Traveling through Africa in a camper is a unique experience that can expose you to all kinds of different places. From wildlife preserves and national parks, to seaside getaways, to remote villages and bustling cities, there’s a limitless selection of places to see on the continent.
One of the things that draws so many travelers to South Africa in particular is that it is in some ways a miniature version of the greater continent. That is, you can see most of the types of destinations just mentioned within this single, fascinating country.
We’ve written before about individual places to go, or specific routes to take if you’re moving from place to place in a camper. But here we’re stepping back to take a broader approach and simply point to a variety of must-see destinations for any exploration of South Africa as a whole.
BLYDE RIVER CANYON NATURE RESERVE
Blyde River Canyon is one of the biggest canyons in the country, and is fairly accessible given that it’s not too far from Johannesburg. It’s one nature preserve in the country that can largely be enjoyed via a scenic drive, as opposed to an on-foot excursion or a safari, though hiking trails are available. Really, it’s just a stunning place from a visual perspective, as otherworldly as the Drakensberg in an entirely different way.
THE GARDEN ROUTE
The Garden Route is less of a specific destination and more of a whole region of South Africa. It stretches out for over 150km along the southeast of the country and contains, as you’d no doubt guess by now, a great deal of incredible natural beauty. While there is camping and hiking there, it’s a big enough area that you might want to simply drive along and enjoy it via a number of different stops.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
There are a lot of chances to experience idyllic nature and see exotic wildlife in South Africa, but nothing else quite compares to Kruger National Park. It’s roughly the size of the whole of Israel, at about 360km long and, at its widest, 90km wide. While this massive expanse has been preserved as naturally as possible, it’s also been subtly built up with roads, camps, and lodges, such that you can do a thorough job of exploring it. It should be at the very top of your South African tourism list.
Technically located partially in Lesotho (a country wholly contained in South Africa), the Drakensberg is part of a mountain range that is so unique and beautiful it has at times held an almost mystical appeal to local people. Nowadays it’s something worth seeing from ground level, but even more spectacular to hike, if you’re up for a little bit of adventure. The views from some of the peaks are just about unmatched around the world.
Rustenburg doesn’t get too much attention on its own, but it’s home to an incredible resort that gives you a whole different look at South Africa. While decidedly less natural than the other attractions on this list, Sun City is one of the best casino resorts on Earth, with sprawling grounds, multiple golf courses, huge pool complexes, and multiple hotels full of cozy rooms. It’s a nice stop if you need a bit of a break from the rest of South Africa.
We don’t need to get too far into the details with Cape Town. Located on the southern shore of South Africa such that the city rests at the base of Table Mountain, it’s one of the world’s more striking cities. Some visitors actually liken its culture to some cities in Western Europe or America, yet its setting keeps it exotic. It’s known as a fun-filled and adventurous town where you can just as easily sit back with an afternoon cocktail or engage in high-octane watersports.
Cape Town may be a little bit flashier (and more beautiful), but Johannesburg is actually the more frequently visited city in South Africa. It has a little bit more of a big city feel to it, but is also a wonderful place to visit if you want a taste of the culture and history of the country. Among other attractions, the Apartheid Museum and Mandela House are humbling to visit in person, and can start to foster a real appreciation for how much South Africa has evolved over the years.