Discover South Africa Off The Beaten Track

05 Mar 2024

South Africa sunset

As a holiday destination South Africa is world famous for its sun, sea, and safari attractions but this amazing country is so vast there are still a few best kept secrets and idyllic spots you’ve probably never heard of. If you’re keen to venture beyond the well-trodden tourist paths throughout the Rainbow Nation, you should definitely explore some of its lesser-known gems. We have listed some of the highlights that are guaranteed to fuel your wanderlust.

Sutherland – Northern Karoo

The little South African town of Sutherland is popular in winter for its snow and stars. The Northern Karoo is famous for its chilly weather and astonishing star-filled skies where heavy snow falls in June and July making it a romantic place to huddle around a log fire. It also has no light pollution, so you can experience romance under a night sky that’s so bright, you’ll feel you can almost reach out and touch the stars.

Wuppertal Cederberg village - Western Cape

If you are keen to hit the open road, where the journey is as much of the adventure as the destination, type Wuppertal into your Sat Nav and head for this picturesque small village. Wuppertal has been a Moravian mission station since 1865 and the mission remains at the heart of this small subsistence-farming community. You’ll discover surprisingly that it’s somewhat untouched by time and villagers still travel by donkey and cart. Don’t leave without a pair of velskoene - Wuppertal is also home to a local industry that produces South Africa’s iconic and traditional soft leather shoes.

Calvinia - Northern Cape

Founded in 1851 on the banks of the spectacular Oorlogskloof River, the Karoo town of Calvinia lies at the foot of the scenic Hantam Mountains. Like Sutherland, Calvinia enjoys 80% starlight and is renowned for its kaleidoscopic carpet of spring flowers during the Namaqualand wildflower spectacle. This pretty town is proud of its giant red post box and with a historic museum, buzzing restaurants and charming accommodation, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing sojourn.

Lady Grey - Eastern Cape

Nestled within a valley against the beautiful backdrop of the soaring Witteberg mountains, Lady Grey in South Africa’s Eastern Cape is one of the country’s most scenic towns. This lesser-known holiday hideaway boasts mountains, crisp clean air and gentle streams attracting visitors not only for its beauty but also for its activities such as hiking, bird watching, fly fishing, mountain biking, 4X4 trails, and San rock paintings. If you are looking for a cosy retreat, this quaint Victorian town is the perfect rural hamlet far from any major urban area offering charming country cottages and a laid-back vibe for the ultimate in rest and relaxation.

Grootwinterhoek Wilderness Area - Western Cape

If the words “wild” and “rugged” describe your perfect weekend getaway then Grootwinterhoek should be at the top of your travel itinerary. This World Heritage Site is a true wilderness, peppered with crystal-clear mountain pools and ancient rock paintings by the San and Khoi people. This area is popular for mountain biking and hiking, with trails offering camping in the wild for outdoorsy types or trails that offer overnight accommodation for those who don’t fancy roughing it.

Elim - Western Cape

The beautiful and historic town of Elim is another Moravian mission town that dates back to 1824. The German missionaries planted vines here so that wine for communion could be produced and taught the villagers skills and trades. Today it’s still renowned for its thatched roofs, whitewashed cottages, and wine route. Elim is picturesque, adorned with fruit trees and fynbos and offers town tours where you can visit the thatch-roof church, heritage centre, historic watermill, slave monument and a tearoom where you can pop in for a slice of melktert before heading off to enjoy some wine tasting along the Cape Agulhas Wine Route.

Ladybrand - Free State

Originally founded as a frontier town in 1867, Ladybrand is a charming old town surrounded by the beautiful hills of the eastern Free State at the foot of the majestic Maluti Mountains. Ladybrand is a popular stop-over town for those travelling over the border to Lesotho and is known for its charm and tranquillity, along with its many sandstone buildings. In addition to dramatic scenery, ancient history and a warm welcoming community, attractions include the Catherina Brand Museum and Basotho Cultural Village. Ladybrand is also a culinary oasis in this part of the Free State with superb restaurants offering foodies a vibrant selection of gastronomic treats.

If you have been to South Africa and think you’ve seen it all, the truth is you probably haven’t. The sheer size of the country means that there will always be breathtaking regions to explore with surprising experiences and travel treasures that keep holidaymakers coming back time after time. If you want the insider’s guide to the country’s hidden gems, contact us today and we’ll add them to your South African holiday bucket list.

Call UK 01233 80 27 27 or visit our website


Kwandwe Ecca

Overwhelmingly Brilliant

We are still on an absolute high from our incredible trip to South Africa and cannot recommend booking with Ash Jarvis at Best of South Africa Travel highly enough. Ash ‘got it right’ from the get go. Not only is her knowledge of where to go, stay and what to do unbeatable, but she also has a knack, an intuition
for what is …

Lesley, Richard and Georgina Hardy (age 12)

Recent Blog entries