An essential guide to South Africa: six ways to see the Rainbow Nation

Nicknamed the ‘Rainbow Nation’, South Africa is a country of contrasts that seduces with golden beaches, dramatic mountains, an abundance of wildlife and a rich history. Whether you’re searching for the Big Five on a thrilling game drive or treating yourself to a tempting tasting experience in the famed Winelands, we’ve rounded up the best ways to experience South Africa and its devilish diversity.

Cape Town and the Twelve Apostles from above. Image: iStock/Ben1183

Explore Cape Town’s surreal cityscape

From the sea to the sky, the Mother City truly encompasses it all. Alongside dynamic natural wonders – think the striking backdrop of Table Mountain – it boasts a cool urban edge, with a plethora of world-class eateries, amazing galleries and museums and hip bars. Whether you’re spotting seals at Table Bay, dining and shopping on the glittering V&A Waterfront or getting your dose of history on a trip to Robben Island, there’s a spectrum of cultures and experiences to enjoy.

A leopard in Kruger National Park. Image: iStock/Simoneemanphotography

Set out on an intrepid safari

World-famous Kruger National Park is the undisputed hotspot when it comes to going in search of South Africa’s famous wildlife. Head on thrilling dawn and dusk game drives daily and enjoy guided bush walks for your chance to spot lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalo in their natural habitat. When it comes to sea life, Hermanus is the ultimate place for whale watching, while Boulder’s Beach on the stunning Cape Peninsula is home to a colony of African penguins.

Stellenbosch winelands. Image: iStock/jaap-willem

Slow-sip fine flavours in the Cape Winelands

South Africa’s famed Winelands are rated among the best in the world, with more than 300 vineyards and a wealth of first-class restaurants for a real culinary experience. Take a tour of the most outstanding wine estates and taste the top-quality (yet affordable) grape along the way. Up the foodie stakes even more with a visit to Stellenbosch’s Slow Market for artisan goodness, and don’t miss out on beautiful Franschhoek, South Africa’s food and wine capital.

Robberg, on the Garden Route in South Africa. Image: iStock/Ben1183

Take a drive along the scenic Garden Route

Hit the open road on a self-drive journey along South Africa’s scenic Garden Route, which takes you from city to coast with the chance to discover an abundance of beauty throughout your journey. With such a varied and jaw-dropping topography, you’ll witness everything from stunning golden beaches, lagoons and rivers to luscious forests and unique wildlife, including penguins and whales. It’s a trip for the bucket list that shouldn’t be missed.

Bourke’s Luck potholes at Blyde River Canyon. Image: iStock/Freder

Go off the grid on an outdoor adventure

South Africa boasts some of the most jaw-dropping and varied natural beauty in the world. Get off the grid in the Cederberg Mountains, where hiking routes and stargazing go hand in hand, or witness the majestic rock formations and sprawling views of Blyde River Canyon. The seemingly never-ending savanna of the Kalahari Desert is a deceptive yet alluring treasure too, with red sand dunes, an abundance of grasses and acacias, and species of antelope, hyenas, lions and more.

Railway tracks in Simon’s Town, South Africa. Image: iStock/T_Mizuguchi

Sightsee from aboard a luxurious train journey

There’s no better way to weave through the enchanting landscapes of South Africa than on board a deluxe sleeper train. Travel in style on either the Blue Train or Rovos Rail, two of the world’s most luxurious trains, as you snake past the eerie sprawl of the Great Karoo and slice through jagged mountain ranges. Fine dining, world-class service and wood-panelled interiors are some of the highlights you’ll enjoy on board as you take in the impressive and dramatic scenery.

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