Savour the diverse cultures of South Africa by ticking off as many of these top 20 local travel experiences as you can. The Flight Centre team shares their recommendations on what to see, eat, do and plan in Mzansi this Heritage Day:
1. Braai all day
What would this Heritage Day list be without a good ol’ braai? For many, Heritage Day is Braai Day. While this year will see a smaller family gathering (let’s all be responsible and not take any chances with the health of our loved ones), no Heritage Day would be complete without throwing some meat on the braai.
2. Watch whales in Hermanus
Southern right whales arrive in the whale watching capital of the world, Hermanus, from June to December, making for some of the world's best land-based whale watching.
3. Take a wine tram through Franschhoek
Hop on and off where you please as you journey through the rolling vineyards of the Franschhoek valley's award-winning wine farms on the Franschhoek wine tram. It’s the best way to explore this quaint “French” corner of South Africa.
4. Take five ... and then another five
Visit South Africa’s celebrated game parks, including the Kruger National Park, Pilanesberg and Madikwe to get your fill of the great South African bushveld.
5. Spend the night in the Karoo
Get off the grid in South Africa's ancient Karoo heartland and soak up the solitude. Visit quirky Nieu Bethesda and the Valley of Desolation, marvel at eagles soaring overhead, feast on Karoo Lamb and go fossil and rock art hunting.
6. Get off the grid on the Wild Coast
The Wild Coast is one of the last genuinely unspoilt stretches of coastal wilderness. Visit Hole in the Wall, enjoy an isiXhosa meal in a colourful thatched rondavel and enjoy getting off the grid.
7. Face your fears at Bloukrans
Take a deep breath and feel the rush of adrenaline as you jump 216 metres off the Bloukrans Bridge, the world's highest commercial bungee jump. Everyone aged 14 and up can jump, but there’s also a tamer bridge walking tour.
8. Surf in J-Bay
The Eastern Cape surfing mecca of Jeffrey's Bay, or J-Bay as it's known to the locals, is world-famous. Whether you're a pro or a beginner, grab a surfboard and hit the waves.
9. Hike the Otter Trail
Lace up your hiking boots for this five-day hiking trip along the spectacular Tsitsikamma coastline. Bookings usually need to be made up to a year in advance so now is the time to plan and book.
10. Go shark cage diving in Gansbaai
Shark cage diving in Gansbaai is not only a favourite activity for adrenalin junkies, but also a fantastic way to get up close and personal (safely) and learn about the often-misunderstood great white shark.
11. Take a 4x4 up the Sani Pass
Buckle up as you drive the famous 45 km long, rough and tumble Sani Pass, the best way to appreciate the majesty of the Drakensberg Mountains.
12. Taste Malay culture in Bo Kaap
Join a local-led cooking class in the colourful Bo Kaap neighbourhood of Cape Town and learn how to roll koeksisters and make dhaltjies, bredie, breyani, bobotie and more!
13. Gaze through God's Window
Soak up the majesty of God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes and other scenic viewpoints, rivers, waterfalls, canyons and rock formations along South Africa’s Panorama Route.
14. Watch turtles hatch in St Lucia
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park close to St Lucia is a World Heritage Site. It's here, from November, where you can see teeny tiny Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles waddle to the ocean for the first time.
15. Raft down the Orange River
Rafting down the Orange River is the most refreshing and family-friendly way to take in the beauty of the river that winds its way through the dry Richtersveld desert landscape.
16. Go rock-hopping in the Cederberg
The orange-hued Cederberg wilderness area boasts mountains just begging to be climbed, rock pools to cool off in the height of summer as well as ancient rock art. And if you’re lucky you might just spot the elusive Cape mountain leopard!
17. Hang out with hobbits in Hogsback
Nestled in the Amathole Mountains, 1,200 metres above sea level, Hogsback is every bit as magical and mysterious as the home of the hobbits. The surrounding waterfalls are spectacular in summer and spring or frosted with snow in the winter.
18. Shisa nyama in Soweto
When in Soweto, do as the locals do. Experience a vibrant shisa nyama, with ice-cold beer, music and good vibes on the side.
19. Enjoy fruit picking with the family
Local fruit farms open from September and October. Opt for strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or peaches, apricots and plums. Don a sun hat and sunscreen and head outdoors to enjoy this fun activity with family and friends.
20. Tuck into seafood feasts on the West Coast
One of the oldest fishing villages on South Africa's west coast, Paternoster's heritage is caught up in the sea. Feast on crayfish, snoek, oysters, seafood curries, mussels and the “catch of the day” fresh from the sea while soaking up the salty sea air, peace and quiet.