One of the biggest countries on the African continent, South Africa promises one of the most diverse—and all-around gorgeous—travel destinations in the world.
Its spellbinding landscapes include the dreamlike ramparts of the Drakensberg (the “Dragon Mountains”) along the Great Escarpment, which soar above 11,000 feet and support, surprisingly enough, winter skiing. There’s the parched but wildlife-rich fringe of the Kalahari Desert, the windswept Karoo, the fertile farmlands of the Highveld, and of course the astonishingly beautiful Cape Peninsula, from the Cape Town backdrop of Table Mountain to the wave-battered Cape of Good Hope.
The Cape Peninsula accounts for only a small share of South Africa’s roughly 1,550-mile seacoast: an “unbelievably beautiful” one, says AAA travel advisor Page Goodrich, presenting its seductive beaches and rugged headlands along both the Atlantic and the Indian oceans. The country is also easily one of the top destinations in the world for wildlife-viewing, given such preeminent safari hotspots as Kruger National Park. From black-maned lions to great white sharks, enormous elephants to even more enormous humpback whales, South Africa has a surfeit of wonders for the nature lover.
“South Africa is a one-of-a-kind, world-class destination,” Page notes—not just scenically and ecologically diverse, but, in this “rainbow nation,” also multicultural and multiethnic. It’s an extraordinary and complex place that most definitely rewards repeat visits.