To help inspire or plan your trip to South Africa, some of its major attractions
for travellers are shown below, including some of the best natural, historical, cultural and adventure sites in the country.
These include all of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for South Africa which represent the best
of the world's cultural and natural heritage.
Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
Eastern Provinces of South Africa
|Kruger National Park|
Kruger National Park is one of the most famous and oldest wildlife parks in Africa. It stretches for 350 kilometres along South Africa's eastern border with Mozambique and comprises mainly savannah bushveld. The park has excellent infrastructure with campsites and lodges that allow you to sleep listening to the sounds of the animals outside. Kruger is one of the best parks for Big 5 spotting and in total boasts 147 mammal species as well as over 500 bird species and over 100 reptile species. Night game drives in Kruger gives a different perspective to the safari experience and the chance to spot nocturnal animals rarely seen in daylight.
|Blyde River Canyon|
The area around Blyde River Canyon offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery in South Africa. The canyon itself is the third largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere with a number of lookout points including at the Three Rondavels. God's Window provides a dramatic vista over the vast lowveld below. And Bourke's Luck Potholes, where the Blyde and Treur Rivers meet, has unusual and fascinating cylindrical holes carved into the rock by the force of the water.
|iSimangaliso Wetland Park|
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, formerly known as St. Lucia Wetlands Park, is the largest estuarine lake system in Africa, comprising coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands. It is a site of spectacular scenery and great species diversity and is a crucial habitat for species from Africa's marine, wetland and savannah environments.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: iSimangaliso Wetland Park
|Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park|
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park is one of the oldest wildlife reserves in Africa, formerly the hunting grounds of Zulu kings. The park has an extensive and committed conservation program, particularly for the rhino and now supports the biggest concentration of black and white rhino in Africa. The big cats and a huge diversity of bird species are also major attractions of the park.
|Mkuzi Game Reserve|
Mkuzi game reserve in Zululand offers the option of walking safaris to view the animal and bird life in the park, which includes rhino, giraffe, zebra and over 400 bird species.
The battlefields of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana were the scene of hugely important events in Zulu history, the battles between the Zulus and the British in 1879, which have been immortalised in film. A visit to the site, almost unchanged since the battles, with an expert guide can bring the historical events to life.
|uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park|
uKhahlamba or Drakensberg Park is a dramatic and spectacular mountain landscape. With deep river valleys. Rocky gorges, waterfalls, grasslands and forests, it's an area of exceptional natural beauty and a great destination for hiking and trekking. The park is also home to the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa south of the Sahara, made by the now extinct San people over 4,000 years.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park
|Spionkop - Boer War Battlefield|
Spionkop was the site and a bloody and costly battle between the Boers and British forces. The guerrilla warfare tactics adopted by the Boers claimed the lives of about 22,000 British troops, their worst losses since the Napoleonic wars. The battle has been immortalised in Britain with its name being adopted by the famous football stand in Liverpool.
|Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs|
These archaeological sites have provided important insights into human evolution, enabling the identification of several specimens of early hominids dating backs millions of years, including the Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs
|Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape|
Mapungubwe, near the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana, was the site of the largest and wealthiest kingdom in southern Africa which traded with India, China and Arabia. It was abandoned in the 14th century due to climactic changes. Today, the remains of palace sites and other settlements provide insight into this civilisation.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Vredefort Dome is part of a huge meteorite impact structure, or astrobleme, which occurred 2 billion years ago, the oldest yet found on Earth which scientists believe caused major evolutionary changes.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Vredefort Dome
|Addo Elephant Park|
Addo Elephant Park was established in 1931 to protect the dwindling numbers of elephants in the region. From the original 11 inhabitants, there are now over 400 elephants in the park which is also home to rhino, buffalo and several antelope species. A visit to the Zuurberg Elephant Experience allows you to learn more about these creatures and have a closer interaction with them.
|Tsitsikamma National Park|
Tsitsikamma National Park covers 80 kilometres of coastline at the eastern end of the Garden Route. The park is characterised by a beaches and rugged coastline, inland ravines and gorges and dense forest. This is an excellent area for hiking, along the coast or up the Storms River gorge as well as a tree canopy tour through the forests. For the more adventurous there's the possibility of abseiling, flying fox swings or the world's highest bungee jump (over 200 metres!!).
The attractive town of Knysna on the Garden Route coast is best known for the Knysna Heads, two cliffs that connect the inland lagoon to the sea via a narrow passage. These provide great vistas overlooking the Indian Ocean while the town itself is an artists retreat and base for many adventure activities.
|Oudtshoorn and Cango Caves|
The Cango Caves are a series of vast underground chambers, millions of years old. They are home to some amazing natural structures due to the action of rainwater on limestone, filled with stalagmites and stalactites. The caves are ripe for exploration, in the main section and to a smaller series of caves via the tunnels and stairs of Jacob's Ladder. The nearby town of Oudtshoorn is the centre of South Africa's ostrich industry and home to 97% of the world's ostriches. Visits to an ostrich farm will allow you to interact with these unique creatures.
Cape Aghulas is the southernmost tip of Africa and the site where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.
Southern Right whales spent the months between June and December every year in the Cape region mating and calving. The cliff tops in Hermanus offer great views of this spectacle as the whales come very close to the shore.
The vineyards of Western Cape Province are some of the most famous in the world. The area is characterised by beautiful landscapes and charming, historic towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Wine tasting tours of the vineyards will allow you to sample some of the excellent local produce, in particular the Pinotage grape which is unique to South Africa.
Cape Town is one of the most attractive cities in Africa and one of the most beautifully located in the world. Set in the foothills of the distinctive Table Mountain and next to the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is South Africa's "Mother City". The mild climate and cultural diversity make it a wonderful destination, in itself and as a base for exploring the surrounding Cape Province. Ascending Table Mountain is a must, either on foot or via the cablecar, for stunning views over the city and the peninsula. In town, the cultural and entertainment centre is around Long Street, with extensive shopping opportunities along the Waterfront.
Robben Island was used as a prison between the 17th and 20th centuries, most infamously when incarcerating Nelson Mandela and fellow anti-apartheid campaigners. These days, the island acts as a museum offering tours of the island and prison buildings. Visits guided by former prisoners offer a fascinating insight to the brutal regime.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Robben Island
The Cape Peninsula south of Cape Town is a fascinating area to explore with a wide array of attractions. You can walk right up to the small Cape penguins in Boulder's Beach, visit the fishing port of Hout Bay or the numerous attractive beaches on the peninsula. At the southern end is the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where you can visit the Cape Point lighthouse and walk to the Cape of Good Hope itself at the south-western tip of Africa.
|Cape Floral Region|
The Cape Floral Region in Cape Province represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora thanks to the unique Fynbos vegetation which is endemic to the area. The density and diversity of plant species are astonishing and they display some unique biological processes which are of great value to science.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
North-western South Africa
|Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape|
The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in north-western South Africa is a region of 1,600 km² that is communally owned and managed by the Nama, a semi-nomadic pastoralist people.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape