Below are some of the major travel highlights for Southern Africa Overland. For more in-depth attractions of each country on this route, click on the country names below or select a route to see the highlights on this section of the journey. Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
|In-depth highlights: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
Natural attractions of Vic Falls - Cape Town (via Joburg)
|Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls|
Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders") are one of the natural wonders of the world. Spanning the entire breadth of the Zambezi River, they are 1700 metres wide and drop over 100 metres to the gorge below, creating a thunderous noise and a mist that can be seen, and felt, at great distances. The Falls transform a wide, calm river into a ferocious torrent that flows through a series of narrow gauges below. On the Zambian side in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park you can stand right next to the eastern cataract of the Falls and feel the full force of the water. In Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side, you're further from the Falls but have a greater perspective. The best perspective is perhaps obtained from above though, on flights on either fixed wing aircraft, helicopters or microlights. The flow over the Falls is very dependent on the time of year - there can be a 20 fold difference between the rainy season (March to May) and the dry season (September to December), though the sheer scale of the Falls can be easier to appreciate with less volume.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
Matobo Hills is characterised by huge granite boulders that have been shaped over time into all manner of bizarre shapes. These have provided shelter to people for millennia and contain very impressive collections of rock paintings. Many of these depict black and white rhinos which still live in the national park in great numbers. Expert guides can take you on walking safaris that allow you to get within metres of groups of black rhino, an exhilarating experience. The park also contains populations of leopards and cheetahs and more than 300 bird species including the black eagle, hawks and owls.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Matobo Hills
The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta as the Okavango River, a tributary of the Zambezi, spills into the Kalahari Desert, creating a vast oasis over 15,000 km². The Delta comprises numerous water channels, lagoons and small islands. The region is rich in animal life, including elephant, giraffe, buffalo, lion, hyena, hippos and many antelope species, as well as a myriad of migratory birds. The Delta is best explored in traditional mokoro, the traditional dugout canoe, poled by skilled local guides. They navigate through a maze of narrow creeks and channels, cutting through beds of reeds, in one of the most relaxing and unique experiences Africa has to offer. This is African wilderness at its best - wildlife and a stunning natural setting in pristine, untouched land. The Okavango has numerous lodges or small islands to bush-camp (depending on your budget) which allows you to take a walking or horse-riding safari to spot the rich animal and bird life, swim in the waters (though beware crocodiles) and take mokoro trips to view the beautiful sunsets over the Delta.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Okavango Delta
The Makgadikgadi salt pans form the bed of an ancient dried up lake. Covering 16,000 km² it remains dry for most of the year but the rains in November attract vast flocks of flamingos and other migratory birds. Known for its spectacular sunsets, the Makgadikgadi is also the only place in southern Africa where you can witness the migration of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra.
|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
|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
|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!!).
|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.
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.
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 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.