South Africa is an enchanting country with a diverse culture, geography, and climate. With a population of about 58 million people, it is the 25th largest country in the world. There is plenty of things to do in South Africa making it a little gem of a country.
South Africa is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. With diverse people, lots of sightseeing, and lots of outdoor activities, South Africa will make you want never to leave.
South African summers are warm and humid in June-August, and winters are rainy and calm with an average temperature of 11º C in July-August.
So for those of you who have not explored the beauty and splendor of South Africa, we’ve compiled a list of 14 cool things to do in South Africa.
1. Things to do in South Africa: Visit Cape Town’s Seal Island
Cape Town is a city in South Africa with a global reach. This city has been famous throughout the world for decades, and its popularity continues to grow because of its cultural history, living heritage, and natural beauty throughout the city. It is the most popular city in South Africa, and it is a prime destination for everyone interested in exploring the country.
A visit to this city should include Seal Island, which is off Cape Town in Table Bay.
Seal Island is a beautiful place that allows tourists to interact with seals that come onto the island’s beaches. The experience offers an incredible view of these animals as they enjoy their lives on these shores. Visitors will see the beauty of these animals in the wild.
Visitors can touch seals and pet them without any disturbance from any other animals or humans on this island, making everyone’s experience unique.
2. Things to do in South Africa: Go on Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai
Sharks are the deadliest creatures when it comes to sea life, and well, getting up close can be an adrenaline-packed activity.
Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai is an experience that the whole family can enjoy. It is one of the most exciting things to do when in South Africa.
3. Things to do in South Africa: Go on a jungle safari
You’re visiting an African country, and missing out on at least one jungle safari is a big no-no. You would not want to miss an opportunity to get up close with the lion pride.
South Africa has several best national parks for game drives. It is best to stay two to three nights in a national park to get the most out of the African wildlife. I mean, that’s the best experience you could have in your life.
Kruger National Park is the best national park in South Africa to see the Big Five -lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and cape buffaloes.
Besides, Phinda is also an incredible game reserve area where you can find playful zebras, cheetahs, and more.
4. Things to do in South Africa: Rope swinging at a soccer stadium in Durban
Are you afraid of heights? Even if you are or if you are not, rope swinging at a soccer stadium that once hosted the world cup is an activity that you can boast about with your friends at gatherings.
The Big Rush Big Swing rope swing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban drops you from 288 feet above.
5. Things to do in South Africa: Not interested in rope swinging? Try Bungee jumping
South Africa houses some of the best spots for bungee jumping. The country has the world’s highest bridge bungee jumping spot Bloukrans Bridge.
Bloukrans is situated close to Nature’s Valley, and Garden’s Route. Bungee jumping from a 709-foot-high bridge is a highly thrilling experience you cannot miss out on.
6. Things to do in South Africa: Hike the Table mountain
Hike the Table Mountain- a vast sandstone mountain. You won’t regret it. People say, “If you don’t have time to go to Cape Town, then go to Table Mountain,” and that’s entirely right.
First of all, it is an iconic South African landmark. Secondly, the views from the top are magnificent enough to not be missed.
Lots of travelers hike to the top through the Table Mountain National Park. Yes, you read it right. Since you will be hiking the national park, it is an excellent opportunity for you to check out the diverse flora and fauna.
If you don’t want to walk to the top, cable cars can take you up to the mountain. After you reach the top, you can view the stunning view of the city and the landscapes.
7. Things to do in South Africa: Pay a visit to the African Penguins
You have read about the penguins of Antarctica, now how about the penguins of Africa?
The African penguins, also called jackass penguins (because they sound like donkeys), are prevalent at the Boulders Penguin Colony that is located a short drive away from Cape Town.
These penguins are an endangered species, and seeing them in their habitat is an extraordinary experience. The Boulder Visitor Center lets you get up close to these penguins, but you can’t walk at the beach or feed them.
8. Things to do in South Africa: Go surfing
South Africa is an excellent destination for surfing with the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean coasts that offer big waves. You can rent a car and hit off to the beaches.
You can sharpen your surfing skills at Muizenberg and Jeffreys Bay near Port Elizabeth.
Other great surfing destinations in South Africa are the Dungeons in Hout Bay near Cape Town and Long Beach on the Western Cape.
9. Things to do in South Africa: Kayaking at iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Kayaking is a water-based outdoor activity that is perfect for exploring South African wildlife and rivers.
South Africa has several rivers and coastlines to explore, and doing it by kayaking from iSimangaliso Wetland Park is an excellent choice. The wetland park offers multi-day kayak tours and one-day tours where you can enjoy kayaking on South Africa’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Sibaya.
You will see several bird species, crocodiles, and hippopotamus.
10. Things to do in South Africa: Hot air balloon ride
You have read a lot about water adventure in South Africa, but how about flying in the air?
You have to go on a hot air balloon ride at the Magaliesberg- an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. You can see the aerial views of the Magalies River valley and the Magaliesberg mountains.
It is best to take a trip in the early morning as you get surrounded by profound silence, beautiful landscape views, and the cool breeze of the high altitude.
11. Things to do in South Africa: Go on a historical walk at the Apartheid museum
Learn about the history of apartheid at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. The museum is a unique place to visit, where you can learn about its history and what it means for South Africa today.
Apartheid was a system that institutionalized racial segregation. Visiting this museum will take you on a journey of Africa’s dark days in the 1940s and how they got out of those days.
The museum opened its doors to the public in 2001. From there on, it has been highlighting the country’s history to the locals and the foreigners.
12. Things to do in South Africa: Go for wine tasting
Wine tasting in South Africa is the number one thing to do. The region has a long winemaking history and is home to some of the most diverse wines in the world. Wine-tasting tours are an excellent way to taste the local flavors.
South Africa has a rich wine culture, with numerous wineries in the valleys of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Robertson, and Swartland.
You will be able to enjoy touring around the region’s top wine estates on a self-drive tour or join a guided tour to learn about South African wines. You can either do a wine tour where you visit different wineries or opt to stay in one winery for a night or two.
13. Things to do in South Africa: Go whale watching
South Africa is one of the best places to go for whale watching in the world. Hermanus is a town located 120 km southeast of Cape Town where you can go for whale watching.
It is best to schedule this activity between June to November to spot whales and orcas.
14. Things to do in South Africa: Scuba Diving
Diving in South Africa is an excellent option for those interested in exploring the country’s many beautiful marine life.
South Africa has world-class diving due to the combination of warm and cold ocean currents. You can see fishes, coral reefs, and several exciting wrecks, including navy frigates called Haerlem and Doddington. Not to forget, you will be diving with sharks too.
If you want to see the sardine migration, go for a scuba dive at Port St. Johns in June. It indeed is a sight to see with four miles of sardines.
If you want to learn diving, Cape Town is the place to go. Sodwana Bay is also another top spot for scuba diving.
One-tank scuba diving usually costs around 1,450 ZAR (equipment rental included).
Why is South Africa considered unsafe?
South Africa has a bad reputation of being unsafe that is undeservingly so. They have been labeled a hub for crime and corruption, but the country is much more than that.
The reason South Africa has a bad reputation is because of the rise of muggings and violent crimes. It is also the 9th country to have the highest homicide rate in the world. Plus, rape is also a crime that is prevalent in the country.
Since South Africa blooms in wildlife activities, it also has significant issues regarding diseases. People still tend to fear the risk of Ebola.
Yes, these are significant problems; however, if you have to compare the safety issues, the USA has the 6th highest death toll due to homicide. Mexico has all the five cities with the highest rate of homicide in the world, but hey, everyone puts Mexico on their bucket list.
Since the apartheid ended, homicide rates have decreased. Violent crimes are only present in dangerous neighborhoods that tourists don’t visit.
Petty crimes like theft, pickpocketing, and scams are prevalent in South Africa and many other safe countries in Europe.
In the end, it is on us how we try to remain safe.
Why Visit South Africa? The beautiful side of South Africa
It is a country where you can live peacefully and explore the wild side of Africa.
The diversity in South Africa is the main reason it gets criticized often. The country has eleven official languages, in addition to English, which makes it a favorite destination for travelers.
South Africa is known to have one of the best universities in the world. The country’s diversity makes it a great place to explore as well. The country is one of the most welcoming countries to foreigners, despite its reputation as a hub for crime and corruption.
South Africa has incredible landscapes that you should go and see.
Finally, South Africa is a highly diverse country where foreigners can experience all of its cultures on their national holidays, like Boxing Day, Christmas, and more for tourists from all over the world.
The country is a melting pot where historically, different races have lived together peacefully.
How to stay safe in South Africa?
South Africa has been called the most dangerous country in the world.
If you’re traveling by yourself, you should always avoid isolated areas. You should always follow the regulations of the country and use common sense.
But there are ways to stay safe in South Africa which are as follows:
1. Avoid going to places you don’t know
Know where not to go when traveling in South Africa. The people are friendly, but the townships can be dangerous, and poverty abounds.
Avoid all the townships surrounding Cape Town to stay safe.
It’s best not to go someplace that’s unsafe or not recommended by locals. If you’re out on the town, you should always ask a local if they have any good places to visit or restaurants to go to.
2. Don’t walk alone at night
It is best not to walk alone at night in South Africa. It’s when the crime rates are the highest, and you don’t want to be robbed.
3. Never show off
It would be best if you never showed off your valuables when you are in a public place because it can open you up to theft. So if you don’t want to be a target, don’t flash valuables around.
Before entering the beach, make sure that your money and passport are out of sight. It would be best if you also were wary about your jewelry when traveling in sensitive areas where tourists gather because thefts have been known to occur.
You should also bring money belts to keep your money, valuables, and passports.
4. Lock the car’s doors
Since South Africa has a high level of crime, most people maintain their safety by locking their car doors when they are not in the car.
When you are in your car, make sure that all of the doors are locked. Also, never anything in your backseat or the trunk of your car.
If you don’t want to put your valuables somewhere safe, make sure they are hidden somewhere underneath the seat where no one can find them.
5. Carry a dummy wallet
Gucci handbags and purses have been targeted by thieves, who will either steal those items or kill the owner.
Don’t take expensive handbags or purses with you; instead, carry an extra dummy wallet where you keep fake credit cards and a small amount of cash.
It will prevent thieves from stealing your actual money and help you get home if you lose your actual wallet.
You can attach this dummy wallet to your keys and keep it on you at all times.
6. Stay aware and go with your gut feeling
Be aware and listen to your instincts when in doubt. If you have a gut feeling that something feels wrong, then something IS wrong!
You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to run away from a robbery or other violent crime.
If you feel like the situation or a person is being suspicious, leave.
7. Use common sense
Common sense is a must when visiting South Africa, or heck wherever in the world. Some of the pointers to stay safe using common sense are:
- Please don’t talk to strangers, because they can be very dangerous.
- Don’t accept rides from strangers. You may expose yourself to crimes as there is a high number of rapes and robberies committed by strangers who look like they are offering help.
- Also, don’t keep your money in your handbag, as both have been targeted by thieves as well.
- It would help keep an eye out for anything suspicious that could signal other crimes are on the rise.
8. Be aware of pickpockets
Be aware of pickpocketing scams in South Africa. Pickpockets are very smart and will target the most vulnerable- those who are lost, distracted, and out of place.
If you see someone trying to pickpocket someone, step in and stop the robber. Also, be aware of thieves who target beach areas near Cape Town.
Cape Town is known for its beaches and water sports, but it’s also a place where pickpockets will target tourists.
9. Avoid crowds, especially at night
When going out after dark, avoid large crowds and stick with friends instead of going solo at night.
Stay away from crowded areas with alleys and people walking in and out of stores at night. It is because it is an easy target for robbers. You may be a victim of pickpocketing or robbing.
Another tip for staying safe at night is to stay out of areas known for drugs and gun trafficking, like in & around Cape Town. Always be aware of where you are, especially in Cape Town.
10. Always carry a cellphone
Often people are seen to place their cell phones in their pockets, purses, or bags. It is done because they may want to receive calls and texts even when not carrying the phone.
However, you need to be aware of pickpockets that can snatch your phone away from you.
They can study the area for a while and then approach you asking for help with directions, when in fact, they are trying to snatch your phone.
Now why carry cell phones with you at all times? When you are in danger, you can call your trusted ones to come to save you. Always turn on your location on your phone; if you get kidnapped or lost, your people can track you with the help of your phone.
11. Don’t hike alone
Hiking alone is time-consuming work. It is best to have company while hiking.
However, it is also recommended that you hike with a friend because there is no guarantee that you will not get lost on the trails, encounter a wild animal, or become robbed or kidnapped. Hiking in the wilderness is fun, but remember that danger lurks around every turn. BEWARE!
12. Getting around safely
If you want to be safe in South Africa, don’t take public transport. Especially cabs. You can find many stories of robberies or sexual assaults that have occurred on trains or in cabs.
Petty criminals can also pickpocket you on buses or in cabs. If you have an extra-wide bag, keep it closed. Keep your bag off your shoulder if you have to sit down somewhere as well. It is a deadly way to snatch your possessions.
The best way to travel in South Africa is through Uber Check the number plate if it matches the one that you have booked.
Thus, these are all we have on our guide to the top coolest things to do in South Africa. Yes, South Africa may be poor and criticized for being unsafe, but follow our tips and you will be good to go!