The Ultimate South African Travel Bucket List

13 Jan 2017

It’s a New Year and time to set goals, decide upon resolutions and reflect on how we’re going to make 2017 the best year yet. We have one word for you and it needs to be part of your 2017 ambitions – travel!

Here are some destinations we consider bucket list worthy; some require staying a night or two and others are perfect for a day out.

Go game-viewing in the Kruger National Park

Your one-stop shop for all of your wildlife dreams

South Africa’s largest and most legendary game reserve, the Kruger National Park, straddles the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Not only can you catch a glimpse of the famous Big Five here but you will find yourself surrounded by hundreds of species of birds, ancient trees, winding rivers and so much more. If you want to be a tourist in the park just for the day, have a look at the website for cost and information.

WHO TO CONTACT

South African National Parks Central Reservations
Tel: +27 12 428 9111
Email: reservations@sanparks.org

HOW TO GET HERE

By road from Johannesburg, it’s approximately a five-hour drive (depending on where you enter the park). You can also travel by plane to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mbombela (Nelspruit) and drive from there.

 

See South Africa’s best views along the Panorama Route

Mpumalanga’s scenic Panorama Route is home to the famous Blyde River Canyon – the largest green canyon in the world, with a number of famous viewpoints along the route such as God’s Window. You know it’s going to be a holy sight if it’s called “God’s Window”, and the views from various points here are quite extraordinary. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Kruger National Park and even South Africa’s border with Mozambique.

WHO TO CONTACT

Mpumalanga Tourism
Tel: +27 13 759 5300
Email: info@mtpa.co.za

HOW TO GET THERE

If you’re driving from Johannesburg, join the N12 towards eMalahleni (Witbank) and head for Mbombela (Nelspruit), and then drive north. You can also drive via the N4. The Panorama Route is also accessible by shuttle and long-distance bus.

 blyde river canyon

Visit Boulders Beach and its penguins

One of the most beautiful beaches on the Cape Peninsula, Boulders Beach is located just outside of Cape Town in the naval town of Simonstown. Not only is the beach itself very scenic, but it’s also home to a breeding colony of more than 2000 endangered African penguins. This is a perfect day trip if you have children who enjoy being outdoors and learning about nature. This comes at the cost of a small conservation fee, but who wouldn’t be willing to part ways with R65 for a day in this paradise?

WHO TO CONTACT

South African National Parks
Tel: +27 12 428 9111
Email: reservations@sanparks.org

HOW TO GET HERE

Boulders Beach is located in Simonstown, just over the hilly peninsula from Cape Town. It’s easily accessible by bus, car, taxi or train.

Free activities 

Hike or horse ride the Drakensberg Mountains

Located just two hours from Durban and four hours from Gauteng, South Africa’s highest mountain range, the Drakensberg, was selected a World Heritage Site in 2000. Stretching for some 150km, it’s home to various spectacular locations, including Cathedral Peak and Giant’s Castle, as well as a 5km wall of rock called the Amphitheatre. The mountains, with numerous valleys and rivers, is an outdoor playground where you can enjoy leisure time pursuing activities including trout fishing, tubing, 4×4 trails, quad biking, horse riding and hot air balloon rides over hidden valleys.

WHO TO CONTACT

Drakensberg Tourism Association
Tel: +27 36 448 1557
Email: info@drakensberg.org.za

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Hike or catch a lift up Table Mountain

A must-do activity on any trip to Cape Town is a journey to the top of the Mother City’s most iconic natural landmark – Table Mountain. Seeing the city and sea spread below you from 1085m above is a gasp-worthy sight like no other. Pack a picnic because this makes for a fun day trip with friends or family. For a fast and convenient way to experience the Cableway, buy your tickets online before you arrive.

WHO TO CONTACT
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company
Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road
Tel: +27 21 424 8181

HOW TO GET HERE

Table Mountain is easily accessible by car, taxi and bus. You can even take a City Sightseeing bus to the foot of the mountain.

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Hike or run the Garden Route’s Otter Trail

You have to be fit for this one but it is worth every sore muscle! Embark on a coastal trail of discovery along the famous Otter Trail, from Storms River Mouth through the spectacular Tsitsikamma Forest to Nature’s Valley in the breathtaking Garden Route National Park. This exciting five-day adventure encompasses 42km of trails on cliff tops along the shoreline, and offers an exceptional diversity of scenery and experiences.

WHO TO CONTACT

SANParks Reservations
Tel: +27 12 426 5111
Email: reservations@sanparks.org

HOW TO GET HERE

The start of the trail is found at Storms River Mouth. The closest national airport is in George, approximately a three hours’ drive. The closest international airport is in Cape Town with daily flights available to George.

hiking

Canoe the Orange River

The Orange River offers a unique stretch of natural beauty that is worth exploring. Orange River four-day trips are more than just a river trip! You will get to experience gourmet river food, the African night sky, and the starkly barren Richtersveld National Park. Under the guidance of experienced and qualified staff you will enjoy adventure not easily matched. Enjoy scrumptious meals, raging campfires and great company as you overnight under the starlit African sky. To top it all off, the water is warm and the weather is naturally perfect “allyear round”.  Costs can vary from company to company, but we can safely say this special trip can cost you anything between R2995 and R4995 p/p incl. vat.

WHO TO CONTACT

Felix Unite
Tel: +27 21 702 9400
Email: info@felixunite.com

Kalahari Outventures
Tel: +27 82 476 8213
Email: info@kalahari-adventures.co.za

HOW TO GET HERE

There are many points along the Orange River from where to start your adventure and all are easily reachable by car. The easiest way is to fly to Upington and access the river from the nearby Augrabies Falls National Park.

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Snorkel, swim and horse ride in St. Lucia

This will require booking accommodation for a few nights but it is totally worth it. A visit here will see you exploring endless beaches, hiking scenic trails and routes through mountains, coastal forests and the rolling grasslands around Lake St. Lucia. Magnificent scuba diving and snorkeling in spectacular coral reefs will keep the water babies occupied, while horse riding, camping, kayak trips and game viewing to see the largest population of hippo in the country are great options too.

WHO TO CONTACT

St. Lucia Tourism

Cell: +27 83 457 2147 

Office: +27 35 590 1555

Email: info@stlucia.co.za

 HOW TO GET HERE

The town of St Lucia, is about a three-hour drive north of Durban. Take the N2 north bound. After about 225km, take the Mtubatuba turn-off and follow the signs to St. Lucia, which is about 25km away.

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Visit Maropeng

The highlight of visiting Maropeng is the underground lake at Sterkfontein Caves and the Cradle of Humankind. Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana, the main indigenous language in this area of South Africa. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is an easy drive of about an hour from Johannesburg or Pretoria. Inside the tumulus building, you’ll find fun, interactive displays that could keep you occupied for a morning or even a whole day. There are more than a dozen major fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind and the Maropeng centre was developed to provide visitors with an overview of the significance of the area as well as the story of human development. Once inside, your tour will start with a boat ride on an artificial lake (guaranteed to be a hit with kids in particular) before you enter the exhibition area that leads you through highlights of our evolutionary journey.

WHO TO CONTACT

Maropeng Visitor Centre
Tel: +27 (0)14 577 9000
Email: info@maropeng.co.za

HOW TO GET HERE

It’s off the R563, but it’s best to download the map on the Maropeng website.

The beautiful Mrs Ples

The beautiful Mrs Ples

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