No other country offers such a range of different landscapes as South Africa. Semi-deserts, sub-tropical landscapes and in the south high mountains that stretch down to the ocean.
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The biggest mountain range in South Africa is the 1000 km long Drakensberg range, which starts in the Eastern Cape Province and ends in the north, in the Limpopo Province. On the border of Lesotho, you will find the Maloti-Drakensberg and in Mpumalanga they are called the Mpumalanga Drakensberg or the Drakensberg Escarpment. In the north they are called the Wolkberg Mountains and have the highest peak in this mountain range.
In the province of KwaZulu Natal, on the border of the Kingdom of Lesotho, you will find the highest mountains of South Africa. The border between South Africa and Lesotho stretches over the peak of the 3450 m high Mafadi mountain – look at our Highlight map » – the highest mountain in South Africa.
The second highest mountain which lies completely in South Africa is the Injisuthi – look at our Highlight map » – with its 3410 metres. The Maloti-Drakensberg belong to the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park – this is a paradise for hikers and photographers. Organised hiking tours are available for example from Sani Lodge in Himeville.
The 100 km long Mpumalanga Panorama Route (R532) runs through the Mpumalanga-Drakensberg and is among the most beautiful tourist routes in South Africa. Landscape photographers love this area as each spot is more beautiful than the next. More information on routes here »
On the more northern Road, the R71 between Haenertsburg, Magoebaskloof and Tzaneen, you will find more interesting landscapes. From an originally malaria-infested wetlands, which was dried up and the extinction of the Anopheles mosquito in 1960, a most beautiful sub-tropical landscape was formed, where bananas, mangos, avocados, macadamia nuts, tea and much more grows on plantations.
KwaZulu-Natal has approximately 600 km coastal area along the warm Indian Ocean, the best sandy beaches can be found between St Lucia and the border to Moçambique, as well as between Durban, travelling south to Port Edward and to the border of the Eastern Cape Province.
Along the well-known Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape Province, the mountains stretch right down to the ocean. Here the sandy beaches change to high cliffs and charming little bays. However, due to the dense bush on the hills and mountains the beaches are not always accessible. However there are many different nature reserves or lovely holiday resorts and lodges where you can spend a beach holiday. Relaxation and good hospitality is guaranteed.
If you have read up on South Africa, you will have heard of the Garden Route. This region has nothing to do with flowering gardens, as the name suggests, but exists of a 300 km long area along the Indian Ocean, from the surf-mekka Jeffrey’s Bay in the Eastern Cape Province to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. This is a most pleasant trip through great countryside with good tourism infrastructure.
Tourists will find a European influence here, accommodation and restaurants are among the best in South Africa. Good entertainment and varied activities to suite all tastes are on offer around every corner. The Garden Route is very popular with hikers, there are many hiking trails and organised hiking tours.
The most popular beach towns are: Plettenberg Bay with its sandy beaches; Knysna which is located along the biggest lagoon in South Africa; the pretty little town of Wilderness with its long white beach and Mossel Bay, where the first European, the Portuguese sailor Bartholomeus Dias set foot on the southern tip of Africa in 1488. Among this famous towns there are some smaller towns like Sedgefield or Great Brakrivier, ideal for people who like to stay in a more quiet atmosphere.
More information on the Garden Route can be found under Routes »
The Whale Coast is an all year holiday destination, not only when the whales are here from July to November. There are plenty of white sandy beaches between Witsand in the east and Pringle Bay in the west.
A special highlight and worth a visit on the Cape Whale Coast is Cape Agulhas, the „Southernmost tip of Africa“ – this is where the cold Atlantic Ocean from the west and the warm Indian Ocean from the east meet.
The biggest town on this route is the colourful town of Hermanus with its excellent tourism infrastructure. It is worth a visit all year round. It also has the best whale watching in South Africa, as the whale mothers with their calves come very close to the promenade.Whale watching in Hermanus »
When travelling from Hermanus to Cape Town along the coast you will find another highlight: the approximately 20 km long Clarence Drive, or the R44 between Rooi Els and Gordon’s Bay. There are many look-out points to stop, where photographs of this beautiful coastal panorama can be taken.
A beautiful and lush landscape awaits the visitor to the Winelands. Cradled by high mountains and flowing hills you will find the centre of the Winelands, Stellenbosch, is the second oldest town in South Africa.
The Winelands area has a very western or european feel about it and it is here that the Cape Dutch architecture was born in the colonial era with its high gables. This building style can still be seen here today.
No matter how much time you spend in the South African winelands, you will never be bored.
There are hundreds of wine estates in South Africa. Other than visiting your favourite wine estate or restaurant, you will find many hiking trails all over the winelands. You can choose a trail that will suite your fitness level. The winelands area is also known for its excellent golf courses. You will find champion golf courses here, as well as smaller less known ones. Here our Golf favorites »
If you prefer a more isolated area for long beach walks, then visit the West Coast. This area begins behind Melkbosstrand, the most northern suburb of Cape Town on the Atlantic Ocean – it stretches right up to the border to the Northern Cape.
These white, sandy beaches are not good for swimming, as the water temperature in summer is seldom above 10–12 degrees. The cold water Benguela current which comes from the Antarctic, flows along the west coast of South Africa right up to Namibia. Therefore these waters are rich in fish and if you love eating fish, you must order a fish platter in one of the restaurants.
A trip along the Cape Peninsula will stay in your mind for years to come. If you were fortunate enough to enjoy this in flower season and with sunshine, even better, there is no peninsula more beautiful.
The Boulders penguin colony close to Simon’s Town with its most beautiful panorama behind is worth a visit. If the weather is good, you can see over the False Bay, right across to Hermanus. Highlight on this route is the windswept Cape Of Good Hope.
Photographers will find many highlights on the Atlantic side of the peninsula. This coast line into Cape Town is picture beautiful with the highlight being the Chapman’s Peak Drive »
Thereafter you can visit the beach resorts along the coast: Hout Bay, Llandudno, Camps Bay, Clifton, Bantry Bay and Sea Point. From here it isn’t far into the city of Cape Town. In this way you can combine a beach holiday with sight-seeing in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
- Cape Peninsula
- West Coast
- Clarence Drive
- Cape Whale Coast
- Garden Route
- Wild Coast
- Durban South Coast
- Mpumalanga Panorama Route
- uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park