing points where you can view South Africa’s most famous landmark, Table Mountain.

 

  • Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga

The Blyde River Canyon is one of South Africa’s most fascinating natural attractions. It’s about 25 km long and 800 metres deep, making it the third-largest canyon in the world. Offering epic views, the Blyde River Canyon is one of the most incredible places you need to see in South Africa.

One of the Blyde River Canyon’s highlights is the viewing point called “God’s Window,” from where you can soak up the canyon’s views with the verdant Lowveld beneath you. You can also spot the Kruger National Park from here and some parts of Mozambique.

Aside from admiring the stunning views, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the canyon. You can go hiking through waterfalls and gorges or kayaking along the river. For more thrilling adventures, try the 68-metre bungee jump along the canyon. There are many other great watersports in South Africa, you can also go abseiling, kite surfing, paragliding, windsurfing, and horse riding.