The number of tourists heading to South Africa is expected to climb from under 15 million to almost 20 million in the decade between 2013 and 2023. More people are visiting South Africa every year.
Why is South Africa getting more popular all the time? Let’s look at 5 of the top things to do in South Africa to see why.
1. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is the largest, and oldest, national park in South Africa. It covers over 7,500 square miles, extending 220 miles north-to-south and 40 miles east-to-west. Expect to spend two to three days exploring the park to see everything it has to offer.
You’ll find hundreds of animal species in Kruger National Park, most notably all the “Big 5” species:
- Cape buffalo
These animals earned the “Big 5” moniker as the five toughest African animals to hunt on foot. That hasn’t changed but in the modern world, you’ll most likely be hunting them with a camera instead of a weapon.
There are various ways of exploring Kruger. You can stay at one of the luxury lodges, take private safari rides, join an organized day tour, or drive through the park and explore from the comfort of your own vehicle.
You can visit Penwell Safaris for more African safari ideas but Kruger park is one of the best. It’s hard to beat the first glimpse of an African animal in the wild.
If you’re traveling from another part of the world to see South Africa, make sure you budget enough time to see all of Kruger National Park. There’s nothing else in the world quite like it.
2. Go On a River Cruise
African river cruises are another amazing way to see the country and its wildlife. These cruises range from as few as 5 days to as many as 17.
Start in Cape Town or Johannesburg and cruise along the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. If you’ve ever been on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland, you’ve got an idea of some of the animals you’ll see but instead of animatronic robots, you’ll see real hippos, crocodiles, and more.
Depending on the route your cruise takes, you may also get to see Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Or if you’re a bit more adventurous, you can take a kayak tour of the river and get up close and personal with the hippos and crocodiles. The water is only a meter deep in some sections so the crocs and hippos won’t be far below, even if you can’t see them immediately.
3. Dive with Great White Sharks
Shark cage diving lets you see great whites up close and personal, but from the safety of a steel cage. Gansbaai, located about 120 miles southeast of Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the world’s leading great white shark diving destinations.
Gansbaai is the spot where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The water temperature, water depth, and easy access to food in Gansbaai’s Shark Alley make it an ideal spot to dive with the sharks. You’ll be able to see plenty of sharks within a short time span.
Besides the great white, you’ll also find Bronze Whaler Sharks, or Bronzies, in this area. Bronzies are pack hunters and you’ll often see 10 to 15 of these large sharks nearby. And it’s not only sharks in the area. You’re likely to see other sea life like dolphins, seals, and whales.
You don’t need to be a certified scuba diver to dive with the sharks. You’ll use snorkeling equipment and won’t be far beneath the surface so no special certification is needed.
Sharks feed around the cage and may get close when they’re curious about what’s in the cage but shark cage diving is a safe way to get close to these amazing creatures.
4. Take a Microlight Flight
Another one of the best things to do in South Africa for the more adventurous traveler is to take a microlight flight. Fly over the Durban coastline and look down on sea turtles, dolphins, and even whales if you plan your trip for whale migration season.
The open-air microflight aircraft gives you an unobstructed view of your surroundings and the land and water below you. These aircraft don’t look like they would be very warm or comfortable but your flight will be surprisingly smooth with a trained pilot behind the controls.
It is a very different feeling from riding in an airplane or helicopter though. You’ll feel the wind blowing through your hair and you’re in the open air so it’s quite a bit louder.
A microlight flight may not be the best choice for someone who is uncomfortable with either flying or heights (or both) but if you’re okay with those things, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
5. Zipline Tours
Ziplines are one of the top things to do in South Africa. You’ll find zipline tours through many different landscapes that give you views of everything from mountains and trees to rivers and waterfalls.
Zip 2000 in Sun City is one of the world’s longest and fastest ziplines. It reaches speeds of up to 100 miles per hour over its mile-and-a-half run.
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is an eco-wilderness zipline that runs between platforms located in giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees. You’ll get an incredible view of the surrounding wilderness and can get up close and personal with the birds native to the area.
If mountains are more your style, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour gives you a birds-eye view of the surrounding area while ziplining through the Drakensberg mountains. And if you want to zip over top of majestic waterfalls, the Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour takes you from platform-to-platform above rivers, forests, and waterfalls.
Lots More Things to Do in South Africa
These are our top 5 picks for things to do in South Africa but they’re far from your only choices. On top of these exciting activities, you can explore the Cango Caves, visit an ostrich farm, see Leatherback or Loggerhead turtles laying eggs near St. Lucia, or enjoy one of the many wineries in the Stellenbosch region.
South Africa offers fun and exciting activities for any taste, whether you prefer to live on the edge or want to relax and unwind.
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