South Africa in Pictures: 18 Beautiful Places to Photograph
South Africa is home to some of the world's most stunning and diverse scenery all packed into one country. From the urban beauty of Cape Town, with its table-top-shaped mountain and dramatic coastline, to the red sand and wild beauty of a safari in Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa offers so many things to do, and countless opportunities to capture beautiful pictures.
These images will make you want to grab your camera and hop on the next flight to Johannesburg.
1. Kruger National Park
There is nothing like seeing a wild lion (or really any African animal) for the first time on safari. Even better if you stumble upon a duo, like these snuggling cubs in Kruger National Park.
Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa and is famed for the sheer number of animals roaming around here.
Many of South Africa's top luxury safari lodges also border the reserve.
2. Cape Town
To truly appreciate Cape Town's beauty, you need to see it from above. This classic aerial shot of the city shows all of Cape Town's best assets in one image. The donut-looking structure in the foreground is the stadium in Green Point, constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer games.
Running along the coastline in front of the stadium are some of Cape Town's best beaches, like Camps Bay and Clifton. While in the distance, you see Table Mountain and Lions Head.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Cape Town
3. Boulders Beach
Want to pose with a penguin for Instagram? This little guy is ready for a close-up photo. You'll find him and friends on Boulders Beach in False Bay, which is about an hour drive from downtown Cape Town.
This national park is the only place in the world where you can interact in this way with wild African penguins–feeding and touching is prohibited though.
4. Camps Bay Beach
Framed by the Twelve Apostles rock formations in the picture here, Camps Bay Beach, just outside Cape Town city limits, is truly one of the world's most beautiful beaches. While the water is icy cold–the current comes straight from Antarctica here–the sizzling summer temps mean most locals brave the waves for at least a quick cool off.
5. Madikwe Game Reserve
In South Africa's North West Province, and right on the border with Botswana, Madikwe Game Reserve is a super special spot for a few days of safari. Operators like Jacis Lodges will take you into the heart of the private reserve to see rare animals like the endangered African wild dog. There are less than 5,000 wild dogs left on the planet, but Madikwe has a healthy pack.
6. Wild Coast
One of the top places to visit in the Eastern Cape, South Africa's Wild Coast is also among the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the country. Here, you'll find small hippie towns like Coffee Bay, home to the famous Hole in the Wall, with fabulously funky hostel lodging (all have private room options, as well as bunked dorms) and plenty of activities, from surfing to interacting with the local Xhosa people.
Set on the Indian Ocean, Durban is South Africa's third largest city and a popular beach destination in summer–the water is much warmer here than in Cape Town, and you can actually swim without a wet suit. Walking along the beachfront promenade, known as the Golden Mile, is one of the top things to do in Durban.
It is also home to fabulous sunsets, like this one at Whalebone Pier at Umhlanga, which is just a short drive north of Durban on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Durban: Best Areas & Hotels
8. Garden Route
Running for some 200 kilometers from Mossel Bay to Storms River, the Garden Route is one of South Africa's most famous scenic drives. The route takes you up over the craggy mountains and down to the sea, where you'll find surfing beaches and towns like Knysna, known for its super fresh seafood.
Other things to do along the Garden Route include adrenaline-fueled activities, like the world's highest commercial bungee jump from Bloukrans Bridge. You drop a dizzying 216 meters into a gorge.
9. Table Mountain at Sunset
Cape Town's iconic flat top mountain is dramatic any time of day, but especially at sunrise when the colors are striking. The 3,558-foot mountain can be summited on foot or via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway when the winds aren't blowing too hard.
If you want to sound like a local, mention "the tablecloth" when you see clouds covering the top of "the mountain."
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cape Town: Best Areas & Hotels
10. Addo Elephant National Park
There are more than just elephants alive and thriving in Addo Elephant National Park, which is South Africa's third largest park after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. But if you love pachyderms, you will love Addo, as it is home to more than 600 elephants.
11. Muizenberg Beach
Home to the Instagram-famous, multi-colored beach huts, Muizenberg is also known for its surf scene. The beach town is on the Cape Peninsula, less than an hour drive from Cape Town. Head to Surfers Corner to meet the locals and ride consistently good waves.
12. False Bay: Whale Watching
Whale-watching along the coast near False Bay, also on the Cape Peninsula, is popular between June and November (but June is probably the top month), when you are likely to see humpback whales like the one in the picture here just offshore. During this time of year, southern right whales also migrate through the area.
13. Namaqualand in Spring
In spring, the desert landscape around Namaqualand, in South Africa's Northern Cape Province bordering Namibia, comes alive with wildflowers. The flowers are a result of some solid spring rains, and people come from all over the world to capture colorful pictures here or paint the landscape.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is another one of the top places to visit in the Northern Cape, especially for capturing memorable wildlife and landscape images.
14. Free State
South Africa's interior has vast tracks of rural farmland, like this photogenic location in the Free State, where you can watch the sunrise in utter silence and isolation.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park is another top place to visit in the Free State to capture striking pictures.
The Free State is also home to Bloemfontein, which is South Africa's judicial capital city.
15. Chapman's Peak Drive
Running between Noordhoek and Hout Bay just outside of Cape Town, Chapman's Peak Drive is one of South Africa's most gorgeous coastal roads, and nearly every turn provides another gorgeous spot for photos.
This is a toll road, but it is well worth paying the fee to experience. On one side, you'll find the turquoise-tinged waters of the Atlantic; on the other, craggy peaks.
16. The Amphitheatre, Drakensberg Mountains
South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains are another photogenic hot spot. In the picture above is an area known as the Amphitheatre in the northern portion of the mountain range inside Royal Natal National Park, on the border with Lesotho.
To reach the Amphitheatre, you will need to hike. It is well worth the miles, as this is one of the most impressive cliff formations in the country.
17. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Remote Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park shares a border with Botswana and is located in the southern Kalahari. It is known for its stunning red and orange landscapes, which include dunes and green vegetation, and it's a favorite place for off-the-beaten-path safaris and capturing amazing images.
The majority of the park is in Botswana, but about 27 percent of it is found in South Africa.
18. Surfing Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay
For surf photography it is hard to beat Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay. South Africa's most famous wave hosts multiple surf competitions and attracts some of the world's best wave riders.
The wave is a right point break that when conditions are ideal can give you a super long ride. It is only recommended for expert surfers, but anyone can take pictures of all the action. Sunset is a great time to capture some epic images.