Dream Destinations – South Africa

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Today’s feature was a really tough one to choose because there are so many gorgeous locations around the world that start with the letter ‘S’. After much debate and the fact we almost chose this Dream Destination as our honeymoon spot in 2012, we have opted for the amazing location that is South Africa.

Located in the heart of the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa provides an attractive hub to tourists from all around the world for many reasons though I sure the majority of us associate this country with taking safari trips into national parks. I think the main reason we opted for Australia as our honeymoon destination over South Africa was primarily because of our uncertainty and lack of knowledge (our own ignorance!) over the safety and health concerns related to this country.

After overcoming these fears and noticing some of the amazing attractions that South Africa has to offer, we are definitely ready to explore the wonderfully acclaimed Rainbow Nation. The following are some of the top reasons why you should take the time to plan a trip to South Africa.

Kruger National Park

Image courtesy of Kore (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Kore (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
One of the largest national parks in Africa, Kruger National Park is an essential must-see location for anyone visiting South Africa who has a desire to see wild animals roaming around. This is the ultimate experience and one that we won’t want to miss out on when we head there. There are always great tours available from a variety of locations around South Africa and it is advisable to go and spend at least 2-3 days at Kruger so that you fully take advantage of this amazing experience.

Table Mountain

Image courtesy of Andreas Tusche (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Andreas Tusche (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Denoted as a Natural World Heritage site by UNESCO and also one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is undoubtedly one of the most famous mountains not only in South Africa but also throughout the world. So how did this beat the likes of the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef to achieve this global status? Whether it is because of it’s unique location overlooking Cape Town or whether it is because it is a perfect photographer’s dream, I will leave that for you to decide.

The reality is that if you are planning a trip to Cape Town in particular, it is only natural that you will want to hike some of Table Mountain’s trails or explore the wilderness that makes this the most prominent mountain on the African continent.

Cape of Good Hope

Image courtesy of By Matthias Kniese [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of By Matthias Kniese [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For some reason I have a real attraction to locations that seem to feel like you are at the end of the world. Just take our experiences at Land’s End in England or the Monterey Peninsula in California and you will note why I am so intrigued by visiting the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Not only do feel like you experiencing the end of a country but also the whole of the African continent. Of course, the reality is you are experiencing neither but the awe inspiring views and scenery are worth the trip alone.

Many visitors from around the world are attracted to the Cape of Good Hope purely because of it’s maritime history and iconic position as a World Heritage site.

Apartheid Museum

Image courtesy of Annette Kurylo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Annette Kurylo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
South Africa has unfortunately had troubles in recent decades, none more so than the Apartheid system that saw so much segregation throughout the nation for almost 50 years. Located in Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum depicts a chilling and deep story of this segregation but at the same time provides visitors with an excellent illustration of locals feelings and experiences.

The museum offers a brutal analysis of Apartheid, holding nothing back but despite this seeming to be a little disturbing for many visitors, it hides nothing and allows visitors to understand exactly why and how this impacted so many South Africans until Nelson Mandela’s regime changed their lives.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Image courtesy of Elsiebe Sequeira (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Elsiebe Sequeira (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Acclaimed as one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are located at the foot of Table Mountain so offer visitors to Cape Town the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The beauty of Kirstenbosch is that not only does it offer a gorgeous plethora of floral variety within the botanical gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain, but it is also part of a grand natural reserve that plays host to various species of animals and other plant life. The benefit of this is that it can be protected better and of course well-maintained.

***This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge (#DreamDestinations #AtoZChallenge)***

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16 COMMENTS

  1. This is a dream destination of mine as well, and for many of the same reasons you listed! My boyfriend’s dad lives in South Africa, so I’m working on my in here… let’s see how it turns out 🙂

  2. Yes, we almost went there too and didn’t for similar reasons. It’s still on the list though – and for us, would have the very big advantage of being exotic without jetlag!

    • Thanks Calli! South Africa has always been an attractive destination for us, it’s just a case of overcoming those fears and planning the trip right!

    • Thanks so much Marlene, these are just a few of the awesome attractions that are available in South Africa. We didn’t even include landmarks in Durban or Pretoria among others so there is clearly so much to do. I guess it’s down to personal preference and ensuring you do enough planning prior to heading there to know exactly what you want to see and do there.

  3. I really want to go here. I used to plan study abroad programs at a university and planning the program that went to South Africa was one of my favorites to plan. I wish I could have joined them. I love the selections you included here, especially Cape of Good Hope. I’m also obsessed with places that feel like you’re at the end of the world.

    I hope we can all make it there some day — sooner than later.

  4. I love SA – we have been there a few times including honeymoon – these ideas just scratch the surface – give yourself a lot of time to see everything else! let me know if you need any tips – wrote all about some off the beaten track ideas for Paul a while back! Stellenbosch and the Drakensberg you really mustn’t miss – they are so good as they are so quiet! And climbing the lions head at dawn in CT!

    • Thanks Anna for the additional suggestions. This is one of the problems of doing just a few key attractions in our Dream Destinations because there are so many other wonderful opportunities available in the majority of the locations we have covered. But we appreciate comments like this where you add value and readers can see other suggestions in addition to what we have included. I think you make a great point about ensuring you have enough time to explore everything and that just comes down to good planning in advance!

  5. I was in South Africa just a few months ago, staying very close to Kirstenbosch. Cape Town has to be one of my favourite cities – it was my first time there for about 10 years. In some respects, there had been a lot of change (a World Cup had been hosted since my last visit for starters…) but in many other ways things were much the same as the last time. A lovely city with a really nice atmosphere. Would particularly recommend the Camps Bay area.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Paul on Camps Bay! This wasn’t one of the spots that I researched but as I mentioned in another comment, whenever you are looking at luxury, dream destinations there are just a plethora of attractions and locations to choose from. I think it would have been really cool to be in South Africa during the World Cup 2010 even though it would have been a major disappointment had we been there following England…then again, nothing new there! Roll on World Cup 2014!

  6. South Africa has never been top of my list of places to visit but your post does make it look very appealing. In particular, a visit to the Kirstenbosch Gardens on the slopes ofTable Mountain sounds an unforgetable experience.

  7. My biggest worry about S. Africa is not feeling safe. My friend went there recently, but was with a tour group, an said she felt safe but I just… don’t know!

    • That was certainly Heather’s main fear Sammi – safety! I think her main issue though was related to malaria and even though I tried to convince her that Cape Town and the other leading cities were fine, it’s just in the back of your mind and well that made us go with Australia instead (don’t regret that at all though!). Hopefully those fears are behind us and we can get to South Africa at some point in the near future because it looks stunning – the ultimate place for a safari especially.

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