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Must-See Southern Africa Highlights

Southern Africa is one of the most magical places on earth and a journey through this fabled land is sure to touch the soul of any traveller who visits. Located at the tip of the world’s most enigmatic continent, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are bursting with breathtaking wildlife, famed landmarks, awe-inspiring culture, and sumptuous cuisine. A couple of weeks spent on a southern Africa tour is an unforgettable experience, with an almost-endless list of things to do.

We’ve put together this guide to the region’s most incredible must-sees, from the spectacular Big Five game animals in Chobe National Park to the thundering Victoria Falls to the gorgeous winelands in South Africa! If your client follows our list on their next vacation to southern Africa, they’ll be sure to see the region’s must-see attractions.

Captivating Cape Town

Penguins on Boulders Beach

Cape Town is known for its sophisticated culture, world-class cuisine, and spectacular natural scenery. Table Mountain, the flat-topped mountain that looms above the city, makes for an awesome climb for active travellers. Alternatively, your clients can take the revolving cable car to the mountain’s soaring peak. They’ll feel like they’re on top of the world as they enjoy dramatic views of the entire Cape Peninsula; it’s a photographer’s dream!

In Table Mountain National Park, your clients should visit the adorable African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach and frolic with these carefully-protected birds. For an awe-inspiring journey into the history of South Africa, they can cross over to Robben Island, a World Heritage Site 9km offshore from Cape Town. Nelson Mandela served two decades in prison here, and the Robben Island Museum now stands to commemorate the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racism.

During your clients’ tour of the Mother City, they’ll want to stroll around the attractive Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront. This stylish spot is a hub of activity with year-round events, fabulous shops and restaurants, and a lovely marina with spectacular views. Next, they should take a trip to Bo-Kaap, the colourful neighborhood in Cape Town that was originally settled by freed slaves, brought over by the Dutch in the 17th and 18th century. Bo-Kaap’s steep streets are lined with quaint, traditional houses, painted in vibrant colours. The Cape Malay community here is proudly Islamic and plenty of little local restaurants are open so that your clients can sample the tasty traditional cuisine.

Embarking on a Township tour is a great way for your clients to see the real South Africa and get a feel for the region’s history, culture, and diversity. The Townships were created as living areas for non-whites under the old political system of apartheid. Thus, visiting the townships today can be a moving and eye-opening experience.

Cape Town at night

Winelands and Garden Route

No visit to South Africa is complete without a wine tour. The bucolic Cape Winelands region has earned a reputation as South Africa’s culinary capital, and for good reason. The winelands are home to many legendary Cape wines, sumptuous restaurants, and gorgeous little towns that will steal your clients’ hearts.

The famous Garden Route, along the southeastern coast of South Africa, is rich with lagoons, lakes, lush forests, wild flowers, and wildlife. The 300km route is dotted with quaint towns, windswept beaches, scenic mountains, and incredible animals. Arrange a stop for your clients in the town of Oudtshoorn, known as the “ostrich capital of the world”, so they can see the world’s biggest birds and explore the spectacular Cango Caves, Africa’s largest show cave system. In the enchanting Garden Route town of Knysna, they should take a scenic Lagoon cruise and visit the Featherbed Nature Reserve, which is home to the Knysna loerie bird and blue duiker. They won’t find these curious creatures anywhere else!

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and is an absolute show-stopper. Encompassing nearly two million hectares and fourteen unique ecosystems, Kruger is a must-visit highlight of any southern African vacation. If your clients are looking to spot the Big Five game animals amid breathtaking landscapes, they’ve come to the right place. Their quintessential South Africa safari experience starts here!

Morning, afternoon, and evening game drives led by seasoned experts will get your clients within feet of gorgeous lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and other captivating wildlife. They’ll ride in an open 4×4 vehicle to get face-to-face with the most exciting and exhilarating wildlife in the world. While they’re staying in the park, they can uncover the best-kept secrets of the wilderness on a bush walk experience. They’ll get to hike through the bush with experienced guides and trackers, and get to know its fascinating wildlife.

Next, they should explore South Africa’s famous Panorama Route and feast their eyes on its spectacular scenery. The small town of Graskop, located near Kruger Park, is the gateway to the route. Here they’ll be amazed by the Panorama Route’s pristine mountains, big sky, deep forests, and the truly impressive Blyde River Canyon, which is one of the world’s largest canyons. While in the Kruger area, animal lovers can go behind the scenes to explore Africa’s wildlife on our Endangered Wildlife Experience tour, where travellers visit two amazing conservation centres that rescue and protect some of the world’s most endangered creatures.

Giraffe in Kruger National Park

Victoria Falls

While in southern Africa, your clients should go beyond the ordinary and tour one of Earth’s great spectacles, found at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia: Victoria Falls. They’ll be awestruck as they witness the thundering cascade of the Zambezi River plunging into basalt gorges below. Victoria Falls is the stuff of legends, and when they witness its sheer strength and beauty, they’ll understand why. They should be sure to enjoy a vintage sunset cruise on the Ra-Ikane that harkens back to a bygone era. They should also indulge in the unique flavours and aromas of African cuisine during a special Boma dinner: an authentic African dinner experience. They can also get up close and personal with the gentle giants of Africa on an Elephant Back Safari, where they’ll explore the wildlife trails around Victoria Falls while being carried by an elephant. Along the way they’ll learn about these incredible creatures and fall in love with them all over again.

Helicopter view of Victoria Falls

Chobe National Park

A visit to northern Botswana makes an amazing addition to any southern Africa tour. Chobe National Park  is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, and on fantastic game drives your clients will venture into some of the greatest wildlife viewing areas in all of Africa. The park has nearly 11,000 sq km of diverse eco-systems that are home to lions, leopards, and African buffalo, along with over 450 species of birds. Before your clients leave, they should take a cruise on the mighty Chobe River and watch the sun descend from the vast African sky. It’s a journey that will stay in their hearts forever.

Chobe game sightings
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Kirsty Perring

Africa Experts Product Manager – Although British born and now Toronto based, Kirsty grew up in South Africa and is completely passionate about all things Africa. She finds it hard to choose a favourite destination, but lists Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana as some of the most special places she has visited, and feels it’s not just about where you go and what you see, but who you get to experience it with. Kirsty is always up for an adventure and will try anything once. As such, she has para-glided in South Africa, zip lined in Mauritius, dived the Red Sea, hot air ballooned in Egypt, and even swam in the Okavango Delta. Next on Kirsty’s bucket list is to climb Kilimanjaro!

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