Even if one overlooks Cape Town, one of the world's most desirable cities, and Johannesburg, the economic powerhouse of the African continent, South Africa offers more diverse destinations than anywhere else in the world.
Yet, for most people overseas, South Africa comprises Johannesburg as the gateway to the "Cape Town region" in the south and the safaris elsewhere. For many sub-Saharan Africans, Johannesburg is the continent's shopping mall.
South Africa has nine provinces (with major cities in brackets):
- Eastern Cape (Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, East London)
- Free State (Bloemfontein)
- Gauteng (Johannesburg, Pretoria)
- Kwazulu-Natal (Durban, Pietermaritzburg)
- Limpopo (Polokwane)
- Mpumalanga (Nelspruit))
- Northern Cape (Kimberley, Upington)
- Northwest Province (Rustenburg)
- Western Cape (Cape Town, George)
Most will agree that the Western Cape is the jewel in South Africa's crown, with regions like the Garden Route and the Winelands encompassing some of the most sought-after properties in the world. The Overberg has Hermanus, which offers the best land-based whale watching in the world, and the small fishing village of Gansbaai, the ultimate destination for many celebrities for cage diving with Great White Sharks. And, of course, Cape Agulhas - the southernmost tip of the African continent where the two oceans do meet.
But there's also the West Coast and the Karoo, where you will find towns and people to enthrall you.
This is arguably the province wth the most untapped potential. Its rural towns tell the story of its settler history - Grahamstown, Graaff-Reinet and Cradock, for example. The Eastern Cape's two jewels must be the Wild Coast - hundreds of kilometres of unspoilt, dramatic coastline - and the Greater Addo region, home to the Addo elephant park and the nearby, world-renown, Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Of course it has other gems like Hogsback.