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There’s a reason Table Mountain is as famous as it is. Situated within the Table Mountain National Park, this rugged mountain chain stretches for 60km from Signal Hill to Cape Point. The view is considered to be one of the best in the world. Whether you hike to the top, or take the famous cable car, you’ll be one of 22 million people who have been awestruck by the views and sensational experience of standing on top of a flat mountain.
Embrace your inner royal and head to the Cape Floral Kingdom, a World Heritage Site that contains one of the most diverse and unique flora ecosystems on earth. Stretching from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape, the Kingdom is home to 3% of the world’s plant species. 69% of the flora and fauna here are endemic—you won’t see them anywhere else, the world over.
You’ve seen them on TV and wondered just how big they are in real life. Seeing these massive creatures in their natural environment with your own eyes is an experience you will always cherish. Whales migrate past the Western Cape between June and October, so this is the best time to go. If you’re there in September, The Whale Festival happens in Hermanus, and is a particularly great way to join in.
KKirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
If you love gardens, this place will leave you awestruck. With Table Mountain as the backdrop, forests to meander through, lawns to lie on, cycads to be wowed by, and a forest-walkway suspended bridge that takes you right into the tree canopy, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned all over the world. While there, head to the Peninsula Garden to see over 2500 plants entirely unique to the area.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful places in South Africa (which is quite a thing to say), Cape Point—part of the Cape Floral Kingdom—is covered in indigenous fynbos and is home to incredible birdlife. Most especially pelagic birds, which are birds that spend more time at sea than on land, but must take a break every now and then to lay and hatch their eggs. There is also a big baboon population, so keep your eyes out for these locals.
Penguins. Yes, in Africa. The best place to hang out with them is at Boulders Beach. Home to around 3000 African penguins, Boulders Beach is in Simon’s Town (a gorgeous naval port just outside Cape Town) and is protected by massive granite boulders. This outing is your Instagram dream come true. It’s also relatively wind-free, so you can go any time of the year.
Drive the N2 from the Southern Cape to the Tsitsikamma Forest, and you’ll be flanked by massive mountain ranges and an ever-changing ocean. One moment you’ll be climbing a mountain pass overlooking beaches with ample dolphins, and the next moment you’re inside an ancient and mysterious forest. Roll down your window and let the fresh air in—this is a drive you will remember for the rest of your life.
4500 million years ago, this cave was making itself into a stalactite masterpiece. Over the millennia, strange formations have been created: a Madonna and Child; a 9m stalactite called Cleopatra’s Needle; a cluster nicknamed the Dried Tobacco Leaves; a section known as the Pulpit of the Cathedral; and even The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tunnel and ladder at the end are not for the claustrophobic.
A desert that is so full of life you can even see lions, rhino and buffalo. From the quirky small towns to the resplendent lunch tables at working-farm guesthouses, you could travel for months here and have a completely unique experience in each and every town. Known for its colourful people, the Karoo also contains the largest ecosystem in South Africa and boasts unique plants and creatures, unlike any you will see anywhere else in the world.
Drama, drama and more drama, Storms River Mouth is a spectacular gorge that thrashes out into the Indian Ocean. Whether you’re white-water rafting in the rapids, chilling on a lilo in the cola-coloured pools, or wave jumping out at sea, Storms River is a top favourite outing for locals, travellers and adventure seekers. Hike across steep kloofs, swim under waterfalls, snorkel or dive in the protected marine area, and you’ll see why this National Park is one of South Africa’s most-loved destinations.
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