From the “Barrier of Spears” formed by the Drakensberg escarpment to the gorgeous beaches that line the Garden Route, South Africa’s landscape is unfailingly beautiful. Immerse yourself in a wonderland of spectacular waterfalls, mysterious cave systems and vast, flowering deserts.
t Table Mountain, with the city of Cape Town nestled below
It’s hard to top the stunning view of Table Mountain towering above Cape Town and Table Bay. But the Amphitheatre – a precipitous 5-km- (3-mile-) long, 1.2-km- (0.75-mile-) high cliff of burnished sandstone in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park – arguably does just that. Less celebrated but no less spectacular, the Cederberg Mountains north of Cape Town are studded with gobsmacking rock formations.
Lapped by the chilly Atlantic to the west and more sultry Indian Ocean to the east, South Africa’s coastline supplies drama and beauty in equal measure. There are pretty beaches aplenty, but for unforgettable natural spectacles head for the wave-battered headland at the Cape of Good Hope, the forested dunes and lush estuaries of iSimangaliso Wetland Park or the sheer cliffs of the Robberg Peninsula near Plettenberg Bay.
For a dry country, South Africa has some impressive riverine features. Be awed by the cacophonous eruption of the Orange River at Augrabies Falls and marvel at the five-tiered Tugela Falls. Elsewhere, enjoy the scenic splendour of the Blyde River, punctuated by the bizarre Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The desertscapes of the Northern Cape possess a stark but singular beauty, particularly in the golden light of dawn or dusk. Don’t miss the curvaceous apricot dunes of the Kalahari and the sensational spring flower displays that blanket the rocky plains of Namaqualand.
Take a tour through Oudtshoorn’s Cango Caves to uncover a stunning underground world of wriggly-tight labyrinths and cathedralesque chambers adorned with eerily lit limestone formations. Equally compelling in its own historic way, fossil-rich Sterkfontein Cave is the subterranean showpiece of the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Night time in South Africa’s wilderness is magical anywhere, but the most spectacular night skies are found in the Northern Cape.