While known for its safaris and exotic wildlife, South Africa offers travelers a diverse selection of experiences beyond the Big Five. With stunning natural beauty, a temperate year-round climate, welcoming local people, a strong current economic value for American tourists, and an unexpected culinary and wine scene, there’s more to do than meets the eye.
Here are six additional reasons to explore South Africa:
1. It offers both land and sea.
CroisiEurope America’s new ship, African Dream, will come online in December, offering a nine-day journey on its Southern Africa: Travel to the Ends of the Earth itinerary. The land, cruise and safari trip will feature land and water safaris, and the opportunity to hear a local storyteller as they entrance guests with the legends of the region. Travelers also will enjoy a traditional dinner under the African skies on Impalila Island.
2. Learn more about Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
African Travel’s In the Footsteps of Mandela eight-day itinerary takes travelers through the history of Nelson Mandela’s South Africa, including interactions with the people and places he touched. While exploring his legacy, guests also will see the award-winning museum at Liliesleaf, once a secret nerve center of the liberation movement, along with the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The trip will end with a safari in Kruger Private Reserve.
3. Explore local gastronomy.
Worldwide Traveler is taking guests on a culinary trip through South Africa on its 13-day Wine and Dine in South Africa itinerary. Foodies can enjoy a Cape Malay Cooking Safari before heading to the Winelands Region, where they will taste wine from three local farms: Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The itinerary also includes a Franschhoek Wine Tram Tour and visits to Table Mountain, Robben Island and Kruger National Park.
4. Be adventurous.
Swim with great white sharks off the South African coast for a bucket list worthy experience during Great Value Vacations’ Coastal Adventure: Shark Cage Diving & Safari. Offering a wide variety of excursions during the 12-night itinerary, guests will visit wineries, stroll through the streets of Cape Town, whale watch and do a shark cage diving tour and safari.
5. Indulge in luxury.
Cox & Kings, The Americas offers travelers a chance to experience the luxurious side of South Africa on its Southern Africa: Winelands, Safari & Falls private journey. Guests will explore Cape Town, go out on a game drive in Kruger National Park, and take a private tour of Victoria Falls and a helicopter flight along the Zambezi River and over the cascades.
6. Behold natural beauty.
Travelers can soak in the natural beauty of South Africa’s most iconic sites during Ritz Tours’ South Africa Highlights & Safari Experience. Guests will see Table Mountain, panoramic views of Cape Town and the country’s dramatic coastline. A trip to the Entabeni Private Nature Reserve will showcase the conservatory’s multitude of landscapes including grassy plains, wetlands and ravines. The trip will conclude with a trip to Johannesburg to learn about the city’s history at sites like the Apartheid Museum or Constitution Hill and the Old Fort Prison Complex.
Terry Dale is the president and CEO of the U.S. Tour Operators Association.