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Top 7 Things to Do in Southern Africa

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Camps Bay beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Camps Bay beach and Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

The top seven things to do in Southern Africa demonstrate the diverse opportunities you can experience, from witnessing wildlife on safari, meeting communities to learn about local life, or uncovering delicious wines.

These experiences in Southern Africa can immerse you in new experiences and unveil thrills, connections, and discoveries according to your interests.

  1. 1. Witness Diverse Wildlife on Traditional Game Drives
  2. 2. Discover the Thrills of the Wilderness with Alternative Safaris
  3. 3. Learn About Local Culture in Active Ways
  4. 4. Enjoy Family-Friendly Adventure
  5. 5. Sample Diverse Local Flavors
  6. 6. Uncover a Variety of Artistic Perspectives
  7. 7. Delight in the Beauty of the Beaches
  8. Experience the Top Things to Do in Southern Africa

1. Witness Diverse Wildlife on Traditional Game Drives

Female leopard in the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

The diverse ecosystems of Southern Africa cross borders and create incredible wildlife encounters during traditional game drives.

The term safari often conjures images of exploring landscapes in open 4x4 drive vehicles, but the true vision of safari springs to life across layers of topography that can lead you to rolling hills and open plains, lakes bubbling with hippo pods or woodlands yelping with baboon troops.

From the large desert-dwelling mammals of Namibia’s arid landscape to the crocodiles hiding in the reeds along the banks of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, wildlife emerges to demonstrate the wonders of the region, from the Big Five on Kruger National Park Safaris to an unexpected pangolin.

Best Places for Game Drives: Kruger National Park, South Africa • Mana Pools, Zimbabwe • Okavango Delta, Botswana • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, South Africa • South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

2. Discover the Thrills of the Wilderness with Alternative Safaris

Hot air balloon over Sossusvlei in Namibia

Sossusvlei, Namibia

Southern Africa is a wondrous region in which to witness scenery and wildlife in ways that differ from the traditional game drive.

Instead of the expected 4x4 vehicle, you can soar high above the landscapes in a hot-air balloon, navigate the waters in a traditional canoe known (mokoro), or follow your guide through the brush on foot for a more intimate view of the wilderness and wildlife.

Safaris such as these offer new perspectives on how to view and engage with the landscape and animals, whether on vacations in Zambia or Botswana safaris.

Best Places for Alternative Safaris: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia • Okavango Delta, Botswana • Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe • Sossusvlei, Namibia

3. Learn About Local Culture in Active Ways

Himba tribe in Namibia

Himba tribe in Namibia

The Southern African wilderness is fascinating, while its communities, regions, cities, and countries demonstrate varied histories and heritages.

Continuing traditions, shared values, and the overall improvement of well-being remain the ultimate goal in maintaining a tight-knit community.

From desert tribes to townships, local leaders to community organizations, culture plays an important role in the development of local life and the establishment of a shared national identity.

Best Places for Cultural Activities: Johannesburg, South Africa • Soweto, South Africa • Livingstone, Zambia • Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe • Kalahari Desert, Botswana

4. Enjoy Family-Friendly Adventure

Garden Route in South Africa

Garden Route, South Africa

Traveling with family creates unforgettable memories and Southern Africa provides endless opportunities to enjoy adventures, relaxation, and discovery, no matter your family’s interests.

Experience the thrills of surfing down sand dunes, search for great white sharks inside a cage on South Africa safaris for families, or whitewater raft along a river that leads to the legendary mist of Victoria Falls.

Whether on a traditional game drive or searching for wider opportunities to explore the greater region, you can embrace the excitement or relax on the beach for a trip every member of the family can enjoy, especially when traveling with children aged eight and older.

Best Places for Family-Friendly Activities: Cape Town, South Africa • Garden Route, South Africa • Livingstone, Zambia • Swakopmund, Namibia

5. Sample Diverse Local Flavors

Wine tasting at a vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Southern Africa has treasured food and wine experiences, with many visiting each year to indulge in its cuisine and new varietals. The region has a surprising number of places that celebrate local, seasonal flavors with exceptional flair that mixes heritage and culture.

The influences of Arab traders, Portuguese imperialists, and Swahili farmers date back nearly 1500 years and continue to impact local tastes and ingredients. Contemporary food culture blends with tradition in cities across South Africa, including Johannesburg and Stellenbosch.

The striking contrasts of the Namibian landscape on Namibia Safaris seem to inspire the culinary scene. From that country’s desert to the coastline, or from Maputo in Mozambique to Franschhoek in South Africa’s Western Cape, the food and wine options in Southern Africa are a celebration for the taste buds.

Best Places for Food & Wine: Franschhoek, South Africa • Stellenbosch, South Africa • Windhoek, Namibia • Maputo, Mozambique • Lusaka, Zambia

6. Uncover a Variety of Artistic Perspectives

South African craft at a local market

South African craft at a local market

Art is all about perspective and local artistic vision can help define the perception of visitors traveling abroad.

The best art in Southern Africa can be found in high-end galleries or among local craftspeople, each demonstrating a different connection to local life, culture, history, and even wildlife.

Whether showcasing a contemporary view of the world in a museum or with a piece of woodwork in a community art space, each piece shares an important narrative that can inform your travel experience.

Best Places for Artisan Crafts: Lusaka, Zambia • Gaborone, Botswana • Maputo, Mozambique • Windhoek, Namibia • Johannesburg, South Africa

7. Delight in the Beauty of the Beaches

Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique

Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique

The beaches of Southern Africa are world-class and often overlooked for more famous corners of the world. However, the region has a wide variety of shores and offers the opportunity to combine bush and beach experiences that highlight the marvels of both.

White sands and crystal-clear waters offer a gorgeous setting in which to indulge at the right time of year in South Africa, while Mozambique is a tropical paradise for beach lovers, its coastline stretching more than 1500 miles.

Namibia’s shores offer countless opportunities for surfing, snorkeling, or relaxing with a drink while watching the waves. Thrilling visits with sharks, remote private islands, or deep-sea excursions demonstrate only a portion of the wonders Southern Africa’s beaches offer.

Best Places for Beaches: Bloubergstrand, South Africa • Dolphin Beach, South Africa • Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique • Ponta Mamoli, Mozambique • Swakopmund, Namibia • Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Experience the Top Things to Do in Southern Africa

Okavango Delta att sunset in Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Stunning beaches, colorful artisan crafts, or quiet luxurious escapes are only a few of the ways you can enjoy Southern Africa. From South Africa to Namibia, Mozambique to Botswana, every country in the region provides its own culture and dynamic adventures.

For more ideas on what to do during your trip, you can find inspiration with our Southern Africa Safaris & Tours or discover more information on where to go, the best time to visit, and more with our Southern Africa Travel Guide.

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