10 Amazing South African Experiences You Should Try

Pretty sure you’ve heard of South Africa’s parks, beaches, and farms, but there’s more to see and do around this massive and proud country than you could ever think. Here are the 10 destinations you must visit to get the full South African experience.

Cradle of Humankind

This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been inhabited by our ancestors for more than 3 million years. From the official visitor center, you can take an underground boat trip. The Sterkfontein Caves meanwhile, have exhibitions and trails into the caves.

Stay at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel,  which has lovely views across the Magaliesberg and Witwaterberg mountains.

 Wild Coast

This place has rolling hills that drop into the sea and waterfalls that crash into lagoons. Go hiking, surfing, and diving and you’ll come across wrecks, flocks of birds and rock pools.

Bulungula Lodge is a simple eco-friendly establishment, 40% of which is owned by the local village.

Free State

Dominated by farm areas, foothills, mountains, and spectacular scenery, Free State offers the ff:

Game viewing at Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Guided horseback rides take in the peaceful, picturesque town of Clarens which is also known for art galleries and pottery studios.

Just outside Clarens, Kiara Lodge has a spa, swimming pool, good restaurant and lots of activities.

Johannesburg

A booming commercial hub with an energy entirely of its own. Go to Maboneng Precinct and 44 On Stanley, both trendy gathering places for artists, foodies, and performers.

The Aviator Hotel is a gorgeous aviation-themed accommodation with 4-star amenities, facilities, and services that won’t break the bank.

 The Midlands

A popular weekend getaway and home to many restaurants, cafes, art galleries and guesthouses. Fly through trees at Karkloof, wine and dine at the Hartford House restaurant, and shop for handcrafted shoes at Groundcover.

Rawdons is a cozy and English-themed hotel near Nottingham Road with pretty gardens, plush decor, and roaring log fires.

The Battlefields

Hire a tour guide to get the full picture of these dramatic battle sites of the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu n the late 1800s.

Cheetah Ridge Lodge offers an unforgettable safari experience for leisure travellers, families, and couples who are looking for the ultimate South African adventure.

Umhlanga Rocks

Upmarket Umhlanga offers sandy beaches, beach houses, seaside apartments, hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. It is also the site of Gateway Theatre of Shopping, rumored to be the largest mall in the southern hemisphere.

Teremok Marine is a 5-star guesthouse equipped with South African decor such as lampshades made from the pages of books and delicate proteas crafted from wood.

Cape Town

Flanked by the Indian and Atlantic oceans and watched over by mountain ranges, Cape Town is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. During summer, the Summer Sunset Concerts are held in the spectacular Kirstenbosch Gardens every Sunday.

The Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, on top of the Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street, is one of the quirkiest places to stay in the city.

Northern Cape

Often just a vast blank space on the map, the Northern Cape is a fascinating area through which to drive. The stargazing here is superb, as you would imagine.

Kokeboom B&B on Gannabos Farm is much-loved by photographers and hikers.

Garden Route

Known for oysters, beaches, lakes, and forest as well as the Tsitsikamma National Park. Visitors can go on a kayak adventure up the dramatic Storms River.

Tranquility Lodge is a 3-star guesthouse that is a good base if you want to go bungee jumping, horseback riding, take boat cruises or visit a bird or elephant park.

*This article is a spin-off of CNN’s 10 ‘Secret’ South African Experiences: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/26/travel/secret-south-african-experiences