South Africa is a destination that is perfect for all ages and interests, but it tops our list as one of the best family friendly destinations in the world. Here are 14 reasons why you should consider South Africa for your next travel destination.
#1 The Garden Route of South Africa
For those with only a little bit of time, this is the best place to go in South Africa. In 10 days you can drive along the southern coast of South Africa, from Cape Town to Storms River. On the way, visit towns like Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and Hermanus. The coastline is gorgeous and if you like to get up close and personal with animals, there is plenty here to keep you entertained.
Keep reading to learn about swimming with sharks, riding ostriches, feeding elephants, walking cheetahs, and hiking the amazing Robberg Peninsula below (all of which we did on the Garden Route).
LEARN MORE: Road Trippin’ on the Garden Route
#2 Cape Town
Cape Town is a favorite city of many who travel here. Why? It is a beautiful, coastal city with Table Mountain as its backdrop. The food and nightlife are great, the area around Cape Town is sprinkled with wineries, Table Mountain is fun for hiking and exploring, and the Cape of Good Hope makes a great day trip. You could easily spend a week here and do something very different each day.
#3 Go Hiking on Robberg Peninsula
This is one of our favorite hikes in the world. Climb the rocky coastline, watch seals playing in the water, walk across a wide, almost deserted expanse of beach, and view some of the prettiest coastline of South Africa.
LEARN MORE: Hiking Robberg Peninsula
#4 Hippo and Whale Watching in St. Lucia
St. Lucia is a coastal town where hippos roam the streets at night. Seriously. There are signs all over the place warning people to be on the lookout for hippos in town after dark.
Explore iSimangaliso Wetland Park to search for hippos and rhinos, go whale watching, and go swimming in the Indian Ocean. Nearby, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve makes a great place to go on safari.
LEARN MORE: Awesome iSimangaliso Wetland Park in St. Lucia
#5 Go on Safari at Kruger National Park
Kruger is a great safari destination for the budget traveler. Stay in several of the rest camps and spend your days self-driving through the park. You have a fairly good chance of seeing the Big 5 if you are here for a few days. If you do not get lucky on your own, take one of the park’s nighttime or early morning game drives to search for lions, leopards, and more.
#6 Shark Cage Diving at Gansbaai
Do you dare? Don wetsuits, get into a banged up cage in the chilly, choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and watch as Great White Sharks emerge from the murky depths of the ocean. It’s not as scary as you think, and if you want a unique travel experience that’s possible in only a few places in the world, put this on your list.
LEARN MORE: Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai
#7 Cape of Good Hope
Located 70 km south of Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope makes an excellent day trip from the city.
LEARN MORE: How to Visit the Cape of Good Hope
#8 Tranquility in the Drakensberg Mountains
This is one of the most beautiful spots we saw in South Africa. We stayed near Underberg, a quiet, peaceful town just a few miles from Lesotho. Go hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains, drive the Sani Pass into Lesotho, go horseback riding, or just relax.
#9 Want a Good Laugh? Ride an Ostrich!
Ok, enough relaxing. Back to the crazy animal adventures! In Oudtshoorn, located on the Garden Route, visit Cango Ostrich Farm for your chance to ride an ostrich. Not interested in riding them? Well, you can also get a kiss from them, get a neck massage, feed them, and stand on their eggs. This was one of the most hysterical and educational hours during our one year trip around the world.
#10 One of Our Favorites…Feed African Elephants
Yes, riding ostriches was fun, but for me, feeding these African elephants was one of my favorite experiences, ever. I love elephants so having the chance to get so close to these giants was like a dream come true for me. They are huge and to listen to their rumblings and sounds as we fed them was amazing. The feeding only lasted 15 minutes but it was pure enjoyment!! Look at how long their trunks reach!!
We had quite a few more elephant interactions later on our travels while in Asia but nothing came close to our experience with these African elephants. I’d go back to the Garden Route just to do this again.
#11 Visit Historical Robben Island
Robben Island, located off of the coast of Cape Town, is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Tours run all day, teaching visitors about Nelson Mandela and Apartheid. As a bonus, the ride on the ferry to get to Robben Island is beautiful, with views of Cape Town and Table Mountain.
#12 Eat Cow Cheeks and Drink Home Brew
Take a tour of Soweto in Johannesburg for another educational and cultural experience. Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers takes visitors on a cycling tour through the Soweto Township of Johannesburg. Learn what life is like for the people who live here and get a history lesson of what it was like to live in Johannesburg during Apartheid. It is an eye-opening experience.
LEARN MORE: Cycling Soweto in Johannesburg
#13 Walk a Cheetah
This is yet another animal encounter on the Garden Route. Who can say they walked a cheetah on a leash? Not many, but it’s possible here!
#14 Blyde River Canyon
This beautiful spot is located west of Kruger National Park. It takes about a day to drive to all of the viewpoints but if you like scenic views, put Blyde River Canyon on your list. And, if you get hungry, go to Graskop for some of the best pancakes ever!
South Africa is filled with great things to do. With the beautiful scenery, interactions with animals, safaris, and history lessons, South Africa makes a great destination for adults and kids.
More Information for Your Trip to South Africa
GARDEN ROUTE: Top experiences on the Garden Route include hiking the Robberg Peninsula, getting up close with animals in the wildlife parks, and shark cage diving. Learn how to plan your road trip in our Garden Route Itinerary.
PLACES TO GO NEAR SOUTH AFRICA: Chobe National Park in Botswana is one of the best places in Africa to see African elephants. Go on a road trip to Lesotho on the Sani Pass. And visit Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in Eswatini.
TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD: Learn more how to plan a trip around the world in our Around the World Travel Guide. You can also read our 13 Month Around the World Itinerary and a recap about our around the world trip.
ADVENTURE TRAVEL: Here are 50 adventures to turn your next trip into an epic travel experience.
Planning a trip to South Africa? Read all of our articles in our South Africa Travel Guide.
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