This beautiful country about four times the size of Germany is very diverse. It offers dramatic landscapes, amazing wildlife, lots of adventurous activities as well as a big history and impressive cultural experiences. From my experience of this glorious and majestic country several activities really made a permanent imprint in my mind, these personal favorites include:
• Cape Town: In line with Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town personally belongs to my (Chris) favorite cities in the world. Dominated by the magnificent Table Mountain, surrounded by picturesque vineyards to one side and beautiful beaches to the other, it's nearly impossible to get bored here.
• Cage diving with white sharks: In recent years the town of Gansbaai (about 100km southeast of Cape Town) has become famous for shark cage diving. It's an unforgettable adrenaline rush to be face to face with these ancient and impressive animals!! Check out the video and photo gallery to get some impressions. Many people are sceptical about this offer because they believe that the sharks start associating boats and humans with food which makes the situation for swimmers and surfers more dangerous. Personally I (Chris) think that it can be a positive education tool to alleviate the bad reputation these fish have had since the movie jaws. Over 100 million of sharks are killed every year simply because the public doesn't appreciate their existence like they do with whales or dolphins. Shark cage diving tours can easily be arranged in Cape Town where you will be picked up early in the morning from your accommodation.
• Sandboarding (Dragon Dune): While drive along the famous Garden Route, you should not miss to stop in Mossel Bay to do some sandboarding. The Dragon Dune is located about 15 minutes from Mossel Bay and promises you the biggest and longest sandboard ride in South Africa. You can book tours on http://www.dragondune.com/.
• De Hoop Nature Reserve: The coastline of this 340 sq km nature reserve offers long stretches of pristine beach and big sand dunes. Between June and December there are very good chances to spot whales while enjoying one of the beautiful day walks along the coast. If you decide to stay overnight contact De Hoop Collection (www.dehoopcollection.co.za) who can arrange camping options or even luxury accommodation. Another good place to spot whales is the town Hermanus which is situated between Gansbaai and Cape Town.
• Kruger National Park: Without doubt this world famous national park in the northeast of the country is one of the best places on earth to spot wildlife. Over 2,000 lions, 3,500 white rhinos and 15,000 elephants call this place their home. If its basic camp sites or luxury cottages, bush walks or game drives, private visits or joining a tour - you'll easily find numerous activities that match your taste and budget in this exceptionally well organized park. In order to match your budget, the best places to arrange tours into Kruger are the backpacker lodges in Hazyview, Nelspruit and Graskop.
Tip: Alternatively if you are pressed for time you can visit Port Elizabeth and visit the private and beautiful Schotia Game Reserve. I (Chris) spent a great day there. Check out the photos and video if you are curious how it looks like.
• Exploring the wild northwest: If you have copious amounts of time and want to discover the remote South Africa with its stunning nature and wildlife then rent a comfortable car and head northwestwards. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Augrabies Falls National Park, Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and numerous other nature reserves are ready to be explored. If you don't have the possibility to see the Northern Cape on your own then book and start your guided tours in the city of Upington.