It’s no secret that South Africa is one of the most stunning countries on the planet. It’s packed with effortlessly cool cities, incredible roads, super accessible National Parks, amazing wine regions, and of course the world-famous South African Safari- it’s arguably comparable to parts of Europe; aside from the safari thing of course.
It’s the perfect place for anyone looking to experience Africa without leaving behind the niceties of the Western world. Great roads, good food, and culturally exciting cities, coupled with stunning beaches and amazing wildlife- what more could you ask for?
It’s even more enticing as a destination when you take into account its LGBTQ track record.
South African Rainbow
It may come as a surprise to some, but South Africa was actually the first country in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In 1998, under the incredible President Mandela, the Employment Equity Act was passed with the aim of creating equality in the workplace, and the country, for people of all races and sexual orientations.
This was backed up in the year 2,000 by the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act; and again in the year 2002, the nation’s courts ruled that same-sex couples would have the exact same adoption rights as other couples.
Then the nation really made the push for equality by becoming the 5th country in the world to fully legalise same-sex marriage- the first African country at the time to do so.
The Pink City
This had an obvious effect on Cape Town, which became known in the community as ‘The Pink City’, and hosts all kinds of Pride marches, parades, and festivals throughout the year.
But what about the rest of the country?
Well, South Africa remains the most welcoming country on the entire African continent for the LGBTQ community- but that’s not to say that there aren’t issues in the country still.
There are many traditional communities in South Africa that reject certain ideologies, just like many other places in the world, so cautious travel is recommended in some less developed areas of the country.
But for the most part, it’s a wonderful place to travel for people of all orientations and one of the world’s most beautiful countries to explore.
Kruger National Park
There are very few places on the face of the earth better for wildlife spotting than the stunning Kruger National Park.
This 20,000 square kilometre park is one of the most diverse and unique biomes in the world and is home to some of Africa’s most iconic creatures- including the ever illusive big five; lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and African buffalo.
You can also find endangered species like the Wild African Dog here and plenty of amazing conservation work is being done to protect the area.
This is one of the country’s shiniest gems in a very glittery crown.
Now this one is kind of a cheat, but bear with me.
Mauritius is located off the East coast of Africa, and whilst not technically a part of South Africa, the Island Republic of Mauritius has strong links with South Africa; each country’s capital represents and honours the other.
Whilst the small nation still has a way to go with its overall rules, discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community is illegal, and the people are warm and welcoming to all.
The island itself is a small paradise in the Indian Ocean, with rocky mountain peaks, sandy beaches, and stunningly clear waters.
You’ll find plenty of upmarket boutique hotels and some great food- this is the perfect place to spend a week or two taking a break from it all.
Stellenbosch is located within easy reach of Cape Town, with many people actually making the day trip- but it deserves a full visit.
With an ever-increasing gay scene, Stellenbosch now hosts its own Pride festival that links a series of wonderful events throughout the city.
It is the heart of South Africa’s world-class wine region and has plenty of rolling hills, wineries, and wonderful bars- it almost puts one in mind of French wine regions!
The picturesque mountains really frame every view in this stunning area and there are plenty of gorgeous places to stay where you can enjoy a wonderful glass of wine and some great food.
Now this one might be another cheat because technically it is part of Cape Town- but it’s not the city itself- and it is a must-visit.
Cape Peninsula is home to the absolutely iconic Table Mountain National Park- an internationally recognised landmark that seems to defy physics and looms over the city of Cape Town.
The park is packed with amazing hikes that of course offer stunning views, and plenty of wonderful wildlife.
You’ll also find the 12 Apostles coastline here, with some otherworldly rock stacks protruding from the sea, and the permanently delightful Boulders Beach Penguin Colony- some penguins just prefer sun and sand over freezing temperatures and snow!
Don’t miss out on the Pink City’s highlights and explore this magical peninsula.
The Garden Route
South Africa boasts an incredible 3,000 km coastline and pretty much every inch of it is stunning.
So what makes the Garden Route so special?
Well, when you take into account that this 200-kilometre stretch of coast includes some of the greatest wildlife on earth, fantastic wineries, stunning sea food, wonderfully cultured towns, and all the staggering views that South Africa is so famous for; you can start to see why it’s so celebrated.
Adventure is easily accessible at every turn, as you pass through forests, mountains, coves, and white-sand beaches that will blow you away.
You can whale watch from the land or sea, explore caves, see the big five at Karoo National Park, or just chill on the beach.
The Garden Route does not strictly apply to one route, but more of the general area between Mossel Bay and Storms River- just explore and enjoy!
The Rainbow Nation
South Africa has a mixed history with discrimination, but in today’s world it is a progressive and warm country for all those who choose to visit.
There is a strong LGBTQ community in Cape Town and beyond, meaning that anyone can enjoy the staggering nature and wonderful scenery that this marvellous country offers.
Exploration is the key to a good trip here, and thanks to the inclusivity and anti-discrimination laws that are enshrined in the nation's fibres, it makes for the perfect adventure destination.