10 Unusual Attractions to Visit in South Africa

Winona Griggs

10 Unique Places to Explore in South Africa

When I think about discovering South Africa, I usually imagine going on a safari, basking in the beauty of its pristine beaches, or trekking through its breathtaking mountain ranges. But did you know that South Africa has so much more to offer? There are incredible and extraordinary places to visit that go beyond the usual tourist spots. These hidden gems will amaze you and give you a glimpse into the country’s fascinating history and natural wonders.

So, if you’re ready for an adventure like no other, here are 10 extraordinary attractions in South Africa that will leave you in awe.

1. The Vredefort Impact Crater

Prepare to be amazed by the Vredefort Impact Crater, nature’s own masterpiece. Take a look at this breathtaking aerial shot of the crater, captured by astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield. It’s hard to believe that this massive crater was formed by a meteorite impact billions of years ago. Exploring this historical site will transport you back to the awe-inspiring event that shaped our planet.

The Vredefort Dome is something truly awe-inspiring. It’s not just any old landmark – it’s the biggest impact crater ever found on Earth. Can you believe it? This incredible formation reminds us that our planet has been shaped by cosmic events.

Head on over to the quaint village of Vredefort if you want to witness this marvel. Once upon a time, this crater had steep slopes that would take your breath away. Nowadays, erosion has softened them a bit, but don’t let that fool you. The grandeur of the Vredefort Dome is still undeniable.

It’s not just random beauty we’re talking about here. The Vredefort Dome is a scientific superstar. In fact, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2005. This well-deserved recognition helps us preserve this unique piece of Earth’s dynamic history.

  • Location: Vredefort, Free State
  • Website:UNESCO World Heritage

2. Staadstal Caves

Hey there! I want to tell you about the incredible Stadsaal Caves in South Africa’s Cederberg region. These caves are like works of art, created by nature over hundreds of years. And guess what? They’re not just caves – they’re also home to ancient rock paintings that give us a glimpse into the distant past. How cool is that?

Now, finding your way to the Stadsaal Caves might be a little tricky. There aren’t clear signs pointing the way. But let me fill you in on a secret. If you’re heading towards Ceres, you’ll come across a gate where they check permits. Once you pass that and find a place to park, you’re just a short walk away from the caves.

When you arrive, you’ll be amazed by the breathtaking rock formations both inside and outside the caves. The whole area is surrounded by the stunning Cederberg Wilderness Area, adding to its beauty. Plus, they’ve been working hard to make sure your visit doesn’t harm the environment. They’ve set up pathways to guide visitors and restore the natural vegetation, preserving the site’s charm and keeping it in harmony with nature.

  • Location: Cederberg Wilderness Area
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3. Map of Africa

10 Unusual Attractions to Visit in South Africa

Have you ever heard of the Map of Africa viewpoint in Wilderness? It’s a place that will take your breath away, just like the African continent itself. When you visit the Western Cape, this unique natural feature is a must-see.

Once you arrive at the viewpoint, prepare to be amazed by the lush forests and winding rivers that stretch before you. It’s a picturesque sight that will capture the hearts of nature lovers and photographers alike.

Getting to the Map of Africa viewpoint is easy – simply hop in your car and drive there. The fact that it’s accessible by car is a testament to the region’s diverse and stunning landscapes. It’s the perfect escape from the busy, fast-paced life of the city.

  • Location: Wilderness, Western Cape
  • Know Before You Go: You can reach the viewpoint by car via Hoogte Rd.

4. Golden Gate Highlands National Park

10 Unusual Attractions to Visit in South Africa

Imagine standing at the entrance of a winding path that leads you to the majestic sandstone cliffs of the Drakensberg Mountains in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park of South Africa. As I embark on this journey, I can’t help but be in awe of the breathtaking beauty that awaits.

As I step into the park, I find myself surrounded by the wonders of nature. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park, nestled in South Africa’s Free State, near the Lesotho border, is truly a paradise of natural beauty and adventure.

The park’s landscape is a painter’s dream, with vibrant hues of gold, ochre, and orange dominating the scene. The cliffs, composed of Clarence Sandstone, are a sight to behold. Among them, the Brandwag rock stands tall, creating a mesmerizing backdrop for all who visit.

But this park offers more than just a picturesque view. It is a haven for adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts alike. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, activities like abseiling, white-water rafting, and mountain hiking await. As I contemplate what adventure to embark on first, I can feel the excitement building up inside me.

But the Golden Gate Highlands National Park isn’t just about thrilling experiences; it also offers a chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Basotho people. The Basotho Cultural Village provides a window into their traditions, customs, and way of life. It’s a fascinating journey into the past, and I can’t wait to learn more.

And let’s not forget about the wildlife. The park is home to a diverse array of animals, and spotting them in their natural habitat is a truly magical experience. From graceful antelopes to majestic eagles, the park’s inhabitants never fail to leave visitors in awe.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, cultural immersion, or simply a moment of tranquility in nature’s embrace, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park has something for everyone. So, why wait? Embark on your own journey and let the wonders of this park unfold before your eyes.

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When you visit the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, you’re in for a truly unique experience that combines the best of nature, wildlife, and culture.

5. Tswaing Meteorite Crater

Imagine this: a colossal meteorite slams into the Earth, leaving an everlasting mark on the land. That’s exactly what happened at the Tswaing Crater, a geological wonder that will leave you in awe.

Today, the crater is home to a beautiful salt lake surrounded by lush vegetation, a stark contrast to the destruction caused by the meteorite’s impact. But this isn’t just a natural wonder; it’s also a place rich in history. Evidence of early human activity and even a period of mining adds layers of fascinating stories to the breathtaking landscape.

6. Oribi Gorge

10 Unusual Attractions to Visit in South Africa

When I imagine standing on a small rock high above Oribi Gorge, the breathtaking canyon in KwaZulu-Natal, I can’t help but feel a sense of wonder. The dramatic sandstone cliffs and the diverse bird life, including a rare Cape vulture colony, make this place truly special.

It’s no wonder that Oribi Gorge is known as an adventure capital. There are so many exhilarating experiences to be had here. You can try the world’s highest gorge swing or take on Africa’s longest zipline. And if you prefer something a bit quieter, there are also tranquil nature trails that lead to scenic waterfalls.

But the adventure doesn’t stop at the gorge. Its proximity to Lake Eland Game Reserve and the Leopard Rock Coffee Shop adds even more layers of excitement and relaxation. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature enthusiast, Oribi Gorge is a must-visit destination.

7. Stormsrivier

I absolutely love Storms River! It’s this incredible place where a river, called Storms River, flows through the Tsitsikamma National Park, creating a breathtaking landscape. The river is famous for its lush forests and all the different types of birds that call it home. It’s like a nature lover’s dream!

But let me tell you, Storms River isn’t just a pretty sight. It’s also a hub for adventure sports and outdoor activities. People from all over come here to take part in the famous five-day Otter Trail, which starts right here at the river. It’s an epic journey for hardcore hikers and nature enthusiasts.

And the surrounding area is just as amazing. There’s this adorable village called Storms River that attracts backpackers and campers like a magnet. The atmosphere there is so vibrant and lively. Plus, the scenery is absolutely stunning.

If you’re into outdoor adventures and want to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, Storms River is the place to be. It’s like stepping into a whole new world of wonder and excitement. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Ah, let me tell you about the incredible suspension bridge that awaits you at Storms River. It’s a true marvel, giving you an awe-inspiring view of the roaring waters and towering cliffs. This bridge perfectly captures the untamed beauty of the area, where the river meets the vast Indian Ocean, embraced by the mighty Tsitsikamma Mountains.

8. Bird Island Nature Reserve

Let me share a memorable moment I had at the enchanting Bird Island Nature Reserve in Lamberts Bay. As I explored the reserve, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the charming and often funny behavior of the many Gannets that call this place home. I managed to capture a photo of one of these feathered fellows, looking quite proud with a feather firmly gripped in its beak! Truly an amazing sight.

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– Braeme Holland, Cape Town

Camera: Canon 5D MK4
Lens: Canon EF 500mm f4 IS USM
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 500
Shutter Speed: 1/3200 sec

I currently manage the wonderful Bird Island Nature Reserve, which serves as a haven for bird lovers, especially those who are fascinated by Cape gannets.

This incredible island provides visitors with an up-close view of the entire life cycle of these magnificent birds, from their nesting habits to the nurturing of their chicks. Throughout the year, you can observe a variety of fascinating behaviors and rituals exhibited by the gannets.

This sanctuary is not only inhabited by gannets, but also by cormorants, terns, and on occasion, African penguins. It truly offers an immersive experience into the captivating world of birds.

9. Sudwala Dinosaur Park

Pic: Facebook / Sudwala Dinosaur Park

Within the same complex as the Sudwala Caves, lies the Sudwala Dinosaur Park, where you can embark on a nostalgic journey into the time of dinosaurs.

When you visit the park, you’ll be greeted by an enchanting display of sculptures that date back to the 1970s. These sculptures provide a unique and imaginative depiction of prehistoric creatures. As you explore, you’ll find yourself enthralled by the park’s blend of education and entertainment, making it a perfect destination for people of all ages. The park is nestled within a lush forest garden, adding to its charm and beauty.

In addition to the sculptures, the park offers a chance to see live Nile crocodiles. This up-close encounter with nature is both thrilling and informative. And if you’re looking for a memento of your visit, the park has a wide selection of dinosaur-themed souvenirs to choose from.

10. The Boomslang Canopy Trail

10 Unusual Attractions to Visit in South Africa

Wow, can you believe it? Back in 2015, the Boomslang tree canopy walk was voted as the most beautiful thing in all of South Africa. Pretty impressive, right? You might be wondering what exactly this Boomslang is. Well, it’s actually a really cool bridge made of steel and timber that winds its way through the trees like a snake. That’s why they call it the Boomslang, which means tree snake.

Now, this bridge isn’t just your ordinary walkway. It’s something truly special. It’s built up really high, about 12 meters above the ground. And get this, it’s a whopping 130 meters long! As you walk along it, you’ll be treated to some absolutely breathtaking views. Just imagine looking out over the mountains, the Cape Flats, and the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens. Talk about a feast for the eyes!

What makes the Boomslang even more incredible is that it was opened in 2014 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kirstenbosch. Can you imagine? A whole century of this amazing garden! The walkway is not only a stunning piece of architecture, but it’s also a peaceful place where you can really get in touch with nature and create some unforgettable memories.

  • Location: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

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