Wherever you go in South Africa, there is no shortage of spectacular scenery. From cities and towns to mountain passes and beaches, you often don’t have to go far to find it.
But, some views are worth seeking out – if you’re willing to stray from the beaten track. If you’re up for the journey, here are some alternative views worth travelling for.
Golden Gate National Park
You can find the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Maluti mountains of the north eastern Free State near the artist’s haven of Clarens. There are many hiking routes to explore in the beautiful nature reserve, or you can take a game drive. There is also no shortage of activities for adventure seekers with abseiling, canoeing, horse riding, and more on offer. Visit caves to see rock paintings, look out for Bearded Vultures and other birds, or take a tour of the Basotho Cultural Village.
One of the Mother City’s “Big Seven” attractions, Cape Point is just 60km from Cape Town’s city centre. You can find the nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park – an official Natural World Heritage Site. Not only is there stunning scenery en route, but once there, you first see the towering cliffs, magnificent seascapes, and a wide variety of flora and fauna (including plant species endemic to Cape Point and more than 250 species of birds).
Make sure you don’t skip a trip up the Flying Dutchman Funicular, which takes you up to the lighthouse viewing area that gives you a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounds. Also, don’t miss the shipwreck trails and the breathtaking views over False Bay from the deck of the Two Oceans Restaurant, where you can enjoy a delicious lunch.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
When in Durban, you don’t have to veer far from the tourist trail to find incredible views of the city. Just look up! Or rather, walk up it and look down. This is the 106 metre high arch of Moses Mabhida Stadium. It’s a mere 500 steps up to the top, but there are plenty of stops on the way up for photo opportunities (or to catch your breath). At the pinnacle, you get 360º views of Durban, knowing you really earned it.
If it’s more of a thrill you’re after, head 70m up to the Big Rush Big Swing, where you can take the leap and swing out in “a massive 220m arc” into the stadium bowl. If you’re not up for the Adventure Walk or Big Swing, there’s always the SkyCar ride to the top.
Located along Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, God’s Window is among the most scenic places in South Africa. The Panorama Route also includes Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, the Mac Mac Falls and the Blyde River Canyon. But it is at God’s Window where you can gaze across the Lowveld hundreds of metres below, with panoramic views of forests, rivers, and mesmerizing wilderness below. In the distance, you can also see the famous Kruger National Park.
Known as the “place of hidden treasures”, the village of Niewoudtville is in the Bokkeveld Plateau in the northwest Cape. Here you will find wild flowers in abundance during the Namaqualand flower season in August and September (and sometimes the start of October).
You ca find the Niewoudtville Flower Reserve just a few kilometres from the town. Take the short hiking trail to find a wide variety of bulbs and “be at one” with the flowers. Nearby you will also find the Hantam National Botanical Garden which offers a variety of walking trails or a tour on a 1950’s Bedford bus, the Matjiesfontein Flower Route for self-drive or guided tours, or Papkuilsfontein farm’s “must-see” variety of flowers. These are just a few of the opportunities to see wild blooms up close in this area that is famous for them.