South Africa — Things to Do
South Africa’s 2,300 mile (3,700 km) coast spans both the Indian and Atlantic oceans so things to do typically involve the water. The Indian Ocean is warmer and has Blue Flag beaches which are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. On the Atlantic side, sandy strips along Cape Town and Sandy Bay attract sun-worshippers by the thousands. The country is famous for its surfing with Eland and Jeffrey’s Bay the go-to swells. Shark diving and whale-watching cruises are the other water-based activities of choice for visitors.
Then there’s the hinterlands. Safaris, trekking, mine tours, bungee jumping, and hot-air balloon odysseys are all unique pursuits. Rafting or canoeing along the Orange River, the longest river in the country, transports adventure-seekers through bucolic landscapes which time has all but forgotten. Fly fishing for trout on mountain streams is a relaxing activity that many relish.
An African safari is the definitive delight for wildlife lovers. Highly-knowledgeable guides are able to easily locate rhinos, elephants and big cats in their natural habitats. There are plenty of outfitters, including the national parks department SANParks and the private KrugerPark.com.
The highlight of many a trip, shark cage diving, run by Cape Shark Diving, brings one of the most feared creatures in the world face-to-face with brave travelers. You’re able to view the species from the safety of a protective cage in three locations: Mossel Bay, Gansbaai and Simon’s Town.
During the annual whaling season, boat operators run whale-watching cruises that let passengers get close to the gargantuan marine creatures. Hermanus Whale Cruises is one of the reputable companies providing trips around the shallow and sheltered bays of the Western Cape. Observe in awe as they frolic, nurse their calves and mate right before your eyes.
Canoe odysseys on the 1,242 mile (2,000 km) Orange River gently wander past verdant landscapes with the occasional thrill of rapids to keep travelers on their toes. Felix Unite runs a series of bespoke canoe adventures in the Richtersveld district of the Orange where you can also try your luck angling for carp and smallmouth. Accommodation is riverside camps where nighttime campfires introduce a true sense of camaraderie.
South Africa boasts an abundance of hiking routes. Those who prefer to trek independently will find the Otter Trail or the Dolphin Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park easy to navigate. The trails take in forests, wonderful sea views and mountains. Cedarberg Travel organizes group tours with experienced guides in this region, as well as in the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu Natal Province.
Hot Air Ballooning SA is a one-stop provider of hot-air balloon rides in all the prime tourist locations in South Africa. The company offers trips to the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the Drakensbergs and in the vicinity of Cape Town. The vantage points in the sky reveal a different aspect of the country’s terrain and eclectic sights.