8 epic ways to explore South Africa

Filmmaker Doree Simon searches for South Africa’s biggest views, friendliest smiles, and its most epic moments.

Shot and directed by: Doree Simon
Edited by: Jamil Munoz
Song: “The Butterfly Hunter” performed by Jules Blueprint, Courtesy of Marmoset

This video was created on a press trip supported by the South Africa Tourism Board.

South Africa vacations 2021 & 2022

Book with us by March 31st, 2021 and we'll give you the flexibility to change your plans for free up to 30 days before you depart.

South Africa is beguiling in its variety. It’s confident, cosmopolitan Cape Town but it’s also big game viewing in Kruger National Park, the farmsteads and valleys of the Winelands, and the remote, wild Elephant Coast. Our South Africa specialists have thoroughly explored this land of contrasts, from the north to the Cape Peninsula, and can recommend the best South African experiences for you.

On your vacation to South Africa, you could learn about the country’s colonial past in the battlefields of KwaZulu Natal, or focus on its more recent history with a visit to Robben Island. Take a relaxed road trip along the Garden Route, enjoying views over the wave-lashed coast. Or go on a Big Five safari in the Eastern Cape. Meanwhile, rail journeys traversing South Africa’s mountain ranges, grasslands, and semi-arid Karoo Desert allow you to see the country’s untouched, far-flung areas.

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10 exciting ways to explore South Africa as it slowly reopens

Cape Town might just be the greatest city in the world Credit: Juergen Wallstabe / EyeEm

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S ometimes, baby steps are as big a reason to be cheerful as great leaps forward. Especially this year when, in the world of travel, tiny tottering stutters of forward motion can often feel like a rocket ride to the moon. So the recent announcement that South Africa would be reopening its borders (from Oct 1) was certainly a cause for applause.

True, the news was weighted with all the inevitable caveats of life in 2020. For now, only tourists from selected nations are welcome – and Britain, deemed a “high-risk” country because of its viral infection rate, is not one of them. The other drawback is that South Africa (along with the rest of the continent on which it gleams) is not on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office list of places which Britons can visit without quarantining on their return.

But the pulling up of the shutters around Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kruger et al is a start – a ray of sunlight illuminating a sliver of a brighter tomorrow. And if you are thinking of a journey to a long-haul destination whose summer is only just beginning, these holiday ideas for 2021 may help you shift from daydreaming to planning. As we said, baby steps.

The Travels of Ibn Battuta

Welcome to this tour of Ibn Battuta's medieval travels!

You will be following in the footsteps of this famous 14th century Muslim traveler, exploring the places he visited and the people he encountered. To help you learn more about his adventures there will be images of the people and places he saw, information on the food he might have tasted, and "side trips" into the past and future.

Ibn Battuta started on his travels in 1325, when he was 20 years old. His main reason to travel was to go on a Hajj, or a Pilgrimage to Mecca, to fulfill the fifth pillar of Isla.. But his traveling went on for around 29 years and he covered about 75,000 miles visiting the equivalent of 44 modern countries which were then mostly under the governments of Muslim leaders of the World of Islam, or "Dar al-Islam".

He met many dangers and had numerous adventures along the way. He was attacked by bandits, almost drowned in a sinking ship, and nearly beheaded by a tyrant ruler. He also had a few marriages and lovers and fathered several children on his travels!

Near the end of Ibn Battuta's life, the Sultan of Morocco insisted that Ibn Battuta dictate the story of his travels to a scholar and today we can read translations of that account, which was originally titled Tuhfat al-anzar fi gharaaib al-amsar wa ajaaib al-asfar, or A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling.

That title is a bit of a mouthful so the text is generally just called Ibn Battuta's Rihla, or Journey.

Unique Ways To Explore Cape Town

With so many big-hitting sights, it can be hard to get a fresh look at Cape Town. These handpicked tours and experiences will take you away from the crowds and show the city in a whole new light.

The ‘mother city’ of South Africa, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. With impressive mountainscapes overlooking bustling metropolitan life, finding just one experience in Cape Town can seem overwhelming. To make your trip simple, we’ve compiled a list of experiences that will show you a different side of this famous city. From taking in a birds-eye view from a helicopter, to zooming past the sights in a vintage car, these recommendations will put a totally unexpected twist on your visit.

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See South Africa's wildlife on with this overnight glamping safari adventure trip from Cape Town. Overnight at 4-star Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, resting at the foothills of the majestic Swartberg mountains in one of their secluded, free-standing luxury tents – overlooking a nearby waterhole. Glamping in style with this unique bushveld experience in the heart of the Klein Karoo. Travel along the scenic Route 62 and keep a lookout to spot most of Africa's famous Big Five animals with two included 4x4 game drives at popular Western Cape game reserves, a guided walking safari as well as a chance to walk alongside orphaned elephants. Overnight in the ostrich capital of the world and get a chance to try local delicacies, giving you a taste of authentic South African culture.

This small group tour is led by a local tour guide and game rangers and anyone that visits the Western Cape region only have a few days to see some of the Big 5 and other local wildlife from Cape Town.

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