13 Awesome Things to do in South Africa

South Africa is fast becoming the adventure capital of the world. We've had the pleasure of visiting the country a couple of times and have discovered many things to do in South Africa. 

What to do in South Africa

The Best Things to do in South Africa

From the first time we cycled down the West Coast all the way from Namibia to Cape Town to driving the entire East Coast from St.Lucia to the Cape of Good Hope, we've covered a lot of distance.

what to do in South Africa visit Cape Town

Cape Town's Table Mountain

Awesome Things to do in South Africa

We want to give you a round up of the best things to do in South Africa for when you plan your vacation. From safaris to caves, marine life to scenery, South Africa has it all! Enjoy.

Check out our Guide to South Africa for more great ideas!

 

Plan Your Trip to South Africa

Lonely Planet South Africa - This is our go to travel guide around the world and it's a great resource to have in hand when traveling South Africa

Lonely Planet Cape Town and Garden Route - for a more specialized guide, pick up the LP that covers just the Garden Route and Cape Town.

Get Your Guide - It's a great company for booking day tours and finding deals

International Data Roaming - Use KnowRoaming for unlimited data/cellular for $7.99 per day. Easy application sticks to your existing SIM Card. Save 50% using promoDDSave50

What to wear on Safari - a packing guide for your Africa Safari

Your Journey Starts in Richard's Bay

Renting a car is the best way to take in the full experience of seeing South Africa. It gives you freedom and the chance to meet the people.

We flew from Johannesburg to St. Lucia: A World Heritage Site in the iSimangaliso Wetlands.

things to do in South Africa

iSimangaliso Wetlands

 

Booking.com has over 4,000 properties in South Africa. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.

Suggested Tours South Africa a 16 Day Odyssey 

Suggested Places to Stay for South Africa itinerary.

St. Lucia -  Umlilo Lodge
Durban - Oyster Box hotel
Safaris -  Kariega Game Reserve
Garden Route - Views Hotel
Hermanus/Gaainsbai - Birkenhead House
Cape Town - Lawhill Apartments - See our review here.

1st Stop St. Lucia

We stayed at Umlilo Lodge where we enjoyed our very first Braai dinner with our fantastic hosts. A Braai is South African for Barbeque but for some reason a bbq in South Africa is so much better than a bbq at home.

In St. Lucia there is an amazing amount of choices for excursions.

what to do in South Africa visit St. Lucia

Safari in St. Lucia

Safari in Hluhluwe & Imfolozi National Park

It's the oldest Game Reserve in South Africa.

things to do in South Africa fight for the rhinos

Memorial for Slaughtered Rhinos in South Africa

Known for it's white and black rhino population, Hluhluwe & Imfolozi have the largest in all of Africa! That's an amazing thing because rhinos are being slaughtered at an astonishing pace.

It's good to see that conservation efforts are being put into effect. But we are worried that it is too little too late.

Recommended Travel Gear for South Africa


Book your tour with Heritage Tours and Safaris and enjoy a braai lunch while you overlook the valley.

Take a River Cruise

Check out the hippos and crocodiles from the safety of your platoon boat.

what to do in South Africa see hippos in St. Lucis

River Hippo Safari in St. Lucia

Book your tour again with Heritage Tours and Safaris and you'll enjoy enjoy hot chocolate or cider while the hippos stretch and yawn as the sun sets overhead.

Kayak with Crocodiles

If you are feeling adventurous, skip the platoon boat and kayak in the river instead.

There's nothing but fibreglass separates you from the crocodiles below. The water in the estuary is an average of 1 metre deep and with 1200 crocs and 900 hippos you can be sure they are lurking below, even if you don't spot them right away.

unique things to do in South Africa Kayak with Crocs

Kayaking with crocodiles, what?

We booked our tour with Kayaking tours with St. Lucia Kayak Safaris start at R 290 ($32 USD).

Read more about our kayaking adventure at Kayaking, Hippos and Crocs Oh My!

Wildlife Safari on a Horse

Nothing feels quite as awesome as having wildebeest and giraffes run beside you as you sit atop a horse and look on.

You feel at one with nature and get closer to the wildlife than you ever expected!

horse safari south africa things to do

Very unique wildlife safari, on a horse

While watching wildlife, we had a herd of zebras surround us showing off to our horses. It was like they wanted us to join in as they ran at full speed. The horses were pretty excited too!

Read more about our horse safari at A World Heritage Horse Safari We booked our Safari with Bhangazi Horse Safari and Tori will show you a great afternoon.

 

Turtles Laying Eggs

St. Lucia is one of the best places in the world to spot Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles laying their eggs. Your tour begins and 9:00 pm and goes until the wee hours of the morning.

You drive right through the iSimangaliso Wetlands and we saw rhinos, hippos and the world's smallest lizard.

south africa night safari

Night safari

Unfortunately we didn't get to see a turtle hatching, But we saw Mother Nature's true side, as a jackal had dug up a nest of eggs and was feeding on turtles that were about to hatch.

They were so close to making it out to sea that they were actually still moving when we came across them. The jackal waited in the dark for us to leave and our guide told us it would be back.
Sadly only 1% of newly hatched turtles make it out to sea and it looked very unlikely that any of these would survive.

 

Suggested Durban Hotels

things to do in south africa oyster box hotel

Oyster Box Hotel

This was an absolutely stunning hotel in Durban located on the ocean

Check out Availability & Prices

Trip Advisor / Booking.com

what to do in south Africa Duban hotels

Durban Hilton

Located in Durban business district close to major sights. 

Check out Availability & Prices

Trip Advisor / Hotels.com

Microlight Flight near Durban

Durban is only 3 hours from St. Lucia and in this thriving city you can swing from the only stadium swing in the world at Moses Mabidha Stadium.

If that is a little too much for you, try a microlight flight over the spectacular coastline. Feel the wind whip your face as you watch dolphins and sea turtles swim below.

things to do in South Africa Microlight flight

Microlight flight over Durban

If you time it right, you may be there for the whale migration season! We booked our tour with the Ballito Microlight School. 

Read more about our trip at Microlight, an Adventure in the Sky

Canopy Tour

South Africa Canopy Tours has zip lining adventures all around the country. For a beginners zip line adventure, try Tsitsikamma further to the south on the Garden Route.

For the Thrill Seekers, stay in Durban and check out Karkloof Canopy Tours. This was hands down the best canopy tour we've ever taken. (and we've done a lot)

things to do in South Africa Canopy tour

Canopy Tour Tsitsikamma

Check out more on what a canopy tour is like at Zipadeedoodah, South Africa - and book your own at Karkloof Canopy Tours. Pre-bookings are a must!

Garden Route Sunset South Africa things to do

Beautiful sunsets on Garden Route

 

While staying in Durban, the historical Oyster Box hotel is spectacular accommodations.

Located right on the Indian Ocean in the heart of the bustling town of Umhlanga, you are close enough to all the attractions but quiet enough to enjoy a proper relaxing vacation.

Oyster Box places to stay in South Africa

Stay for awhile at the Oyster Box

With swimming pools, spas, gymnasium, restaurants and cafés, it is a resort to definitely spend time in.

Suggested Garden Route Hotels

birkenhead house hotel south africa things to do

Birkenhead House

One of our favourites, right on the beach near Hermanus

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Trip Advisor / Booking.com

things to do in south africa hotels garden route

Views Boutique Hotel

Luxury with stunning views. Great place for a base on the Garden Route. 

Check out Availability & Prices

Trip Advisor / booking.com

A Safari is at the top of things to do in South Africa

what to do in south africa go on safari

Giraffe on our South Africa wildlife safari

Safari on the Garden Route

A person can't go to South Africa without going on safari.

In South Africa you have an excellent chance of spotting the Big 5 animals while on safari and so much more! Along the Garden Route there are many private lodges to choose from and we stayed at the spectacular Kariega Game Reserve.

things to do in south africa game reserves

Kariega Game Reserve rooms

It is a luxury reserve with four different lodges. We stayed at the River Lodge where we were surrounded by the reserve and wildlife.

Our mornings and evenings were spent watching wildlife like lions, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and elephants while our days were spent in the lovely lodge reading books, sipping wine (all spirits, food and drink are included in the safari package) and relaxing on the dock.

best things to do in South Africa

Safari in South Africa - One of the Best Things to do

We definitely needed more time here.

For more information on the Kariega Game Reserve, visit their website. See our photos of the wildlife we spotted while on safari in South Africa.

Adventure South Africa 

Adventure in the Cango Caves

The Cango Caves are the oldest tourist attraction in South Africa and one of the best cave systems we've ever visited.

Cango Caves things to do in South Africa

Adventure in the Cango Caves

The standard tour is an easy and beautiful walk through massive chambers, but if you are up for the challenge, take the adventure tour. The adventure tour takes you through narrow passageways with openings as small as 26 centimetres.

what to do in south africa cango caves

Large Cango Caves cavern

It's not for the faint of heart, but great bragging rights after the fact.

Visit the Cango Caves Website for more information. Read more about our time at the Cango Caves in Claustrophobia at the Cango Caves

 

Ostrich Farm

Ostrich are not an endangered animal and if you visit the Cango Ostrich Farm, you'll learn about how ostriches are raised, what they are used for and you be able to get up close and personal with the largest bird on earth.

things to do in south africa ostrich farm

Get a neck massage from an ostrich

Ostrich riding is no longer available but you can get an ostrich massage and feed the ostriches that are held in captivity. 

Find out more information at the Cango Ostrich Website.   

Dive with Great White Sharks

Our Number 1 Choice for things to do in South Africa is to go Cage Diving with Great White Sharks!

We have seen it on Shark Week, we've watched it on National Geographic and here we are doing it in South Africa. Anyone can cage dive. You don't need to be a certified diver, heck you barely even need to know how to swim.

what to do in South Africa Great white sharks

Great White Shark Swimming just off our boat

You are in a cage attached to the side of a boat. It's the easiest diving we've ever done, but it is also by far the most exciting.

Imagine having a great white shark bump the cage you are standing in. Watch it breach over and over again as it jumps after the fish head used as bait to attract the shark

cage diving things to do in south africa

Dive with Great White Sharks in South Africa

Sharks are an endangered species and the more people understand the shark and learn to love them rather than fear them, the better off the entire ecosystem will be.

Read more about our adventure and watch the video at Shark Diving, In the Cage with Great Whites we went with White Shark Projects in Gansbaai.

You can book your own adventure from Cape Town through Get Your Guide Great White Sharks Tour

Relax in Wine Country

After all that adventure you must visit the Stellenbosch region to sample fine South African wines.

things to do in south africa stellenbosch

taste wine in Stellenbosch

There are huge estates where you can go for tastings, relax in town or just simply take in the scenery.

After cycling from Cairo all the way to Cape Town, Dave and I spent a week indulging in the rich food and fine wines of South Africa here.

Must do Cape Town Tours

Township and Robben Island Combo Tour - Tour where Nelson Mandella and other political prisoners spent decades behind bars.

Winelands Half Day Tour - If you can't make it to Stellenbosch to stay you must at least tour and taste fine South African wines.

Dive with Great White Sharks

Cape of Good Hope - Take a tour to the stunning Cape of Good Hope where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Many a sailor lost their lives here.

Garden Route and Big 5 Safari- You can't go to Africa without seeing Wildlife. Book a safari from Cape Town.

Suggested Cape Town Hotels

things to do in south africa cape town apartments

Lawhill Luxury Apts

Located in the heart of the V&A Waterfront. Luxurious, own kitchen, den.

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Trip Advisor / Booking.com

where to stay in south africa cape town

Twelve Apostles

Located at the beach, this is as good as it gets. 5 Star Luxury, tastings, scenery. 

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Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Do everything you can in Cape Town

Cape Town is one of those amazing cities where you find yourself saying "I could live here!" It's beautiful, it's filled with culture and modern living, it has everything from markets to boutiques and it has adventure.

There is paragliding off Lions Head and Abseilling (rappelling) off Table Mountain.

We went sandboarding at the dunes and enjoyed the V&A Waterfront to the fullest.

There is so much to do in and near Cape Town.  Read The Very Best Things to do in Cape Town

Don't forget to pick up your hop on hop off bus pass for Cape Town.

things to do in south africa cape town

Table Mountain over Cape Town

If you feel like splurging, make sure to have a meal at the Twelve ApostlesBetter yet, stay there!

The Twelve Apostles is repeatedly voted as one of Cape Town’s best hotels. It overlooks the sea and each month they have a delicious wine pairing which we just happened to be there at the right time for!

what to do in South Africa penguins of Simons Town

Visit the penguins of Simon's Town

Rent a car and see the Penguins in Simons Town and make sure to visit the famous Cape of Good Hope. The road out from Cape Town is one of the best drives in the world. 

 

So there you have it! This itinerary should keep you busy doing all these amazing things in South Africa!

Sure there is a lot more to do in South Africa, but if you follow this route, you'll go away feeling like you experienced everything the country has to offer.

We had the perfect blend of local hospitality, world class wildlife viewing, enjoying everything from luxury accommodation to quiet family run operations, fine dining, incredible adventures and spectacular sunsets.


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