Travelling to South Africa anytime soon? Through your research you’ve almost certainly heard about Table Mountain, Robben Island, and the Kruger National Park – but what about the road less traveled? Those places about which even most South Africans do not know? We’ve found four of South Africa’s best kept tourism secrets – and we’re sharing them below…
Quiver Tree Forest
Heard of the San people? They were skilled hunter-gatherers indigenous to the South African peninsula before the arrival of Europeans and north Africans. The San that occupied sections of Namaqualand in the Northern Cape would remove dry, hollow branches from the aloe dichotomy trees – using them as arrow quivers (hence the name Quiver Tree). Book a South African guided tour to the Northern Cape and go pick yourself an organic arrow quiver souvenir.
Between the mighty Mthatha and Mtamvuna rivers in South Africa’s Eastern Cape lies a stretch of coastline that will leave most speechless. Rolling green hills of vegetation slope down to the ocean, only separated by a stretch of sand no wider than a few metres. This land used to belong to the Pondo people, some of whom still call the prestine coastline home. There’s a waterfall that drops directly into the Indian Ocean in Pondoland, so if you’d like to see this part of South Africa – as well as the rest of the Rainbow Nation, see our19-day Grand South African Tour.
Groot Winterhoek Rockies
South Africa’s Western Cape is home to some of the nation’s best-loved attractions, but not everybody who visits knows about this little gem. Secluded between high walls of mesmerizing rock formations lie multiple clear pools of fresh water, kept full by running streams that cut through the stone. Though awfully chilly during winter (as the name suggests) the Groot Winterhoek, or ‘big winter corner’, rockies are a great way to spend a summers day away from the crowded beachfront.
Riemvasmaak Hot Springs
The Northern Cape might be dry, but it certainly isn’t void of a splish-splash! Just north from the Augrabies Falls lies the area of Reimvasmaak or ‘tie your belt’. Thanks to prehistoric volcanic eruptions one can find a collection of hot springs surrounded by tall natural granite walls. The 5,000-hectare wilderness that surrounds the Riemvasmaak hot springs is part of the Namaqualand region – famed for its vibrant, sprawling flower populations. See this amazing part of South Africa on our 13-day Wildlife, Scenery & Flowers tour.
This part of South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is known as South Africa’s Lake District. Seriously though, there are around 250 lakes in a 40 square mile area (see the Google Maps link below). Some are huge; others small enough to wade across. Either way, if you’re into water sports – the Chrissiesmeer region is sure to get you excited! Be sure to ask locals about the Tlou-tle people who lived on rafts upon the lakes many generations ago.