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14 things to do in South Africa

Get adventurous in South Africa and witness the most incredible sights that the country has to offer. Plus, check out this year's event guide.

South Africa is ideal for many types of travellers. Nature lovers can experience a safari on the ground or in the air, those who like a thrill can try shark diving, and there are plenty of beach and wine activities perfectly suited for those who just want to sit back and relax.

South Africa combines the best of every holiday into one with magnificent sights and animals. We've compiled the best things to do while in South Africa so you don't miss a thing.

Top things to do in South Africa

1. Step into the jungle with a safari experience

Encounter wild animals unlike you've ever seen them before with a jungle safari departing from Johannesburg. You'll go in search of animals in an open vehicle, so prepare yourself to get up close and personal with elephants, lions, hyenas and hippos – just to name a few.

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2. Take in the views from Table Mountain

Table Mountain is a famous attraction for Cape Town visitors. The mountain overlooks the city and provides great views, with a flat surface that you can either hike or take a cable car up to.

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3. Ride in a hot air balloon

After you've gone on a safari on the ground, take it to the next level and safari from the sky. A hot air balloon gives you a bird's eye view of the land and herds as they interact with one another. Popular rides take off from Pilanesberg National Park and Magalies River Valley.

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Things to do in Cape Town

4. Take a scenic helicopter flight

Get the most iconic views of Cape Town from the air with a scenic helicopter flight. Enjoy aerial views over popular landmarks including the Twelve Apostles, Table Mountain and the famous Clifton Beach and Camps Bay.

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5. Sip on fine wines

South Africa isn't just famous for its adventure and animals. It's also got a lot of nice wine. Vineyards have been around since the 1600s and are mainly located around Cape Town. So between your adventurous activities, kick back and take a day to enjoy some of Africa's finest wines.

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6. Kayak with marine life

It goes without saying that South Africa is an animal lover's paradise. Outside of going on a safari, one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the native creatures is by kayaking. Spot boulder penguins, dolphins, seals and more in the ocean. You will also get views of Lion's Head, the Twelve Apostles mountain range and the iconic Table Mountain.

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7. Get your adrenaline pumping with a shark dive

South Africa is known for its shark populations. For adventurous souls, you can board a shark-diving vessel and enjoy the ultimate thrilling shark experience that is still safe and secure.

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Things to do in Johannesburg

8. Learn about the history of South Africa at the Apartheid Museum

Embark on a tour of Johannesburg that takes you to the Apartheid Museum. You'll learn about the struggles faced during the apartheid, as documented in the museum, and about how South Africa was formed. Visiting the museum is a moving experience that is sure to make a mark on your trip to South Africa.

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9. Tour the Cradle of Humankind

Over 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils can be found in South Africa. Take a trip to the Cradle of Humankind to see and learn about the stones and bones, and visit the Sterfontein Caves, where a 2.3 million-year-old-fossil was discovered in 1947.

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10. Explore Soweto

The township of Soweto is rich in history, making it a great place to visit if you're intrigued by South Africa's past. Pass the National Football Stadium City on your way to Soweto before arriving in the town and driving past the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. You'll get the chance to speak to locals and support local businesses as you walk past street vendors, making it a truly immersive cultural experience.

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Things to do in Durban

11. Take a tour around Durban

It may not be as popular as Cape Town or Johannesburg, but you don't want to miss out on exploring the rich history and culture of Durban. Take a tour to visit the Golden Mile, stop by City Hall and the bustling African/Indian markets at Warwick Triangle, visit the peaceful Durban Botanic Gardens and head to Durban's new and exciting venue, uShaka Marine World.

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12. See Hermanus from the sea

Hermanus' sights on land are impressive, but if you head out to the water, you'll discover marine life including whales, turtles and dolphins. Admire the views surrounding Hermanus that will put into perspective just how culturally rich and visually appealing Hermanus is.

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13. Experience Zulu culture

Embark on a day tour from Durban to really immerse yourself in a unique Zulu cultural experience. Learn about the history, beliefs and traditions of the locals and see dance and singing performances from the Gasa clan. For the ultimate Zulu experience, take part in a 45-minute consultation with a traditional Zulu healer, who works with plant medicines and connects with ancestors using traditional methods like throwing bones to retrieve information.

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14. Catch a cricket game

Cricket is a widely watched sport in South Africa. You can watch a live game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which is where the South African national team plays. You can visit the stadium during a city tour, among other attractions.

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Seasonal events in South Africa

Things to do in South Africa in summer

  • Midmar Mile
  • Afropunk Joburg
  • Ultra South Africa

Things to do in South Africa in winter

  • National Arts Festival
  • Slow Food and Wine Festival
  • Durban International Film Festival

Things to do in South Africa in autumn

  • The Colour Run
  • Two Oceans Marathon
  • Cape Town Cycle Tour

Things to do in South Africa in spring

  • Rocking the Daisies
  • Cape Town Fringe Festival
  • Cape Town International Film Festival

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