The Underrated Beauty of South Africa


After the introduction of the National Rural Tourism Strategy in 2012 by then Minister of Tourism in South Africa Marthinus van Schalkwyk, rural tourism in South Africa has been surviving in the shadows. Tourists in South Africa are not fully subjected to the entire tourism sector in South Africa, with so many unexplored attractive sightseeing areas around South Africa that you as a tourist would find utterly adorable. Tourists are not visiting the most beautiful places in South Africa but the most popular ones, which does not necessary mean they are the best South Africa has to offer as a country. Regardless of so much growth in the South African tourism industry, some of the most beautiful places that are underrated by the tourism sector in South Africa are of the world’s quality.

In 2012, Sir Marthinus van Schalkwyk who was the minister of Tourism here in South African came up with a strategic plan that was meant to transform the nature of tourism in South Africa. The National Rural Tourism Strategy was the name of this initiative that had objectives to facilitate the co-ordination of rural tourism development initiatives among relevant stakeholders; create an enabling environment for rural tourism development to stimulate job creation; and identify and recommend strategic areas/nodes for tourism development in rural areas within the sector.Mr. Schalkwyk said during the introduction of the National Rural Tourism Strategy”

The strategy can greatly contribute to the alleviation of pressure in areas that are often characterised by poverty and underdevelopment.” After he exited his office, there haven’t been many activities by this department regarding this particular initiative. The recent tourism statistics shows an increase of international tourists coming to South Africa for the year 2013, rural tourism must also benefit from this amazing development in the tourism industry.

South Africa welcomed a total of 9 616 964 tourists in 2013, up from the 9 188 368 tourists that visited South Africa in 2012, with most of these tourists coming from the South African Development Community region.  The rural tourism in South Africa unfortunately didn’t benefit much from these staggering and record breaking numbers. This is the case because they have underrated beauty that a lot of tourists don’t know about. 

The department of tourism in South Africa thinks the lack of progress in rural tourism is in the marketing of these sites.With such great and positive figures coming in for the tourism industry, the growth for rural tourism seems to be the right move for tourism South Africa. With support from commercial tourism the rural tourism would be a very strong and well established industry to operate in.    But as a tourist, you don’t really need a high profile tourist destination to enjoy and connect with Mother Nature or to explore historical sites of South Africa. All you need to do is to find the right tourism destination that is suitable for you financially and with gratifying high quality pleasures while you on holiday.

Every province in South Africa has a lot of nature reserve places that are cost effective but hold the same amount of effects as the high profiled ones. Below are four profiled underrated beautiful places to be visited in South Africa, these tourist attractions are worthy to be visited and explored heavily.The very first tourist attraction worthy to be visited is a place in the deep rural areas of the Eastern Cape.  The place is called; Tsitsa Falls.  The name of the place is called Tsitsa Falls Backpackers and Adventures, situated in the rural areas of a very small town of Maclear in the Eastern Cape. This tourist attraction has 30m Falls, camping options, accommodation, two hour zip-line tour across the gorge to a rock art site. Fossil sites, half and full day hikes, world class white water kayaking destination which is one of its kind in South Africa.

In winter, the rivers run low and crystal clear offering some of the best wilderness fly-fishing safaris for wild rainbow river trout. It’s managed and ran by a young and passionate about the beauty of nature couple Mr. Adriaan and Mrs. Angela Badenhorst. For further details about this particular place, you can visit their website:  .

At number two it must be Cederberg, in the Western Cape. This tourist attraction is only hours from Cape Town, with beautiful towering mountains this place is indeed the underdog of tourism South Africa. This place offers flowering, with flowers that are only found nowhere else in the world except here, such as yellow leucosperamum reflexum, the snow protea to mention just a few. It also offers wilderness, watersport and rock art.

Thirdly is a place called Tembe Elephant Park in Kwazulu Natal. The park is a home to the big five, namely lion, leopard, black and white rhino and buffalo. With more than 340 bird species and myriad other animals and plants and this tourist attraction has a unique story.It is also the ancestral home of the Tembe people, who also are the co-owners and manages the Tembe Safari Lodge. A place of warm African hospitality, classic safari food, world class personal services to offer to its visitors, the rural residents are in control of this specific tourist attraction.    

Vhembe in Limpopo is also a beautiful tourist attraction in South Africa worthy to be visit.  This tourist attraction according to its publication reports: “The area incorporates endless expanses of undulating indigenous bush characterised by the remarkable form of the baobab, wonderful wildlife, a profusion of birds and exciting adventure opportunities”.

The region boasts one of the most varied natural, geological, archaeological and cultural systems in the world and a fascinating history dating back many centuries when the San roamed the veld and left us their artworks on rocks.”  This place also offers accommodation, water activities, land activities which include trips and trail, hiking, bungee jumping, clay shooting, rock climbing, canoeing, caving and golf playing to name just a few.  

Its beautiful areas like these ones above that attest the fact that there is so much to explore about and in South Africa. There is nothing wrong with visiting high profile tourist attractions but to expand your options you might need to cancel your appointment with your travelling agent and do your own research to find the best tourism spots in the Republic of South Africa. Such attractions may not even be advertised in prominent tourism publications but they have so much to offer like the beauty of nature. 

For your next trip, your next camping trip or just a weekend holiday you may want to be more spontaneous and save money by visiting some of these places in all of our provinces in South Africa.  They are like a diamond that is not yet found and when they do find it, they will be highly demanded because most of them are highly impressive. While these places play an integral and an impressive role in rural development in various provinces around the country, they never compromise on high quality services. For that reason they are definitely worth the time and worth your visitation.

“South Africa welcomed a total of 9 616 964 tourists in 2013, up from the 9 188 368 tourists that visited South Africa in 2012, with most of these tourists coming from the South African Development Community region.”

This article was written by MKHUSELI VANGILE


About Author

Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people and enjoying their food and culture. She enjoys tackling complex strategic challenges in the passion-to-entrepreneurship pipeline, particularly focused on the implications of 4th Industrial Revolution and workforce automation on Africa's travel and tourism industry.

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