With Cape Town continually winning awards as one of the world's best cities, and Kruger one of the most well known National Parks in Africa it is safe to say that South Africa is already a discovered destination. So - why do so many people choose to visit South Africa?
A continually strong exchange rate against the Rand (ZAR) ensures that a visit to South Africa offers excellent value for money for most travellers. In fact the UK is the European country sending the highest number of tourists to South Africa each year, closely followed by Germany. Visitor numbers from North America, Asia and South America are also rising year on year. However, great value is not the only draw. South Africa really does have something for every type of traveller. From budget to high-end, from adventure enthusiasts to relaxation gurus and from history buffs to the culture curious the activities on offer are endless.
The below are some of my favourite, more unique activities to do across South Africa.
I absolutely loved this little gem of an activity, that can be done when staying in Oudtshoorn on the Garden Route. You meet up before dawn with one of a small team of meerkat experts, then drive down to a nearby spot, where meerkat families are known to reside in the wild. Get out your camp chair, and quietly sit in wait! It can take 20 minutes, it can take 2 hours....but eventually you will see a little nose, maybe a claw...as these fascinating animals wake-up and start to go about their day. During the waiting time, your experienced guide will tell you lots of fascinating stories and facts about meerkats to keep you entertained.
Most famous for the beautiful bright houses, the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town has long been a firm favourite for passing tourists. However, for those looking to get a better understanding of Malay life, food and culture there is nothing better than a cooking class right inside a locals home. You will learn how to cook like a real Malay 'Auntie' with samosas and curry being popular dishes to try and master. As you cook you will get to hear about how food plays an important role in the Bo-Kaap culture, as well as getting an real insight into the everyday lives of the residents.
For those looking for premium eco experiences, nothing is better than a trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, situated on the Garden Route. Ravished by the fires in Knysna in 2017 things were looking bleak for this reserve for a long time. However, nature has done what it does best and restored itself despite the devastation. The indigenous fynbos and coastal forests are flourishing better than they have done in a long time and the birds, insects, and small animals are eagerly back at work. On your tour you will take a return ferry across Knysna Lagoon up to the Western Head. On arrival you will board a 4x4 and drive into the headlands with a highly knowledgeable guide, stopping at breathtaking viewpoints on route. You also get a lovely outdoor lunch under a canopy of milkweed trees. It really is a truly 'get back to nature' kind of day out, that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
For the history buffs out there Fugitives’ Drift has become world-renowned for its battlefield tours to all the Zulu War battle sites in the region. In 1879 the British famously invaded Zululand. You get to visit the sight of these famous battles, where an experienced guide will tell fascinating tales like how on the evening of 22nd January 1879, just over 150 British soldiers successfully fought against 4,000 Zulu warriors. Their success resulted in 11 Victoria Crosses being awarded — the most ever recorded for a single engagement. Even more impressive is the event eleven days after the British invaded Zululand. Over 20,000 Zulu warriors descended upon British forces and managed to overpower them at the foot of the Isandlwana Hill. Your guide will describe how the Zulus adopted a unique formation, surprising the British on all sides. All but 300 of the 1,500 British soldiers were killed, and today rocks and cairns cover the bones of these long fallen warriors.
Between roughly May and July each year the worlds biggest migration takes place when billions of sardines spawn in the cool waters of Agulhas then move northward along the east coast of South Africa. This mass migration is made even more spectacular as large numbers of predators follow the sardines with a view to getting a large and tasty meal. This is a truly unique wildlife experience, not seen anywhere else. However, the difficulty with this activity is knowing where to base yourself to catch the exciting event in action! A number of dive companies set up temporary bases along the Wildcoast in order to take out people looking to spot this fascinating natural phenomenon. To increase you chances of witnessing some excellent 'sardine action' you will need to be prepared to spend up to 8 hours a day at sea, typically for at least 4-5 days