South Africa’s Top 12 Experiences

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South Africa offers terrific experiences that should be on every traveler’s list. Here are Fodor’s top picks for a memorable trip.

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Safaris

Whether in Kruger National Park or a private wildlife reserve, seeing the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo) in the wild is awe-inspiring.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s South Africa Travel Guide

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Nelson Mandela’s Legacy

See his grave in the Eastern Cape, the cell where he was imprisoned for eighteen years on Robben Island, and the house where he lived in Soweto until 1961.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s South Africa Travel Guide

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Cape Winelands

Known for Pinotage and Chenin Blanc varietals, as well
as striking Cape Dutch architecture, South Africa’s famous wineries are near Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Parl.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Western Cape Travel Guide

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Cape Town

South Africa’s “Mother City” spreads magnificently around Table Mountain. Its popular Victoria & Albert Waterfront is a vibrant setting for many of the city’s top hotels and restaurants.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cape Town Travel Guide

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Cradle of Humankind

The bones of our ancient ancestors have been found in the complex of limestone caves that comprise this impressive World Heritage Site west of Johannesburg.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Johannesburg Travel Guide

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Garden Route

The 130-mile stretch of coast from Mossel Bay to Storms River has spectacular scenery and quaint towns, and it’s one of the country’s top draws for driving and hiking.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Garden Route and the Little Karoo Travel Guide

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Kalahari Desert

The Northern Cape, the country’s least-populated province, is home to the native San people and a vast, semi-arid savannah that stretches into Namibia and Botswana.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Northern Cape Travel Guide

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Whale Watching

South Africa is a top spot to see whales and dolphins. At Plettenberg Bay, the country’s premier beach resort, you can see them by boat or right from the beach.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Garden Route and the Little Karoo Travel Guide

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Drakensberg Range of KwaZulu-Natal

The Zulu call this World Heritage Site the uKhahlambra (“Barrier of Spears”). It offers some of the most dramatic landscapes and best hiking in South Africa.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Durban and KwaZulu-Natal Travel Guide

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Cape Point

Just over forty miles south of Cape Town, near the southernmost point of Africa, you can look out to the sea where the waters of the Atlantic meet the Indian Ocean.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cape Town Travel Guide

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South African Culture

Every June and July, South Africa’s National Arts Festival brings a roster of contemporary and traditional dance, theater, and music performances to Grahamstown.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Eastern Cape Travel Guide

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Shopping

Masks, carvings, clothing, bowls, and other crafts: You’ll find an amazing variety of authentic items in the large African crafts markets in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s South Africa Travel Guide

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