During unsettling and uncertain times like these, it is important to take a break from all the negative news once in a while and focus on the experiences that bring us joy.
Recently, we have been daydreaming about all the beautiful spaces and one-of-a-kind destinations around South Africa that we would love to visit as soon as regulations allow.
Below, we have touched on just a few of the more unique attractions our country has to offer. When you’re permitted to hit the open road again, perhaps you’ll add one or two of these to your must-see list?
- Sodwana Bay
Found along the Elephant Coast in KwaZulu-Natal, about 4.5 hours from Durban, Sodwana Bay Beach is one of the most idyllic and unspoiled sections of coastline in South Africa. This gorgeous destination features long stretches of sand, rolling dunes and exquisite coastal forests. When you have spent enough time on the sand, the warm water is ideal for swimming, surfing, body boarding, kite surfing, snorkelling or fishing. For the more adventurous, there’s also scuba diving along the outlying reefs, which are home to a spectacular array of coral and marine life, including loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
- Cathedral Peak
If you’re longing for the tranquillity of misty mountain slopes, pristine waterfalls and fern forests, head up to Cathedral Peak. This picture-perfect area of the Northern Drakensberg, known locally as ‘Mponjwana’, is a paradise for hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers and people who love spending time in the wilderness. While the peak itself can be a challenging climb, there are plenty of trails in the area to suit outdoor enthusiasts of all fitness levels.
At the foot of the mighty Maluti Mountains lies the peaceful Free State village of Clarens. This quirky destination is filled with art, crafts, antiques and other interesting goods. There is also plenty to see and do in the area, including visiting prehistoric rock paintings, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking and abseiling. Clarens is also the perfect pitstop for those en route to the nearby Golden Gate National Park – home to the rare bearded vulture and other wildlife.
- The Cradle of Humankind
Travel back in time to the Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves. Located just 50km from Johannesburg, this scenic World Heritage Site marks the area where scientists unearthed fossils that date back millions of years – to the birth of humankind. Accompanied by a knowledgeable and highly entertaining guide, you can explore the breath-taking complex of limestone caves, where some of the most famous palaeo-anthropological treasures in the world have been discovered.
- God’s Window
If you are heading to the Kruger Park or one of the other game reserves in the area, take the scenic route past God’s Window. Many who have visited this jaw-dropping vantage point say that it offers the most spectacular view on the planet – over a jewel-green ravine filled with indigenous subtropical forests. This outlook point can be found along the Panorama Route, which winds past the Blyde River Canyon in the Mpumalanga Highlands and leads to a wide range of natural and cultural attractions. These include the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Shangana Cultural Village, the old gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest and the famous Echo Caves.
If you are dreaming about walking along a quiet beach or kayaking in the surf, Paternoster is a wonderful place to spend some downtime, uninterrupted by crowds of visitors. This is one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast of South Africa – and fortunately, it has managed to hold onto its quaint, sleepy atmosphere. When you’re not relaxing by the sea or feasting on fresh seafood, you can visit the nearby Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and Lighthouse.
For those really looking to get off the beaten track, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hamlet of Vermaaklikheid makes for the perfect escape. Located between Heidelberg and Witsand on the banks of the Duiwenshok River, this remote and utterly unspoilt destination is a haven for relaxation, reading and gentle river sports – including swimming, canoeing, fishing and hiking. No skiing or tubing is allowed though, in order to preserve the pristine estuary habitat of the Duiwenhoks River, which is a nature conservation area.
Of course, these are only a few of many incredible destinations that can be explored across our beautiful country. Let us know if you have somewhere special to recommend? Hopefully, we will all be able to tick some of these adventures and experiences off our bucket lists sooner rather than later!