South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems.
Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game.
The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons around the Garden Route and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.
1. Cape Town
Cape Town is a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain.
Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the mountain’s flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela, which is now a living museum.
Durban, a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, is known for its African, Indian and colonial influences.
Refurbished for soccer’s 2010 World Cup, the seafront promenade runs from uShaka Marine World, a huge theme park with an aquarium, to the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The Durban Botanical Gardens showcases African plant species.
Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, began as a 19th-century gold mining settlement.
Its sprawling Soweto township was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Mandela’s former residence is now the Mandela House museum.
Other Soweto museums that recount the struggle to end segregation include the somber Apartheld Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison complex.
4. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves.
Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes.
Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and stroks.
Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape.
Pretoria, in the Gauteng Province, is the administrative captial of South Africa.
Known as Jacaranada City for its thousands of jacaranda trees, the city is also known for its universities and government buildings.
The semicircular Union Buildings encompasses the president’s offices and hosted Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.
Nearby is the massive Voortrekker Monument, honoring 19th-century Afrikaan settlers from the Cape Colony.