If you thought holidaying in South Africa simply meant going on safari, think again. OK, so the expansive, 20,000-square kilometre Kruger National Park, dramatically set along the north-eastern border, is a reliable draw for lovers of majestic elephants, golden lions, and many other magnificent creatures.
But the truth is that South Africa is a fascinating country that's as diverse as it is beautiful, and you'll also discover a wealth of unusual places to stay!
Each of the country's nine provinces offers something different and special, from the indulgent, rolling Winelands and the Garden Route towns of the Western Cape (known by many as ‘South Africa's paradise') to the North West Province's sleepy ‘dorps' (that's farming towns to you and me.)
Not forgetting, of course, the intriguing cultural melting pots that make up the big cities, fuelled by centuries of immigration from across the continent. Cape Town - the ‘Mother City' - is one of the most beautiful; a rich tapestry of assorted architecture and natural beauty... the soaring, abseil-worthy Table Mountain, and the stunning Blue Flag Clifton Beach, are both must-visits.
Durban, with its bustling harbour, is the setting for grittier urban culture, while sprawling Johannesburg is home to museums and monuments that tell stories of the country's sad, turbulent history, and of how far it's come in recent times.
In the mood for some more unique history - only a little further away from the beaten track? The Eastern Cape is a treasure-trove of relatively undiscovered South Africa, from Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay, to Addo Elephant National Park... not to mention its 1,000km of sweeping, natural coastline.
Head for the vast Northern Cape for awe-inspiring barren landscapes with towering red sand dunes. It's here that you'll find the sparsely populated semi-deserts of the Kalahari and the Great Karoo, separated by the mesmerising Orange River. Its provincial capital, Kimberley, has its roots in diamond-mining, and even boasts its own form of hip hop (Lwaat).
But if it's a collection of South Africa's Greatest Hits you're after, then KwaZulu-Natal - ‘the garden province' - is your dream destination. Here you'll find a heady mix of beaches, diverse wildlife, mountains, and culture. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is teeming with both black and white rhinos, while the impossibly scenic uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Take the Maloti Drakensberg Route - one of the country's most scenic drives - and as you go, marvel at the brands of distinct culture, fascinating history, and unique, vibrant energy you've discovered in South Africa, the ultimate country of contradictions.