10 Super Fun Things To Do In South Africa

South Africa Activities

Things to do in South Africa

South Africa

I’ve traveled to South Africa twice now. It’s one of my favorite countries and an adventure lover’s playground. Here are some great ideas for things to do there.

The Republic of South Africa is a huge & diverse country teeming with wildlife & culture. It has a little bit of everything — dry deserts, high mountains, subtropical woodlands, modern cities, friendly people and TONS of cool animals.

After spending close to 2 months exploring the country, I’ve put together a list of my favorite experiences to help you plan your own visit one day.

Win A Free Trip To Africa!

It’s easy for US citizens to fly to South Africa these days with KLM Airlines on their routes to Cape Town & Johannesburg via connections in Amsterdam.

If you’re looking to visit other countries in Africa, they also fly to the cities of Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and Kilimanjaro.

I’ve partnered with KLM to highlight cool travel experiences in Africa, and help them give away an incredible 6 day safari in Tanzania with 2 free airline tickets (US residents only).

I really hope one of you guys wins it! More details about the contest below.

Things To Do In South Africa

South Africa Safari

Meeting Lions on Safari

South Africa Zebras

Zebra Fight!

South African Safari

I’ll never forget when a huge lion passed just a few feet from our open Land Rover, suddenly stopping to look up. Everyone froze. Make a wrong move now, and we’d be his afternoon snack.

We were on safari at Phinda, a 56,000 acre protected wilderness area in the KwaZulu-Natal provence of South Africa. The lion was only one of the many incredible animal experiences we encountered, there were also families of elephants, cheetahs on the hunt, playful zebras, and so much more.

South Africa Rope Swing

Big Rush Rope Swing

South Africa Bungee

Bungee Jumping Bloukrans

Bungee Jumps & Rope Swings

Three, two, one, jump. I stepped off the catwalk and into the void, falling 288 feet with my stomach in my throat. The world’s tallest rope swing at a soccer stadium in Durban is definitely a big rush!

So is stoping along the Garden Route to leap from the 709 foot high Bloukrans Bridge and bouncing around dangling from your ankles by a glorified rubber band. If you’re looking to cure your fear of heights by going to extreme measures, South Africa is the place.

South Africa Great Whites

Cage Diving with Great Whites

South Africa Shark Diving

Scuba Diving with Sharks

Swimming With Sharks

Arguably the most feared animal under the sea, sharks have a notorious reputation. Great whites grow up to 7 meters long and can weigh over 3,000 kg. But you can get an up-close and personal experience with them under water cage diving off the coast of Cape Town.

For the more adventurous, how about diving with sharks minus the cage? It’s totally possible (and pretty safe) to dive with tiger & bull sharks in South Africa this way. Such a cool experience!

South Africa Soweto

Hanging Out in Soweto

South African People

Making New Friends

Meeting The People

One of the cool things about South Africa is its diversity. The massive city of Johannesburg is a great place to experience this and meet the different types of people that call this country home. I loved visiting the township of Soweto and learning about the vibrant & important history here.

Meeting local residents and admiring an area’s unique art and culture. Or gathering for a traditional Brai dinner in the rural coastal town of St. Lucia with new friends. Learning about a way of life that’s different from my own.

Table Mountain Table Cloth

Hiking Above the Table Cloth

Hiking Table Mountain

Cape Town Far Below

Climbing Table Mountain

Table Mountain is Cape Town’s most prominent landmark. A huge flat block of sandstone that rises 3500 feet into the air. Table mountain is a national park and a wonderful place to go hiking with over 350 paths to the summit.

Most people take the cable car up but hiking is far more rewarding. The weather changes constantly though, so hiking is difficult sometimes. You could luck out with clear skies and great views or maybe climb into the infamous “table cloth”, a blanket of clouds that often covers the mountain.

Surfing South Africa

Best Feeling in the World

South Africa Jeffreys Bay

Surfing at Jeffreys Bay

Surfing The Coast

South Africa has some of the best surf conditions in the world. A popular adventure is renting a car and driving up the coast from Cape Town to Durban stopping at different surf spots along the way.

I spent a month honing my surfing skills in places like Muizenberg & Jeffreys Bay. The water can be cold, but the waves & lack of crowds are worth it. Yes, I realize I just told you how awesome the sharks are, but don’t worry, they prefer eating seals.

South Africa Crocodiles

Kayaking with Crocodiles

South Africa Hippos

Hippos are FAST!

Kayaking With Hippos & Crocs

The St. Lucia estuary is filled with some of Africa’s most dangerous animals. Paddling kayaks past them on a wetlands safari was super fun. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its diverse wildlife and swamp forests.

The area is home to giant crocodiles, hippos, and even bull sharks. Did you know that hippos are the most dangerous animal in Africa? You’d never suspect it at first glance. They seem fat & slow, but are surprisingly fast & aggressive.

South Africa Rafting

Rafting the Orange River

South Africa River

Floating Through the Desert

Rafting In The Desert

Home to the indigenous Nama people, the rocky dry landscape surrounding the Orange River is a mix of red, brown, and orange hues — except for the banks, where patches of green vegetation are able to thrive.

The Northern Cape is a huge area with a lot to see and do — and it’s one of the least visited parts of South Africa. Rafting down this winding river in the middle of a desert and finishing the night with a Brai BBQ has been one of my highlights.

South Africa Sangoma

Traditional Sangoma Healer

South Africa Safari

Khula Township

Talking To Spirits

While visiting Khula township in South Africa, I was invited to chat with my dead ancestors with a local Sangoma medicine woman. She communicates with people’s ancestral spirits to share advice and cure ailments.

Sitting down in her sacred healing hut, she gave me details about my future based on what they told her. It’s an ancient profession that’s been practiced for hundreds of years here. The verdict? I’m a very lucky guy. Oh, and my ancestors want me to throw a BBQ for them!

South Africa Safari

Hot Air Balloon Safari

South Africa Safari

Fire in the Hole!

Hot Air Balloon Rides

The beautiful Magalies River Valley fully revealed itself as we rose into the sky with the sunrise in a hot air balloon. It’s only an hour North West of Johannesburg, the capital of South Africa.

Once you realize you’re in the air, profound silence is the first thing you notice. Between occasional blasts of fire from the burner, there is no sound. No propeller, no engine, just the birds. Yet soon we are hovering half a mile above the ground, traveling slowly with the wind.

South Africa Safari

Win A Trip To Africa!

Pack Your Bags!

South Africa is just one of the cool African countries covered by KLM Airlines.

Another is Tanzania — and they are giving one lucky winner two flights from one of KLM’s American gateway cities to Tanzania!

The winner also receives a six-day, five-night luxury safari for two from Aselia Africa! Talk about a sweet prize. I really hope you win it!

How To Enter

Visit The Pack Your Bags Site Here

You will be instructed to click on two items to pack into your virtual “bag”.

Next, you’ll be shown the dream Africa trip that fits your interests based on what you packed.

Then enter your contact information & submit your official ballot.

Contest is open to U.S. residents only. (sorry international readers!)

The contest ends on November 17, 2015. Read the full rules here.

Good Luck!

KLM

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I've traveled to South Africa twice now. It's one of my favorite countries and an adventure lover's playground. Here are some great ideas for things to do there.

Any Questions Or Comments?

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39 Comments

  1. South Africa is a one of the best wild life travel destination in the world.. article is helpful for things to do in South Africa..crazy and interesting article..

  2. Out of curiosity what action camera did you use for the Moses Madhiba Jump? The quality looks amazing and much better than my gopro hero 4.

  3. Hi Mathew. I am from South Africa and it is always great to read about our country. Great read. I have done a few things you mentioned and the hot air balloon safari is on my bucket list. There is a lot more to see and do in South Africa. Amazing history too. I love your blog. Keep it up and thank you.

  4. Hello! I’ve been wanting to go to South Africa for some time. How are the prices there? I am planning on backpacking through, however I would like to for sure do the safari tour throughout Kenya and also the great white shark expedition. Does anyone have advice on budgeting for backpacking throughout SA? There is so much to do there…If you have any advice feel free to post and share with us on my travel blog.

  5. That zebra fight shot is epic! In Joburg I enjoyed Soweto, but my favorite neighborhood in the city was Maboneng. I’m from New York and have lived in Brooklyn for the past 3 years, and it definitely reminded me of a neighborhood I’d find at home but with an awesome South African twist.

  6. We’ve spent the last 3 months in South Africa and it is indeed an incredible country. Have done everything from paragliding over Cape Town, doing the same bungee jump you did in Bloukrans, and hiking up Table Mountain – its a great place for adventure sports and ZA has opened us up to new things.

    A couple of things that South Africa is not known for but that have really stood out for us: incredibly friendly people (we’ve been travelling continuously now for 16 months – we haven’t met friendlier people), great wine, incredible and varied scenery (geography can change dramatically depending on the mountains), and really fantastic food. Nobody ever mentions South Africa as a foodie destination but we’ve had some of the greatest food here at good value. And nothing beats going to one of the wineries and having lunch and wine while looking at the incredible scenery.

    We’ve actually decided w’d come back next year, use the northern part of the country as a base and explore Mpumalanga province, Kwazula-Natal, as well as parts of Mozambique and Zambia.

    Sorry for carrying on, but leaving this fantastic country next week for Europe and sad to go. One of our favorite spots.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  7. Diving with the sharks is definitely the one thing I’m keen on doing in Africa when I finally make my way there. And it’s good to know there is other stuff there besides the safaris!

  8. I have never thought that South Africa is wonderful but after reading about things to do in South Africa, I changed my mind. It is an amazing and adventurous place. Thanks for sharing!

  9. South Africa is one of my dream destinations to visit and seeing these pictures just made want to get there even more. I’m hoping that I can vacation there next year and if I do I’ll make sure to take one of those hot air balloon rides.

  10. Can I pretend to be an American citizen so I can enter this competition? Ah well, didn’t think so :)
    Also, the bungee jump pictures makes my legs feel woobly and the ones with the shark just terrifies me! :)

  11. Tanzania has always been very high on my list. Africa will be my sixth continent visiting, so I hope we are able to get there soon! Love the colors of the lions eyes in this photo.

  12. Dude! These pictures are insane. Africa is definitely on my bucket list. Specially a safari in Kenya and the great white shark scuba dive in South Africa! Living vicariously…

  13. Love the picture of the hot air balloon’s interior! Also the shark picture. We got to go to Australia last year and one of my big goals was to get in one of those shark cages to see the Great Whites. It didn’t happen, sadly, but swimming without a cage looks even more fun to me. I’ll have to remember this list if we make it to South Africa!

  14. Darn, would have liked to sign up for that Tanzania safari. But we’re not US residents…

    But we’re in Cape Town right now and will be doing all these activities in SA over the next 3 months. Beautiful country!!

    Frank (bbqboy)

  15. I think the scariest things on here would be swimming with sharks sans cage, and getting ANYWHERE near a hippo. Those things are terrifying, think i’d just portage instead. Good luck to everyone who entered I hope at least one of us wins.

  16. I always wanted to visit South Africa, especially cause I have relatives who live there, but after reading this, I want to do it even more.
    I can’t tell what attracts me more – Air Balloon Ride, Kayaking With Hippos or Safari, but they are all on my bucket list. Also, I didn’t know Hippos are so dangerous. I always thought of them as a very peaceful animals.

    1. Yeah the hippo thing surprised me too! Apparently they kill more people than all the other animals. They’re very territorial, and have no fear at charging people who are in between them and the water.