The Republic of South Africa is located in the south of the African continent. The large country is famous for its coastal deserts, high mountains, green savannahs and subtropical forests.
Things to do in South Africa
The history of the Republic of South Africa (South Africa) is overshadowed by a long colonization by Europeans. The first white settlements appeared here in 1652, and the newcomers quickly conquered the local tribes. The territory became a source of slaves, valuable tree species, and agricultural products.
Because of the found deposits of gold and diamonds, the region was shaken by wars for a long time. In the 20th century, an apartheid regime was established in the country, discrediting people by race, but its era ended in 1994.
Now it is a parliamentary-presidential republic that has managed to avoid serious crises and conflicts. The country is included in the G20 and is attractive for tourists. Foreigners come to see the ruins of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in Limpopo, the old colonial architecture, traces of the sites of ancient people, ethnic villages.
Major cities are growing rapidly. Pretoria and Johannesburg are home to trade, industrial and financial companies of world renown. Historical and ethnographic museums are concentrated in Ulundi, Newcastle, Cape Town and Dundee.
South Africa gives you the chance to see all of South Africa’s biodiversity. National parks and reserves are open in different parts. Some of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Tugela Falls, the Kruger National Park, and the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve are popular.
The coastal area of False Bay in Cape Town is famous for its beautiful wide beaches. It has everything for a carefree holiday: modern hotels, cafes, restaurants, boat rentals, swimming pools, attractions. Travelers are engaged in surfing, spearfishing, water skiing and yachting.
Shopping lovers are attracted by South Africa with colorful markets that resemble noisy oriental bazaars. Mountains of spices, fruits, vegetables, sea fish are sold under sheds and on stalls. As a keepsake, tourists buy pottery, crocodile skin souvenirs, jewelry, handmade carpets, stone and wood crafts.
The largest city in South Africa was founded by Australian gold miners in 1886. Chinese workers, British, impoverished Boers, gangsters of various nationalities came here in search of wealth.
At the beginning of the last century, the first skyscrapers appeared in Johannesburg, and an extensive business district was formed. Today it houses bank offices, transnational corporations, luxury hotels. The city has exclusive restaurants and shops, an amusement park, and the African Museum.
The bustling city on the Atlantic coast near the Cape of Good Hope is one of the most popular places in South Africa, attracting tourists with historical and natural attractions. The symbol of Cape Town is Table Mountain. Its silhouette, 1087 meters high, was a beacon for sailors sailing into the bay for food and water.
The city itself is the cultural center of South Africa. There are art galleries, archaeological museums, cinemas, exhibitions. The Kirstenbosch botanical garden and the Two Oceans Aquarium are ideal places to relax.
A modern beautiful city, founded in 1855, is the capital of South Africa, spreading to the south in the valley of the Alice River. There is a lot of greenery, fountains, pools. Pretoria was the center of a discriminatory policy during apartheid that ended with the election of Nelson Mandela as President.
Tourist interest in the capital is the Palace of Justice, the old town hall, the mint, the Anglican Cathedral. The historical part of the city is decorated with several squares with colonial sculptures, boutiques and restaurants.
Since the end of the 17th century, Robben Island has been used as a prison, quarantine station and leper colony. The government of the republic sent political prisoners there until the fall of the apartheid regime. The island has since become a popular tourist destination.
Its territory is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Hundreds of travelers travel daily by ferry from the Cape Town waterfront to visit the island’s museum, the ancient stone lighthouse on Minto Hill and see the African penguin colony.
Fortress of Good Hope
The bastion erected by European colonists in Cape Town is a historical monument dating back to 1652. Construction was carried out by the Dutch East India Company. The fort was intended for ships sailing to Asia. Here the sailors replenished their water supplies, food and repaired ships.
The complex, enclosed by powerful walls, consists of a church, a bell tower, a bakery, warehouses, residential buildings and barracks for soldiers. The pentagonal fortress has been restored and is available for visiting. It houses the Military Museum of South Africa.
Durban, washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean, is a favorite vacation spot for tourists and local residents. The coastal zone of the city is a huge landscaped beach. A wide line of white sand is framed by a beautiful promenade. Along the road rise buildings, stylized antique. They open restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, spas.
The beach is highly secure and fenced with a net from sharks. Children’s attractions operate in shallow water. The main object on the Golden Mile is the Sea World entertainment park. The huge building houses a dolphinarium, water slides, an aquarium with sharks, moray eels and clams.
Sri Radha Radhanath Temple
The largest Hare Krishna temple in Africa is located in the city of Durban. The white airy mansion is decorated with large windows, thin elegant columns, and original domes. The interior walls are decorated with marble, carvings and frescoes. There are gilded sculptures at the doors.
The temple is surrounded by a beautiful lotus-shaped garden. Inside there is a vegetarian restaurant where tourists are offered to try inexpensive Indian dishes, fresh fruits, natural juices.
Suspension bridge over Storm River
The highlight of the Garden Route National Park in the Cape Provinces is a suspension bridge across the mouth of the Storm River. The length of the modern structure is 77 meters. The sides of the bridge, which rises 7 meters above the water, are fenced with a strong metal mesh, which ensures complete safety during the transition.
Inspection of the suspended structure is included in the excursion program of the park. Tourists can also explore tropical forests with exotic animals, waterfalls, rocky mountains. A giant yellow tree grows near the bridge. According to preliminary data, he is about 800 years old.
St. George’s Cathedral
Cape Town is decorated with the oldest Anglican cathedral in South Africa, dedicated to St. George. A majestic example of Victorian architecture with a gabled roof, decorated with arches and huge windows.
The interior decoration stands out with splendor. In the center is a beautiful altar. Multicolored stained glass windows depict the victory of Jesus Christ over evil. The walls are marbled and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. An organ has been installed in the church of St. George, services and classical music centers are regularly held.
About 1000 years ago, at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shasha rivers, there was a large African kingdom of Mapungubwe. The ancient civilization has not survived to this day. The remains of the old fort, fragments of streets and squares have been preserved from their former grandeur.
A large burial was found on the top of the mountain. In the graves, in addition to skeletons, there were various golden things: a scepter, bracelets, rings, figurines. Unfortunately, due to mishandling, some of the bones crumbled to dust when exposed to air.
The artifacts found are on display at the Pretoria Archaeological Museum. The Mapungubwe collection includes ceramics, clay and gold animal figurines, jewelry, glass beads, and ivory ritual objects.
South African Museum
In 1825, the National African Museum opened its doors in Cape Town, which has a huge collection of paleontological, archaeological and zoological exhibits. The cultural heritage of the indigenous people, the skeletons of extinct animals, stone figurines and gold jewelry found during excavations are presented to the attention of the public. The museum has a planetarium and a gift shop.
The Art Gallery of the Republic of South Africa opened in Cape Town in 1930. The basis of the exhibition was the collection of Sir Thomas Butterworth, which includes paintings by artists of the XIX century. Now the museum gallery is replenished with Dutch, British, French paintings of the 17th-18th centuries.
Separate rooms contain engravings and lithographs by masters of the 20th century, as well as the art of South African tribes: wooden and stone figurines, glass beads, drawings, paintings.
In 2001, the apartheid museum appeared in Johannesburg, illustrating the rise and fall of the regime. Exhibitions in a modern building take you on a journey from the dark days of slavery to the creation of a democratic society.
The museum has 22 rooms that highlight life under apartheid, violence, political executions and the democratic elections that brought Nelson Mandela to power. Visitors can see instruments of torture, documents and learn a lot of useful information.
Cradle of Humanity
Not far from Johannesburg is the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a complex of limestone caves in which the remains of the most ancient people were found — African Australopithecus and Homo naledi. Archaeologists have recovered the fossilized bones of babies, adults and the elderly.
Some scholars believe that this was a ritual burial, and suggest that ancient people had the beginnings of intelligence. In total, there are about 30 caves. Their walls are plastered with stalagmite and stalactite formations.
Cape of Good Hope
In 1488, the Portuguese tried to go around Africa and discovered a cape, which they called the Cape of Storms. However, King Juan II did not like the name, and he renamed it the Cape of Good Hope, hoping that this would help to avoid frequent shipwrecks in the area and find a new sea route to India.
Severe storms were caused by the mixing of the waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, so the ships continued to often die, even when the longed-for route to India was found. The Cape of Good Hope is a strategic site in South Africa that attracts tourists with magnificent seascapes.
In the city of Kimberley there is an important attraction of South Africa — the Big Hole pipe. It is an inactive diamond mine shaped like a quarry. The miners dug it out with nothing more than shovels and picks, extracting hundreds of kilograms of diamonds, including the famous De Beers, Porter Rhodes and yellowish Tiffany diamonds.
The deposit is now depleted. And the hole, 1.6 km long, is filled with water, surrounded by picturesque boulders and dense shrubs.
The Dragon Mountains stretch over an area of 402,418 km². Their highest point is Mount Thabana-Ntlenyana (3482 meters). The system is famous for its diverse flora and fauna, rich deposits of tin, gold, and stone ore. In the mornings, the peaks of the Dragon Mountains are covered with a light blue haze. Locals believe that this is steam released from the nostrils of a huge dragon.
Tourists come here to admire the Tugela waterfall, which falls from a great height and has 5 cascades, walk along hiking trails, listen to birdsong, go fishing on mountain lakes.
The desert in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana covers an area of 600 thousand km². A distinctive feature of the natural attraction is a kind of red sand, saturated with iron oxide. Picturesque sand dunes alternate with wide steppes and savannah inhabited by lizards, snakes, poisonous insects, and rodents. The desert is crossed by the Okavango River. Black rhinos, giraffes, antelopes, cheetahs, and lions live along its banks.
Reserves and parks
Kruger National Park
In the south of the country is the oldest national park, named after Paul Kruger. The protected area lies between the Crocodile and Limpopo rivers and covers an area of 340 km². Traces of sites of ancient people, artifacts of the Stone and Iron Ages were found in the park. Rock paintings have been preserved in the mountains.
The river valley is inhabited by hippos, elephants, antelopes, Nile crocodiles, buffaloes, rhinos. Hiking trails are laid within the park, and private campsites for recreation are open.
The park on the east coast of South Africa consists of 13 protected areas. Among them are the coral reefs of Tongaland, turtle beaches, wide plains, African forests and savannahs.
The area is famous for its unique ecosystem, which has preserved rare species of birds, animals and insects. In natural reserves it is easy to meet warthogs, cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes. Leatherback turtles nest on the beaches. Humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, Chinese dolphins, butterfly fish, sharks swim in the water.
The botanical garden is planted at the foot of Table Mountain in the vicinity
Cape Town. It is a heavenly place filled with trees and shrubs from the savannah, arid regions and rainforests. Kirstenbosch is included in the World Heritage List and is under the protection of UNESCO.
The pearl of the garden is considered to be a hanging alley, stretching for 427 meters and rising 12 meters above the ground. It is equipped with viewing platforms from which a gorgeous panorama of the surroundings opens.
The park, located in the crater of an extinct volcano, is bordered by three mountain ranges. It covers an area of 572 km² and consists of a picturesque savanna planted with figs, red willow, wild pear, beech. Pilanesberg is home to hippos, elephants, buffaloes, lions, giraffes, zebras and antelopes. For bird lovers, a special route has been developed that allows you to study the habits of rare birds.
The park has a crocodile farm, picnic areas, small hotels.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
The main promenade of Cape Town is a mixed-use development, including residential and commercial real estate. The old port was restored at the end of the last century. Since then, a tourist complex has been operating here with hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Roads paved with stone slabs stretch along the coast. Palm trees are planted on the sides, benches and lanterns are installed.
Walking along the embankment, you can go to a restaurant of national cuisine, visit an exhibition of modern art, ride the rides, rent a boat for a boat trip or a trip to Robben Island.
Aquarium of two oceans
In Cape Town, guests are welcomed by the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere. The grand opening of the complex took place in 1995. There are 30 large pools designed for the flora and fauna of the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Jellyfish and algae live in separate tanks. Sharks and rays live in a special aquarium. On the tour, tourists get acquainted with seals, penguins, dolphins, whales, mollusks, tropical fish, watch the feeding of fish and mammals, and take beautiful photos.
The zoo in Johannesburg was founded in 1904 at the initiative of the city council. The writer Percy Fitzpatrick donated the first animals here from his collection. Every year the number of inhabitants of the zoo increased.
Now 365 species of animals live in it, including white lions, Siberian tigers, gorillas, hippos. The zoo is open all year round. Visitors can order a sightseeing tour or pay for a night tour of the territory.
Cage diving with great white sharks
One of the most popular rides in South Africa is diving with great white sharks. Tour operators in Cape Town organize such entertainment all year round. By contacting a local company, travelers get the opportunity to dive into the ocean in a steel cage and swim in the company of giant sharks. A diver’s certificate is not required for this.
Tourists are instructed and safety is guaranteed. After diving, everyone is given a document confirming swimming with white sharks.