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9 Things you have to do when visiting South Africa

We traveled to South Africa for our honeymoon. And we have been impressed by the diversity and beauty of this extraordinary country! It’s not only about the wildlife, but about the landscapes, the people, the food, the wine and the culture. Believe us: It’s impossible not to fall in love with this country! However, contrary to popular belief there are so many different cool things to do in South Africa besides going on safari. We have put together our top 9 favorite experiences. To make sure that you don’t miss out on all the amazing opportunities South Africa has to offer:

1.   Hiking Table Mountain

One of the most striking views in South Africa is the stunning appearance of Table Mountain in Cape Town. Probably the most famous landmark in South Africa. A view from the top is what we would describe as ‘heavenly’ and ‘out of this world’. Most of the tourists take the cable car up there. But we decided to hike, and this was one of best decisions we made on our trip. Don’t get us wrong: It is exhausting (yeah, we thought about quitting during the hike a few times maybe).

Choose the Platteklip Gorge Trail, take enough water with you and leave early in the morning (6-7 am at the latest)! You can reach the top in 2 – 3 hours. We made it in 1 hour, but we had a bet running with some friends. They didn’t believe us that we could make it this fast. YES! In your face guys!

You won’t regret hiking up there! The views are amazing and the path is pretty safe. And you will be so proud of yourself and meet the coolest furry little guys on your way. They are called dassies (unfortunately we don’t have a picture of them so you have to meet them by yourself).

Just do it! Of course, there are many different hiking trails but we are very glad that we took the “easiest one”. It was challenging enough but manageable for sure and absolutely worth it.

2.    Exploring the Garden Route

Sunset in Sedgefield

Many people we know are going to South Africa and are just staying in Cape Town. Believe us: that’s a huge mistake! Stretching from Storms River Mouth in the Eastern Cape to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, to the beautiful Tsitsikamma National Park and the stunning lagoons of Knysna. The Garden Route offers one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. As we started in Cape Town and explored so many amazing places till we got to Port Elizabeth, we would highly recommend not missing this adventure.

a couple within a meadow of flowers
Tsitsikama Forest

3.    Going on a Safari

This seems a little obvious, we know. Kruger national Park is one of the most famous spots for a safari for sure. But there are many other opportunities to experience the amazing African wildlife as well. And you definitely can’t go to South Africa without doing a safari! Fabian was obsessed with watching some lions in wildlife. Thankfully we saw some on our last day of safari. (I wouldn’t imagine his whining if we wouldn’t have)– it’s cinema in real life!

We can recommend going to Addo Elephant Park or to a private Game Reserve like Botlierskop Reserve. Both provided us an ultimate experience as we didn’t have enough time or money to go to Kruger.

4.    Visiting Muizenberg Beach

Everyone knows the picturesque beach houses of Muizenberg beach. And yes, we couldn’t resist taking some cool Instagram shots there as well. Muizenberg is a beach suburb 30 minutes away from Cape Town. There you will find all the cool surfing dudes and cute little coffee shops. And after a short time you will totally be in the flow of just chilling and relaxing. And yeah, it’s a typical tourist spot as well, but you definitely have to go there!

Enjoy a day at the beach (but be aware that the water of the Atlantic Ocean is freezing cold!). The other good thing is, that this attraction lies halfway to the famous Boulders Beach. This is where the cutest little penguins are waiting to meet you. Read our Blog Post the Penguins at Boulders Beach to make sure you get all the information therefore.

5.    Go to Cape of Good Hope (early in the morning)

Many people told us not to go there because it is supposed to be totally overrated. But they have been totally wrong about that in our opinion. We drove there very early in the morning and arrived at the gate of the national park at 6:00 am. And we think that was the reason why we had such an amazing experience there. We have been the first (and only) people at Cape of Good Hope in the morning. And had enough time exploring this place all by ourselves during sunrise till the first people arrived. Don’t miss this windy place with its crazy baboons that will boldly try to steal something from you. And it’s adorable penguins playing in the ocean. So, our tip for you: be there when the gates open (at 6 am)!

at sunrise a couple standing on a rock with ocean view
we had to get up in Capetown at 4.30 am but it was definitely worth it!

Many people think that Cape of Good hope is the southernmost Point of Africa. Where the African and the Indian Oceans meet. Unfortunately that’s not true! This would be Cape Aghulas 200 km away on the Garden Route. Anyways, in our opinion, Cape of Good Hope is a must see when going to South Africa!

6.    Making friends with the penguins at Boulders Beach

Warm weather and sandy beaches don’t exactly conjure up images of penguins. But these funny little birds are living even though at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, South Africa. Read our Blog Post about how we met these cute little creatures.

7.    Face your fears! Jumping from the highest bungee bridge of the world: Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa

a bridge crossing a deep valley

As far as this point is concerned, we absolutely disagree… We both jumped from the highest bungee bridge in the world (216 meters), but our experiences vary widely. Is it impressive? Yes! Do you get an absolute adrenaline rush? Yes! Is it a unique experience? Yes! Do you really have to do it to get the ultimate South African experience? Fabian says yes, Jojo says no (I was too scared before to repeat this action ever again – one sleepless night is enough). But you have to find out yourself! Africa’s highest bridge captures all the majesty and tranquility of the Bloukrans River valley. It’s recognized as the ‘highest bungee from a bridge’ in the world! Bloukrans Bungy uses pendulum bungee technology to ensure the smoothest, most comfortable bungee jump possible. So you don’t have to be concerned about your safety at all. 

It is clear that Face Adrenaline creates a unique experience that you will never forget. The Bungee team is dancing and singing all the time. It really feels like they love what they are doing. And how often in life do you stand with trembling legs on the highest bridge in the world? Just throw down yourself more than 200 meters towards the river and face your fears!

8.    Go to the beautiful winelands

About 40 km to the east of Cape Town, lying in the shadow of a continuous belt of Cape fold mountains. There lies a series of generous valleys known as the Cape Winelands. It is a collection of historic towns, little hamlets and Cape Dutch farmsteads which provide South African wines to the world.

We fell in love with the regions of Stellenbosch and Fransschoek. And would highly recommend staying at least two nights in one of the many amazing wine yard hotels. (Not in the city centers itself) and enjoy the overwhelming views and of course the delicious wines.

And you can guess that we enjoyed many of them, as we are wine lovers..

9.    Connect with local people

One of the cool things about South Africa is its diversity. The vibrant city of Cape Town is a great place to experience this. Meet the different types of people that call this country their home. Talking to local residents and learning about the history and the huge political changes the country has been through, was the best way to connect with the real roots of South Africa. Connecting with some of the coolest and kindest people we have ever met opened us up many new perspectives. It helped us so much to understand the strugglings and culture of the country even more.

Nathan for example will forever be in our hearts. He is one of the kindest, funniest and coolest guys we have ever met. And over all he is the best travel guide and driver you can hire in whole South Africa. You should definitely check out the travel company he works for: Fairest Cape Meander Tours They provide affordable, enjoyable and top quality tours and services which have exceeded our expectations by far.

Don’ts

Shark Diving: Although diving with the great white shark sounds like a once in a lifetime unique experience, we strongly advise against doing it. We talked to several people who did it and were totally disappointed. They said that in a mass processing huge pails of fish waste are thrown on you while you are in the shark cage. That’s the reason why you often see anything and may times no shark shows up while the other divers are puking off the boat because they become seasick. If you want to please yourself, the Ocean and the sharks, then just don`t do it! But to be fair: we didn’t try it ourselves, course it’s your own choice if you want to try it or not!

Being too afraid: To be honest, we have never had any trouble with safety or crime whilst visiting South Africa. However, South Africa still has a fairly bad reputation for crime and safety issues. Therefore we recommend leaving expensive jewelry and clothes at home. Don’t flash large sums of cash around in public. It will get noticed that you’re fairly privileged and you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting targeted and robbed. But if you avoid running through the neighborhood totally drunk alone at night you will be save. Don`t worry too much! In our opinion, it was very save and easy taking an uber and it’s a pretty cheap way to move around especially in Cape town and Stellenbosh.

Just sticking in Capetown: South Africa has so much to offer. Just sticking in Cape Town would be a pity. Please believe us that you would be very sorry if you just stay in Capetown. The diverse landscape and the impressive scenery of the garden route will not disappoint you – we guarantee that! 

Good to know:

  • Enjoying the epic sunset from Signal Hill sounds nice and like a must-do when being in Cape Town. However, it feels like the entire city has the same idea on a daily basis. So it comes to mile-long traffic jams up the mountain (especially on weekends). If you like to get stuck in traffic jams to see hundreds of Instagrammers side by side posing up there for the perfect pic, then go for it. As an alternative, we highly recommend hiking up to the Lion’s Head (approximately 45min walk). It is not accessible by the car and offers almost the same view!
  • Same applies for enjoying a sundowner at Camp`s Bay. So many people posing around and the drinks are far too expensive! But guess that’s a question of preferences! 
  • If you plan on having a picnic with a beer or a bottle of wine at the beach: forget it! Drinking alcohol at the beach is not allowed in entire South Africa.
  • Heard about Cliffton`s beach? Yeah it`s beautiful but there is no opportunity to get any shade. Buy food or drinks down there so bring an umbrella and a picnic (but no alcohol of course)

Where to stay:

During exploring South Africa we stayed in many different accommodations. But at this point we want to share our top three with you:

Capetown: We stayed at Radisson Blue Waterfront and loved it. This special seaside hotel is close to the city center. The striking ocean view and the infinity pool set the stage for a memorable stay in Cape Town. 

Sedgefield: One f our Highlights was the Beachfront Bed & Breakfast Dover on Sea! It offers an unique architecture, luxury and comfort. Combined with the sea view and the warm-hearted hospitality of the owners, it made our experience of Sedgefield a very special one.

Stellenbosh: MolenVliet Family Vineyards is a luxury boutique Wine and Guest Estate with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards.

Hardfacts

Currency: South African Rand

Language: Afrikaans and South African English (and they do have more than 30 other official languages)

Best season to visit SA: South Africa is a year-round destination. The Cape has beautiful hot, dry weatherfrom November till March, when we have been there. While the best time to visitfor whale watching is between July and November.

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2 Comments

  1. 13/10/2019 / 5:15 PM

    Awesome read guys and thanks for mentioning me. Ps. I had a great time with you guys as well 😁

    • fabi.jojo
      Author
      13/10/2019 / 5:26 PM

      Thank you so much! We miss you and South Africa! 🙂