13 awesome things to do in South Africa

by suitcasestoriesbe
12 awesome things to do in South Africa

Are you planning a road trip in South Africa? Then read on… When most people think about South Africa, they think about doing safaris and spotting the ‘Big 5’. But South Africa has so much more to offer.

Here are 13 awesome things to do in South Africa which will make your road trip in South Africa even more unforgettable. From visiting Kruger National Park, hiking waterfalls to cage diving with Great White Sharks, Game drives in Addo Elephant National Park, and bungee jumping from the world’s highest bungee jump bridge. All listed on a map, making it easy for you to schedule them in your travel itinerary.

12 awesome things to do in South Africa

Going on a safari in Kruger National Park

There are many different ways to experience and enjoy South Africa’s world-famous game reserve, Kruger National Park. The most fun and cheapest way is a self-drive safari with your own car. You pay an entrance fee when you enter one of the 9 gates where you grab a detailed map and off you go…

Another popular way is joining a guided game drive in an open safari vehicle. This one is more expensive but you don’t need to drive around by yourself and you have an experienced guide by your side. Both unique and great in their own way, in fact, we recommend trying out both if you have the time.

Kruger National Park is famous worldwide for its scenery and home to all of the Big Five: the buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion, and leopard.

Oct-Mar 5.30 am – 6 pm
Apr-Sep 6 am – 5.30 pm

Day visitors: R372/adult and R186/child for international visitors
Wild card:  you have also the option to purchase a Wild Card which will give you access to 80+ Parks and is valid from the date of purchase for 365 days: R2,900 single, R4,350 couple, or R5,420 family (up to 7 – max 2 adults) more info about the Wild Card here

Prices and possibilities vary from exclusive private safaris to affordable shared safaris. Count around R1270 ($80) for a full day game drive or R800 ($50) for a half-day drive (3-5 hours)

A guided tour in Kruger National Park is amazing as the guides know the best spots inside the park and communicate with each other if they spot one of the Big Five. When you travel with kids it’s also nice to have an experienced guide that can tell more about the animals and entertain the kids during the safari in Kruger National Park.

Book here a guided tour in Kruger National Park

Hyena in Kruger National Park
Hyena in Kruger National Park
Lion in Kruger National Park
Lion in Kruger National Park
Giraffes on our Safari in Kruger National Park South Africa
Giraffes on our Safari in Kruger National Park South Africa
Springboks drinking at a waterhole in Kruger National Park
Springboks drinking at a waterhole in Kruger National Park

Admire the Rhinos in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve 

The biggest population of Black and White Rhinos can be found in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve but also the Big Five. It is located in the Kwazulu Natal region in South Africa and it’s the oldest Game Reserve. We enjoyed 3 game drives during our stay in the Rhino River Lodge and spotted elephants, a black rhino, leopards, cheetahs and many more animals.

6 am – 5 pm

Day visitors: R240/adult and R120/child for international visitors

We stayed 2 nights in the Rhino River Lodge which is located in the Manyoni Private Reserve. This was definitely one of our highlights during our 3 weeks in South Africa. Can’t recommend it enough.

We joined a guided game drive safari in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve which was included in our stay at the Rhino River Lodge. If you would like to book a guided tour we can recommend to book this private game drive safari and experience the best of Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Rhino in South Africa
Rhino in South Africa
Cheetah in Hluhluwe Game Reserve
African Wild Dogs
African Wild Dogs

Visiting a traditional village in Lesotho

During our camping overland trip with Acacia Africa, we visited a traditional, rural village in Lesotho. More specifically in Malealea, situated in a remote part of Western Lesotho. This unique experience was a great opportunity to see the traditional way of life.

At Malealea Lodge they offer village tours, partnered with the Malealea Development Trust, which funds various projects that support their community. During this tour, you’ll be wandering through the village, visiting a traditional beer brewer,  a cultural museum, and a village school. A unique experience not to be missed!

Read also: An overland camping tour in Africa: everything you need to know

R75 per person  (3-hour tour)

This tour was included in our African Adventure 

12 awesome things to do in South Africa

12 awesome things to do in South Africa

school in Swaziland

Driving up the Sani Pass

The Sani Pass is a very steep and twisting road and one of the most spectacular and scenic mountain passes in whole Africa. It takes around 2.5 hours to reach the top and can only be done in a 4×4. If your rental car is not suitable, you will not be allowed to begin the drive by the border authorities. (for your own safety!)

But don’t worry, because there are plenty of organized Sani Pass day trips. Day tours are usually leaving in the morning, climbing up 2874 meters above sea level into Lesotho. Along the way, you’re able to stop at different breathtaking views. And once you reach the top, you stop at the ‘highest pub in Africa’, also known as the Sani Mountain Lodge and the perfect spot to break the ride.

November – March

Guided day tours start cost around R925 per person (7 hours)

Sani Pass guided tours can be booked here

12 awesome things to do in South Africa

Drakensbergen Lesotho Mountain View

Hiking the Tugela Falls in the Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg Mountain range in KwaZulu-Natal is an absolute must-do for all nature lovers and anyone searching for some adventure. The mountains form the border between South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho and are one of the best places for hiking.

Drakensberg’s favorite trail and one that needs to be on every hiker’s must-do list is the 12 km hike up to the top of the Tugela Falls, at 3121 meters. The Tugela Falls is the highest waterfall in Africa and the 2nd highest waterfall in the world.

The trail to it is pretty straight forward with a last steep climb to the top of the Amphitheater. You can also choose to take the chain ladders, which we took for the descent. Pretty scary, we have to admit. Anyway, the hike is all about the views and the spectacular rock formations. It takes about 5 hours to go up and hike back again.

Park entrance fee + day-hiking permit: R120 per person
Guided day trip cost around R750 per person (incl transport, lunch, park fee, guides fee) bookable via Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, more info here

Mountain View

Mountain View tegalia falls

Spotting the hippos in St Lucia

St Lucia is a super laid-back town off the north coast of the KwaZulu-Natal region. It’s part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and famous for South Africa’s largest hippo population. Over 800 hippos can be found here and the ultimate way to spot them is on the famous hippo & croc boat cruises. We took a 2-hour cruise in the late afternoon which we highly recommend.

R300 ($20) per person (almost every 2 hour departs another cruise)

A 2-hour boat cruise and spot hippo’s, crocodiles, and many birds

12 awesome things to do in South Africa

Spot elephants in Addo Elephant National Park

Located close to Port Elizabeth, Addo Elephant National Park is South Africa’s third-largest national park. The reserve is home to South Africa’s largest elephant population, as well as the other members of the Big 7 (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, Southern Right whale, and great white shark).

You can easily spend a couple of days here and same as for Kruger National Park you can do a self-drive safari here with your own car.

Day visitors: R307/adult and R154/child for international visitors
Wild card: you have also the option to purchase a Wild Card which will give you access to 80+ Parks and is valid from the date of purchase for 365 days: R2,900 single, R4,350 couple or R5,420 family (up to 7 – max 2 adults) more info about the Wild Card here
Guided game drives: R389 per person for a normal game drive, R535 per person for a sundowner game drive (incl drinks & snacks)

A guided safari in Addo Elephant park here and see the Big 5

Safari in Addo elephant park South Africa

Bungee jumping from the Bloukrans Bridge

South Africa’s Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump with Face Adrenalin was one of the craziest and most thrilling moments in our life. (and our first ever bungee jump) The bungee jump takes place from the top of the arch of Africa’s biggest bridge – the Bloukrans Bridge. 216 meters high, 6 seconds of freefall, and over 100 decibels shouting, you guess it, this is a lifetime memory!

Tip: wear comfortable clothing that you can jump with (no skirts) and decent footwear for the walk and zipline to the jumping point.

R1350 per person + R500 for the video and pictures online as well as on USB of your jump 

Book your jump from the world’s highest bungee jump with Face Adrenaline

Hike the Stormsriver Mouth Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park

The Stormsriver Mouth Trail is the most popular hike in Tsitsikamma National Park. It’s a short 2 km hike and the highlight is the 77m long suspension bridge crossing the Storms River Mouth. For those with more energy, follow the trail and take the steep climb to the lookout point. The views you’ll get are so worth the effort!

Park entrance fee (no permits needed): R235 per adult and R118 per child for international visitors

There are many activities and tours around Tsitsikamma National Park, check here for more options

tsitsikamma park

canoe and mountains

Croc-cage diving in Cango Wildlife Ranch

The Cango Wildlife Ranch is situated 3 km outside of Oudtshoorn on the scenic route R62 and famous for its animal encounters program where you can actually touch or hold different animals under supervised guidance. You can meet adult cheetahs, cheetah cubs, servals, snakes, chill out with the lemurs (Madagascar) or interact with a serval.

A dream-coming-true for animal lovers! And the craziest experience at Cango Wildlife Ranch is the croc-cage dive with the 4 meter Nile crocodiles. A unique opportunity to come face to face with these impressive predators.

Standard ticket: R180 per adult or R135 per child
Premium ticket incl 1 encounter of choice: R350 per adult or R250 per child
Extra encounter ticket of choice: R250 per adult or R180 per child
+ R300 for a 4GB USB with your photo’s and a GoPro video of your croc-cage dive

Read more about Cango Wildlife Center here

12 awesome experiences in South Africa

Wine tasting in the most breathtaking vineyards

Wine tasting is a must when you’re in South Africa. The Cape Winelands are home to some of the most prestigious wineries on the planet. The towns of Stellenbosch, Robertson, and Paarl are our favorites and can be found around 45 minutes from Cape Town. Be sure you stay for a couple of nights to explore the idyllic surroundings.

You won’t regret it. We also wrote another article with some tips for wine tasting experiences and we joined our tasting at Marianne Wine Estate, where we also spend a few nights.

Read also: Best things to do in Cape Town

Expect to pay between R50 and R200 per person depending on which tasting you opt for

There are so many vineyards in South Africa but this wine tasting tour is highly recommended and includes the Marianne Wine Estate.

12 awesome experiences in South Africa

Cage diving with white sharks in Gansbaai

Looking for another thrilling experience? This is it! Shark cage diving in Gansbaai is such a unique opportunity to witness the wonder of the Great White Shark in a safe and professional environment.

March – September

Prices from R2150 per person

We booked our trip with White Shark Projects and wrote more about our experience here.

12 awesome experiences in South Africa

Hanging out with the penguins in Cape Town

Last but not least, when you’re in South Africa, don’t forget to pay a visit to the cute little African penguins at Boulders Beach. It isn’t just a great place for penguins, it’s also a family-friendly swimming beach where you can climb over the boulders, explore the rock pools, or swim in the cool, clear False Bay water. With or without the penguins. Unique!

Entrance fee: R35 per adult and R10 per child

A full day to Cape Point and spot the penguins. If you are lucky you can see some whales as well.

12 awesome experiences in South Africa

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