Mother Nature! Take a bow for all expectations have been exceeded when creating South Africa. This Southern African country is characterized by sun-drenched beaches, deep-blue oceans, rugged mountains, limitless deserts, luscious national parks packed with varied wildlife and classic historical gems. The nation showcases a sweet mesh of the old with the new, with heritage and culture walking hand in hand with development and modernity.
Kick start the trip by heading over to Cape Town. Some of the attractions include Robben Island - the notorious prison that was Nelson Mandela's enforced home for 18 of his 27 years in jail. Catch a glimpse of the Table Mountain which comes under the Natural New 7 Wonders of the World. Some of the museums worth visiting are Cape Town Diamond Museum, District Museum, South African Museum and South African National Gallery.
Wild-life enthusiasts would love to spend some time at the Kruger National Park for it is the biggest game reserve on the continent and one of the top tourist hotspots in South Africa. The park is home to the choicest of mammals that any other African game reserve which encompasses the Big Five: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino as well as cheetahs, giraffes and more. Another incredible national park worth visiting is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It is a merger of Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana's Gemsbok National Park. Try to catch glimpses of the famous black-maned Kalahari lion, stately gemsbok with their V-shaped horns, the sprawling nests of sociable weavers, meerkats, and several birds of prey. Other predators such as leopard, cheetah, and hyenas are also seen there.
Those who love to get their adrenalin rush going can gear up to go on a shark cage dive. Seal Island in the Western Cape is where most of the great white sharks are found with a good amount of penguins, seals and game fish to feast on. From the safety of a metal cage, one can observe these giant and powerful aquatic creatures in their natural habitat. Beach-a-holics would love to hit the sun-drenched Durban beaches for they offer a vibrant and vivacious atmosphere along with balmy weather year-round. Also referred to as the Golden Mile, there are extensive stretches of soft, golden sands along Durban's South & North Coast beaches.
When in Johannesburg, do visit the excellent Apartheid Museum where one can trace the history of the racially segregated South Africa. Collection includes photographs, artifacts, newspaper clippings and film footage. Those who love road tripping ought to take the scenic and dreamy Garden Route, winding along the sunny and luscious southeast coast between Mossel Bay and the mouth of Storms River. One will pass languid lakes and lagoons, dense indigenous woods and gorgeous towns including Wilderness, Knysna, Oudtshoorn and Plettenberg Bay, along the way.
When it comes to shopping, be on the look-out for intricate beadwork necklaces and bold wooden carvings including large masks. Gold, diamonds and local wine also make good purchases. As for cuisine, do dig into their local delicacies such as Bobotjie (A curried mince bake topped with egg and often studded with raisins), Poitjiekos (A casserole slow cooked on the fire in a cast iron pot) and Biltong (Dried meat, typically made from beef, venison or ostrich meat).
The stay options in South Africa are abundant with the best luxury hotels, rental apartments and cheap accommodations available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
South Africa experiences the climatic diversity of a continent, so it really depends on when you plan to visit as the weather differs from region to region.