Down at the southern tip of the mighty continent of Africa, as waves from the Indian and Atlantic oceans collide, so do the cultures, landscapes, and stories that make up the country of South Africa. Mzansi, as it is known locally, is a vibrant place, a mix of rich culture, deep-rooted history, varied landscapes, and incredible wildlife. With such an array of attractions and activities for visitors, it is no wonder that tourism is a major part of the South African economy. Tourists flock year-round to this beautiful and diverse land to enjoy sleek, modern cities, stunning safari experiences, and breathtaking nature.
History and Culture
South Africa is sometimes referred to as ‘The Rainbow Nation’, made up as it is by such diverse and dynamic cultures, languages, and heritages. People in South Africa are warm, friendly and welcoming. Although there are 11 major languages, English is one of those and is widely spoken throughout the country. Among the Bantu/African cultures, the largest two groups are the Zulu and the Xhosa. South Africa has been through colonialism (by the Dutch and British) and has seen economic immigration, meaning there are large populations with European, India, African and Asian heritage. South African cuisine is a dynamic and diverse melting pot of influences from a variety of backgrounds, although braai (barbecue) is a common ground for everyone. South Africa most infamously went through Apartheid, a system of institutionalized racial segregation, which came to an end in the early 1990s, and which looms large in the nation’s memory and collective consciousness.
If you’ve got a taste for the adventurous, then South Africa is the destination for you. There are countless things to tick off your bucket list, from cage diving with Great Whites off Dyer Island, to the world’s highest bungee jump off Bloukrans River Bridge (following in the footsteps of Prince Harry). There are festivals of extreme sports, epic white water rafting in the Doring River rapids, and if that isn’t enough to get your adrenaline pumping, you can cage dive with four-meter long crocodiles on the Cango Ranch in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape.
South Africa is blessed with richly diverse and beautiful landscapes, both on the coast and inland. There are untouched forests, forbidding deserts, rugged mountains, and acre upon acre of vineyards, as well as beautiful beaches and jagged cliffs nestling to the ocean. Explore the Sterkfontein Caves, home of the oldest fossils ever found by archaeologists. Or take a drive along the stunning Garden Route – 300km of winding highway taking in lagoons, lakes, mountains, forests, and beaches. Why not try to conquer the imposing Skeleton gorge on Table mountain – or take the circular and incredibly scenic Pipe track, with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Lion’s Head.
South Africa is home to several major cities, the biggest of which are Johannesburg and Cape Town. All the cities are bursting with an intoxicating mixture of the traditional and the contemporary, and each has a distinct identity. There is also an abundance of interesting attractions for tourists, and varied and exciting nightlife options. For younger people, there are plenty of places indoors and outside to enjoy potent cocktails and craft beers, as well as myriad clubs to dance the night away. Casinos are popular options for an evening out, with punters playing at the slot machines and the card tables. And the best part is that there are plenty of land-based casinos in South Africa. Live music in the country is exciting, a melting pot of African traditions and modern influences spanning across a wide variety of genres.
Wild South Africa
South Africa boasts an amazing array of wildlife, a fact that draws millions of visitors a year. Safari is a popular option, as majestic elephants, lions and rhinoceros roam across the game reservations. The safari options cater to all budgets, from camping in designated sites to luxury suites in four-star hotels. Away from the big game, there are colonies of penguins who reside on the coasts, and out in the ocean, whales can be spotted all year round.
South Africa is a land full of beauty, excitement, and adventure, perfect for all tastes, from adrenaline junky to outdoor adventurer, from foodie to party animal. The Rainbow Nation is accessible and hospitable, but also wild and untamed.