20 April 2016 by Debbie Mayger
Welcome to South Africa, where authentic African experiences, superb value for money and wonderful welcoming hospitality are just waiting to be discovered.
With beautiful beaches, iconic landscapes, wild safari, historic battlefields, fine dining and boutique bijou, this wonderful country has it all. And the incredible range of soft adventure and high adrenalin experiences on offer are truly life enhancing.
Cape Town, World Design Capital 2014, is the most visited city on the African continent, popular for its natural beauty, diverse cultural and heritage sites, fine wine and dining options and a host of outdoor and adventure activities.
Many of the best Cape Town hotels - ranging from large luxury hotels to boutique lodges and guesthouses - are located on the waterfront, both in the city and on the many picturesque coastal bays surrounding it.
Don't miss: V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Robben Island, a township tour and Cape Peninsula.
Stay: Cape Grace V&A Waterfront
The scenic Cape Winelands is one of the most popular areas of South Africa. Magnificent mountain and valley scenery, world-class vineyards and restaurants, inviting luxury accommodation, historic charm and warm, friendly locals combine to make the Cape Winelands a must on any South Africa holiday.
Franshoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch may be the best-known towns, but there are many other gems - this area, just like its grapes, is ripe for exploration.
Don't miss: Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve and The Stellenbosch Wine Route.
Explore: the Winelands, Cape, Garden Route & wildlife parks
The Eastern Cape boasts more than a million hectares of malaria-free game viewing terrain, with an outstanding range of private concessions and award-winning private game reserves and lodges offering the opportunity to spot the Big Five. As a result the Eastern Cape game reserves are a major draw for visitors.
Why go: Close to the Garden Route, good for families, malaria free, caters to a wide range of budgets.
Don't miss: Kariega Game Reserve, Kwandwe Game Reserve, Pumba Game Reserve and Amakhala Game Reserve.
Combine: A Cape safari with the Winelands and the Garden Route
Kruger National Park, located to the north of Johannesburg, is the largest reserve in South Africa and has more animals than other reserve in the country. At almost two million hectares, it is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and the area's unfenced plains, forests and hills are home to the Big Five, huge migrating herds of animals and excellent birdwatching opportunities.
Why go: Best chance to see the Big Five in Africa, offers wide-open spaces (an area the size of Wales) and the 'real Africa' experience.
Don't miss: Ngala Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Thornybush Game Reserve and Timbavati Game Reserve.
Enjoy: Travelling from Cape to Kruger.
The reserves of KwaZulu-Natal boast lush green terrain thanks to the area's coastal rainfall pattern. The woods, wetlands and grasslands combine with mountains, rivers, marshes and pans to create a rich environment, abundant with diverse wildlife.
Why go: Close to the coast, wild and remote, good cheetah spotting and some larger reserves.
Don't miss: Phinda Game Reserve.
Explore: KwaZulu-Natal on a self-drive holiday
The vast, semi-arid Kalahari and bushveld habitats of the Northwest Province, near the border with Botswana, were the scene of the world's largest game translocation exercise: Operation Phoenix. The area is the least visited safari destination in South Africa and provides an authentic, off-the-beaten-track experience.
Why go: Least visited game reserve area in South Africa, authentic, malaria free and good Big Five viewing.
Don't miss: Madikwe Game Reserve.
Explore: Madikwe & the Cape
African wildlife has been successfully reintroduced into the reserves of the Western Cape and they now offer an excellent safari destination, along with the beautiful flora of the Fynbos Floral Kingdom and the area's other popular attractions such as The Cape Winelands and coastal whale and shark spotting.
Why go: A great wildlife and wilderness destination with spectacular flora.
Don't miss: Sanbona Game Reserve.
Enjoy: The Best of South Africa
South Africa's Garden Route passes through many lovely towns on its way from Cape Town to Knysna. Swellendam in particular has great examples of Cape Dutch architecture at its best. For many, Plett is the epitome of the Garden Route, with white sands, clear waters, forest-clad mountains and fabulous seafood within easy reach.
Don't miss: Whale watching at Mossel Bay, the small town of Knysna, the beauty of Tsitsikamma National Park and the adventure and countryside around Plettenberg Bay.
Explore: The Garden Route & Klein Karoo or combine The Garden Route with the Winelands and a safari
Route 62 is a scenic tourist route running 850 kilometres along South Africa's east coast, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Route 62 is also home to the world's longest wine route. It is an excellent hinterland alternative to the Garden Route for travel from Cape Town.
Don't miss: Cape Winelands, Montagu and the Klein Karoo, Calitzdorp's Groenfontein Valley and the scenery around Oudtshoorn.
Experience: The Best of South Africa
Durban is South Africa's third largest city and known as one of the country's best seaside escapes, with lively nightlife and an emerging café, shopping and cultural scene. The city also has a marked Indian influence, thanks to its large migrant population. The sedate suburbs of Greyville, Morningside and Berea are favoured for their upmarket accommodation options, shopping malls, museums, galleries and stylish eateries and bars - all popular with those in Durban high society.
Don't miss: The great Beaches, the Golden Mile and Wilson's Wharf.
Discover: Durban on a KwaZulu-Natal self-drive trip
The majestic World Heritage-listed Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park mountains border the edge of KwaZulu-Natal and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The dramatic 200km escarpment marks the point where the Highveld terrain plunges over 1000m to the eastern lowveld plains. The Drakensberg is one of South Africa's most scenic areas, recognised for stunning views and adventure activities. The San Bushmen have lived here for thousands of years, which is evident by the plentiful San rock-art sites.
Don't miss: The famous Amphitheatre cliff face, Tugela Falls (the world's second highest waterfall), Cathedral Peak, the Sani Pass to Lesotho and the Giant's Cup Trail walk.
Discover: The Drakensberg Mountains and the Best of South Africa
The battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal are crucial to understanding the history of this province and top the agenda for many visitors. The bloody Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars ravaged across this landscape for years and are today remembered at key sites.
Don't miss: The Battlefield Route, Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift and Blood River Monument.
Discover: KwaZulu-Natal's history on a self-drive tour
The Johannesburg metropolis is South Africa's largest city. The city was at the forefront of South Africa's freedom struggle and has a rich cultural and historical heritage, along with a promising future.
Don't miss: Soweto, shopping at Sandton, the National Botanical Garden at Roodepoort and Sterkfontein's 'Cradle of Humankind'.
The Cape West Coast in the Western Cape runs from Cape Town to the edge of the Northern Cape at Touws River and includes the Cederberg Mountains and a series of historic towns and fishing villages, such as Paternoster, Lambert's Bay and Langebaan. The area is well known for its amazing wildflowers. The region's main tourist drive is Route 27.
Don't miss: The West Coast National Park, the coastal villages, the Cederberg Mountains and Swartland's Darling Wine Route.
The coastal village of Hermanus is one of the world's prime land-based whale watching spots. Located on the charming Garden Route coastline of the Western Cape around 2.5 hours from Cape Town, it has plenty of upmarket boutiques and cafes and excellent wine tasting and vineyard tours. Hermanus is a great base for adventure activities, especially sea kayaking, canoeing, shark diving and hand gliding.
Don't miss: Whale Watching, Cape Agulhas, Fernkloof Nature Reserve and the Hemel-en-Aarde wine valley.
The Panorama Route runs through Mpumalanga Province past a range of cascading waterfalls, majestic mountains, deep gorges and a host of other natural wonders. Lydenberg and White River are the Panorama Route's gateway towns, while the former gold panning settlement of Pilgrim's Rest is among the most popular.
Don't miss: Blyde River Canyon (the third deepest in the world), God's Window, the Three Sisters and Bourke's Luck Potholes.
Explore: The Panorama Route as part of the Best of South Africa