South Africa

One of the world’s most physically beautiful countries, South Africa has become a favorite destination for active travelers after overcoming its painful history of racial injustice. Beyond its superb natural surroundings, its vast cultural landscape spans the ages from ancient African civilizations to landmarks of the anti-apartheid era. South Africa tours may include game parks, cities, cultural excursions, scenic drives -- or all in one -- so settle in with Stride and find your ideal match.

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Top Trip Memories

  • Spotting the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffalo -- while on safari in Kruger National Park.

  • Riding a horse through Kwa Madwala, a private game reserve near Kruger, while gawking at zebra, giraffes, and other big game.

  • Taking in the panorama from the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, preceded by a thrilling cable car ride up.

  • Touring the prison and jail cells where the late president Nelson Mandela was held on Robben Island near Cape Town during the apartheid era.

  • Discovering a surprising piece of the country’s racial past at the District 6 Museum in Cape Town, which documents the history of an area that was fully integrated until going “white only” in the 1950s.

  • Journeying to the Boulders Penguin Colony outside Cape Town for an up-close view of African penguins molting on the beach.

  • Getting a real taste of local life touring one of the townships in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town.

  • Marveling at mountains, forests and waterfalls along the Panorama Route, one of South Africa’s most famous scenic drives.

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Tour Tips

  • South Africa is a big country, rich in attractions and activities. Allow at least a week and preferably two for your first tour – which will only whet your appetite for more.

  • South Africa train travel can be a highlight in itself. Tour companies can organize excursions on a restored steam train, Rovos Rail, travelling between Pretoria and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, as well as between Pretoria and Cape Town. Or ride the luxurious Blue Train, which rides the rails between Pretoria and Cape Town, and Pretoria and Durban.

  • Consider tours that include the world-famous annual run (from May-July) of millions of sardines along the east coast of the country in the KwaZulu-Natal region. The sardines cause a feeding frenzy that attracts thousands of sharks, dolphins, whales, birds and other ocean predators.

  • While most of South Africa is malaria-free, it is present year-round in Kruger National Park and the low-lying areas of northern KwaZulu-Natal. Travel operators can arrange safaris in many malaria-free game reserves, such as Madikwe or Pilanesberg in North West province, the Waterberg in Limpopo, or private reserves in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape.

  • Looking for an unusual “lodging” adventure? If you’re customizing your trip, ask your travel provider to arrange an overnight stay in a cave in the Drakensberg mountains. Marble Baths Cave, Sherman’s Cave, Spare Rib Cave, Nutcracker Cave and Sleeping Beauty Cave are just some of the caves that allow such stays.

  • South Africa is known for its flora as well as its fauna – the country’s Cape Floral Region contains a fifth of the flora on the African continent. If you like viewing plant life, look for tours that include visits to gardens, forests and nature preserves.

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    South Africa Trips & Tour Advice

    Spanning nine provinces and eight UNESCO heritage sites, South Africa is a haven for adventure seekers, history buffs, naturalists, wine connoisseurs, and hikers, among many others.

    The smallest province, Gauteng, is the most densely populated and hosts a powerhouse of attractions, including Johannesburg (the largest city) and the township of Soweto, site of the anti-apartheid 1976 uprisings. Johannesburg, which was built on the discovery of gold in 1886, hosts the Apartheid Museum, which documents South Africa’s freedom struggle. Just outside the city, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site contains some of the most important paleo-anthropological discoveries in the world, with 14 excavated fossil sites and 200 unexplored caves.

    Cape Town, in the Western Cape province and dubbed South Africa’s “Mother City,” is sandwiched between towering Table Mountain and bustling Table Bay harbor. Part of the extensive Table Mountain National Park mountain chain, Table Mountain can be accessed on foot or via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – a must on any itinerary. Another “don’t miss” stop in Cape Town, Robben Island, is where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in incarceration.

    Cape Town is also known for its beaches, nightlife, art galleries and a wealth of vineyards. Many travel providers include the Cape Winelands on their tours, with wine tastings and gourmet meals on the docket. Cape Town also marks the starting point for tours to the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Some 3,000 African penguins call the beach home, and you can get close-up views of their daily activities. In spring, southern right whales visit the coastline.

    Many tours take in the Western Cape’s natural attractions, including Cape Point, home to scenic bays, beaches, rolling hills and valleys. Cape Point falls within the Cape Floral region, which harbors nearly 20 percent of Africa’s flora.

    Along the province's eastern coastline lies the picturesque Garden Route, which stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The perfect end to a Garden Route tour is a visit to the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth. South Africa’s main beach scene runs north and south of Durban on the east coast.

    To the west sprawls the Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, home to Drakensberg, South Africa's largest mountain range and more than 600 rock-art sites, with paintings by the San people who once roamed here. The province is the heart of the Zulu Kingdom.

    For wildlife spotting, including the Big Five, Kruger National Park (Africa’s oldest) is the place. Tours typically include morning and evening game drives and bush walks -- and often add on scenic drives along the waterfall-and-mountain-laden Panorama Route as well as deep Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons on earth.

    With so much to consider, Stride can help take the stress out of proceeding on your South Africa journey. Simply compare what our travel providers have to offer, make your choices, and you’ll soon be on your way to the splendid
    southern tip of Africa.

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