Southern Africa is one of the most magical places on earth and a journey through this fabled land is sure to touch your soul. At the tip of the world’s most enigmatic continent, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are bursting with breathtaking wildlife, famed landmarks, awe-inspiring culture, and sumptuous cuisine. A couple of weeks spent on a southern Africa tour is an unforgettable experience, and the options for things to do are almost endless! We’ve put together this guide to the region’s most incredible must-sees, from the spectacular Big 5 game animals in Chobe National Park, to the thundering Victoria Falls and the gorgeous winelands in South Africa!
Here are our top must-sees in Southern Africa:
Captivating Cape Town
Cape Town is known for its sophisticated culture, world-class cuisine, and spectacular natural scenery. Table Mountain, the flat-topped mountain that looms above the city, makes for an awesome climb, or you can take the revolving cable car to the mountain’s soaring peak. You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world as you catch dramatic views of the entire Cape Peninsula – it’s a photographer’s dream!
In Table Mountain National Park, visit the adorable African penguin colony at Boulders Beach and frolic with these carefully protected birds. For an awe-inspiring journey into the history of South Africa cross over to Robben Island, a World Heritage Site 9km offshore from Cape Town. Nelson Mandela served two decades in prison here, and the Robben Island Museum now stands to commemorate the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racism.
During your tour of the Mother City, you’ll want to stroll around the attractive Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront. This stylish spot is a hub of activity with year-round events, fabulous shops and restaurants, and a lovely marina with spectacular views. Next, take a trip to Bo-Kaap – the colourful neighborhood in Cape Town that was originally settled by freed slaves, brought over by the Dutch in the 17th and 18th century. Bo-Kaap’s steep streets are lined with quaint, traditional houses, painted in vibrant colours. The Cape Malay community here is proudly Islamic, and plenty of little local restaurants are open so that you can sample the tasty traditional cuisine.
Embarking on a Township tour is a great way to see the real South Africa and get a feel for the region’s history, culture, and diversity. The Townships were created as living areas for non-whites under the old political system of Apartheid. Visiting the townships today can be a moving and eye-opening experience.
14-Day A World in One Country
Winelands and Garden Route
No visit to South Africa is complete without a wine tour. The bucolic Cape Winelands region has earned a reputation as South Africa’s culinary capital, and for good reason. The winelands are home to many legendary Cape wines, sumptuous restaurants, and gorgeous little towns that will steal your heart.
The famous Garden Route, along the southeastern coast of South Africa, is rich with lagoons, lakes, lush forests, wild flowers, and wildlife. The 300km route is dotted with quaint towns, windswept beaches, scenic mountains, and incredible animals. Make a stop in the town of Oudtshoorn, known as the “ostrich capital of the world”, to see the world’s biggest birds and explore the spectacular Cango Caves, Africa’s largest show cave system. In the enchanting Garden Route town of Knysna, take a scenic Lagoon cruise and visit the Featherbed Nature Reserve, which is home to the Knysna loerie bird and blue duiker – you won’t see these curious creatures anywhere else!
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and is an absolute show-stopper. Encompassing nearly two million hectares and fourteen unique ecosystems, Kruger is a must-visit highlight of any southern African vacation. If you’re looking to spot the Big 5 game animals amid breathtaking landscapes, you’ve come to the right place. Your quintessential South Africa safari experience starts here!
Morning, afternoon, and evening game drives led by seasoned experts, will get you within feet of gorgeous lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and other captivating wildlife. You’ll ride in an open 4×4 vehicle to get face-to-face with the most exciting and exhilarating wildlife in the world. While you’re staying in the park, uncover the best-kept secrets of the wilderness on a bush walk experience. You’ll get to hike through the bush with experienced guides and trackers, and get to know its fascinating wildlife.
Next, explore South Africa’s famous Panorama Route and feast your eyes on its spectacular scenery. The small town of Graskop, located near Kruger Park, is the gateway to the Route. Here you’ll be amazed by the Panorama Route’s pristine mountains, big sky, deep forests, and the truly impressive Blyde River Canyon – one of the world’s largest canyons. While in the Kruger area, animal lovers can go behind the scenes to explore Africa’s wildlife on our Endangered Wildlife Experience tour, where you visit two amazing conservation centres that rescue and protect some of the world’s most endangered creatures.
While in southern Africa, go beyond the ordinary and tour one of one of Earth’s great spectacles, found at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia – Victoria Falls. Prepare to be awe-struck as you witness the thundering cascade of the Zambezi River plunging into basalt gorges below. Victoria Falls is the stuff of legends, and when you witness its sheer strength and beauty, you’ll understand why. Take a vintage sunset cruise on the Ra-Ikane and harken back to a bygone era. Indulge in the unique flavours and aromas of African cuisine during a special Boma dinner – an authentic African dinner experience. Get up close and personal with the gentle giants of Africa on an Elephant Back Safari, where you’ll explore the wildlife trails around Victoria Falls while being carried by an elephant. Along the way you’ll learn about these incredible creatures and fall in love with them all over again.
5-Day Chobe Elephants and Victoria Falls
Chobe National Park
A visit to northern Botswana makes an amazing addition to any southern Africa tour. Chobe National Park is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, and on fantastic game drives you’ll venture into some of the greatest wildlife viewing areas in all of Africa. The park has nearly 11,000 sq km of diverse eco-systems that are home to lions, leopards, and African buffalo, along with over 450 species of birds. Before you leave, take a cruise on the mighty Chobe River and watch the sun descend from the vast African sky. It’s a journey that will stay in your heart forever.
4-Day Zambezi Queen – Luxury African River Safari