Destination Guide: South Africa


Every year, South Africa rises in popularity as a cruise destination and attracts more and more tourists. According to market and consumer data provider Statista, the country has seen a steady increase of visitors over the last five years, and this trend is expected to continue for years to come. This influx in tourists is not unwarranted, stemming from the country’s universal appeal. From South Africa’s diverse wildlife hiding in scenic habitats to its paradise beaches, stretches of vineyards, and buzzing cities, the southernmost tip of the vast African continent has a lot to offer.

South Africa’s success as a cruise destination is due to its rich diversity. The country’s multifaceted geology boasts breathtaking landscapes. In South Africa, you will find Mother Nature’s best work: towering volcanoes, deep-blue lagoons, bays crowded with massive granite boulders, stretches of colourful coral reefs, the beautiful Indian Ocean beaches in the east, and arid deserts snaking toward the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The various landscapes offer tourists plenty of opportunities to participate in water sports, hike along adventure trails, and enjoy other onshore activities.

African leopard on safari

There is no better way to discover the pristine beaches, sparkling harbours, and bustling cities of Africa than on South Africa cruises. This eclectic country is filled to the brim with charming locals, a colourful blend of cultures, and rich customs. South Africa will just take your breath away – from the sprawling savanna of the Kalahari Desert in the north to the southwestern coastal city of Cape Town. Read our destination guide to South Africa and prepare yourself for this thrilling cruise destination.

Fast Facts about South Africa

  • Official Name: Republic of South Africa
  • Capital: Pretoria (seat of the President and Cabinet), Bloemfontein (seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal), Cape Town (seat of Parliament)
  • End of Apartheid: 1994
  • Area: 1.22 million square kilometres
  • Population: 58.77 million (2019 estimate)
  • Tourists: 16.44 million (2018)
  • Official languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, Southern Ndebele
  • Top Attractions: Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope


Johannesburg: The City of Gold

Starting as a gold mining settlement in the 19th century, Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, is a robust metropolis. Brimming with a rich history, the Soweto township was once home to anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s former home has been converted to the Nelson Mandela National Museum. In Soweto as well are the solemn Apartheid Museum and the former prison Constitution Hill. These two museums detail the battle to end racial segregation and political and economic discrimination in South Africa.

Cape Town: The Mother City

Nestled under the majestic Table Mountain on a peninsula on the southwestern coast of South Africa is the port city of Cape Town. As the second-largest city in the country, Cape Town serves as a vital economic sector for South Africa. The tourism industry sees a boost in numbers between October and March as tourists flood in from all around the world.

A favourite among tourists and locals alike is Table Mountain. For spectacular views of the city and the busy harbour, hop in a cable car and ascend to the flat top. Cape Town also offers plenty more like museums, castles, and the oldest surviving building in South Africa.

Cape Town South Africa

Durban, aka Durbs

In South Africa’s eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, you will find the country’s third-biggest city: Durban. The coastal city sits on the shores of the Indian Ocean and exudes a modern and sophisticated atmosphere. Showing off African, Indian, and colonial influences, Durban is a hotspot for cultural diversity.

The beaches and the subtropical climate make Durban a hotspot for tourists, especially water sport enthusiasts. The seafront promenade stretches from uShaka Marine World, a family-friendly theme park featuring an aquarium, to the ultramodern Moses Mabhida Stadium. Although it’s one of the country’s more industrial cities, you can still enjoy indigenous African flora at the Durban Botanical Gardens.

Port Elizabeth: The Friendly City

Tucked in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth sits directly on the Indian Ocean. As a major port in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, the city is home to several beaches. If you’re interested in wildlife, a coastal boat tour will bring you close to whales and rare seabirds. Additionally, outside of the metropolitan area, you will find elephants, rhinoceroses, and other larger game animals in wildlife reserves.

Kruger National Park: South Africa’s first national park

Named the first national park in South Africa in 1926, Kruger National Park covers about 19.5 thousand square kilometres of north-eastern South Africa, making it one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves. Visitors can spot the Big Five game animals – the African lion, the African leopard, the black rhinoceros, the African elephant, and the Cape buffalo – as well as a wide range of bird and mammalian species in their natural habitat.

The wide bush plains, verdant tropical forests, and magnificent mountains are open to animals and humans alike for roaming. The park features nine wilderness trails that vary in duration, some requiring overnight stops. There are no established trails in the untouched wilderness areas; visitors must either follow animal-created paths or navigate their own ways through the bush.

antelope at sunset in Kruger National Park in South Africa

Be prepared for South Africa to absolutely wow you. From the country’s varied landscapes and abundant wildlife to its mix of cultures and range of activities for visitors, you will leave South Africa will unforgettable experiences. Browse our selection of South Africa cruises or ring our helpful cruise experts on 1300 857 345 for more information.

Browse our South Africa Cruise & Tours



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