Top 21 local things to do in 2021

31 December 2020

After a 2020 no one will soon forget, we're looking forward to a year of fresh beginnings. Many of us are kicking the year off with epic travel experiences close to home.

Here are the Flight Centre team's top 21 things to do in 2021 in beautiful Mzansi.

The great outdoors

Hike the Otter Trail

Get out of doors and tick off South Africa's ultimate bucket list hike – the Otter Trail. The five-day hiking trip winds for 45km along the Tsitsikamma coastline, along beaches, dunes and forest.

Follow the Big Five

Nothing beats a summer in the bush. Visit the Kruger National Park, Pilanesberg and Madikwe and spot the Big Five and Little Five too (elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise). And in the Addo National Park, you can glimpse the Big Seven, the great white shark and southern right whale.

Gaze through God's Window

Take in the majesty of God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes and other stunning viewpoints along Mpumalanga's Panorama Route. You'll love the rivers, waterfalls, canyons, rock formations and breath-taking views.

Watch turtles hatch in St Lucia

Head down to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and from November, watch Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles waddle ashore to lay their eggs and about 65 days later, spot the little hatchlings start to emerge and wobble their way to the ocean.

Raft down the Orange River

Raft down the Orange River that winds its way through the dry Richtersveld desert. This is an outdoor adventure the whole family will enjoy. You can choose from an entry-level experience to a more challenging route.

Go rock-hopping in the Cederberg

The orange-hued Cederberg Mountains hide a wealth of San rock art, mountains, rock pools, the elusive Cape mountain leopard and endless fields of rooibos tea.

Hang out with hobbits in Hogsback

Nestled in the Amathole Mountains, 1,200 metres above sea level, the tiny one-road village of Hogsback is thought to have inspired J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. It's easy to see why. The waterfalls are spectacular in summer and frosted with snow in the winter.

Watch whales in Hermanus

Spot whales in season in the whale watching capital of the world, Hermanus. Southern Right Whales arrive in the area from June to December, making for some of the world's best land-based whale watching.

Pay tribute to the Rain Queen

Pay homage to the Rain Queen, the queen of the Balobedu people of Limpopo and the only female queen in Africa. You can tour the Modjadji Royal Kraal and learn about the rain-making powers and traditions of the tribe and spot the Sunland Baobab Tree - one of the oldest trees on earth.

Take the plunge 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.

Learn to surf in Jeffrey's Bay

Whether you're a pro or a beginner, grab a surfboard and hit the waves in surfing mecca Jeffrey's Bay.

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) with this fascinating and often misunderstood species.

Tackle the Sani Pass

The best way to appreciate the majesty of the Drakensberg Mountains is to navigate the impressive and unforgettable Sani Pass. The famous, 45km long round trip to the Lesotho border offers incredible scenery and some rough and tumble driving conditions along the way.

Sleep under the stars in the Karoo

Get off the grid in South Africa's ancient heartland and take it slow, stargazing, visiting quirky Nieu Bethesda and the Valley of Desolation, feast on Karoo Lamb and go fossil and rock art hunting.

Go diving in Sodwana

Did you know that Sodwana Bay was South Africa's first World Heritage Site? Dive deep into the warm Indian Ocean waters of Sodwana Bay and get up close and personal with the country's southernmost coral reef, spotting turtles, stingrays and colourful tropical fish.

Take an eco-tour of the Wild Coast

Travel with a local to get an authentic and responsible first-hand experience of life on the Wild Coast. Visit Hole in the Wall, enjoy an isiXhosa meal in a colourful thatched rondavel and wander unspoilt beaches dotted with only a handful of cows.

History and culture galore

Take a wine tram through Franschhoek

The Franschhoek wine tram is the most enjoyable and hassle-free way to wine and dine your way through the quaint 'French-corner' of Franschhoek. Hop on and off where you please as you journey on a vintage style, open-air tram through the award-winning wine farms.

Step into history on Robben Island

Robben Island is a must-do when in Cape Town. Tours depart from the V&A Waterfront and make the 30-minute ferry crossing to the island. You'll embark on a guided tour and visit the prison cell of our beloved Madiba.

Eat your way through the Bo Kaap

Join a local cooking class in the colourful Bo Kaap neighbourhood and learn how to roll koeksisters and make dhaltjies, bredie, breyani, bobotie and more! Afterwards, you'll get to snap Instagram photos on the colourful streets.

Find the catch of the day on the West Coast

Sleepy Paternoster, nestled on South Africa's west coast, is one of the oldest fishing villages in the country. Ease into the lazy rhythms of life here, soak up the peace and quiet and feast on crayfish, snoek, oysters, seafood curries, mussels and the "catch of the day" fresh from the ocean.

Braai all-day

Last but certainly not least, you don't need a reason to enjoy a braai at home with family and friends. Throw some meat on the braai and enjoy our national pastime year-round.