South Africa is such an exciting place to visit. South Africa offers to the travellers multitude of different cultures, history and epic adventures. But for those who would like to take a step back and see South Africa off the beaten path, there are some pretty incredible places to see. Through the local’s eyes, South Africa invites you to a plethora of delights and here is a list of 6 non-touristy yet fascinating places adored by the locals around the country. Just don’t tell anyone we told you!
For the Artistic: The Clay Cafe – Hout Bay, Cape Town.
Founded in 1999, Clay Cafe offers you the opportunity to paint your own unique ceramic creations. You can choose from mugs, plates, various bowls, and even beautiful sculptures. You can then put your own artistic twist on each piece and turn them into whatever you desire, using the paints, brushes, and stencils provided.
The 2.5-acre property boasts its own vegetable garden, and they use scrumptious, organic veggies in all the mouthwatering food they prepare every day (no fast food here). There is a playground for children to enjoy while they take a break from painting. Nestled in the valley of Hout Bay, their gorgeous garden is something to behold.
It is a one of a kind experience, and you get to take something home that you made yourself. Definitely a better souvenir than just a few photos.
For the Outdoorsy: Mountain Sanctuary Park – Magaliesberg Mountains
South Africa is known to have one of the most beautiful natural spaces in the world. The Mountain Sanctuary Park is indeed a favourite. This privately owned nature reserve is home to untouched mountains that are over 2 billion years old, and the park remains largely uncommercial.
The sanctuary has been open to the public for 37 years and has a reputation for being one of the quietest places in South Africa. The serenity of this incredible place is something you have to experience at least once in your life. Nestled safely between two massive mountains, a valley has formed over eons and in this valley, a natural river flows, creating crystal clear pools for visitors to swim in. The further you hike up the mountain, the more awe-inspiring hidden spots you’ll find.
There are mountain bike trails, nature walks, rock climbing, and more. This reserve is also home to some adorable wildlife, such as monkeys, jackals, warthogs, and many more. Rest assured that overcrowding will never be a problem here – the number of people allowed into the reserve daily is strictly controlled.
For the Beach Bum: Morgan Bay – Wild Coast
The tiny town of Morgan Bay is host to some truly incredible views and experiences. Walking on the beach early in the morning is guaranteed to get you a glimpse of dolphins playing in the calm waves. The untouched coastline is the perfect place to stroll away from it all. Most importantly, this beach offers a true taste of the tranquillity of South Africa’s Wild Coast.
The Yellowwood Forest Tea Garden, Pizzeria, and Farmer’s Market on the edge of the village will undoubtedly change your life. The forest is majestic and awe-inspiring. Grab something to eat under an enormous Bedouin tent, where you can sample some local South African cuisine. Traditional Xhosa dishes such as umngqusho (say oomkwooshô) made of simmered, crushed corn with chillies and lemons, sugar beans, butter, onions, and potatoes or umfino (say oomfeenô) a mixture of maize meal and cabbage, potatoes, and spinach, all cooked in one pot.
If you’re brave enough, try a traditional Xhosa beer known as umqombothi (oomkwombôtee). This is a beer made from yeast and water, maize, maize malt, and sorghum malt. Now you’ve fuelled up, take a stroll to the stream that runs right through the property and marvel at the many species of birds that call the property home.
For the Hip: Arts On Main – Maboneng, Johannesburg
This cosmopolitan, fast-developing neighbourhood has been converted from old warehouses and industrial buildings into incredible studios, galleries, shops, and restaurants. Just walking around you will be fully immersed in the modern South African culture.
The Arts On Main complex houses William Kentridge’s studio as well as David Krut Projects and Bookstore. The first floor of the complex is home to the “I Was Shot In Joburg” program, which teaches underprivileged children photography as a means of self-expression, and a place to escape a troublesome home life situation.
On Sundays, Arts On Main hosts Market On Main. It is a truly South African market where you can buy locally produced items, vintage clothing, and a huge variety of delicious food that caters to every taste. You can also join the rooftop salsa dancers at Canteen, the courtyard restaurant.
For the Relaxed: Cullinan
The beautiful historic town of Cullinan is only a 30-minute drive from Pretoria. But why drive when you can enjoy an experience like no other? A trip on a real, old-school steam train with Friends of the Rail. Start the day with a nostalgic journey directly to Cullinan station, then disembark and spend the day exploring the old mining town.
Although the diamond mine is no longer operational, you can take tours of the place. Explore where the world-renowned Cullinan Diamond was unearthed, a piece of which now resides on Queen Elizabeth II’s crown. The home of the biggest rough diamond ever found has a lot more to offer than an old mine, however. The tiny Victorian-era town boasts many adorable shops and fantastic restaurants.
‘Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas’ (or easier to pronounce, Jan’s backyard) is a must visit destination. It is known for selling some of the strangest and artsiest items you can lay your hands on, from vintage furniture to modern art. This location also houses a barnyard theatre where you can catch some local shows. Once your day is over, get back on the train and enjoy a relaxing trip back to the city. But if you cannot get enough of this place, stay in one of the many bed and breakfasts in town.
For the Readers – Collectors Treasury
In Johannesburg cbd, is a hidden heaven for any book lover. The building is home to almost 2 million books. Get lost in the maze of books that sell from a measly R30 ($A3) to a whopping R850 ($A90) for a vintage, first edition Peter Pan.
There is something for everyone is this mind-boggling bookstore. In business for 36 years, with books absolutely everywhere (even the elevator). They are the biggest seller of used and rare books in Africa and possibly the entire southern hemisphere. Apart from books, there is an extensive collection of vintage records, collectables, and antiques.