South African Provinces
“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa” – John Hemingway. These words continue to be true across the African continent and more especially in the country of South Africa where the magic resides and its people and the very land which they stand on.
A country of true hospitality and “Ubuntu” meaning humanity. People come far and wide to this land for its colorful rainbow nation, tasteful cuisines, beautiful scenery, history, Overland Tours, culture, and so much more.
The South African country is one that comes from far with its complex history and cultural dynamics. For a truly South Africa experience, one would have to visit the 9 provinces of South Africa.
These 9 South Africa provinces were established on the 27 April 1994, the date of the first non-racial elections and of the adoption of the Interim Constitution, born under the new democratic of South Africa favoring all people.
These 9 provinces include the Western Cape, known for its beaches and offering the best Cape Town Safari experiences, Gauteng which is the smallest province in terms of size but the largest in terms of population as a prominent economic hub, the Northern Cape which is the largest in size known for its impressive desert landscapes and great Pilanesberg Safari opportunities, the Eastern Cape which is a natural paradise and perfect for those seeking Safari Cape Town adventures, the North West is known prominently as a Tswana speaking province, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal which is the province of the great Shaka Zulu who appears in many historical pages when speaking about Chiefs of South African tribes and offers fantastic Kruger Safari tours, Mpumalanga which means “where the sun rises” and is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts with its Kruger Park Safari tours, Limpopo which borders Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique and is known for its cultural heritage and Kruger National Park Packages, and lastly but definitely not least the Free State is known for its farm life and wide horizons, perfect for small group tours to South Africa.
These provinces individually contribute to the image and package that is South Africa, offering unique experiences that capture one’s attention through architecture, history, natural scenery, landmarks, and so much more.
The collective attractions found in these provinces create packages for any traveler to be impressed from the get-go. Different elements ensure that one’s trip is not only educational but also entertaining, leaving one feeling enlightened enough that they want to return to the South African soil time and time again.
Below is what each province offers and what makes it unique.
The Gauteng Province, though the smallest in South Africa, is one that carries its weight with its population density, making it a unique province. This tiny area offers people from all walks of life in a vibrant and colourful city, offering urban life on a beautiful African platter.
The City of Gold, as it’s known, offers various attractions that speak for themselves on culture and urban life and everything in between of the Gauteng province. Gauteng is home to the most famous township in South Africa, the Soweto Township which showcases authentic South African lifestyles in dances, cuisines, and so much more.
Vilakazi street, the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, as well as the Mandela house, are also found in Soweto where one can get a taste of history and heritage.
Johannesburg is also found in Gauteng where one gets to see the busy city life. Johannesburg or Joburg as it is known houses attractions such as the Constitutional Hill which also sheds light on the apartheid era and the Apartheid Museum.
The Gauteng province is also home to Pretoria, which is, in fact, the capital city of South Africa. In Pretoria, one can visit the Union buildings as well as the Voortrekker Monument for more South African history and heritage.
One may also drive past the Jacaranda trees in Pretoria for a uniquely beautiful floral display. Gauteng is also host to the Cradle of Humankind which is a World Heritage Site offering displays of human evolution and discoveries.
While there one can also visit the Sterkfontein Caves. While in Gauteng one should not forget the city life aspect where one can go enjoy Gold reef city for a day of amusement park entertainment as well as Monte Casino for those who like to win big amongst other entertaining activities.
Most of the History sites in Johannesburg can be visited by booking Johannesburg Day tours if you would like specific tours. Also, check out the Overland Tours starting from Johannesburg as they give a good start to learn the long history of Apartheid and its scars.
Johannesburg Soweto Tours can be found on our website and last from 5 hours to 8 hours depending on the day tour one chooses. A Soweto Tour allows visitors to delve into the rich history and culture of South Africa, particularly during the apartheid era.
Northern Cape Province
The largest province in South Africa, also known for its desert terrain, is a true African gem.
The famous desert terrain of this vast area can be attributed to the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve known for its safaris and game drives with the viewing of meerkats and pangolins and so much more, Richtersveld with its mountains and plains in very remote settings for quiet wilderness, Goegap Nature Reserve for camping, as well as the Mokala National Park where one can get to lodge among endangered species.
The Northern Cape also offers various waterfall settings for those who love this type of setting. The Augrabies Falls National Park and the Augrabiesvalle offer one dramatic and beautiful waterfalls in the backdrop of rocky terrain.
While still on nature, the Northern Cape continues to offer nature’s best in the form of biodiverse parks for flower lovers at the Namaqua National Park. For those who love technology and advancements, the Northern Cape is also home to the largest telescope in Southern Africa which can be visited for one’s pleasure.
Lastly, one cannot leave any South African province without a little cultural or heritage stimulation, hence why the McGregor Museum is an extremely popular attraction when in the Northern Cape.
The Northern Cape is also known for its capital Kimberly. This city is home to the Big Hole which is a manmade hole. This open-pit and underground mine in Kimberley, South Africa, is claimed to be the deepest hole excavated by hand.
What makes the Northern Cape appealing to any traveler is its remoteness and the purely natural element where one can just experience the world as it is with extremely limited human touches, but rather nature in its purest form.
The Mpumalanga Province is truly a place where the sun rises, as everything the sun touches is pure gold. The scenery in this province is reason alone for one to visit this province.
Mpumalanga first and foremost is home to one of the largest game reserves in Africa, the Kruger National Park, offering fantastic Kruger National Park Safaris. This National Park stretches across the province and is home to various big 5 animals that draw large crowds in their sheer sizes alone.
A true Kruger National Park Safari Experience. This National Park is, however, not a one-trick pony type of destination but rather offers various activities for everyone.
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is also another destination which one can go enjoy when in Mpumalanga for nature’s gifts with various waterfalls that will take one’s breath away.
These waterfalls include the Berlin Falls and Lisbon’s Falls. These can also be booked under a day tour called Panorama full Day Tour offered by our sister company Kruger Safari Africa.
While in Mpumalanga one should also go visit Nelspruit and Hazyview which are a city and town that offer a lot of activities and attractions for travelers, including visiting the Sudwala Caves and Ostrich farms amongst other entertaining activities.
Mpumalanga might be home to the largest game reserve in South Africa but that does not mean there are not various options for one’s wildlife needs.
One can visit various game reserves such as the Sabie Sands Game reserve and the Timbavati Game Reserve amongst many others. Lastly, while in Mpumalanga one can enjoy the view of the Sabie River.
As one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa, it’s no wonder Mpumalanga made the cut for one of South Africa’s provinces.
Western Cape Province
The Western Cape is nothing short of breathtaking. One of the most popular places that travelers tend to visit when in South Africa and it is easy to see. This vibrant province offers everything from culture and heritage to beaches and sun.
So why the Western Cape?
Firstly, Cape Town which is a great city hosting world-renowned attractions. As a port city on a peninsula beneath Table Mountain there is nothing not to love about this beautiful destination.
While in Cape Town one can visit Table mountain for the most beautiful scenery overlooking the ocean, the Cape of Good Hope is also another scenic spot to visit as well as the tip of the Cape Peninsula where one can enjoy the beautiful scenery and feel like they are on top of the world.
All these attractions can be booked under Cape Town Day Tours with Africa Moja Tours. Beaches in Cape Town are in abundance so a visit to one is exactly right up the alley when in the Western Cape.
While still in Cape Town one can visit the Boulders Beach and have a day with the penguins. Robben Island is also on offer while in this city for a day of culture and the heritage of South Africa.
One can wind down in Cape Town at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden for a picnic and a day of beautiful indigenous plant life. No wonder Cape Town is the gem of the Western Cape.
However, the Western Cape is jam-packed with attractions. If you like wine then the Western Cape is just the place with its Winelands based in Stellenbosch, Franshoek, and Paarl for those who enjoy a glass or two.
If one likes to surf, then the Muizenberg area is just the place. Knysna is also offered when in the Western Cape known for its beautiful gorgeous lagoons, tasteful oysters, elephants for the wilderness lovers as well as forest for more of nature’s best.
The town of George can also be found here where the Garden route can be found. The Western Cape is full of destinations for places to go and visit that travelers will fully enjoy.
One of our South Africa Overland Tours called the 15 Days Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, and Cape town will cover the provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape, including incredible Kruger Safari experiences.
We will also get to visit all the tourist attractions in Cape Town. If you do not have 15 Days and would still like to visit and learn about South Africa’s history and present, then the 10 Days Johannesburg and Cape Town Overland Trips will cover the two provinces.
Gauteng Province with its rich Apartheid history and Cape Town with its lovely and out-of-the-world attractions like Table Mountain and the Cape Winelands.
The Limpopo province is just the place for everything old and traditional. With most of its attractions untouched and still having remnants of the past, it is no wonder this place stands out.
Limpopo is one of the provinces which the Kruger National Park crosses, therefore, offering travelers the Big 5 wilderness experience speaking again of its size.
The National Parks or Nature Reserves in the Limpopo area, however, have grown substantially over the years and now offer unique experiences to different markets.
Moving on from the wilderness and getting in touch with remnants of the past Limpopo offers travelers the opportunity to visit the Mapungubwe National Park which was home to now-lost civilization and is now a protected habitat.
While in Limpopo one can also visit the town of Thohoyandou which is home to the Venda people of South Africa who take pride in their culture and can be seen when visiting this area.
Bela Bela is another popular hotspot when in Limpopo for one to visit with various museums and lodges for a beautiful Limpopo experience.
Kwa-Zulu Natal Province
A Coastal city known for its beaches, mountains, and unmatched hospitality. Kwa-Zulu Natal is a province that is well versed in the language of traveler’s needs.
This begins, of course, in Durban which is the most popular destination when in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Durban is known for its Addington Beach, Surfing, and the Golden Mile Beach.
While still on the topic of beaches Kwa-Zulu Natal has an array of famous beaches such as the Umhlanga Beach with its surfing and lighthouses, Margate area with its country clubs for a more private beach experience, and so much more.
Continuing with the trend of water this province also offers an array of wetlands for one’s enjoyment, including Saint Lucia known for wetlands, hippos, and safaris as well as the Isimangaliso Wetland Park which is a World Heritage Site showcasing the appeal of wetlands in this province that cannot be found anywhere else.
While in Kwa-Zulu Natal the big 5 or safaris are also not in short supply with the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park and the Maloti-Drakensberg Park just to mention a few for one’s wilderness experience.
While in Kwa-Zulu Natal one can also visit the Dolphins Coast for the viewing of dolphins amongst other things.
The Royal Natal National Park is another area to visit when in this province for the most beautiful scenery when one is taking a hike. A few other hotspots to check when in this area include Richards Bay, Kokstad, and New Castle just to mention a few.
The Kwa-Zulu Natal area is one drenched in culture and heritage but most importantly it’s one that knows its way in getting people to visit its shores.
North West Province
If you have ever wondered where in South Africa, you can experience a manmade beach then North West is the province you’ve been looking for. Home to the Sun City Resort with its casinos and beautiful hotels as well as the Valley of the Waves, the North West province is a true gem.
We offer Sun City Day Tour and also packages to Sun City Resort. With landscape defined by mountains in the northeast and bushveld scattered with trees and shrubs, the North West is safari, beach, and luxury destination.
For the ultimate safari or wilderness experiences, two places stand out when one is in the North West and those places are the Pilanesberg National Park Safari and the Madikwe Game Reserve offering one all their big 5 needs.
Hartbeespoort is another attraction or destination to visit when in this area for a visit to the Crocodile river as well the Hartbeespoort dam for scenery and everything in-between.
For history and heritage, one should visit Potchefstroom for museums. Brits is another area which people visit when in the North West for Cheetahs and hunting amongst other activities.
This very remote area is one that draws large numbers to its land, and it is hard not to see why with its inventive and unique selling point of a luxury resort in the middle of nowhere.
Still, in North West, a Pilanesberg National Park 2 Days 1 Night Magical Safari will allow you to stay at Sun City resort for one night while giving you an opportunity to experience a morning BIG 5 experience and afternoon Pilanesberg National Park Safari.
Free State Province
Sharing its borders with the Lesotho Kingdom and situated in the heart of South Africa between the Vaal River and the Orange river, it is no wonder this area is a province of South Africa. Known mostly for its natural beauty, open farmlands, and uninterrupted skies, towns and villages, interesting road routes, and the vast rocky mountain area of the East Highlands, the Free State is a province to be reckoned with.
So, what attraction can one visit when in the heart of South Africa?
Firstly, one can visit the Basotho Cultural Village for a day of cultural enlightenment where one gets to immerse themselves in the lives of 16th century to date Sotho customs and traditions.
While at this province the Free State Botanical Garden is also another place to visit for natural beauty for one’s delight amongst 400 different plant species some of which are indigenous to the South African soil.
One would also enjoy the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State with its wide accommodation of varies species and identified with its golden sandstone cliffs.
If you like resorts this is definitely the province for you as the Free state is also home to the Forever Resorts Gariep which is nestled between the largest dam in South Africa giving this resort an almost Caribbean feel on the South African soil.
A true paradise for relaxation and luxury. Among st other attractions, the Free State is also known for its Museum in Bloemfontein established in 1877 as well as the Naval Hill. A must-visit South African province.
Eastern Cape Province
As the second-largest province in South Africa, the Eastern Cape is the home of former president Nelson Mandela who became the first democratically elected president in South African in 1994, but not only that, it is also the place of many struggle heroes such as Steve Biko.
With its cultural and heritage firmly rooted from the Xhosa people of South Africa, this province stands out for its beautiful scenery and various other destinations that appeal to travelers.
These include the wilderness with the Addo Elephant Park which is dedicated to the protection of elephants as well as the Mountain Zebra National Park which is dedicated to the protection of the Zebra.
The wilderness can be found in the Eastern Cape in their numbers not just for select species but for all animals. The Eastern Cape is also home to various beaches with places like Port Elizabeth, Jeffrey’s Bay, East London and so much more offering one beach experiences to last a lifetime.
Coastal Parklands with forest and trails can also be found in this province and these include the Garden Route National Park, Cape Saint Francis, Port Alfred and so much more where one can enjoy various water activities.
The Eastern Cape is also home to the Wild Coast with places like Coffee Bay and the Hole in the Wall where a warm ocean meets green hills and rocky coastline.
With these types of coastal attractions, one would not be wrong to say that these attractions are indeed the wild coast. For natural beauty, one can visit Hogsback for its beautifully landscaped and cloud-wrapped mountains.
Small Group Tours to South Africa
Small group tours to South Africa offer an intimate and personalised way to experience South Africa. Traveling in small groups allows for more interaction with guides and fellow travellers, creating a close-knit and immersive experience.
These tours often focus on specific interests, such as wildlife photography, culinary adventures, or cultural exploration, ensuring that participants can tailor their South African journey to their preferences.