Things to see and to do in South Africa

Leisure in South Africa
Updated 2020-04-23 09:55

When moving to South Africa, whether to work, study or for other reasons, the “Rainbow Nation” offers a range of leisure activities which you can enjoy if you wish to explore its natural and cultural heritage. Sport is also very popular in South Africa, so wherever you have settled, you are not likely to get bored.


South Africans love their sports and South Africa hosts modern sports infrastructure where you can either practice different types of sports or attend as a spectator. Rugby, football (called 'soccer' by the locals), boxing, cricket and golf are undoubtedly the most popular sports in the country. Other activities such as tennis, cycling, snorkelling, surfing, kite surfing, hiking, paragliding and bungee jumping are also practised all over the country, depending on what nature offers in terms of climate or natural amenities. You can find sports clubs for team sports (like hockey, frisbee or volleyball) in the cities.

National parks

The country hosts around 20 national parks that are classified into four main categories, namely mountains, sea, desert and nature reserves. The observation of fauna and flora is one of the main tourist activities in the country. You can thus enjoy a safari or observation trip in a pickup, or even on horse or elephant back, and spot wild animals like antelopes, giraffes, zebras, hippos, wild dogs, rhinos and lions, depending on the area. You will simply be delighted with these amazing trips, especially if you have children. Get a Wild Card that enables you to enter most reserved areas at a discounted rate.

Hunting and fishing

South Africa is a popular destination for hunters. Although hunting is condemned by many people worldwide, some reserves are still open to hunters. The impala, wildebeest, blesbok, springbok and zebra are not the most endangered species. Note, however, that hunting is open to a limited audience, and you often require a licence to do so.

Recreational fishing is permitted all along the 3 000 kilometre-long South African coast that starts in the cold Atlantic, on the west and ends in the warm Indian ocean, on the east coast. These waters offer shore fishing as well as deep-sea charters. Big fish that one will encounter at sea include barracuda, sailfish and tuna. Mountain streams or dams offer fly fishing. Take note that permits are required for ocean and fresh-water fishing.


At 2720m above sea level close to the tiny village of Rhodes (about 800km from Johannesburg) lies Tiffindell ski and alpine resort, the only place in South Africa where you can strap on a pair of skis and try your luck on the slopes.

This beautiful area, known as the Eastern Cape Highlands, is part of the southern Drakensberg, the high mountains that separate South Africa from the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Because of the altitude, it can get bitterly cold here in winter, but with the cold comes the prospect of snow.

National ski championships are held when it starts to snow on the Maluti range, near the Lesotho border, generally between June and July. This is made possible in Africa because of high peaks in the southern Drakensberg mountain range that separate South Africa from the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. At 2 720m above sea level, it gets incredibly cold but, the snow season remains unpredictable. You are thus advised to check weather forecasts regularly. A ski resort, including a hotel and a snow-making plant, has been built above a village called Rhodes. They also offer snowboarding or more relaxing tobogganing. You can travel there for skiing if you can manage to get a pickup.


Like most economically developed countries, South Africa has many huge shopping malls including all kinds of shops, cinemas, etc. Some of these even host exhibitions, competitions and other events. You can thus head to a shopping mall if you have some free time, and you do not want to get out of town. Major cities have at least one large mall (among many standard-sized malls referred to as shopping centres) with a variety of international clothing brands in clothing, toys or electronic equipment. Bookshops usually have coffee shops inside them and offer free reading while you enjoy your refreshments. Free entertainment in the form of small play parks are situated near food halls where you can purchase takeaway meals from kiosks.

Useful links:

Mall Guide
South African National Parks
South African sports
Fishing in South Africa

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