South Africa is divided in to nine provinces, each with its own charm and attractions that you can choose to visit. From the hip and happening metropolis’s of Gauteng to the laid back ‘fairest Cape of them all’, to the game rich savannahs of Mpumalanga to the mountain kingdoms of KwaZulu Natal, there is so much on offer for everyone to experience and enjoy.
The Western Cape is home to Africa’s southernmost point and its heart is the Mother City – the stirring City of Cape Town. The iconic Table Mountain, The impressive Cape Point, Nelson Mandela’s prison on Robben Island and the beaches and thick forests of the Garden Route all have to be visited. Inland from the coast, which boarders both the Indian and Atlantic oceans, one will find the majestic Cape wine lands, which offer wine-tasting excursions of Cape Town. Table Mountain dominates the skyline of Cape Town. Set in a National park, great for hiking to enjoy the beautiful fynbos in its natural habitat.
Great for: Road-tripping, wining and dining, the incredible natural and cultural attractions.
The Eastern Cape frontier has an interesting climate ranging from the semi-desert Karoo to the lush rainforests of Alexandria. The province is generally flat and mountainous in sections with ranges such as the Stormberg and Drakensberg providing great hiking and biking trails. It home to the famous Addo Elephant National Park as well as several other well-known private game reserves such as Shamwari and Amakhala and is a no malaria area. For those looking at raw and rustic travel experiences, the Wild Coast awaits and is ever popular with backpackers.
Great for: Bush and beach combination holidays, malaria-free safaris, family holidays and hiking tours tours.
Kwazulu-Natal, the home of the Zulu kingdom, stretches from the Drakensberg mountain range in the west, through the rolling hills of the natal midlands and the savannahs of northern Zululand to the tropical beaches on the Indian Ocean. This province is diverse in its offerings. Exotic beach resorts dot the coast while inland mountain retreats and quaint BnB’s allow one to relax and unwind. For good reason Kwazulu-Natal is a popular vacation destination for the locals of South Africa and is definitely worth a visit.
The North West consists of rolling grassland and savannahs that rise slowly up into the Magaliesberg mountain range. Along the southern border of the province one will find the Vaal River, one of the largest rivers in South Africa and a watersports hotspot. The North West Provice is home to the gambling and golfing Mecca of Sun City and the Palace of the Lost City. Two of South Africa’s top malaria-free safari destinations are found here in the Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve.
Great for: Malaria free safaris, short-break safari holidays, hiking the Magaliesburg and hot-air balloon safaris.
Limpopo is South Africa’s northern most province and is named after the Limpopo River basin which flows along its boundary. Limpopo is South Africa’s gateway to Africa as it shares borders with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The province is home to several incredibly large Baobab trees, world heritage sites featuring bushmen rock art sites, iron age artifacts and fossilized dinosaur footprints. The province is home to fantastic safari parks such as Kruger, Mapungubwe and Marakele.
Great for: Big 5 safaris, malaria free safaris in the Waterberg, birding safaris, incredible landscapes and cultural heritage.
The Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest province in terms of ground area. It dominated by semi desert like landscape which comprises large tracts of the Karoo, Namaqualand and Kalahari. Wild daisies carpet the arid Namaqualand region in the springtime, drawing thousands to enjoy this natural phenomenon. The province is also known for its gemstones. The Big Hole in Kimberley which was dug by hand is of particular historical interest and where the largest diamonds have been unearthed.
Great for: Star-gazing in the Karoo, Kalahari big cat game viewing, Kimberley Big Hole, flowering Namaqualand, paddling the Orange River.
The Free State is locally known as South Africa’s breadbasket as it is situated on flat grassy plains which provides rich soil for farming the county’s grains. Towards the northern part of the province the flat lands arch in elevation as they lift to form the Maluti Mountains. This area plays host to the famous Golden Gate Highlands National Park which has some of the most beautiful vistas due to its higher elevation. The smaller towns such as Clarens are great stop overs on road trips and host interesting arts and crafts communities.
Great for: Hiking the Golden Gate Mountains, Clarens village tours, road tripping on open roads.
Mpumalanga is well known for as South Africa’s premier safari destinations as it hosts the finest safari lodges and bush camps such as the Kruger camps, in and around the iconic Kruger National Park. This province is mainly made up of the Lowveld which forms the base of the Drakensberg Escarpment in the west and stretches out all the way to the Mozambique border in the east. This massive expanse of bushveld and wilderness is home to an awe-inspiring abundance of animal, plant, bird and reptile species. The area is also known for being one of the best places on the planet to see the Big 5 in the wild.
The economic hub of South Africa, Gauteng (meaning place of gold due to its origins in the gold rush of the early 1900’s), plays host to the famous Cradle of Humankind where the oldest hominoid fossils have been discovered. It has breath-taking botanical gardens, sophisticated first-world cities, vibrant townships to explore and smaller game reserves great for day visits. Most of the province is on what is known as the Highveld, which is a high-altitude grasslands which slope down into the savannahs of the bordering provinces and rise into the Magalieberg Mountains and Witwatersrand.
Great for: Cradle of Humankind tours, Anti-apartheid and mining museums, superb restaurants and shopping malls.