Giraffe emerging from dust storm at sunset – Image courtesy of livingwild
Introducing South African
As a honeymoon destination, South Africa offers a choice of amazing outdoors attractions for adventurous couples.
What to do and see
Between the Limpopo River on South Africa’s north-eastern border and the semi-arid west coast and subtropical east coast lie a choice of parks and luxurious private reserves hosting safari adventures through immensely varied terrain.
See wildlife interact with each other from an open-topped vehicle, on a specialist safari on foot, from a canoe, atop an elephant or on horseback, all the while accompanied by knowledgeable, armed game rangers.
Encounter the ‘big five' – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo – at South Africa's famous Kruger National Park. Track down herds of elephant in Addo Elephant National Park and see more rhinos than anywhere else on earth on a foot safari through the subtropical Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
Go bird watching on horseback at iSimangaliso Wetland Park and admire ancient rock art amid the rugged peaks of the Drakensberg mountains.
Marvel at the antics of jackass penguins at Boulders Beach in Simonstown before climbing up to the lighthouses on the Cape of Good Hope. Along the way discover memorable South African customs and traditions.
Kruger National Park
Join a walking or 4WD safari through some of the nearly two million hectares of pristine bushveld in the Kruger National Park, just five hours from Johannesburg and sanctuary to more than 700 species of mammals, reptiles and birds.
Get close to the ‘big five’ – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – as they interact with each other and other wildlife in sometimes unexpected dramas in South Africa’s largest game reserve.
Visit Masorini to see the remains of a prehistoric settlement, with artifacts dating back to around 1700 B.C. Later revive in a hot water mineral spring along the banks of the nearby Makutsi River.
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Mapungubwe National Park
Track down elephant, giraffe, white rhino, eland, gemsbok and other antelope species at this World Heritage Site, located in Limpopo Province at the confluence of the legendary Limpopo and Shashe rivers on the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Look out for lions, leopards and hyenas roaming freely through the natural riverine forests. Try to spot some of the more than 400 species of birdlife overhead, including the kori bustard, tropical boubou and pel’s fishing owl.
Visit the ‘lost city’ at Mapungubwe Hill, where archaeologists have excavated cave drawings and artefacts dating back to Iron Age communities that lived here from around 900 AD.
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Tsitsikamma National Park
Explore the rugged coastline of Tsitsikamma National Park with a five-day hike along the scenic 42km-long Otter Trail.
Or try the 60km Tsitsikamma hiking trail, a two- to six-day hike through indigenous afromontane forest, past numerous rivers and mountain fynbos, into the heart of the Tsitsikamma mountains.
If that seems too strenuous, choose from several nature trails that can be walked in one to six hours along the rocky foreshore and into the forest.
The Tsitsikamma National Park is a coastal reserve on the Garden Route, which includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
Along the way, watch dolphins and porpoises frolic in the Indian Ocean, look out for cape clawless otters hunting crabs along the park’s coastline and rivers, spot the African black oystercatcher nesting along the park’s rocky coastline and listen for the gruff call of the beautiful Knysna lourie as miniature blue duiker antelope flitter through the woodland.
As well as hiking, the park offers a range of adventure activities, from sailing and river canoeing to bungy jumping, abseiling, climbing and mountain biking.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Formerly known as St Lucia Wetlands, this World Heritage site comprises nearly 328,000ha of stunning scenery as well as 500 species of bird and more than 120 species of fresh and estuarine fish.
This area is home to a large population of hippos and approximately 1000 crocodiles. View the Park’s wildlife from horseback or on foot. The park is located about 275km north of Durban.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
Explore the oldest game park in Africa, located north of Durban. Covering some 96,000ha, the park contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora and is world-renowned for its rhino conservation, with the largest population of white rhino in the world.
Look out also for the ‘big five’ – lion, rhino (back and white), elephant, buffalo and leopard, as well as giraffe, impala and zebra.
The Reserve, which ranges from open savannah to dense forest and rocky hillsides, is also home to more than 300 species of bird and is the only place in South Africa where the yellow throated, pink throated and orange throated long claw species can be seen together.
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Blyde River Canyon
Discover numerous nature-formed attractions along the spectacularly scenic Blyde River Canyon, a 26km-long canyon lined with towering 600m to 800m high red sandstone cliffs.
Peer down into a series of blue pools at Bourke's Luck Potholes, a surreal group of rock sculptures created by the constant erosion of whirling water.
Admire the 200m-high Kadishi waterfall, known locally as 'the weeping face of nature', and from the Three Rondavels viewpoint, marvel at the huge rock spirals.
Meanwhile, try to spot the diverse range of wildlife that lives in the canyon, from crocodiles, hippos and monkeys to countless species of birdlife including the beautiful green narina trogon, the African fish eagle and the peregrine falcon.
The Blyde River Canyon is located in Mpumalanga and forms the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment.
Explore this 240,000ha park on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike and discover breathtaking views over the rolling grassland, yellowwood forests, cascading waterfalls and crystal clear streams across to the 3000m-high peaks of the rugged Drakensberg, a stunning 200km-long mountain range.
This World Heritage Site boasts 290 species of bird, including the bearded vulture, black eagle, orange breasted rockjumper and yellow breasted pipit, as well as 48 species of mammals such as the grey rhebok, the oribi and the eland.
Admire some of the more than 30,000 individual rock paintings that date from the late Stone Age until the late 19th century; for some of the best sites head to Kamberg, Giant’s Castle and Cathedral Peak. The mountains also offer climbing, abseiling and whitewater rafting.
Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these hotels in the Drakensberg Region, Kwa Zulu, Natal at TripAdvisor.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
Discover a sea of red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and dry riverbeds in this 3.6 million hectare park that flows between South Africa and Botswana.
See herds of gemsbok desert antelope, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest.
Try to spot black-mane Kalahari lions, cheetah and leopards seeking shade beneath imposing camel thorn trees, while pygmy falcons, one of more than 90 species of bird in the Park, circle overhead looking for prey.
Table Mountain National Park
From the boardwalk overlooking protected Boulders Beach, watch and listen to the braying calls of the largest colony of jackass penguins found on the African mainland.
Hike to the summit of Table Mountain for spectacular views over Cape Town or hike past wildlife including eland, red hartebeest, bontebok and zebra to the famous Cape Point on the Cape of Good Hope.
Swim off unspoiled beaches along the Atlantic and False Bay sides of the Cape or kayak beneath the rugged cliffs that make up the southwestern-most point of Africa. Remember to pop inside the cape lighthouse to learn about the cultural and natural history of the Point.
Addo Elephant National Park
Discover the largest elephant population in the world. The 164,000ha park is also home to other wildlife including buffalo, black rhino, zebra, jackal, bushbuck and kudu antelope as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, African penguins and cape gannets.
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Africa’s largest sub-Saharan city and biggest urban area in South Africa was once home to the richest gold reef in the world, producing 40 per cent of the world's gold.
Today it is the business hub of South Africa, set in a mix of concrete, glass and chrome skyscrapers surrounded by sprawling suburbs.
Learn about the struggle to end racial discrimination at the emotive Apartheid Museum, and at the Constitution Hill Museum, built on the site of the notorious Number Four prison, see the living conditions of former prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi.
Head to Mai Mai Market, Johannesburg’s oldest marketplace – a great place to discover traditional remedies; visit Lesedi Cultural Village to see authentic performances of indigenous dancing and taste local Zulu cuisine; and join a tour to Soweto, where you can visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum and former residences of Nobel Peace Prize-winners Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
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With 40km of immaculate beaches set within in a protected bay, Port Elizabeth offers perfect conditions for water activities: head to King's Beach and Hobie Beach for swimming or sunbathing, and to Pollock Beach, known locally as 'the Pipe', for surf.
Stroll around picturesque 19th century buildings that include the best collection of Art Nouveau buildings in South Africa. Nearby lies Addo Elephant National Park.
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South Africa's oldest city offers beautiful beaches, charming vineyards and rugged landscapes, as well as a lively cultural scene. Local activities include skydiving, scuba diving, surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, boating, walking and hiking.
Don’t miss a hike to the top of Table Mountain (for an easy route take the scenic cable car); a visit to the restored Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, offering free entertainment and a wide variety of shops, museums, taverns and restaurants; and the notorious Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
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Explore some of South Africa’s most famous wine estates at Franschhoek, Boschendal and Stellenbosch. Taste some of the classical award-winning red varieties in a region that has a wine culture dating back some 350 years.
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Multicultural Durban overlooks a 6km-long golden beach. Swim and surf in the patrolled areas or stroll along the beach to see what the locals are up to, which could be anything from Shembe-style baptisms and Hindu worshipping using clay votive lamps, to ancestral offerings conducted by Zulu sangomas (traditional healers).
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Take a ride on the historic tram and learn about the exciting early days of this famous diamond-mining city at the Kimberley Mine Museum, situated next to the Big Hole – the world's largest hand dug manmade excavation.
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Best time to visit South Africa
The dry winter months between June and October are considered the best times to travel as vegetation is sparse and animals are easier to see because they concentrate around diminishing water holes.
However, spring and summer are also a good time to visit as the vegetation is lush and many animals give birth.
Latest update South Africa honeymoon destination:
12 October, 2019
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