Top 10 must-do activities & must-see attractions in South Africa

Picture of Cape Town from Robben Island

1. A Safari at a National Park, South Africa

South Africa is home to ‘the big 5’ (African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, and Rhinoceros. Seeing these animals (and others) roaming freely in their natural habitat, brazing, and grazing and hunting for their next prey is completely different from seeing them at the zoo.

We went on a 4-day safari in Pilanesberg National Park staying at the amazing Ivory Tree Game Lodge & witnessed African Elephant, Lion, Lioness, Rhino, and other animals all come within touching distance of our open-aired 4×4, which was a breathtaking experience.

We also did a full-day safari at Addo Elephant National Park close to Port Elizabeth. Don’t be deceived by the name, as it is possible to sight ‘the big 7’ (‘the big 5’ + the Southern Right Whale & the Great White Shark) here.

Tip 1: Don’t catch FOMO (the fear of missing out) and go on every game drive you possibly can! – The thought of having to get up at 4:45 AM to go on an early game drive isn’t the nicest, I agree, but make sure you do to have a better chance of sighting these magnificent animals.

Tip 2: If you can only fit a day in, then book a full-day tour and not a half-day tour if you can, as some animals are more likely to be sighted later in the afternoon. Remember not to leave this until the last minute (unlike us)!

Tip 3: Alternatively, book your full-day tour of Addo Elephant National Park with InfoTours – we had an amazing day!

Tip 4: Smaller is better than bigger! – I would recommend booking your safari stay at the Ivory Game Tree Lodge in Pilanesberg National Park instead of visiting Kruger National Park. This is because Pilanesberg is malaria-free and smaller in size, which means the Park is less crowded.

2. Cage Shark Diving, South Africa

The surrounding areas of Cape Town offer one of the best places in the world to witness the Great White Shark.

This was something that I wanted to do, but I wasn’t prepared to do it alone and subsequently I missed out. We were recommended to do this at either Gansbaai or Mossel Bay.

Tip 1: Pre-book online or find a local vendor soon after you arrive to avoid disappointment, although there weren’t too many around.

3. Table Mountain, Cape Town

Undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in the Mother City – this should be your first point of call to gather those unforgettable views of Cape Town. Either take the cable car costing R360 (adult return), R180 (child return – age 4-17), R100 (Senior Citizen), OR push yourself by hiking to the summit.

Tip 1: Avoid delays by using the cable car in the morning or early evening. When we visited at 14:00 PM, there was a 20-minute wait to go up & a 45-minute wait to come back down.

Tip 2: Pre-pay – you could do this via CitySightseeing South Africa, or alternatively pay by card on arrival to avoid ticket queues.

4. Worlds highest bungee jump, South Africa

For those adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers out there, what better way to push your limits than plummeting 709 feet off Bloukrans Bridge above Bloukrans River in the gorgeous Tsitsikamma National Park.

In order to do this, make your way along the beautiful garden route until you reach Tsitsikamma National Park. Needless to say, this one wasn’t for us! If you want thrills that are less adventurous then we would highly recommend zip-lining through Tsitsikamma National Park in Storms River.

Tip 1: If you’re travelling from Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, book to travel on the Baz Bus in order to witness the spectacular garden route.

Tip 2: Book online and early to avoid disappointments.

5. Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Another popular tourist destination in Cape Town, especially for penguin lovers!

We did a full-day tour of Cape Point, the Cape of Good Hope (the most South-Western point in Africa) and Boulders Beach with CitySightseeing South Africa and had a fantastic day.

Tip 1: If you choose not to do the full-day tour, visit Boulders Penguin Colony in Simon’s Town for R152 (adult) or R76 (child), then take a walk along the beach, where you’ll find penguins dotted around on the rocks.

6. CitySightseeing Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour, Cape Town

This is by far the best way of seeing Cape Town, the surrounding areas of Camps Bay, Clifton Beach & Green Point, as well as Seal Island, the Botanical Gardens & other destinations.

We purchased the premium ticket, which lasts for two days. It also enables you to ride on 6 routes, including the sunset tour, marina tour & canal tour.

On the first day of our ticket being issued, we hopped on and off the red route, which lasts for around 2 hours. We then did the blue route and sunset bus on day 2.

Tip 1: Spend an extra R65 to purchase the premium ticket for R300 in order to access all 6 routes for two days of travel. Adults (R300), Child (R220).

Tip 2: Arrive at the Two Oceans Aquarium for around 5:30 PM to embark on the incredible sunset bus from the top of Signal Hill.

7. Wine Tasting Tour, Cape Town

Unfortunately, we can’t vouch for this because neither of us are huge wine drinkers, which meant we chose not to do a vineyard tour. However, Eagles Nest and Stellenbosch are your places to go.

8. Seal Island, Cape Town

Hop on the blue route of the CitySightseeing bus to Hout Bay, then take the Seal Colony Cruise with Drumbeat Charters to Seal Island, which is home to over 200 wild seals.

We pre-booked with Drumbeat Charters – the suggested company that is in the CitySightseeing booklet and then called on the day to check that the tour was running.

Tip 1: Pre-book a boat tour from Hout Bay to Seal Island in order to avoid any disappointment.

9. Day trip to Robben Island, Cape Town

Learn about the history of Apartheid and leprosy, as well as seeing the prison & Nelson Mandela’s cell whilst you are there. You’ll also get a feeling for what it would have been like to be banished to the island.

Tip 1: We booked this excursion through CitySightseeing South Africa and had an amazing day.

10. Paragliding off Signal Hill or Lions Head, Cape Town

For spectacular views of Cape Town, what better way than launching yourself off one of these two peaks in a tandem paragliding session.

We saw lots of people paragliding whilst we were located near Green Point in The Mother City, but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to do this ourselves.

Tip 1: Check online reviews before booking, as there are multiple companies offering the same activity.

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