The South African Bucket List


Three years after a story on a major U.S. website highlighted 10 places in South Africa that should be on any foreigner’s bucket list, those 10 are still up there waiting to be visiting. And it’s not just Cape Town. The website, Mashable, said in the 2016 article: “For a medium-sized country, South Africa has a lot going on.”

The list, which includes some less-visited and less-publicised gems, from the Klein Karoo to iSimangaliso, was compiled by South African expat Mary Holland. The Bucket List 10 are:


Johannesburg, “one of Africa’s greatest cities … thriving creative scene, with loads of restaurants, artisanal markets, galleries and museums.” From Maboneng district to Newtown, from Melville to Soweto, from the financial district of Sandton to the iconic Hillbrow Tower.

Source: @KEyckmans, Twitter.

Kruger National Park

One of the few iconic game reserves in Africa you can self-safari: “Just rent a car, grab a map and get driving.”

lions kruger national park south africa
Lions in Kruger National Park.


The Winelands

From Cape Town to Stellebosch and further inland every year,  the winelands are “staggeringly beautiful. Book an overnight stay on one of the farms, or spend the day bouncing from farm to farm, drinking fancy wine”. One of our favourites: the restaurant-rich, gorgeous Franschhoek valley.

Wine country, Franschhoek,

The Garden Route

Take a long drive through “gorgeous scenery”, taking side roads down to places like the surfer haven Victoria Bay or the castle hideaway Knoetze, or stopping at game reserves and the much-oerlooked Addo Elephant Park. Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, George, they are all along this road. And beaches aplenty!


The Wild Coast

The Wild Coast is “wild … In every sense”. Hike along dramatic shores (the kind you see in the video below), eat seafood freshly caught and cooked in front of you. Coffee Bay and Port St. Johns for the wild (people) side.

West Coast National Park

Famous for its flowers that bloom in spring and turn the countryside into an Impressionist painting. Seafood lovers make the pilgrimage to places like Kraalbaai and Paternoster, and watch the turbulent sea while noshing crayfish.

Namaqualand Spring Flowers
Namaqualand, Northern Cape

iSimangaliso National Park

Wild animals, long empty beaches, coastal forests, swamps. That is the gorgeous national park in KwaZulu-Natal. “And some of the best tropical coral reefs in the world.”


The Klein Karoo

The Karoo is “hauntingly pretty … with semi-desert plains, mountain passes, open roads and starry skies”. Famous for its road Route 62 that goes through Uniondale, Robertson, Swellendam, and along passes that take your breath away till you reach Oudtshoorn.


The Drakensberg

“Dramatic” is an understatement. There are enough “winding mountain passes  streams, local fauna and cave paintings” to keep a return visitor busy over and over again.

Drakensberg amphitheatre

Cape Town

Okay, the Mother City has to be on any bucket list, for any traveller.

Cape Town aerial

(Plus, of course, there’s the Blyde River Canyon – our 11th choice – and the spectacular countryside around it in Mpumalanga, pictured at the top.)