The South African landscape is truly magnificent. From long coastal stretches and sparkling rivers to vast open plains and lush forests, there are a myriad of scenic features to see and explore. At the top of the list is the country’s majestic mountain ranges which stretch for hundreds of miles in the north and south, offering a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Here are five of the best mountain ranges that South Africa has to offer.
Table Mountain is Cape Town’s most iconic mountain range, providing a stunning backdrop to the city and its many beaches. A five-minute cable car ride to the top grants magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean and the sprawling city. The Table Mountain range is a protected site within the Table Mountain National Park as it boasts over 2,000 species of indigenous fynbos, magical Afromontane forest and a variety of bird and animal species. The park also lends itself to a variety of outdoor activities, including peaceful nature walks, hiking, abseiling, and paragliding.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
At 3,482m, the Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in South Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stretching for over 600 miles (1,000km) from the Eastern Cape in the south to Mpumalanga in the north, the breathtaking mountain range features rivers and streams, sheer cliffs, pointed mountain peaks and a variety of endemic flora and fauna. The Drakensberg is also home to the largest concentrated group of San rock paintings in southern Africa, which are outstanding in quality and diversity of subject. You can experience the sheer beauty of the Drakensberg by staying at one of the many hotels and resorts on the lower slopes.
The Magaliesberg mountains are among the oldest in the world, around 100 times older than Everest. They stretch for 120km from east Pretoria to Rustenburg in the west, separating the highveld grasslands from the bushveld savannah in the north. The mountain features sheer quartzite cliffs, deep gullies formed by water runoff, some more than 100 meters deep, magnificent kloofs, and perennial waterfalls that flow into sparkling pools. The mountains are popular with hikers, rock climbers and picnickers who visit the protected site to seek sanctuary from the stress of city life.
The Cederberg Mountains and Wilderness area are situated three hours from Cape Town near the town of Clanwilliam. They are known for their dramatic, sandstone formations, and ancient San rock art. The magnificent Wilderness area encompasses 71,000 hectares of rugged, mountainous terrain, making it a top hiking and rock climbing spot in the Western Cape. Another World Heritage Site, the Cederberg forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and is covered in mountain fynbos, including the laurel protea, the red disa and the famous rooibos plant from which rooibos tea is produced. The area is also rich in wildlife. Ecotourism is quite big in the Cederberg, drawing out-of-towners to the region’s many camping sites and chalets. The area is also popular for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and fishing, and there are several 4×4 routes for adventure lovers.
The Amatola are a range of densely forested mountains situated in the Eastern Cape. The Xhosa people named the range ‘amatole’, meaning ‘calves’, as it resembles a herd of young cattle grazing in the grasslands. At 1,800 meters above sea level, the Amatola Mountains are famous for their scenic beauty characterized by lush forests, deep ravines, spectacular waterfalls and panoramic views. Nearby towns include King William’s Town, East London, Stutterheim and Hogsback, the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The Amatola Mountains are home to the Sandile Heritage Route, a tourism initiative that follows the lives of Xhosa kings in the region, and the Amathole Trail — a six-day hiking trail recognized as one of the best in the country.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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