5 places in sunny SA where you get more value for your bucks

Mossel Bay is a harbour town on the Garden Route in South Africa’s Western Cape. It’s known for its wide Santos Beach and 19th-century Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse. Picture: Unsplash

Mossel Bay is a harbour town on the Garden Route in South Africa’s Western Cape. It’s known for its wide Santos Beach and 19th-century Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse. Picture: Unsplash

Published Feb 2, 2023


If you are planning to visit South Africa, there are plenty of places to see. Leave the main cities and head out for some fun on the periphery.

Exploring small towns or going off the beaten track is highly rewarding, and these places are also pocket-friendly. All these places should be on your bucket list as they offer unique experiences with maximum fun.

Mossel Bay – Western Cape

Known as the adventure capital of the Garden Route, Mossel Bay is a friendly seaside town with plenty to do. You can spend a day at the beach, go sailing, enjoy a boat ride exploring the seal islands or go zip-lining on the longest over-the-ocean zip line in the world. If gin is your thing, then take an affordable gin-making masterclass at the Cape Saint Blaize Artisanal Distillery and make your own gin. A gin-making class costs R750 per person.

Hartbeespoort - North West

Just an hour’s dive from Johannesburg, Harties is the perfect place for an escape out of the city. It is a small resort town in the North West province of South Africa, situated on the slopes of the Magaliesberg mountains and the banks of the Hartbeespoort Dam.

You can go on affordable boat rides on the dam or go for a ride on the Harties Cableway and enjoy breathtaking views of the dam from Magaliesberg Mountain. The cableway ride costs R280 a person. Budget for meals, drinks or snacks when you get to the top of the mountain as there are bars and restaurants.

Lake Eland Game Reserve – Oribi Gorge, KZN South Coast

If you’re ever in KZN and looking for an adventure, why not head down to the KZN South Coast and explore this river canyon. The Oribi Gorge area boasts cliffs and forests, spectacular hiking trails and idyllic picnic sites.

Wildlife in the Oribi Gorge consists of many antelope, although the graceful oribi (after which the gorge is named) is rarely seen. Enjoy a day of fun activities at Wild 5 Adventures which offers extreme and milder adventures, including a 110-metre abseil, a zip line, an 85-metre suspension bridge, quad biking adventures, paintball, team building and guided hiking and birding trails. Wild 5 Adventures’ prices range from R180 to R695 depending on the activity.

Addo Elephant Park - Eastern Cape

If you love safaris and animals, then why not head to the Eastern Cape for a safari experience. Addo Elephant National Park is a diverse wildlife conservation park situated close to Gqeberha and is one of the country's 20 national parks. It currently ranks third in size after Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The Park has expanded to become the only park in the world to lay claim to Africa's Big 7: elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, the southern right whale and great white shark. There are four accommodation options in the reserve – the Addo main rest camp, camp Matyholweni rest camp, Narina bush camp, and the Spekboom tented camp.

At night you can hear hyenas and lions really close to the camp. Daily fees entering the park start from R94 an adult, and there are different prices for the chalets, depending on the camp, starting from as little as R1 000 a night.

Tsitsikama National Park - Eastern Cape

Tsitsikamma National Park is an area of the Garden Route National Park, in the Eastern Cape. The park is a multi-dimensional destination with dramatic coastal scenery, reefs, rivers, lush forest and delicate fynbos.

Visitors get to see beautiful dolphins play and surf in the breakers whilst the southern right whale visits these waters in season, coming inshore to breed. The park has two rest camps, one at Storms River Mouth, with the famous suspension bridge, and one at Natures Valley.

There are many hiking trails of varying lengths and nature walks in this region, the most famous of them being the Otter Trail, one of the best in the world. You can participate in a range of activities including diving, snorkelling, kayaking, hiking, swimming, climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, sailing and bungee jumping. South African citizens and residents pay R70 per adult, per day, for a day pass whilst chalet prices start from R1 500.