Plan your itinerary

Your itinerary will be to your own taste and depend on your own research, plus advice from your travel operator/agent. If you use an agent, be sure to use a South African specialist, preferably with first-hand experience of the country.

Go on safari: South Africa is home to the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino – and a host of other animal, bird and plant species. To see the Big Five, your best bet is to head for the Kruger National Park and its environs in Mpumalanga or Limpopo, where many five-star lodges are located.

You could also opt for the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West, Marekele National Park in Limpopo, or head for any of the private lodges or parks in northern KwaZulu-Natal, which is famous for its rhino population.

Another iconic wildlife experience is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape. It’s a photographer’s paradise and home to the Kalahari black-maned lion.

Arm yourself with binoculars, a good field guide, a dedicated bird field guide, and take to the bush. Your encounter with wildlife big and small will count as among the most thrilling and memorable experiences of your life.

Visitors enjoying a game drive at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Visitors enjoying a game drive at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Soak up the sun: South Africa has some of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the world, and Cape Town’s famous beaches, such as Clifton and Muizenberg, along with Durban’s glorious beaches are extremely popular.

If you take yourself off to the Eastern Cape’s aptly named Wild Coast, or northern Zululand’s remote coast, you could well find yourself all alone with just surf, sand and sea to keep you company.

There are Blue Flag beaches, family-friendly beaches, beaches with African penguins, and beaches where you can watch whales breach and blow. And, of course, beaches where you can dive, snorkel, waterski, kayak, canoe or indulge in almost any water-based activity.

Wine country: Cape Town, iconic Table Mountain, Robben Island and the Cape Winelands are a must on any itinerary, and many visitors start their South African trip at the southernmost tip of the country for this reason.

The Cape Winelands offer unexpectedly lush scenery, the opportunity to sample excellent wines and superior dining in well-regarded restaurants, many of which are on wine farms. Don’t miss a visit to the university town of Stellenbosch and nearby Franschhoek. Hikers will also want to lace up their boots and get out into the spectacular mountains of this region.

History and culture: Follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest freedom icons in modern history, such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Mahatma Gandhi, among many others. There are numerous museums and sites of interest located around Johannesburg and in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

While you’re about it, spend time in Soweto or a city township; visit a Zulu cultural village; admire the intricate beadwork, metal neck rings and unique geometric mural art of the Ndebele people; enjoy the hospitality of a South African farm.

South African rock art is among the best in the world and easily accessible, especially in the Drakensberg.

Battlefields: Don’t miss the fascinating battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, where Brit battled Zulu and Boer battled Brit. Other parts of the country to have an interesting battle history include the Eastern Cape, site of the Frontier Wars (also known as the Wars of Dispossession), and the Northern Cape, where parts of the South African War (also known as Boer War) played out.

Garden Route: This route takes visitors east along the coast from Cape Town, past spectacular coastal scenery and through indigenous forests surrounding the beautiful town of Knysna. End your Garden Route trip with a visit to the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, where you are guaranteed good sightings of these lumbering giants.

Adventure: Whether it’s diving with great white sharks, a tandem paraglide flight or backpacking in Big Five territory, there is no shortage of adventure on offer in South Africa. You’ll find the sharks at Gansbaai in the Western Cape, and can book a tandem paraglide from Lion’s Head in Cape Town and hike on foot in the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga or Limpopo with armed guides.

TRAVEL TIP: Arm yourself with a really good comprehensive guide to South Africa long before leaving home, and tweak and prune until you come up with a personal itinerary tailored just for you and your particular interests.

Seasonal highlights

The sardine run (May to June): Aptly described as ‘The Greatest Shoal on Earth’, the sardine run takes place every winter, when millions of small, silvery sardines surge from the cold Cape waters up to the KwaZulu-Natal coast in shoals approximately 15km long, 4km wide and 40m deep. Feeding frenzies of dolphins, sharks, seabirds and other marine life follow in their wake.

Whale watching (August to November): Every year, from late winter through to early summer, southern right whales migrate to mate and calve in sheltered bays off the Cape coast. One of the best places to see these majestic marine animals is from the coastal town of Hermanus, reputed to offer the best shore-based whale watching in the world.

Flowering dunes in Namaqualand, Northern Cape

Flowering dunes in Namaqualand, Northern Cape

Namaqualand spring flowers (late July to October): This dazzling display of spring flowers in an arid semi-desert area of the Northern Cape is regarded as one of the world’s most dramatic natural spectacles. Stretching 500km north up the Cape coast and 100km inland, carpets of brilliant colour burst into vibrant life. Approximately 4 000 species of plants have been identified here.

The National Arts Festival (July): This festival, which takes place in the Eastern Cape’s cathedral and university city of Grahamstown, has become the biggest annual celebration of the arts in Africa. Expect world-class dance, music, drama, film, jazz, visual arts and a ‘fringe’ that is now said to rival that of its big European brother, the Edinburgh Festival.

The Comrades Marathon (June): This now legendary ultra-marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal started as a tribute to the South African soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. Since then, it has become a South African long-distance running icon and its popularity as an ultra- marathon has spread around the world.

The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour (March): Billed as the world’s largest timed cycle race, this event attracts a field of around 35 000 cyclists. The vast majority are ordinary people who want to take on the challenge of cycling around one of the most beautiful peninsulas in the world. But over the years the race has also attracted its fair share of celebrities, including former Springbok rugby captain Francois Pienaar, who in turn persuaded American actor Matt Damon (who played him in the film Invictus) to ride.

South Africa’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

South Africa has eight United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites, areas that have been given special international status for their unique qualities. If you are interested in culture and natural history, then you may well want to factor a visit to one of these sites into your planning.

Cape Floral Region Protected Areas: Stretching from the Cape Peninsula across much of the Western Cape and into the Eastern Cape, this area is made up of eight protected sites that are among the richest areas for plants in the world – the Cape Floral Region is home to 20% of the flora in Africa, although covering less than 0.5% of its land mass. It’s best explored on foot on the numerous hiking trails to be found in the area, including the Table Mountain National Park. A visit to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town is a good introduction to the wonders of the flora of the Cape.

Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa: The easiest way to experience this is by visiting the Maropeng Visitor Centre in the Cradle of Humankind, within easy striking distance of Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Cradle of Humankind is an area exceptionally rich in fossils of hominids, the early ancestors of humans. The hominid sites include Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs, the Makapan Valley and the Taung Skull Fossil Site.

The skull of Australopithecus africanus, 'Mrs Ples', found in the Cradle of Humankind

The skull of Australopithecus africanus, 'Mrs Ples', found in the Cradle of Humankind

iSimangaliso Wetland Park: One of Africa’s most beautiful wetland and coastal sites, this natural area has coral reefs, long, sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lakes (where you can see hippos and crocodiles), swamps, and reed-and-papyrus wetlands that are famed for their birdlife. It is just a few hours’ drive north of Durban and falls under Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which has a variety of accommodation available.

Maloti-Drakensberg Park: The Drakensberg mountain range that forms the border between Lesotho and South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province is not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but also home to more than 600 rock-art sites with close on 35 000 individual images painted by the San people who once roamed here. This makes it the most concentrated number of rock painting south of the Sahara. The mountains are also home to several endemic species of birds and plants. There are numerous accommodation options in the area, which offer everything from relaxing hotel-style breaks to bracing hiking options for the outdoor enthusiast.

Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape: On the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers, this area is both a national park and contains remnants of an intriguing kingdom dating back to the 14th century. The people of this indigenous kingdom traded in gold and ivory.

Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape: Located in the furthermost north-western corner of the Northern Cape, this is an arid, mountainous area with unique succulent vegetation. It home to the Nama people, semi-nomadic pastoralists whose cultural lifestyle can still be observed here. A visit to this area generally requires a 4x4. If you spend time in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, you can also cross the border over the Orange River into Namibia.

Robben Island: This island is where former president Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned. This island that lies in Table Bay, within sight of central Cape Town, was used as a prison and place of isolation for the mentally ill and people with diseases like leprosy from the mid-1800s until the 1930s. From 1961 to1991 it was a maximum-security prison for political prisoners. According to UNESCO, its symbolism lies in its ‘sombre history’. You can visit this island from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Ferries depart daily.

Vredefort Dome: Only 120km south-west of Johannesburg, this is the world’s largest meteor-impact crater, formed some 2023-million years ago. The meteorite responsible for this crash probably measured about 10km across and it ploughed into earth when the only form of life was probably algae. Today, the crash site is 190km wide and offers many recreational facilities for outdoor enthusiasts, along with being a fascinating study site for those interested in how Earth evolved.

South Africa’s nine provinces


God's Window along the Panorama Route, Mpumalanga

God's Window along the Panorama Route, Mpumalanga

Top attractions

Kruger National Park and scenic beauty
The Kruger National Park crosses the border of both Limpopo and Mpumalanga. It's South Africa’s premier national park and is exceptionally well set up for tourists. You can expect good roads and an excellent choice of accommodation to suit all pockets. It is also the locale of the famous Panorama Route, which takes you through some of the most scenic landscapes to be found in the country.

Main city

Mbombela (Nelspruit)
Mpumalanga’s capital city (previously called Nelspruit) started life in the 1890s as a hub for gold diggers, farmers and traders. It’s now a thriving commercial and farming centre (look out for tropical fruit that grows here in abundance) and a shopping centre for residents of neighbouring Swaziland and Mozambique.


This scenically beautiful province, which means ‘the land of the rising sun’ in the local siSwati and Zulu languages, is best known for its wildlife, adventure and history.

Mpumalanga is home to the Kruger National Park, one of the oldest, largest and most famous game reserves in the world. It is also where you’ll find the Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa’s most prestigious private game reserve.

Expect dramatic scenery: there are more waterfalls here than anywhere else in the country; mountains that cocoon Earth’s oldest life forms; the oldest dolomite caves in the world; colourful culture; an exciting gold-rush past; friendly little towns; and adventure activities galore.

The province, which stretches east from Gauteng to the neighbouring countries of Swaziland and Mozambique, is home to the scenic Panorama Route that traces the course of the powerful Blyde River and takes in some spectacular natural attractions, as well the historic village of Pilgrim’s Rest, where you can relive the gold rush of the 1870s (and even pan for gold if you have time).

Accommodation ranges from charming, affordable B&Bs to guest farms, country hotels and luxury game lodges. Mpumalanga has excellent infrastructure with good roads that make self-drive easy, and lots of attractive small towns with restaurants and curio shops.

It’s also South Africa’s top adventure centre, where you can go river rafting, abseiling, climbing, quad biking, horse riding and mountain biking.

Western Cape

The cableway going to the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town

The cableway going to the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town

Top attractions

Table Mountain and Robben Island
Table Mountain is Cape Town’s most famous landmark. A cable car trip to the top of the mountain is the perfect way to orientate yourself on your first trip to the city. On a clear day at the top you should be able to see Robben Island in Table Bay, the place where former president Nelson Mandela was once held prisoner. Many visitors visit both these attractions in a day.

Main city

Cape Town
South Africa’s second-largest city (after Johannesburg) and very popular with international travellers, Cape Town is renowned for its scenic beauty. With an international airport and busy port, the city is a bustling metropolitan area.


The Western Cape extends from the Cape of Good Hope 400km north and 500km east. It is South Africa’s fourth-largest province and bounded by the Northern and Eastern Cape.

It is best known for Cape Town, South Africa’s ‘Mother City’, a popular travel destination with its iconic Table Mountain and beautiful beaches, among many other attractions.

The Western Cape is home to the West Coast National Park, famous for birds and spring flowers (in late August and September) and the Cederberg, an area of contrast where 71 000ha of rugged mountains are offset in spring by carpets of yellow, orange, blue and purple flowers.

Along the province's eastern coastline lies the picturesque Garden Route, which stretches several hundred kilometres from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. This is one of the country's most popular routes.

The wine-growing areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington, Franschhoek, Ceres, Worcester, Bonnievale and Robertson are popular attractions, where a Mediterranean climate favours the production of superb wines.

The province is also renowned for its fresh seafood, from line fish to lobster, snoek and hake.

Cape Town International Airport is the second busiest in the country, after OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

From the waterfront hotels of Cape Town to campsites in national parks, guest houses, B&Bs and luxury apartments, a variety of accommodation options are available to suit all tastes.


Champagne Castle in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

Champagne Castle in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

Top attractions

Bush, beaches, mountains
Choose one of Durban’s popular beaches with amenities galore plus superb surfing, or make your way north or south along the coast. Sodwana Bay is a diving and fishing mecca. Inland, you’ll find the impressive Drakensberg mountains, which offer numerous recreational amenities for fly-fishers, hikers, horse-riders and holidaymakers, while in the northern part of the province there are several world-class game reserves.

Main city

The laid-back but busy city of Durban is South Africa’s third-largest city. It’s Africa’s largest port, one of South Africa’s favourite seaside destinations (‘Durbs’ to the locals), and an exciting mix of urban Zulu culture, a huge Indian population and English-speaking South Africans.


South Africa’s third-smallest province, KwaZulu-Natal is also one of its most exciting – it has a wealth of scenic and cultural attractions that include the country’s most developed beaches south and north of Durban, as well as isolated, almost untouched beaches; world-famous game reserves; two UNESCO World Heritage Sites; and some of the South Africa’s most famous historic battlefields.

The richly diverse province stretches along the warm Indian Ocean from Port Edward in the south to Swaziland and Mozambique in the north. The coast has a subtropical climate all year round.

In the west of the province you’ll find South Africa’s most magnificent mountains, the Drakensberg, in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage Site. Inland, the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands offer a lush, green countryside brimming

with historical little towns, attractive country hotels and irresistible craft routes.

KwaZulu-Natal is also where battles that captured the world’s attention took place in the 1800s and early 1900s, when Boers and Brits battled Zulus, and Boers battled Brits.

In the interior, north of Durban, among other smaller game parks and superb private Big Five game reserves, is the iconic Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, your best chance of spotting black and white rhino.

Further north up the coast is the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its ecosystems that brim with game and marine life.

The province has an excellent infrastructure, with good roads, fine accommodation and a wide selection of restaurants. Its main airport is King Shaka International Airport, about 35km north of Durban.


The baobab tree, also known as the 'Tree of Life', in Limpopo

The baobab tree, also known as the 'Tree of Life', in Limpopo

Top attractions

Mapungubwe and the northern Kruger
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mapungubwe is tucked into the far north-west corner of the province, next to the Limpopo River that borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe. Here are the remains of an ancient African kingdom that traded gold and ivory with people from the East. In the eastern corner of this province is the northern region of the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s premier game reserve. This part of the park has a unique character and is famous for its beautiful baobab trees, birdlife and large herds of elephant and buffalo.

Main city

Polokwane, Limpopo’s capital city, in the centre of the province, is the commercial, administrative and agricultural hub of the region. It has wide streets, colourful flowering trees, shopping malls, offices and fast-flowing traffic on the way to and from the Zimbabwean border.


In recent times Limpopo has taken its rightful place as a sought-after tourist destination with big game, brilliant birding, untamed bush landscapes, a marvellous ancient African kingdom, places of myth and legend, and as the northern gateway to Kruger National Park.

It is South Africa’s northernmost province and one of its wildest (wildest in terms of immense untamed landscapes).

Because of its malaria-free game parks, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mapungubwe (possibly Southern Africa’s first-ever kingdom), its cultural heritage steeped in myth and legend, and its fascinating mountain ranges, it is now a drawcard for travellers who are seeking roads less travelled.

Limpopo is now home to one of South Africa’s most popular and malaria-free Big Five destinations – the Waterberg, a high plateau in the west of the province surrounded by bushveld that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Limpopo is also known for its rich cultural heritage. You’ll find woodcarvers, potters, intricate beadwork, legends and myths, and even a Rain Queen, the hereditary female ruler of the Modjadji people, who is held to have the power to make rain.

The southern slopes of the far northern Soutpansberg mountains have a subtropical climate with lush farms growing macadamia nuts and avocados, although higher up you’ll find more typical mountain scenery with gorges, waterfalls and hillsides, where more than 550 species of trees flourish. Because of its unique ecosystems, the area is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Eastern Cape

Elephants at a watering hole at Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape

Elephants at a watering hole at Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape

Top attractions

Addo Elephant National Park and the Wild Coast
This is the only reserve in the world that is home to the Big Seven – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, great white sharks and southern right whales. The 164 000ha park, near Port Elizabeth, is rated as one of the best places in Africa to see elephants up close. Further up the coast is an area known as the Wild Coast, a coastal area of exceptional natural beauty.

Main city

Port Elizabeth
Know as the Friendly City, the Windy City, or simply PE, Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers. It is the second-oldest city and the fifth largest in South Africa. Life here revolves around the ocean. The city caters for everyone, and is known as a great family vacation centre.


South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. It is an area with some enticing attractions – pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery.

Its natural diversity is impressive: the Eastern Cape incorporates parts of all seven ecological zones that occur in South Africa. It also features all three of the country's biodiversity regions, which is further enhanced by its 820km of untamed coastline.

This ensures an assortment of plant and animal species, including the Big Five, abundant birdlife and rich marine life (including 27 species of whales and dolphins).

The province offers something for everyone: for the adrenaline addict there’s tubing down the Storm’s River Gorge, skydiving in Grahamstown and taking the plunge off the Bloukrans Bridge on the world’s highest commercially operated bridge bungee; outdoor enthusiasts can try spot the Big Seven or enjoy pristine beaches.

The province is steeped in history – it is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and a number of other great political activists – and was one of the centres at the forefront of the fight for democracy in South Africa.

Like South Africa’s other provinces, the Eastern Cape has an excellent infrastructure, with good roads and plenty of accommodation.


The Orlando Towers in Soweto, Gauteng

The Orlando Towers in Soweto, Gauteng

Top attractions

Apartheid Museum and the Cradle of Humankind
The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg documents South Africa’s Freedom Struggle during the days of apartheid. Set on 7ha of landscaped grounds, the museum has over 20 exhibition areas that include film footage, text panels and artefacts. About an hour’s drive from Johannesburg is the Cradle of Humankind, which is renowned for its extraordinary fossil record of early human ancestors.

Main city

The capital of Gauteng was built on the discovery of gold in 1886. It is now a vibrant megacity (the greater Johannesburg area is home to about 10-million people) that is the economic powerhouse of the country.


Gauteng is an urban playground – think large shopping malls, bars, hotels, casinos and a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene. It is South Africa’s economic powerhouse, and is fast-paced, high-tech and ever changing.

Gauteng is the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, but also the most densely populated and the fastest growing – not too surprising, really, as Gauteng means ‘place of gold’ (gold has been intertwined with the province’s history ever since its discovery in the Johannesburg area in 1886).

It is a province of contrasts – old and new, contemporary and traditional, dense cities and wide-open grasslands, all co-existing.

Although dominated by urban areas, there are a number of great natural attractions, like the Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng’s only Big Five nature reserve; the Pretoria National Botanical Garden; and the Magaliesberg mountains.

Gauteng is also home to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, which contains some of the most important palaeoanthropological sites in the world. Here, scientists have discovered important fossils that tell us much about the predecessors of modern humans.

Most of Gauteng is on the Highveld, a high-altitude grassland; its spectacular Highveld thunderstorms are legendary.

There’s plenty for you to do in Gauteng, whether you favour a night on the town, a game drive or some great shopping. Immerse yourself in Gauteng’s cultural scene – there are museums, galleries, theatres, historical sites, cultural hubs and a number of music festivals.

Gauteng boasts a world-class infrastructure and a large range of accommodation, from the ultra-luxurious to budget options.

North West

A hot-air balloon ride over the Magaliesberg region, North West

A hot-air balloon ride over the Magaliesberg region, North West

Top attractions

Pilanesberg Game Reserve and Sun City
A four-hour hot air balloon ride over the malaria-free Pilanesberg Game Reserve offers game viewing at its best. Here, 55 000ha of trees and grassland support a wildlife population that includes the Big Five. Close by is Sun City, a popular hotel and leisure centre with a water park and casino.

Main city

Mahikeng (formerly Mafeking and Mafikeng), the North West province’s capital city, and the adjacent town, Mmabatho, comprise a single urban area. Mahikeng was made famous by the Siege of Mafikeng during the South African War when the British resisted a superior Boer force for more than 200 days before being relieved by British troops, largely thanks to the efforts of Lord Robert Baden-Powell – who later founded the Boy Scout movement.


The North West province features premier wildlife destinations (the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and the Madikwe Game Reserve); parts of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Vredefort Dome and the Taung Fossil Site, which is part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site); and the Sun City gaming and entertainment resort.

It is South Africa’s fourth-smallest province and is bordered by the country of Botswana to the north, and the South African provinces of the Northern Cape to the west, Gauteng to the east, Limpopo to the north-east, and Free State to the south.

Named South Africa’s ‘platinum province’ for its vast underground resources, North West also produces platinum, gold, diamonds and uranium. The Magaliesberg mountain range in the north-east extends for 130km from Pretoria (in Gauteng) to Rustenburg.

The province is home to the Hartbeespoort Dam, a popular weekend water-

sports and adventure hub, particularly as it is just an hour or so's drive from the large cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The North West is a prime game-viewing destination and home of the well-known Madikwe Game Reserve and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, as well as other smaller wildlife and nature reserves.

From the opulence of the five-star Palace of the Lost City hotel in Sun City to boutique hotels, quaint guest houses, self-catering establishments, holiday cottages and chalets, the North West is well equipped with accommodation options.

Free State

Golden Gate National Park, Free State

Golden Gate National Park, Free State

Top attractions

Vredefort Dome and the eastern Free State
The Vredefort Dome is the impact site of a meteor that struck the Earth about two billion years ago, leaving a crater 300km in diameter. The Vredefort hills and crater are ideal for adventure seekers: climb and abseil its rock faces, or go rafting on the rapids of the Vaal River, which flows through it. In the eastern part of the province is an area of exceptional natural beauty with the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, where sandstone cliffs and waving grasslands greet visitors.

Main city

The name means ‘fountain of flowers ’, and Bloemfontein is popularly known as the City of Roses because they grow so well here. Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State province, was officially founded as a fort in 1846 by the British army. It is the birthplace of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien.


The Free State’s appeal lies in its scenic beauty and natural attractions. This province is in the heart of South Africa – it borders six of the nine South African provinces, as well as the kingdom of Lesotho.

The Free State is South Africa’s breadbasket. Because of its good soil and climate, much of the land is taken up by agriculture – the area produces over 70% of the country’s grain.

But it also boasts astounding scenic beauty: wide, open plains and majestic mountains characterise this province.

The spectacular Drakensberg and Maluti mountain ranges are popular for adventure tourists, and the province boasts some of the best rock features in the world and is rich in San rock art.

A popular attraction is the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which gets its name from the surrounding gold sandstone cliffs. Great for exploring on foot and home to hundreds of bird species, it’s an excellent site for birders.

The Free State is known for its great hospitality and sedate lifestyle, and is particularly appealing for those interested in exploring small-town South Africa.

But it is not all about sedate strolls and birdwatching; there’s more than enough to keep the adrenaline junkie occupied. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, abseiling and canoeing (among others), while the Ash River – the only river in the country that has year-round high water levels – makes for excellent white-water rafting.

The Free State has an excellent road infrastructure and a variety of accommodation options. Bloemfontein’s airport, Bram Fischer International Airport, links to South Africa’s other major centres.

Northern Cape

The Augrabies Waterfall, Northern Cape

The Augrabies Waterfall, Northern Cape

Top attractions

The Big Hole and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Big Hole in Kimberley is the world’s largest hand-dug excavation. Created by miners during the diamond rush of the 1870s, it has an estimated depth of 214m and a perimeter of 1.6km. Next to the Big Hole is the Kimberley Mine Museum, with a replica of the city from the diamond-rush days. Further north in the province, you will find South Africa’s second-largest national park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which spills over into Botswana.

Main city

Kimberley, the City of Diamonds, came into existence with the diamond rush of the 1870s. It is the capital city of the Northern Cape and is steeped in history and culture. It is now a modern hub with malls, art galleries, restaurants and an active nightlife.


The Northern Cape, bordered by Namibia and Botswana, is the largest of South Africa’s nine provinces (it takes up about a third of the entire country) and is very sparsely populated. In some areas it is possible to drive for hours without coming across any people.

Its sparse desert landscape and spectacular open spaces are especially appreciated at night – with no light pollution, the night sky is ideal for astronomy enthusiasts.

The lure of the Northern Cape is definitely its natural attractions, which include the annual Namaqualand wildflower display in spring (late August/September), the spectacular Augrabies Falls and the winding oasis that is the Green Kalahari. Further north is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, home to the magnificent Kalahari lion.

Its rugged terrain also makes it ideal for 4x4 adventurers, while the Orange (Gariep) River is ideal for river-rafting enthusiasts.

The province is steeped in history and culture, so encourage your clients to take the time to explore some of its many unique museums, like the Windmill Museum in Loeriesfontein; or to go on a ghost tour in Kimberley.

It is also home to the Richtersveld World Heritage Site, home to the Nama, a semi-nomadic group of people who have followed the same seasonal migratory pattern for thousands of years.

The Northern Cape's capital, Kimberley, has air and rail links with most of the major cities in South Africa, which makes it easy to get there or travel around the province.