With an incredible diversity of landscapes, from semi-desert to dramatic mountains, wildlife-dotted savanna to subtropical forests, South Africa is a photographer’s dream. Get your camera ready to shoot these photogenic places on a South Africa overland tour.
1. The spring flowers in Namaqualand, Northern Cape
After the winter rains, the arid region of Namaqualand, several hours’ drive north of Cape Town in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, is blessed with carpets of brightly coloured blooms as millions of wild spring flowers open their petal faces to the sun. Grab your hiking boots and hit the trails through the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve, or go 4x4ing, mountain biking or horseback riding surrounded by floral fields.
When to go: The flowers are on display between July and September.
2. Panorama Route, Mpumalanga
South Africa’s most beautiful road trip through Mpumalanga’s spectacular landscapes of mountains, gorges and cascading waterfalls provides endless photo opportunities. Highlights include God’s Window, a magnificent vista from high cliffs down into the dramatic Blyde River Canyon, three round mountaintops named the Three Rondavels, and the river rock formations known as Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The peaks of the Three Rondavels tower 700m above ground and are a spectacular, natural sight to see. Erosion wore away the soft underlying stone, leaving the hardier slate and quartzite exposed. Viewing them at sunset as they turn from brown and green to bright orange is well worth it and will create fantastic photographic opportunities.
While Blyde River Canyon is one of South Africa’s scenic highlights, brimming with awesome viewpoints of Wonder View, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window. It’s the third largest canyon in the world. It covers 29 000 hectares of land, from the highlands down to the hot and dry lowveld at the Blyde Dam.
When to go: The Panorama Route is wonderful to explore at any time of year.
3. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape
Kruger National Park is the most famous and popular of all of South Africa’s reserves, but if you’re after truly awesome and unique wildlife shots, head to the Kgalagadi – a cross-border semi-desert wilderness in the far north of South Africa in between Namibia and Botswana. Expect epic sunsets, huge horizons, red sand dunes, wonderful light and the famous Kalahari black-maned lions.
When to go: March to September are the best months to visit, as it gets extremely hot during summer.
4. Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa’s tallest mountain range, the Drakensberg, is a must for photographers, hikers and nature lovers alike with astounding scenery of impressive rock buttresses and spires, tumbling waterfalls, gushing rivers and lush forests, not to mention hundreds of San rock art sites.
When to go: It depends on what kind of photos you want to get: in the summer months (November to March), the Drakensberg’s landscapes are their greenest, while in winter (June to August) there’s a chance of snowfall, when the powder-dusted mountains look amazing.
5. Cederberg Wilderness, Area Western Cape
Imposing mountains, millennia-old San rock art sites, golden sunsets and night skies littered with stars await you in the hiking and camping paradise of the Cederberg Wilderness Area, which lies 300 kilometres north of Cape Town. Here’s where to go to get photos of surreal sandstone rock formations such as the Wolfberg Arch, and shots of star trails. Just don’t forget your tripod!
When to go: Summer is extremely hot in the Cederberg, and winter can be very cold and rainy. Autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) are the best times of year to visit, especially if you plan on doing a lot of hiking.
6. Table Mountain, Western Cape
The “mountain” as its affectionately known by Capetonians, looms over the city and provides a beautiful backdrop for photos of Cape Town, but it’s really the top of the mountain that has the most photogenic views. Choose to hike up to the top in a couple of hours, or take the somewhat less strenuous scenic 360-degree revolving cable car ride up to be rewarded with expansive vistas over Cape Town, the Peninsula and Robben Island.
When to go: While Cape Town gets most of its visitors during the summer months (November to March), the city is a year-round destination, and even during the rainy winter months there are beautiful, sunny days – perfect for those top-of-the-mountain shots!