The 5 the most beautiful things to see while traveling in South-Africa
When travelling to South Africa, you can look forward to a varied journey with an accumulation of sights. This popular holiday country is known for its beautiful landscapes, special flora and impressive fauna. The country also has a lot to offer in terms of culture and history.
In order to get a good impression of South Africa, you should take a minimum of three weeks before your trip, where you can travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg (or vice versa). This route takes you along the most famous tourist hotspots, with world famous places such as the Panorama Route, the Kruger National Park, the Drakensberg Mountains, the Addo Elephant National Park, the Garden Route, the Wine Countries and of course Cape Town.
However, if you prefer to make an individual round trip to South Africa where you don’t follow the well-trodden route, then fortunately there are still countless unknown, not so touristy sights in South Africa to find that will surprise you. Travel agency Sable Tours has made a list of the 5 most beautiful, less touristic sights of South Africa.
Some of these you can visit during your trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg, but for most of them you will have to drive a little way around. This way you will see a piece of South Africa that most tourists ignore!
1. Augrabies National Park
You’ll find the Augrabies National Park in a remote corner in the north of South Africa, which is why you won’t see many foreign tourists here. It is quite a drive from Johannesburg or Cape Town to get there. Yet it is definitely worth a visit!
The Augrabies Falls are fed by the Orange River, which forms the border between Namibia and South Africa. The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of Great Noise, because here the water of the Orange River plunges sixty meters down into a gorge, which produces a thundering noise, especially when the river is full. Over the centuries, erosion has created a ravine about 250 meters deep in the granite rocks. In addition to the main channel, there are 18 smaller channels through which water flows when the river is high.
The area in the North Cape province is a dry and arid area, with landscapes that seem to originate from another planet. The plants that grow here are unique, such as the giant quiver trees that can withstand extreme temperatures and infertile soil. This tree, which grows up to five meters high, owes its name to the fact that the Bushmen (San) used the soft branches for their arrows.
The striking silhouette of the quiver tree is typical for this part of the landscape of the North Cape. The Shepherd’s Tree can also be found in the area. The Khoi and San communities around these areas hold this tree in deep respect; its destruction is strictly forbidden.
A variety of animal species can be found in the park. Dassies like to bask in the sun on the rocks, but rare animals such as black rhinos, the Cape otter, caracals, great-eared foxes and African wild cats are also residents of the park. In the park you can make beautiful walks, go canoeing or drive around in your own rental car.
2. Rooibos factory in Clanwilliam
If you drive from Cape Town in the direction of the Augrabies National Park, you will pass the town of Clanwilliam in the vicinity of the Cedar Mountains. Not only is this one of the oldest towns in South Africa, but it is also right in the middle of the region where the rooibos tea comes from!
This tea is made from the rooibos plant that grows nowhere else in the world than in the Cedar Mountains. The tea is not only very tasty, but also very healthy. It contains no caffeine and seems to be good against all kinds of allergic complaints. The locals knew that for a long time, they used the plant against itching and irritation. Did you know that it is also used in skin ointments?
In Clanwilliam you can visit the rooibos factory, where you can learn more about the history of this remarkable plant and its processing. Of course you will end the tour with a delicious cup of tea! Also take some time to explore the beautiful Cedar Mountains, which is a paradise for hikers.
Numerous hiking trails take you past bizarre rock formations, prehistoric rock paintings and along crystal clear mountain streams. One of the best periods to visit this area is in September, when after the first spring rain the wild flowers bloom and enchant the landscape with their radiant colours.
3. The “Big Hole’’
If you head southwest from Johannesburg, you will reach the city of Kimberly, capital of the North Cape Province. The area around Kimberly is, just like the rest of the North Cape, a dry, flat and pretty desolate area. In the nineteenth century only a few African farmers lived here, who had a meagre existence.
In 1866, a few children played along the Orange River, where one of them found a white stone. He picked it up and took it home with him. When it turned out that this stone was a diamond, fortune seekers soon flocked to the area from far and wide. One of them was Cecil Rhodes, who later founded the De Beers diamond company. Together, the miners dug a huge hole of 240 metres and a circumference of 1.6 kilometres – the largest hand dug hole in the world, so to speak!
The largest diamond found here is The Star of Africa, weighing 83.5 carats. Next to ‘Die Groot Gat’ is a museum, where the history of the mining industry is told. A number of houses and shops from the heyday of the mining industry have been reconstructed. Other attractions in Kimberly are the Honoured Dead Memorial, founded by Cecil Rhodes in memory of the fallen during the siege of Kimberly in the Anglo-B Boer War, and a breeding colony of flamingos at the Kamfers Dam six kilometers outside the city.
4. Grahamstown and the Wild Coast
Many tourists travel from Cape Town via the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth and from there take a domestic flight to Durban (or vice versa, if your trip starts in Johannesburg). However, if you have a bit more time, then it is definitely recommended to travel the stretch between Port Elizabeth and Durban by car. You will drive through the Eastern Cape province and along the Wild Coast, a rural area with an incredibly beautiful coastline. One of the towns you will encounter along the way is Grahamstown.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century it was here that the advancing British colonialists and the local Xhosa population regularly clashed. A total of about 9 border wars were fought in this area, in which the Xhosa’s eventually couldn’t compete against the British firearms. In the town is a monument dedicated to the Fifth Border War. But the best place to visit is the Observatory Museum, which houses a Victorian camera obscura – the only one in the southern hemisphere! There are still many examples of Victorian and early Edwardian architecture to be found in the town. Also visit the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George, Rhodes University and the Albany Museum.
You probably know that mankind originated in Africa. Not all scientists agree about the exact place where the first people lived. The fact is, however, that remains of the first humanoids have been found in South Africa. In 1924, in the Sterkfontein caves 30 kilometers from Johannesburg, paleontologists found a skull that is estimated to be 2.5 million years old and belonged to the Australopithecus Africanus, a distant relative of mankind. The skull was nicknamed ‘Mrs. Ples’. Remains are still being discovered in the caves, making it the largest humanoid site in the world.
Together with other sites, the caves form the ‘Cradle of Humankind’ an area on the UNESCO world heritage list where, in addition to humanoid fossils, many animal fossils are also found. A visit to the Sterkfontein caves starts with a guided tour of the museum, after which you will visit the caves themselves. Combine the caves with a visit to the Maropeng Visitor Centre, where a complete picture of the origin of the earth and the development of mankind is sketched.
This post is written by our content writing partner Albagora.