If you’re outdoorsy, nothing will get your blood pumping like a trip back to nature. Jump in the car and escape from the polluted city air. Whether you’re looking to travel 20 kilometres or 2 000 kilometres, any one of our 9 provinces has a distinctive flavour to entice visitors.
We found you the perfect spot in every province:
1. North West Province
The North West Province is associated with small towns and unending dusty plains, only interrupted by the odd koppie.
The Wawielpark Holiday Resort is a quaint oasis, offering everything you would expect from an institution of its kind: water pools, trampolines, fishing, a putt-putt course, paddle boats on the Vaal River and even a wave pool.
Experience countryside hospitality in true small town fashion.
Where to find it: Vermaasdrift Road, Stilfontein
Contact: 018 441 1093
Located in the Cradle of Humankind, the Nirox Sculpture Park was established by the landowner, who specifically acquired plots of land to function as an outdoor sculpture park. He did this after being inspired by a sculpture by artist Edoardo Villa.
Today the Nirox Sculpture Park houses a number of sculptures by various artists. At first glance, the works seem to be permanent fixtures, but they are, in fact, always changing, so every visit to the park is bound to be a unique experience.
Once every often, the park’s amphitheatre is used for events like jazz concerts and poetry readings.
Visits to the sculpture park can be arranged by appointment.
Where to find it: 24 Kromdraai Road, Kromdraai, Krugersdorp
Contact: 082 854 6963
3. Northern Cape
You haven’t truly seen the Milky Way until you’ve seen it in the Great Karoo, so get your camping gear ready and prepare to pluck the stars right from the sky above you.
The Augrabies Falls National Park is just the place to see the expanse of the night sky like never before. The park is named after its standout feature, the Augrabies Falls, but is also famous for its rock formations and hills and indigenous fauna and flora.
You’re not likely to find seclusion quite like this in many places in South Africa.
GPS Coordinates: S 28° 37′ 02″, E 20° 20′ 57″
Contact: 054 452 9200
4. Free State
One of the oldest known meteor impact zones in the world is found close to Parys in the Free State Province.
The Vredefort Dome was formed when a meteor struck the earth approximately 2023 million years ago and formed a crater that stretches roughly 300km across.
Today the Dome is a UNESCO Heritage Site that spikes your heart rate in a variety of ways. The Vredefort Dome offers visitors various outdoors activities, including river rafting, 4×4 trails, birding and, for the more adventurous, mampoer tastings.
GPS Coordinates: 26° 59′ 22.90″ S, 27° 22′ 26.64″ E
Contact: 018 297 7618
5. Eastern Cape
Roughly 15km from Port Elizabeth, in Summerstrand, lies the 366 hectare Cape Recife Nature Reserve, where unspoilt beaches and natural dune vegetation abound along a 9km circular walking trail.
Stop at the Cape Recife Lighthouse, commissioned in 1851 and still in operation, or visit the old military observation outpost. If you’re a birdwatcher, Cape Recife is the prime spot for bird watching, with 160 species calling this little gem their home.
Where to find it: Marine Drive, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth
Contact: 041 583 4004
6. Western Cape
If you’re in the vicinity of Knysna, at the Woodville Hiking Trail at Hoekwil is definitely worth a visit.
This 2km circular trail ends at a Yellowwood Tree that is estimated to be about 850 years old. Even if you’re not the fittest of them all, this hike can be done easily, and it’s also wheelchair-friendly.
Reminiscent of Dalene Mathee’s “Circles in a Forest”, the lush forest will temporarily transport you to a time where wild elephants used to roam, and where you won’t be judged for thinking you might have seen a fairy jump from leaf to leaf.
This walk is picturesque, magical, and you’ll have the chance to take a picture with one of the oldest living things on earth.
How to get there: Take the Hoekwil turn-off from the N2 just outside Wilderness on the Knysna side. This road will become the old Knysna-George road. Drive for about 16km from Wilderness, the picnic site will be on your left.
GPS Coordinates: 33 56.058° S, 22 38.698° E
The Kingdom of the Zulu isn’t just about the coast. If you’re in the area and in the mood for a walkabout, the Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg has lots to appease the avid outdoorsman.
Among other hikes and walks on offer, the Tugela Gorge Walk is a relatively easy day hike of about 22km. You will be rewarded with a magnificent view at the base of the Tugela Falls, which is also the halfway point marker of the hike.
Pack some picnic goodies and put on your hiking boots for this one.
Where to find it: The Royal Natal National Park
GPS Coordinates: 28.6890° S, 28.9450° E
If you’re the quintessential tree hugger, the Modjadji Cycad Reserve should get you excited.
Home to the largest concentration of cycads in the world, the reserve covers 530 hectares of mountainous terrain. Thought to date back to prehistoric times, cycads thrive in this subtropical climate.
View the forest on foot and drop by the Royal Kraal and Modjadji Village, named after the Rain Queen, Modjadji. If you are in luck, you might even be able to arrange an audience with the current Rain Queen-in-waiting.
During a guided walk, you’ll also see endemic animal species such as monkeys, dassies and Impala, as well as a variety of birdlife.
GPS Coordinates: 23.6283° S, 30.3633° E
Contact: 083 442 7429
Not for the claustrophobic, the Sudwala Caves aren’t exactly what you’d call the great outdoors, but if you can muster the courage, the caves offer a surreal experience.
Dating back 240 million years, you’ll be able to see plant fossils and cave formations that are literally older than Africa, as they were formed when the earth still only consisted of two supercontinents.
2 000m into the heart of the caves, an impressive array of aragonite crystals is on display. This is an experience not to be missed.
GPS Coordinates: 25 22.557° S, 30 41.555° E
Contact: 083 446 0228
Wherever you find yourself in our beautiful country, there’s never an excuse to not change into something a little more comfortable and head out into nature.