South Africa Beyond World Cup Football and Vuvuzelas – Best Vacation Destinations

With the World Cup in South Africa this year and talk of football and vuvuzelas in the air, a rundown of superb destinations in the country is in order. Here then are twelve incredible South African travel destinations to consider.

Ellerman House – Cape Town, South Africa

Positioned high atop a hill in Bantry Bay, from a vantage point that presents one of the world’s most charming coastlines, is the Hellerman House — undeniably one of South Africa’s most illustrious boutique hotels.

Built in 1912 as the private home of a British shipping magnate, the hotel boasts seven sumptuously furnished guest quarters, all managing to keep the magnificent views as their primary focus.

Top-notch dining, exquisite settings and plenty of pampering makes this South African travel destination a must-visit for any lover of the ocean and its ever changing landscape.

Imabe by rileymoore

Imabe by rileymoore

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Image by rileymoore

Table Mountain – Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

More than 1000 meters above the city of Cape Town, Table Mountain imposes itself upon the surrounding landscape. No matter where you look (you will notice the mountain in various other pictures in this article as well) Table Mountain seems to be there, the centerpiece of one breathtaking panorama after another.

Almost all of the Cape Peninsula’s 2,000 floral species can be found on Table Mountain, which erupts with color sometime around September and through to March. Capetonians, as they are called, quite frequently visit the mountain, picnic basket in one hand and a wine bottle from one of the local vineyards in another.

Also, before ascending Table Mountain, be sure to visit the eastern slope’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. The gardens are a truly exceptional display of South Africa’s beautiful indigenous plant species.

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Phinda Resource Reserve – KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Established in 1991, Phinda Resource Reserve — its name meaning “return to the wild” — is a private game reserve in northern Zululand. Home to seven different African ecosystems, it is definitely one of the most diverse and unique regions in the world.

Choices in activities include boating and canoeing trips (keep your hands in the boat please!), tracking highly elusive black rhinos on foot, big-game fishing, diving our planet’s southernmost reefs off the coast of Maputaland, game drives, and visiting the highest vegetated sand dunes in the world.

In addition to astounding wildlife and scenery, accommodations are equally impressive. The Mountain Lodge provides splendid views of the Maputaland coastal range and Lebombo Mountains.

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The Drakensberg Mountains – Mpumalanga, South Africa

Many believe the Drakensberg Mountains were the inspiration behind the dreamlike setting of Lord of the Rings, written by South African-born J.R.R. Tolkien. While not as phantasmagorical as Middle Earth, the Drakensberg Mountains are rich with panoramic passes, deep valleys, swollen rivers, towering waterfalls, and lush forests. Opportunities for hiking are in abundance, as well as bird watching, horseback riding, golfing, and fishing.

Some sites of note are the impressive Blyde River Canyon, a 15-mile gorge carved from the face of the Transvaal escarpment, and God’s Widow, the canyon’s unrivaled vantage point.

If you are feeling extra adventurous, be sure to take one of the many jet-powered helicopter tours, where you can swoop over dramatic rock formations, fertile and colorful valleys, river rapids, and waterfalls. The helicopter tour’s finale is lunch atop an otherwise unreachable remote mountaintop grass clearing.

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Image by Frerieke

Sabi Sand Game Reserve – Mpumalanga, South Africai Sand Game

Home to some of South Africa’s best game viewing and what can only be referred to as splendor-in-the-wild accommodations, the Sabi Sand Game Preserve shares a fenceless border with the famous Kruger National Park.

Among the numerous parks that make up 163,000-acre reserve are Londolozi, MalaMala, and Singita. Londolozi’s most cherished camp is the Tree Camp, positioned on the banks of the Sabi River, a striking contrast of untouched bush and regal living quarters. If visiting MalaMala, a favorite choice for those seeking some romance along their safari is the Kirkman’s Camp, a small homestead built in the 1920s. Singita is the most luxurious and private of the three, home to only two lodges, both fitted with spas and private pools.

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The Cape Winelands – Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa

Cape Winelands is the largest wine producing region in South Africa and it is comprised of six main regions: Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson and Wellington. Its importance and the outstanding and unique universal cultural significance added this region on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, in June 2004. Some wine farms in Cape Winelands are more than 300 years old, being established by the French. The area it is now packed with delicious wine routes.

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The Palace of the Lost City – Sun City, Northwestern Province, South Africa

Encompassed by the dry bushveld and the abundant glitz and Las Vegas-like excessiveness of the entertainment resort complex of Sun City, is the Palace of the Lost City, arguably one the most impressive hotel complexes in the world. Just the sheer size of this $190-million African wonderland — home to four hotels, a gambling casino, 136,000 acres of game reserve, and two award-winning 18-hole golf courses — is enough to warrant a visit.

Image by garybembridge

Image by garybembridge

Image by garybembridge