Siyakwamukela futhi emhlabeni wethu weningizimu Afrika.
With the borders open South Africa is nothing short of ready in welcoming the world
again to its shores. With culture and heritage that has been marinating during the
lockdown South Africa is the only place worth visiting. From the streets of Soweto to the
tall buildings of the Union building to the scenic route of Panorama and the beaches in
the Cape South Africa is the centre of all things street, luxury and relaxation.
With your mind on travel all that is missing is a friend to give you the ultimate guide to
travelling in South Africa. Count this as your friend in South Africa equipping you with
knowledge for the best South African trip. We begin this ultimate travel guide with a
quote by Ibn Battuta “Travelling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a
storyteller”. Firstly, you must ask yourself as you want to travel in South Africa what to
you want to see or experience or get out of your travels? This question will the lead you
to locations, locations, and more locations.
South Africa is a big country with different parts offering different experiences and activities for your enjoyment. With that said for your ultimate guide to travelling in South Africa the locations will be divided into the 9 provinces of South Africa highlighting what places are best to visit in each province.
Gauteng also known as the “place of gold” is one of the 9 provinces of South Africa. As the smallest province in the country in size one would be surprised to find that it’s the largest in population and the largest in terms of economic activity. The Gauteng province is a spectacular province with offerings that will ensure a worthwhile trip while travelling in South Africa. Gauteng is home to areas of strong apartheid history such as Johannesburg, Soweto and the Apartheid Museum with places like the Nelson Mandela House Museum, and the Nelson Mandela Bridge each offering unique takes on the apartheid regime as well as the post 1994 events leading to the South Africa of today worth mentioning.
Mpumalanga meaning “the place where the sun rises” is a great destination for travelers looking to experience the magnificent scenery of this great place. Its magnificent scenery can be attributed by its fauna and flora and by the saga of the 1870s gold rush era and a wealth of fascinating tribal legends found here that are bound to keep one entertained and enlightened. The top destinations in the Mpumalanga province consist of nature or wildlife sanctuaries such as the of Kruger National Park which is an enormous Game Reserve in South Africa , rated number 1 with an array of wildlife as well as the Big 5 animals, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, the Timbavati Game Reserve, the Skukuza area and so many more.
The Western Cape Province
The Western Cape is one of South Africa shining stars with destinations that beckon you from far and wide. The Western Cape is known for its expansive beaches, fashionable vineyards and effortless mountains just to mention a few things. The Western Cape is home to the city of Cape Town which is known for its vibrancy, its view of the Table Mountain and Robben Island the island prison which housed Nelson Mandela. The Cape Winelands can also be found in this province. The winelands of the Western Cape are said to rival those of the world with their background scenery and most importantly wine making. These winelands include Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek winelands just to mention a few. If waves are what you seek then the Western Cape offers you the Muizenberg area which is a popular and well-known for its surfing spots in South Africa.
The Eastern Cape Province is one that is known for its natural unspoilt beauty, untouched by man. Its beauty is its number one selling point and therefore any traveler would be impressed with the Eastern Cape province’s landscapes. The Eastern Cape provinces’ destinations that any tourist should see consist of the wildlife safaris at the Addo Elephant National Park which is a vast area with lots of elephant wildlife and the Mountain Zebra National Park which is also a vast area with lots of Zebra wildlife. The Eastern Cape is also home to beautiful landscapes that can be found around Graaff-Reinet, the Valley of Desolation and the Camdeboo National Park which have desert like terrain and call to travelers seeking remote settings. The Eastern Cape is also home to the most amazing towns such as East London, Port Elizabeth, Jeffrey’s Bay, Port Alfred and Grahamstown just to mention a few.
The Limpopo province is known for its arts and crafts, both traditional and contemporary making it a top destination when travelling in South Africa when in search of authentic South African artistry. Especially in the Venda people which is a sub-tropical region famed for its culture, mythology, wood carvers, potters and sculptors one is bound to be captured. This province calls to those who are interested in South African folklore and cultural remnants. The Mapungubwe National Park can be found in this province. This area is a National Heritage Site best known for its old civilization ties, where it considered historically important as the community that lived here are considered to be the most complex society in Southern Africa at the time with their first class-based social system.
North West Province
Known as the Platinum province of South Africa no wonder this province is a diamond in the rough. The North West is everything you need in a destination and more. If you have ever heard of the Sun City Resort then this is the province where you will find this gem. Imagine the best hotels, amazing activities, a man made beach and so much more, that is what awaits you at the Sun City Resort. The North West also offers you a safari experience at the Pilanesberg National Park Safari which is a South African Game Reserve with a volcanic landscape, abundant wildlife and the large Mankwe Dam.
Free State Province
The Free State province is one that is known for its rural areas with their wide horizons and blue skies, with farmland, mountains, goldfields, and widely dispersed towns. This tranquil province is famous for its warm South African hospitality and a mix of culture which is clearly evident in street names, public buildings, monuments and museums. Its top destinations include the Basotho Cultural Village where one will take a journey in regard to the Basotho people’s culture. Here the Sotho lifestyle will be depicted from the 16th century to the present. Visitors will be guided through the village to experience the Sotho’s way of life taking a journey through four centuries of Basotho history, culture and tradition.
Northern Cape Province
Known as the Diamond Province there’s no way this province will not be in one’s top travel locations when in South Africa. Famously known for its mining of diamonds the Northern Cape is home to the town of Kimberly which is home to the Big Hole, an open-pit and underground mine in Kimberley and claimed to be the deepest hole excavated by hand. Besides its mining accomplishments the Northern Cape is also home to a few amazing museum and art galleries depicting great historical and cultural master pieces. These include the McGregor Museum known for its natural and cultural history exhibits, the William Humphreys’ Art Gallery that showcases European masterpieces on African soil, the Sol Plaatjie Museum, the Honoured Dead Memorial, a monument honoring those who passed in history and so many more.
Kwa-Zulu Natal Province
The Kingdom of the Zulu people, KwaZulu Natal is a melting pot of African, European and Indian cultures all boosting a proud people in terms of culture and a sense of belonging. KwaZulu Natal is nothing short of beautiful locations for one to visit when in South Africa. Home to two World Heritage Sites it’s no wonder this is a top destination in South Africa. Durban is the most famous location one can visit when in KwaZulu Natal known for its party scenes, the Golden Mile Beach, the Durban Beach front, casinos ,entertainment centers, uShaka Marine World and the Moses Mabida Stadium to mention a few. It’s no wonder this location has truly made a name for itself. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Saint Lucia can also be found in KwaZulu Natal, which are one-of-a-kind locations offering wetlands and wetland wildlife and safaris and water sports all in one location.
Cost and Budget
Once you have figure out which places you would like to visit in South Africa, you can now budget accordingly to save money. Firstly, if you are unfamiliar with South Africa getting a Tour Operator such as Africa Moja Tours and Transfers would be in your best interests as you will get great deals for locations as well as a tour guide included in your language or one of your preferences at no extra cost. Tour operators take the stressful part of travelling out so you can enjoy your experiences without worry for money or getting around. To also save some money while travelling in South Africa, the second thing to consider would be peak seasons and off peak seasons as when it’s off peak seasons accommodation, flights and so many other costs tend to be less. In South Africa peak seasons tend to be between September all the way through to March and off peak season which are colder months tend to be between April all the way through to August.
Foods to try when in South Africa
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman. This statement rings true when one is travelling to foreign lands. It should be considered a crime to leave a country without ever trying out the local and most impressive cuisines. Like all things, South Africa knows food. Food to feed the soul, food that should sit in art galleries and food of its people. If you want a true South African experience, then local foods from each province are a thing you must try. Each province having its own specialty, one is bound to be impressed by these provincial taste heavy weights. Gauteng is the master of the “Mogodu and Ting dish” which is a tripe stew that is slow cooked for a long period of time and paired with ting, a porridge made from fermented sorghum, a must try in Gauteng. Places like Maboneng and the Sakhumzi Restaurant in Gauteng are true local eateries and are recommended for the foodies. In the Western Cape “Bobotie” is the dish of choice made traditionally with mince.