Reasons to Visit South Africa

Riaan Viljoen 04-07-2024

South Africa is an incredible country that rarely ceases to impress visitors from all over the world. We offer ten reasons why every person who loves traveling and exploring should visit South Africa at least once in their lives.



A defining characteristic of South Africa is its vast and relentless ability to foster and cultivate diversity, from our multi-cultural society fondly referred to as the 'Rainbow Nation' to the many landscapes teeming with a biodiversity of life that is as beautiful as it is unique. For thousands of years, the San people called our majestic country home and practiced what is now the oldest surviving culture in the world. In the last millennia, and over many waves of migration, people from further north in Africa, from Europe in the global west, and Asia in the global East settled here, forming one of the most diverse nations on the planet. The country's plant and animal life is a tapestry in and of itself, from the proteas on the foothills and along the coastline of South Africa to the acacia savanna in the center and north of the country, the arid Kalahari and Karoo and the forests of songbirds along the great escarpment. The Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the six flower kingdoms on Earth, is found entirely within our borders - one of the crown jewels of our natural heritage. Equally impressive are the many animal species - the Big Five chief among them - that safari lovers come to see every year.



Africa is blessed with the world's most extraordinary diversity of wildlife species, from small antelope to the mighty African elephant. In South Africa, large national parks and various private reserves protect animals in their natural habitat. Foreign visitors to the country can experience the grandeur of the natural world and animal interactions in these conservation areas. Many safari packages are available, ranging from ultra-luxurious to basic but comfortable forays into the wilderness.


Cape Town

Cape Town ties into the theme of diversity more than any other city in South Africa. Located on the slopes of Table Mountain, an iconic landmark once part of the ritual practices of the local Khoi, it is home to an astonishingly diverse community, an impressive number of hiking trails and nature reserves, and a laid-back culture that often goes amiss in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Art galleries, museums, theaters, restaurants, and wine farms all showcase the cultural variety of the mother city. They are likely one of the reasons why Cape Town has become a mainstay for many digital nomads over the last few years. Kirstenbosch, the famous botanical garden in one of the city's most affluent suburbs, boasts an astounding collection of species. At the same time, the Two Oceans Aquarium oversees the rich marine diversity of the region. Seeing an African Penguin nesting on the warm sands of Boulder Beach is quite an experience and a bit of a surprise to visitors, considering the general association between penguins and ice, while picnics on the slopes and wine farms of the region are one of the best ways to enjoy the views and fantastic weather.


Conservation Areas

South Africa remains a country rich in natural beauty despite being one of the most developed countries on the African continent. Over 2 million hectares of protected areas, be it public or private, exist in the country today, with famous parks such as the Kruger National Park only the tip of the iceberg. Some lesser-known jewels to look out for are the Baviaanskloof, a beautifully protected valley of fynbos in the Southern Cape under the jurisdiction of CapeNature, the many reserves of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife along the country's east coast, and the Kalahari landscapes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between South Africa and Botswana. Each region has characters from the animal kingdom and its unique vegetation, offering visitors breathtaking views and experiences that bring them closer to nature and the natural world.



The east coast of South Africa is lined by golden sands, while the beaches of the west coast offer white sandy beaches. This description is a rule of thumb for the immaculate coastline of South Africa, with over 50 blue flag beaches across the country to choose from, from the hustle and bustle of Clifton's beaches near Cape Town, the remote beauty of the Wild Coast and the warm ocean currents of Natal. Whale watchers and nature lovers are equally spoiled for choice. Hermanus is famous for its views and migrating whales, and a boat trip can bring you up close to these gentle and majestic giants. On the eastern coast, Sodwana Bay and St. Lucia are like paradise, with warm ocean waters, beautiful views, and activities for everyone in the family. The wild coast is also worth mentioning - this remote part of the country is as pristine as it is picturesque, with Coffee Bay and its landmark 'Hole in the Wall' a favorite among locals.



South Africa has been a melting pot of African, European, and Asian cultures for centuries. The libertarian Huguenots settled amongst Khoi herders in the Cape nearly 400 years ago, fleeing persecution in France to make a life and a new culture with the Dutch, who later became known as the Afrikaners. Nguni pastoralists, among them the amaZulu and amaXhosa, call the East and Southeast of the country home, where villages of round huts and multicolored colored cattle open to visitors can be found to this day, and battlegrounds going back to the Anglo-Zulu wars. The north is equally diverse, with the Batswana, Bapedi, and Basotho calling the central plateau and northern outskirts of the country home, alongside the Vatsonga and Vhavenda, who trace their roots back to the Mapungubwe Empire formed here nearly 1000 years ago.



History and war stories often go hand-in-hand when defining the tales of a nation, and South Africa is no different. From the first frontier, wars fought between the Khoi and European settlers in the Cape to the Mfekane, and the expansion of the Zulu Empire centered in northern KwaZulu-Natal, many famous battles and stories have been told throughout South Africa's history. The Zulu and Afrikaner people have unmatched David vs Goliath stories in their struggle against British domination in the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars, with battlefields scattered across KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. The story of South Africa is much too long and complex to tell in a single paragraph. It is full of tales of tragedy and triumph, which few remember today.



South Africa is home to 762 bird species and a variety of different habitats in which to go bird watching. The Knysna Forest on the south coast is home to Louries, Woodpeckers, and various forest birds whose songs echo under the dense canopy above. In the drier parts of the country, one special bird to see is the flightless Ostrich - the world's most giant bird. Sugarbirds are a common site in the fynbos-dominated regions of the Cape, with each species specialized at feeding on particular flower species, much like the hummingbirds of the Americas. Blue cranes, the country's national bird, is also a common site in parts of the Cape provinces, their delicate silhouettes standing on the horizon.


Rock Art Sites

The rock paintings scattered throughout South Africa's Drakensberg and Cape Fold mountains are a unique site, the last memorial of the oldest living culture in the world - that of the San. These hunter-gatherers called Southern Africa home for thousands of years before any other African or European tribes came to do so and painted the cave walls and rock faces of their homeland with stories of their existence among the beauties of nature. Common themes are depictions of animals, cattle, and war, each likely marking a different era in the story of this land and the unfolding of what is now South Africa. Bushman's Kloof in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape has some of the most beautiful rock painting sites left in existence, as do parts of the Northern Cape near Kimberley and the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Archaeological findings from the Blombos caves near Mossel Bay have uncovered fragments of what is believed to be the oldest painting by a human, dating back over 70,000 years.


Family Adventures

There are plenty of activities for families to enjoy together in South Africa, and certainly no shortage of destinations. A safari holiday is always a hit with the entire family, with delicious food, unforgettable natural experiences, and a treasure trove of knowledge and curiosity children can indulge in when interacting with the game rangers on duty. Kayaking in the town of Wilderness, with ostrich rides in Oudtshoorn, elephant rides in Knysna, and the beautiful Knysna lagoon to enjoy water sports, boating, and good company are some of the highlights of the Garden Route, not to mention the Protea-covered peaks and age-old passes of the Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountains. With its warm ocean waters, KwaZulu-Natal is the perfect getaway destination that satisfies beach lovers and adventurers, with a pristine coastline often only an hour or two's drive from the Big Five reserves Africa is famous for.