Surrounded by a long, sometimes kind, often rugged, but always beautiful coastline, is a vast land, an area of 4 262 398 km2. Here, the oldest desert in the world, water wonderlands, wide grasslands, and ancient mountains await the traveller. Choosing what to see and experience first in South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia can be difficult. Hopefully, our bucket lists will help.
- Cape Winelands – South Africa
The dramatic, plunging escarpments surrounding the fertile Cape Winelands, shelter centuries old, iconic Cape Dutch homesteads dotted across nearly 45 400 hectares of vineyards. The small towns of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch anchoring these vineyards are, after Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest towns. Old-world charm fills the streets and homes nestling under the ancient oak trees. The towns and the world-renowned vineyards are ‘must-see’ destinations! Not only are they beautiful and packed with history, but there is also the wine tastings and food pairings at the elegant wine estate hotels, the internationally important art galleries, ancient cellars, rose gardens, spas and delectable picnics.
- Okavango Delta – Botswana
Fed by the 4th longest river in Africa, the Okavango River, the Okavango Delta oasis is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seasonal flooding spreads out over the 15,000 km2 of the ancient Kalahari Desert, the ‘land of the great thirst’. None of the delta’s 11 billion litres of water ever reaches the sea. It simply evaporates into thin air. During the flood, the concentration of wildlife swells to become one of Africa’s greatest. The delta is home to the Big 5 – leopard, Cape buffalo, rhino, elephant, and lion. But many other species, like the lechwe antelope, fish such as the tigerfish, and over 400 species of birds, call this magical place home. Canoeing the delta is one of the memorable experiences everyone should have on their bucket list.
- South Luangwa National Park – Zambia
One of the great remaining unspoilt regions of Africa, the 9 059 km2 South Luangwa National Park with its meandering river and curving oxbow lagoons, is always beautiful, whether in the dry season or the rainy emerald season. Its protected status for 65 years before being declared a National park in 1972, ensured its pristine wilderness. The stunning beauty and remoteness give ‘getting away from it all’ a whole new meaning. The Park is home to the Big 5, 60 species of mammals, including the elusive hartebeest, sable, puku, and roan, 400 species of birds, Zambia’s unique and beloved Crawshay’s zebra, Thornicroft’s giraffe and 39 bird of prey species. The park is one of the best in Africa if you are wanting to go on a guided bush walk, or a night game drive.
- Darling – South Africa
Although corny, it’s true to say this delightful village, lying between vineyards and golden wheat fields, is a darling little town. Lovingly restored Victorian homes, ancient trees, textiles, basket weavers, theatre, a thriving agricultural centre, the arts and crafts centre and, of course, Evita Bezuidenhout, make Darling simply wonderful. Best of all, it’s only 75kms from Cape Town. Perfect for a day trip.
Close by is the Bird Island Nature Reserve – the world’s most accessible Cape gannet colony and home to thousands of cormorants and penguins, and Cape fur seals, the Darling Wine Route, the Langebaan Lagoon and the Postberg Flower Trail.
Look out for more ‘bucket-list’ ideas coming soon!