Although South Africa has many well-known attractions, such as the Garden Route, Cape Town, and Kruger Park, it also has a wealth of lesser-known natural wonders, charming towns, and idyllic beach locations that can greatly enhance your vacation, especially if you’re looking for something a little different and away from the bustling crowds. We’ve included a few possibilities around the nation that may provide you with unforgettable road journeys, unparalleled scenery, and photo ops that you’ll remember long after you’ve left the continent.
1. Tankwa Karoo National Park
Although Tankwa, a portion of the semi-desert, austere Karoo terrain, is not for everyone, the Karoo is the place to go if you want a pristine night sky and brilliant starscapes. Visit Tankwa to experience a sense of the enormous geological age and some amazing night stars because there are no distractions in this sparsely populated and desolate semi-desert. The greatest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere is housed at the nearby Sutherland Observatory. The ideal spot for star photographers and amateur astronomers.
2. Drakensberg Amphitheatre, KZN
The 5 km wide amphitheatre cliff face is an under-marketed natural attraction that attracts far fewer visitors than it should, despite the fact that the high mountain range cannot be said to be hidden.
You’ll get the impression that you’ve been transported to an imaginary setting as you stand at the base of this vertical tower of rock. There are trails that lead up to the cliff’s pinnacle; the hike is well worth it for the magnificent Tugela Falls at the top.
3. Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape
The lagoon in Langebaan, which is about an hour and a half’s drive north of Cape Town, is a gem if only for its warm water (a nice perk along South Africa’s west coast, which is better famous for its frigid ocean temps). The lagoon has protected, lovely white sand beaches, stunning rock formations, and shallow seas that are ideal for swimming.
It can be crowded in August and September when the reserve bursts with colour and draws tourists, but the tiny beaches around the lagoon typically stay serene and peaceful. On the tranquil lagoon water, kayaking and other water sports are a lot of fun here. Whether you choose to stay overnight or just visit for the day, don’t forget the sunscreen and beach chairs.
4. Sterkfontein Caves, Gauteng
A World Heritage Site, Sterkfontein is the ideal location for amateur archaeologists. The caverns are a wonderful destination to visit and one of the most significant fossil sites in the entire globe. In the region referred to as the Cradle of Humanity, fossilized hominids and animal remains as old as 4 million years have been found. These findings offer important insights into the origins and evolution of humans.
Any traveller to South Africa will find this visitor centre to be of the highest calibre, with first-rate displays, knowledgeable guides, a restaurant, and breathtaking vistas. The caverns are well located for visiting one of the most well-known archaeological sites in the world because Johannesburg is only 40 minutes away. For the cave visits, be sure to wear cosy shoes.
5. De Hoop, Western Cape
De Hoop Nature Reserve, which is adjacent to Cape Agulhas and is one of South Africa’s most beautiful and unspoiled beaches, is one of the least popular tourist destinations. To get there, expect a rough ride along a dirt road, but it will be worth it.
From each parking area, a short stroll will take you to the breathtakingly blue water and pure white dunes through the thick fynbos. This is one of the best sites to see southern right whales in the bay from July to November because you’re nearly certain to have parts of the rolling dunes to yourself. Bring a picnic, and spend the afternoon lounging in the sun, taking in the breathtaking surroundings.
6. Riebeek Kasteel, Western Cape
The oldest hotel in South Africa is located in this small town, which is considered the Western Cape’s best-kept secret. It is located around 80 kilometres from Cape Town. This is a wonderful weekend getaway for couples because it is a really romantic historical location with lots of luxurious lodging options, fantastic restaurants, cafés, and coffee shops, as well as festivals and art events. If you enjoy Franschhoek, Riebeek Kasteel is similar to the French town despite being considerably smaller and less popular with tourists.
7. Paternoster, Western Cape
Paternoster is the place to go if you want fresh seafood, a green nature reserve, and a relaxing seaside weekend. Paternoster, one of the oldest fishing communities in South Africa, has remained mostly unaltered throughout the years.
The picturesque, bright blue sea and the colourful fishing boats serve as a backdrop for the charming homes that line the seashore. You can purchase fish directly from the fisherman as they arrive or dine on crayfish and calamari at one of the excellent beachside eateries.
8. Midlands Meander/Howick Falls, KZN
The beginning of the Meander is Howick Falls, which is located in a lushly forested area of KZN. Howick Falls, the second-tallest waterfall in South Africa, is a popular location for boating, abseiling, and viewing crowned eagles. To get to the falls, there is a lovely walking path, and you may have a picnic on the viewing deck.
The Midlands Meander is a scenic journey with beautiful scenery, art galleries, cafés, guesthouses, potteries, and craftspeople. It is rural South Africa at its finest. Take a few nights to explore the region. Ideal for families, the variety of playgrounds, animal petting farms, and craft projects will appeal to children.
9. Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape
Augrabies is one of the most stunning and remarkable natural regions in the Northern Cape, but it doesn’t receive nearly enough attention. Augrabies’ thunderous falls are particularly magnificent when the Orange River is at its most intense.
Not by accident, Augrabies is called after a Khoi word for loud loudness. You can hike along several trails to the well-called spectacular locations, such as Moon Rock and Echo Corner, where powerful rivers cascade down sharply eroded granite formations.
10. Pinnacle Rock, Mpumalanga
Pinnacle Rock is a tower-shaped rock formation that rises 30 meters out of a dense forest and appears to have been carved by hand. If you’re travelling through the Blyde River Canyon or from Kruger, the quartzite monolith is a stunning sight and a fantastic place to halt.