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6th January, 2021

Discover South Africa

From the exciting, hip melting pot of Cape Town to the once in a lifetime experience of Kruger National Park, South Africa is a traveller’s paradise. The Cape Peninsula offers a stark contrast between a vibrant, multicultural city on the sea and the vast, wild surrounding landscape. This balance ensures that there’s something to engage and delight everyone during an adventure to the southernmost tip of the African continent.

With so much to see, we know that sometimes it can be tough to work out how to fit it all into one incredible adventure. So, to help you make your plans, we’ve  gathered a list of the five must-see sights.

1. Cape Town

The view from Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Cape Town is renowned for its melting pot of culture, along with its vibrant streets and friendly people. Its long history through struggle, wars, and oppression, have made its people hardy, resilient, and open.

The Cape of Good Hope is a truly beautiful vista, complete with adorable ‘Jackass’ penguins, which are always great fun to watch.  For those looking to discover the history of the area, the District Six Museum maps the lives and stories of locals displaced by the apartheid regime, or you can learn more about Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was once held prisoner.

The revolving cable car to the top of Table Mountain is another must-see experience from your Cape Town base; or you can even hike some of the way if you’re feeling energetic!

Discover all Cape Town has to offer during a stay at the Krsytal Beach Hotel, with included visits to Stellenbosch and Elgin Railway Market.

2. Franschhoek

Explore the winelands at Franschhoek

Described as the ‘food and wine’ capital of South Africa, the historical town of Franschhoek offers a wonderful retreat into rural – yet refined – living. With some of the best restaurants in the country, dotted amongst the area’s famous wineries and vineyards, it’s a great stop for gastronomers.

It’s also a great place to visit should you also wish to see Cape Town they are located only a simple 40 minute drive between each other in the Western Cape area of South Africa, meaning there’s no need to choose between the two when you’re planning your big adventure.

Our Best of South Africa tour spends two nights in Franschhoek, with an included day ticket for the Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour, which visits a selection of the most prestigious wine estates.

3. Hermanus’ Whales

Whale watching, Hermanus

Another Western Cape town, found a little south of Cape Town, is Hermanus. This seaside resort is famous across the globe as a whale watching destination, so if you’re interested in seeing some of these magnificent mammals in their natural habitat, this is the place to head.

The area is treated to a wash of whales in late July as they come surprisingly close to the coast, making it a great place to see some of nature’s greatest mammals, as well as offering up the perfect opportunity to relax by the sea. Head to the Old Harbour Museum and the Whale House Museum for more information on the region's most famous beautiful creatures.

With its own selection of award-winning wineries and bistros, it’s the perfect place to unwind for a few days, or indeed on a day trip from your base in Cape Town.

You can spend a morning at leisure in Hermanus on our The Garden Route and Beyond tour, as you explore the south coast - a region famed for its natural beauty and coastal vistas, mountains, wildlife and flora.

4. Kruger National Park

Rhino in Kruger

Kruger is the oldest national park in South Africa, having been established in 1898.  It’s also one of the biggest, with an area five times that of Kent.

It was partially established in an attempt to control hunting and allow for repopulation of faltering species. The park is now home to over 16,000 elephants, African wild dogs, which are critically endangered, as well as a great deal of other bird and plant life.

We recommend you start early; the gates open at around 4:30am, so it’s worth beating the morning rush and going until lunchtime, with a break until mid-afternoon (3-4pm). The midday heat drives most animals to seek shelter, so not only will you be braving the harshest sun, but you’re unlikely to see many animals.

Try to spot all of the Big 5 on our Into the Heart of Kruger tour, staying in a selection of African lodges within the national park.

5. Knysna

The Knysna Lagoon

Knysna is perfectly situated in the middle of a natural amphitheatre of hills, in the heart of the famous Garden Route. What started as an overspill from a gold rush town has grown into a beautiful seaside location, surrounded by ancient forests, waterfalls, and gorges.

Explore the indigenous forests and reserves in the area, either on foot or by bike,  or head to the Knysna waterfront to relax, do some shopping, and grab something to eat. The beautiful coastline makes for the perfect beach days, or, if you prefer to spend more time on the water, why not try kayaking on the Knysna Estuary? One thing’s for sure, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice on a visit to Knysna.

Our A World in One Country tour offers the chance to spend a day at leisure in Knysna as you travel along the Garden Route to Cape Town.

There is an almost limitless list of incredible sights to see in South Africa, from the Eastern cities like Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg further inland - and that’s before you even start to explore the incredible natural expanses. If you’re intrigued by the delights of South Africa, see what we have on offer with our South African holidays.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.