50 Unique Things To Do in South Africa

50 Unique Things To Do in South Africa

South Africa is the greatest country on earth. There, I said it. Seriously, if South Africa was a man I would probably stop all my endless travels and settle down and have a big family. So, what makes South Africa so great? Besides the breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, friendly people, and amazing food around every corner, what makes it amazing in my eyes is that there are literally endless unique things to do in South Africa.

I started writing this post with a handful of my favourite adventures in mind. Then the more I looked through my photos, and the more I thought about it, the list just kept growing. Of course there are many more amazing things to do in South Africa that I have not written about,  and which I’m hoping you will tell me about in the comments section so we can grow this guide together! 

From unique places to eat in Cape Town, to adrenaline junkie activities along the Garden Route, diving with sharks or staying in unusual accommodation in South Africa during your travels, below are (in my opinion) the 50 most unique things to do in South Africa that you simply MUST add to your bucket list.

READ: How much does it REALLY cost to travel South Africa

50. Photoshoot in Bo Kaap, Cape Town

If you love photography as much as I do, wandering around beautiful Bo Kaap will be top of your list. It’s right in the centre of Cape Town, on the slopes of Signal Hill, so most likely walking distance from wherever you decide to stay. This district used to be called the Malay Quarter, and was home to the descendants of slaves from Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka who were brought over to South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries. The area is still the centre of the Cape Malay population in Cape Town and it is thanks to these residents, who paint their homes bright colours to mark the end of Ramadan each year, that Bo Kaap is now one of the most colourful residential areas in all of South Africa.

A visit to the Bo Kaap Museum is a must, as is a cooking class with Bo Kaap Cooking Tour where you will learn to cook the most incredible curries from one of the best chefs in town, Zainie!

Cost: Exploring is FREE, a cooking course is Rand 700 and a guided tour is Rand 400.

LUXURY STAY: The Table Bay Hotel

BUDGET STAY: Ashanti Lodge and Gardens

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49. Hiking Table Mountain, Cape Town

No visit to South Africa would be complete without hiking up or, at least around the top of, Table Mountain. The centre piece of the city of Cape Town, one of the most visited spots in South Africa, and by far the most recognisable landmark in all of Africa, Table Mountain is just as amazing in real life as it is in all the photos. Whether you decide to take the Cable Car to the top and spend an hour or two exploring all the view points or get up at the break of dawn and spend 2-3 hours hiking to the top, the views looking down on Cape Town, Camps Bay and the 12 Apostles are absolutely spectacular. This really is an essential bucket list item for anyone visiting Cape Town and South Africa!

Cost: Hiking is FREE, the cable car is Rand 135 one way available here.

cabke-car-table-mountain

table-mountain-hike

48. Bungee Jumping off Bloukrans Bridge

What would a holiday to South Africa be without a little adrenaline? Nothing will quite get the heart racing like getting some smiling strangers to wrap a bungee cord around your feet, lead you to the edge of a 216 meter high bridge and the count down for you to jump!! This used to be the highest bungee jump in the world, until it was overtaken by a skyscraper in Macau. It still holds the record for being the highest bridge bungee in the world and as you walk along the caged bridge to the jump spot, your heart will be in your mouth. This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done but also the most fun. You will be on a high for the rest of the day / week / month and might just opt to jump again!!

Cost: Rand 900 online or 950 on site

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47. Taking a bath on a cliff

This is by far one of the most unusual things to do in South Africa, mainly because I don’t know anywhere else in the world where you will find a bath on a cliff. (Except maybe this crazy eco resort in Vietnam – but that’s more a hot tub than a bath!!) This particular bath is situated at the end of the garden in Away With The Fairies Backpackers hostel in Hogsback. It’s one of my favourite hostels South Africa…and not just because of their bath with a view. It’s one of the most peaceful getaways I’ve even been to, complete with nightly camp fire, a treehouse to escape and read a book in a sunset view over the Amathole Mountains that is unbeatable. Except if you happen to be sitting in the bath with a beer looking at the same view. Magical. 

Cost: The bath is free, the hostel costs €10 a night.

LUXURY STAY: The Table Bay Hotel

BUDGET STAY: Away With The Fairies Hostel

bath-hogsback

46. Helicopter tour of Cape Town

Let’s be honest. Who hasn’t dreamt of taking a helicopter ride over Cape Town?! Of all the cities in all the world, Cape Town is definitely one of the most amazing when viewed from the air. You can take panoramic aerial shots of the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Table mountain and the beaches stretching down the coastline with the 12 apostles in the background. I did the City Hopper tour with NAC Helicopters, which while short at just 15 minutes, is the perfect tour for those on a budget keen to get good photos of the city from the skies!

Cost: Rand 1080 per person for the Hopper Tour

cape-town-aerial

45. Go on a game drive

What’s the difference between going on safari and doing a game drive, I hear you ask! Well, a game drive a great alternative for those tight on time (and budget) who still want a taste of what it’s like to be on safari. Game drives normally last a few hours and you drive around a private game reserve in an open top jeep, spotting animals just as you would on safari. The difference is that the area is enclosed, there are only a limited amount of animals and some of the larger predators must be kept separate from the rest to stop them causing mayhem! It’s still a really fun experience and watching which animals like to mingle and which don’t. We did one in Plettenberg Bay and spent almost an hour driving around trying to find the one rare rhino who was hiding from us! If a game drive isn’t enough for you, maybe consider doing a real South African safari. They are more expensive but the experience will be unforgettable! 

Cost: Rand 590 per person for a 2 hour game drive which you can book here.

LUXURY STAY: Plett Game Reserve (sleep with the animals!)

BUDGET STAY: Mandalay Guest House 

game-drive

44. Surfing in Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay is the premier surf destination in South Africa so whether you are a surfing pro or have never stood on a surf board in your life, getting in the water here is a must. I always stay in Island Vibe Backpackers Hostel as not only is the atmosphere here amazing at all times of the year, they also have panoramic views of the beach and really helpful surf instructors to get you from total beginner to pro in no time! While the weather is better from November to March, during the South African summer, you will have to come back in winter to see the professionals and all the bug surf competitions such as the Billabong Pro.

Cost: Surf lessons are Rand 250 for a 2 hour lesson.

LUXURY STAY: House On The Bay (feel like a celebrity!)

BUDGET STAY:Island Vibe Backpackers Hostel

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43. Visit Robben Island

While South Africa is full of exciting adventures and other fun activities, it’s also important to learn more about the country you are travelling in and get a taste for its troubled history. There’s no better place to do this than a half day trip to Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 20 years of his life. On the ferry across to the island we were lucky enough to see two whales breaching right by our boat, so we got a taste of both the wildlife and history in one trip. The tour of the prison is both sad and fascinating, especially as the tours are run by men who were once imprisoned here for fighting for the rights of their country and fellow citizens. It’s not all heavy going though as the tour also affords amazing views from Robben Island looking back at Cape Town and the chance to see more African Penguins which call the island home.

Cost: Rand 320 per person and you can book here.

robben-island

42. Go Whale Watching in Hermanus

Sadly this activity is seasonal, with most sightings occurring between June and November. Recognized as one of the top whale watching destinations in the world, Hermanus is a seaside town only 2 hours drive from Cape Town. You can drive there, sit on a bench overlooking the beach and try spot the whales yourself or you can sign up to a whale watching boat trip with Southern Right Charters and let the professionals spot the whales for you! They say the very best time to view whales are the months of September, October and November where you are almost guaranteed to see whales off the coast of Hermanus. There’s a beautiful 12km long cliff path which offers some of the best land-based whale watching in the world – great for those on a budget!

Cost: 800 in high season, 550 in low season.

41. Visit some African penguins

Every time I go to Cape Town (I’ve been 4 times now!!) I always make visiting the enormous African Penguin colony down in Simonstown a priority. Where else in the world can you thousands of adorable, and tiny, African penguins chilling out on a beautiful sandy beach? Did you know if you walk a little further down the coast there is even a beach where you can swim with the penguins? Now that’s an experience you will never forget…especially when you feel how cold the water is!

Cost: Adults Rand 70 to enter the Penguin colony.

penguins-cape-town

penguins-simonstown

40. Visit The Fairy Realm in Hogsback

What could be more unique than getting lost in a Fairy Realm? There’s really only one place in South Africa where you would find such an attraction…and that’s the magical, mythical and stunningly beautiful town of Hogsback in Eastern Cape! For less than the price of  cup of coffee, you can spend an hour wandering around this magical walk where you will come across hand crafted fairy statues, wishing stones and inspirational quotes. A fun experience for both young and old!

fairy-realm-hogsback

39. Visit the huts on Muizenberg Beach

The colourful huts that line Muizenberg Beach make it one of the most recognizable beaches in South Africa. What you might not know is that the water here is absolutely freezing and the surf is home to quite a lot sharks! You will spot safety signs up and down the beach, mainly warning surfers to be careful! A great spot for a walk and then you can get your self some delicious fish and chips at the nearby Lucky Fish and Chips shop. Yum!

If you’re looking to stay nearby, African Soul Surfer Hostel actually looks out on to the beach and you simply can’t beat the views!

muizenburg-huts

muizenberg

38. Stay in a hostel

Seriously…you have not travelled South Africa until you have stayed in at least one backpackers hostel. Put your preconceptions away because the hostels in South Africa are far from what you are imagining. Take Ashanti Lodge and Gardens, for example. This is a great hostel right in the city centre, with high-speed WiFi, high ceilings, a swimming pool and bar with views of Table Mountain, big garden, great security and is probably cleaner than many hotels you have stayed in. Hostels in South Africa are great places for meeting people, offer endless adventure activities and are the perfect base for budget travellers. You can read about some of the best hostels in South Africa here.

READ: How much does it REALLY cost to travel South Africa

ashanti cape town

37. Shopping at the Watershed

If you are looking for the best place to buy souvenirs, art and quirky crafts in Cape Town, then The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront is the place to go. Here you can meet and talk to the people making the crafts, get to know them and understand why they do what they do. You won’t find mass-produced souvenirs from China here – simply one-off pieces, made by hand, with a lot of passion. There’s also some delicious treats to taste – I especially loved the healthy smoothie stand! Be in fashion, jewellery, artwork or furniture – you’re sure to find something you love.

This guy has the coolest job #handcarving #artwork

A photo posted by Megan Mather (@meganmather) on

 

36. Take a walk on Noordhoek Beach

If you make your way to Cape Point or the Cape of Good Hope via Chapman’s Peak, you will pass this stunning beach on your right hand side. This beach has some of the whitest sand I’ve ever seen in my life and is also one of the longest and wisest beaches in South Africa. The best thing of all is that the beach is always deserted – making it the perfect spot for long walks or even horse treks. The water is freezing though…so don’t even think about going for a swim!! If you’re feeling peckish i highly recommend stopping for either a quick drink or lunch as The Red Herring Cafe, right near the beach. noordhoek

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35. Sand boarding in Wilderness

One of the most fun activities we did while travelling up the coast was an evening spent sand boarding. Admittedly I was quite nervous and scared at first, but after a few tries I got the hang of it as you will see in the video below. You can book sand boarding through Afrovibe Hostel in Sedgefield, and what made it more fun was the group of people from the hostel we got to hang out with. The tour ran in the evening, just before sunset, and the views down to the ocean were spectacular. Cost: Rand 250 per person for 2 hour lesson. sand-boarding-south-africa

sand-boarding-wilderness

34. Shop the outlets in J-Bay

As one of the most famous surf breaks in the world, it comes as no surprise that J-Bay is also home to a string of surf clothing outlets. From Billabong, RCVC and Roxy to Quiksilver to Rip Curl, Jeffreys Bay is a great place to stock up shorts, t-shirts, summer dresses and of course….bikinis! You can also find some great deals on surf accessories, boards, wetsuits and some sweet sunglasses. I can never seem to travel here without buying a few nice pieces to take home with me! More details about the shops and their opening times here. img_9868

33. Drive Chapman’s Peak

The Chapman’s Peak drive, which starts around 15km south of Cape Town and wraps its way around Chapman’s Peak mountain on the Cape Peninsula, is one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. The road is build into the cliff face at times, with just a small wall separating you and your car from the Atlantic Ocean. Driving this route will afford you spectacular views of Hout Bay, Noordhoek Beach and the coastline in between. Driving this will make you feel like you are a member of the Top Gear team, on an epic adventure! chapmans-peak-road

peka-hike

Photo: Ferriss Bailey

 

32. Jump off Orlando Towers, Soweto

If you plan to visit Johannesburg while in South Africa and are feeling adventurous, you can do a bungee jump off the famous (and super colourful) Orlando Towers in Soweto. While the Bloukrans Bungee might be the highest, jumping off some giant water towers seems a little, just a little, bit scarier to me! Looking for a place to stay after you do the jump? Why not check into Lebo’s Backpackers, the only hostel in Soweto, and a place that can really help you get to know the unique place that is Soweto!

LUXURY STAY: Radisson Blue Sandton

BUDGET STAY: Lebo’s Backpackers

A bungee jumper at the Orlando Towers in Soweto Township, South Africa

 

31. Hike around the Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is the most South-Western point on the African continent and is a great place for a photo-op. Cape  Point lighthouse is just a short drive away and the short (but steep) hike up to the Light House will get your heart beating a little faster! You can easily spend a few hours here, taking in the views, eating at Cape Point restaurant or hiking to the nearby beaches. DCIM128GOPRO   cape-point

30. First Thursday’s on Bree Street

I only discovered the First Thursday craze on my visit to South Africa this year and now wish I had stayed in Cape Town longer to experience more. Essentially on the first Thursday of every month, a lot of the bars and restaurants in Cape Town open up and come alive. The streets are full of people after dark, and they are lined with unique food trucks and outdoor stalls. People flock to cool bars such as the secret gin bar behind Honest Chocolate or any of the hip bars on Bree Street or Long Street. Art galleries and other attractions also stay open late, and I believe this also happens in Johannesburg! More information here.

Chris Saunders with Impilo Mapantsula “Pantsula” at Red Bull Studios.#FirstThursdays #CapeTown   A photo posted by The Thursdays (@the_thursdays) on

29. Beach day in Camp’s Bay

While locals might argue that there are many beaches in and around Cape Town that are far more beautiful than Camps Bay, I would still argue it’s one of the most unusual places I’ve ever been. The beach is beautiful, (who doesn’t love the contrasting white sand and ocean blues?!), but what makes it truly special is the way it is framed by Signal Hill and Lions Head to the left and the 12 apostles which form the most spectacular backdrop as far as the eye can see. Camps Bay is also home to some amazing cafes and restaurants and is the place to go for Sunday Brunch. Ocean Blue has one of the best brunches in Cape Town – just get there early!

camps-bay-cape-town-beach

camps-bay-beach

28. Zip Lining in Storms River

This was a total last-minute decision for me. A Brazilian girl at the hostel asked if i wanted to go zip lining with her just as i was eating breakfast, and an hour later I’m flying from cliff top to tree top, having the time of my life. The course itself is quite short, and only takes about an hour or so to complete, but it’s unbelievable fun. The longer zip lines were the best as you really build up some speed, and feel like you are flying over water falls and through forested valleys. We went with Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure and i would definitely recommend them!

Cost: Rand 375 per person for the 2 hour tour.

zip-lining

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27. Breakfast at Ile De Pain

I’m still dreaming of this breakfast. Would it be too crazy to return to South Africa JUST to eat at this amazing cafe / restaurant? No, I think not. Situated on Thesen Island in beautiful Knysna, Ile de Pain is where I ate one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve ever had in my life. Thought and care goes into everything you are served here, and you will leave feeling like you have eaten like a King. I had the croissant while Ian has the French Toast with Berries – and just look how cute the tea-pot was! Open for breakfast and lunch daily, get there early!

breakfast-ile-de-pain

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26. Springbok Steak in Stellenbosch

Continuing on with some of the best food your taste buds will experience in South Africa, treat yourself to a Springbok Steak at Majeka House restaurant. Part of a boutique hotel and spa, the menu is this restaurant was as unique as it was mouth-watering. Short and concise, the chefs here have chosen to keep the menu limited to allow them to spend longer creating the perfect dish for everyone who orders. Think quality and taste over quantity. There is also an option to do the wine pairing, where they choose a different wine to suit every course you are eating – and that’s probably the element that made this place one of our most memorable meals. Try the Springbok Steak, it will melt in your mouth.

LUXURY STAY: Majeka House

BUDGET STAY: Vine Guest House

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25. Panoramic views from Bloubergstrand

If you rent a car while in Cape Town, and if you read my Backpacking guide to South Africa you will see it’s the best option, driving out to Sunset Beach and Bloubergstrand is a must. It is here that you will those jaw-dropping views looking back across the bay at Table mountain and Robben Island to your right. It’s also one of the best places in South Africa to go kite surfing – you can get an introduction lesson for just Rand 750 with High five Surf School.

bloubergstrand

24. Ride an ostrich

Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to do this as I was too heavy, Poor Ostrich would have kicked me right off, no doubt! My friend Anna from Anna Everywhere blog was brave enough to do it while travelling around South Africa, and even wrote about her experience here. Even if you don’t want to ride an ostrich, visiting the ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn is great fun and you can even taste and Ostrich Steak sandwich. Yum!

Photo: Anna Everywhere

Photo: Anna Everywhere

Ostrich Riding

Photo: Anna Everywhere

23. Wine tasting in Constantia

We *accidentally* ended up wine tasting in Constantia one day. We were on a open top bus tour of Cape Town and soon discovered in actually linked up with the Constantia Wine Route. We obviously could not resist tasting a glass or two, and it ended up being one of our favourite afternoons in Cape Town thanks to meeting the most inspiring elderly couple – and eating one of the best cheese boards I’ve ever has at Beau Constantia Winery. I just wish I could have stayed there longer – even their wacky toilet has panoramic views!! Another incredibly beautiful place to go wine tasting is Stellenbosch. 2 Food trippers have a great article on their Stellenbosch Wine Tasting adventure.

wine-tasting-constantia

22. Wine tasting in Stellenbosch

This particular wine tasting tour was not accidental. I think anyone who travels to South Africa should make it a priority to visit Stellenbosch. Not only is it the premier wine making region in all of Africa, it is also a quaint little town with so much more to offer than first meets the eye. Like that Springbok steak I just talked about! Our favourite winery here was Peter Falke Wines, mainly thanks to the large open air restaurant and sprawling lawns where families, couples and groups of friends were whiling away the afternoon, sipping good wine and enjoying the sunshine. I’ve always been  fan of white over red, and this winery did not disappoint. Their cheese platter is also to die for, especially the cranberry delight!

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21. Cage Diving with Great White Sharks

The last two times I travelled South Africa I was too scared to do this. I’ve always had a bit of a fear when it comes to sharks, especially Great White Sharks, so I was so happy when I got the opportunity to FINALLY get in a cage and get up close and personal with these big guys. On our trip we were lucky enough to see three Great Whites, two smaller ones and one absolutely MASSIVE one which you should be able to spot in the video below. The experience was way better than I imagined, and sometimes the view was even better from up on the boat than down in the cage. Watching the sharks swimming around and around the boat was hypnotising. We also learned lots about sharks, from the research currently being conducted, to how we really aren’t on their menu! It has honestly changed my opinion on these incredible creatures, and I hop to write a separate post with more details!

Cost: Rand 1600 per person with White Shark Diving Company.

cage-diving

great-white-shark-cape-town

20. Salt and Wine pairing

I better be hones here because if I don’t my travel buddy Ian will pull me up on it. When I first heard we were doing a salt and wine pairing, I stuck my nose up and was far from impressed. “Wine and SALT?! Should it not be Wine and CHEESE?!” Within minutes of sitting down I was silenced….and suddenly excited. You can not imagine the amount of time and effort that has gone into this experience. The resident chef at Fleur Du Cap, Craig Cormack, actually travelled the world in search of all the best salts to use in his cooking creations. When you taste these small bites, accompanied with the right wine, it’s like an entirely new culinary experience. I’ll say no more..you need to try it for yourself. Book your tasting here.

salt-and-wine

salt pairing stellenbosch

19. Visit Maboneng Food Market

Once I get on to the topic of food, I always remember the delights tasted at the Masoning Food Market in inner city Johannesburg. It might not have been top of your South African bucket list, but it should be! You will find all sorts of interesting food and drink on offer her, all made by local artisans who are very passionate about food. Once you have finished eating, you can browse the various design and craft stalls both inside the market and out on the street nearby. An authentic Joburg experience not to be missed. The food market, called Market On Main, takes place every Sunday from 10am – 3pm.

market-on-main

market

18. Walking tour of Johannesburg

This can be either done by yourself with a map and a bit of street smart or preferably organised by a local guide from Curiocity Backpackers. These inner city walking tours will allow you to understand the workings of such a complex city and hopefully you might even fall a little bit in love with this city, just as I did. It honestly gets such a bad rep, and a lot of that in understandable, but there is also so much good to be found in the city of you just look further than the initial cracks. You won’t regret it.

maboneng-street-market

maboneng-food-truck

17. Lunch at Mama Africa

If you are looking for a traditional African meal right in the centre of Cape Town, in a restaurant that is always busy, has an electric Africa and your money is going to a good place, look no further than lunch at Mama Africa on Long Street. This is also a great place to try some uniquely South African foods – be it crocodile or kudu!

 

16. Beer tasting in Storms River Village

While staying in Storms River Village we came across this small, but cute, craft brewery that did beer tastings for just Rand 35 (about €2!!) and cold not resist stopping by for some beer and board games. The brewery is attached to a much larger bar / restaurant called Marilyn’s Diner, popular with locals and tourists alike. The decor is so much fun, jam-packed with vintage cars, old movie posters and whatever else you would expect to find in a retro American diner! beer-tasting-south-africa img_9986

15. Do a township tour

Having lived in a township in Limpopo for 12 months when I was 18 years old, I didn’t think I would enjoy this as much as I did. Our guide was so full of life, knew everyone we encountered, and gave us a lot of insight into the modern-day South African township. How it works, who lives here, why people choose to live here, why they choose to stay. We visited a small school, a barber shop (where i got a hair cut for just €2!) and stopped off at a local Mama’s house for lunch. A really unique experience everyone should have in South Africa, and one which I plant to write about in more detail in a separate post. You can find more information on township tours here. township-tour kayamandi

 

14. Eat a traditional South African meal

This was the delicious meal we had as part of our township tour. I think the Mama thought there were 10 of us even though there were just two…there was SO MUCH FOOD. Every dish was cooked to perfection and everything was so different from the food we had been eating in hostels and restaurants around Cape Town. It was so nice to have a delicious home cooked meal after months on the road – a real taste of home despite the dishes being quite alien to both Ian and I. I would love to get a cooking lesson here! img_0010 img_0013

13. Stay in a rondavel

I think staying in unique places is one of the more interesting things to do in South Africa. A traditional rondavel, like the one pictured below, is definitely a fun place to stay for a few nights – especially when it’s in a forest up in the mountains and you can hear all sorts of birds and monkeys jumping on the roof as you try to sleep! This one was in Away With The Fairies Hostel in Hogsback, but you can also find them in other places along the coast such as along the Wild Coast in Coffee Bay. rondavel away-with-the-fairies

12. Spend an afternoon in Kirstenbosch

Founded in 1913 to protect South Africa’s unique flora, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a great place for an afternoon picnic, long walks or as a starting point for hiking Table Mountain. In the summer the gardens host weekly outdoor concerts, from Christmas Carols to popular South African musician and even the Philharmonic Orchestra. There’s also a tearoom and small cafe / restaurant in case you forget to pack a picnic! DCIM128GOPRO

DCIM128GOPRO

11. Kayaking in Tsitsikamma

Like I mentioned previously, Tsitsikamma National Park is one of the most naturally beautiful locations in the country. Kayaking here is an absolute dream, that could only be made better if the route was longer. This particular adventure starts at the mouth of Storms River, right under the suspension bridge, and you paddle your way up the river until you can go no further. You then jump on a lilo (an inflatable mattress!) and paddle your way over rocks and shallow water, exploring rock pools and bat caves. A seriously fun adventure for all ages! Cost: Rand 500 per person with Untouched Adventures DCIM130GOPRO DCIM130GOPRO

10. Explore the Wild Coast

The rugged Wild Coast is a total contrast to Cape Town and The Garden Route. Here, it is all about getting back to nature, hiking across hills to secret beaches and staying in traditional rondavels or even mud huts. The landscape is spectacular, and there are many activities on offer from horse trekking to surfing or kayaking through rivers and lakes. Hostels such as The Coffee Shack and Buccaneers are well established and offer guests a long list of adventures should they choose to be active, or space in a hammock to just chill and enjoy the view!

Further reading: Why Durban is the best city in South Africa

buccaneers-chintsa-hostel

9. Paragliding in Cape Town

What better place to strap yourself to a hot stranger and run off the side of a cliff than Signal Hill in Cape Town?! This was my first time paragliding and I’m already super keen to do it again…and again, and again. The views looking down over Seapoint and the city bowl were incredible and landing just meters from the beach was probably the best part of all.

Cost: Rand 1150 for a tandem flight with Fly Cape Town

paragliding-signal-hill

Paragliding in Cape Town

8. Stay the night on a train

Out of all the fun hostels we stayed on up and down the coats, this old train in Mossel Bay was probably the most memorable. Parked right on the beach, which means you wake up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, the train hostel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are private cabins, the same as you would expect in a normal, working train or a massive dorm where one entire carriage has been turned into backpacker accommodation! Cheep and cheerful, and fun for one night.

Cost: €10 for the dorm, €24 for the cabin available to book here.

santos-express-train-hostel

santos-train-mossel-bay

7. Hike to Hole in the Wall

If you are travelling up the Wild Coast and staying in Coffee Bay for any amount of time, hiking to Hole in the Wall should be top of your bucket list. This hike is popular with all guests here, so even if you are travelling solo you will nearly always find some other backpackers to hike with. The views are spectacular and if you make it to the end of the hike (just 2 or 3 hours long) you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the “hole in the wall” a unique sea arch. Head back to your hostel for a well deserved beer and hammock time!

coffee-bay

Photo: Ferriss Bailey

hole-in-the-wall

6. Explore Cape Town by bus

I normally don’t like the sightseeing buses you find in every city around the world, but doing this bus tour in Cape Town is a little bit different. Even if you were to never get off the bus, the views alone make the ride worth it. From Table Mountain and the City Bowl, to Kirstenbosch, Camps Bay, Clifton and even the Sunset Tour to Signal Hill – this open top bus tour is the perfect way to see all the best bits of the city. Like I mentioned above…it even goes to the Constantia Wine Route!

Cost: Rand 170 for adults available here.

bus-tour-cape-town

cape-town-bus

5. Hike the Drakensburg

Have you ever seen views as beautiful? While most people either stick to the coast or spend their entire holiday on safari, the adventurous at heart try seek out a different side of South Africa. If this sounds like you, then a multi-day hiking trip in the Drakensburg is just what you need. You can also cross the border into nearby Lesotho, The Mountain Kingdom, where you can explore more insanely red mountains on horse back. Whether you are super fit and agile, or are more interested in short walks with amazing views, there really is something for everyone in this region. For details on hikes look here and for hostels in the area look here.

drakensberg-mountains

4. Cross the Tsitsikamma suspension bridge

These photos just don’t do Tsitsikamma National Park justice. It is by far one the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been – pure, natural beauty. You can either spend a few hours hiking or just spend an hour or two walking over to the various suspension bridges, watching the waves crash against the shore or even go for a swim. There are also kayaking and boat trips that run up Storm’s River if you are feeling extra adventurous. The Cattle Baron restaurant here sadly burned down in late 2016, but they have a pop up one in its place and the food in still as good as ever. Get the steak, you won’t regret it! 

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3. Explore the Cango Caves

Warning: If you are any way claustrophobic, I would not actually recommend coming here. The Cango Caves are a fun day trip inland from The Garden Route, and give you the opportunity to walk, climb, crawl and slide through this sprawling, and sometimes dark, cave complex. You can opt to do their adventure tour (provided you are under a certain size…people have got stuck in the cases before!!) to just do an easy walking tour of the larger caves.

Cost: Rand 150 for adults.

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2. Sunset from Signal Hill

Watching the sunset from Signal Hill in Cape Town is one of the most magical experiences you will have in South Africa. While you won’t be alone, it is possible to find a quiet and secluded spot on the hill to sit in peace and watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. Then, if you glance back behind you, as everyone else is looking at the sunset, you will be charmed by the view below of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head adorned with the most perfect light. It’s truely one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset. You can either drive or walk up here from the city, or take the recently launched Sunset Bus 

Cost: Rand 100, available online here!

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1. Plan your return trip

You can’t kid anyone, not least yourself. Once you’ve done any or all of the other 49 things on this list, as I have done, you will want to start planning your return trip to South Africa as there is always more exciting things to do!   I’m already planning to return next November, fancy coming with me?

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Dreaming of South Africa. Always.

 

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50I Unique Things To Do in South Africa

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6 Comments

  1. December 31, 2016 / 5:22 am

    This is SUCH an amazing post! I am definitely putting a South Africa trip right to the top of my list!

  2. January 1, 2017 / 1:28 am

    Wow, this is awesome Janet! I’ve always wanted to go. Mostly because one of my favorite shows is filmed there (Black Sails) and my favorite favorite show (Outlander) is about to be filmed there :-). But I love your list. There is SO much South Africa has to offer. I am for sure going now. If anything just to take a bath on a cliff<3. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. January 1, 2017 / 9:52 am

    Thanks for the great ideas! It all sounds amazing and I cant wait to do a trip out there – defo staying at the train hostel when I do!

  4. January 5, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    Heading back in 3 weeks time and I can’t wait…your post is such a good round-up and given me plenty of ideas! The only thing I’m slightly worried about is the fact that I won’t be driving; will I find it difficult to get to Bloubergstrand Beach do you think?

  5. Hannah
    January 11, 2017 / 2:06 am

    I don’t think you or the friend you cited should be promoting the inhumane ‘activity’ of riding an ostrich. This is a wild animal that shouldn’t naturally be carrying around a human. Your friend’s blog even mentioned a bag being out over its head. Whether or not they can physically carry your weight or feel your grip around their neck, this isn’t humane. Any animal lover would shun this activity just on this premise.

  6. January 18, 2017 / 8:02 pm

    Looks amazing Janet! I was in Durban, The Battlefields and Drakensberg Mountains last year, but it was the wrong time of year to go to Cape Town. First time in Africa and I loved it. Great post with lots of value!