South Africa is best known for its diverse ‘rainbow’ nation and its unparalleled natural beauty. In fact, according to a 2019 report by Big 7 Travel, South Africa is the 5th most Instagrammable Country in the world!
And based on ‘hashtag popularity’, South Africa’s 5 top Instagrammable spots are:
- Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
- Pretoria’s jacaranda trees
- The Nelson Mandela Capture Site in KwaZulu-Natal
- Orlando Towers
Jurni is exploring ways in which SMMEs can use technology better to position themselves in the global marketplace. Instagram is a great and affordable way for SMMEs to spread the word about their product. SMMEs can hop onto the Instagram popularity to promote not only their establishment but also their region to potential visitors.
While most visitors will instantly navigate their way to the country’s most sought-after safari destinations or head to the winelands in the Western Cape, the reality is that there are so many other gorgeous, hidden gems to explore if you know where to look.
Below, we highlight our top 5 picks (and pics) when it comes to South Africa’s most Insta-worthy places.
Riemvasmaak Hot Springs in the Northern Cape
The history that surrounds the Riemvasmaak hot springs is almost as awe-inspiring as the area’s peaceful desert mountain wilderness. Back in the day, the Bushmen would attempt to steal the farmers’ animals. When caught, the thieves were tied to a rock in the nearby Molopo River with straps (or ‘rieme’ in Afrikaans). However, the next morning when the farmers returned to retrieve them, they had always managed to escape in true Houdini-style, leaving behind nothing but the straps. This eventually resulted in the community taking on the name ‘Riemvasmaak’ and the farmers adopting the nickname ‘Riemvasmaakers’.
Along with making for the perfect Instagram photo-op, the Riemvasmaak hot springs also promise a soothing, yet adventurous getaway. Be sure to balance your time by spending hours marvelling at the towering granite cliffs that surround you in the hot springs, with high-energy hikes down the canyon.
Hole in the Wall in the Eastern Cape
The Hole in the Wall can be found in Coffee Bay on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast. The reason why this arch is so popular amongst tourists is because it is a creation brought forth by Mother Nature herself. Shaped through years of the enthusiastic waves lapping up against the sandstone, the arch is quite something to behold, especially when you also take in the beauty of the foamy aqua waters and the rolling hills that surround it.
The local Xhosa tribes call the Hole in the Wall ‘esiKhaleni’ or ‘Place of Noise’. Legend has it that many years ago, a local girl fell in love with a man from the community of the sea-people. Her father was livid upon finding this out and forbade her to ever see him again. In an effort to be with his true love, it is said that the seaman and his community rammed a hole in the sandstone using the head of a gargantuan fish to flood the village and allow him to find her. The village people ran away amidst the chaos, while the besotted village girl ran into her lover’s arms. She was never heard from again. When it storms in the region, the hole is said to rumble and roar louder than thunder, which the locals believe are the sounds of the sea people shouting and celebrating their victory.
Cape Columbine Lighthouse in the Western Cape
Inhale the sticky sea breeze as you strike a pose in front of the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, located in the quaint fishing village of Paternoster in the Western Cape. Built in the late 1930s, this lighthouse is the first to be spotted by all ships sailing southwards along the eastern shores of South Africa. It was erected in response to the many shipwrecks that were taking place in the surrounding rough, relentless seas. In fact, it was named after one of those shipwrecks, the Columbine, which went down in 1829. Another interesting titbit is that the Cape Columbine Lighthouse remains one of the few lighthouses in the world that continue to employ a lighthouse keeper on a full-time basis.
Tswaing Crater in Gauteng
Also known as the Soutpan Meteor Crater, the Tswaing Crater is located approximately 40 km outside of Pretoria. The mammoth hole in the ground is estimated to be around 100 m deep and extends over 1 km in length. It is cradled by tall hills, all of which were created as a direct result of the impact of the meteor, which hurtled earthward approximately 200 000 years ago. The crater is now filled with crystal waters derived from a combination of groundwater and rainwater. The locals have been mining the liquid expanse for salt for hundreds of years – hence its name. The Tswana word ‘Tswaing’ translates to ‘Place of Salt’.
Sani Pass in Kwa-Zulu Natal
You don’t get much bolder, bigger, or more beautiful than KZN’s Sani Pass when it comes to mountain passes in South Africa. The gravel pass can be found between KZN and Lesotho and boasts a jaw-dropping summit altitude of 2 876 m above sea level! If you are brave enough to tackle the treacherous conditions for which the pass is so well known (there is the potential for snow and intense winds every month of the year), hop aboard a sturdy 4×4 and make your way along the scenic 9 km winding road. Set aside at least a few hours to complete the drive – you can be certain that you’ll be stopping to snap photographs for Instagram every couple of minutes!
Now that you have an idea of what people are looking for on Instagram, it is time to start planning insta-worthy attractions in your region. Instagram offers fantastic opportunities for SMMEs to collaborate.
Rather than concentrating on self-promotion, become an advocate and cheerleader for your region. Share your favourite photographs of Mpumalanga (or the Northern Cape, or the Garden Route). Tag other operators or suppliers in your area and encourage them to do the same. Share your favourite venues, menus or excursions. Celebrate peers, partners and competitors alike. Remember, when South Africa (and the world) is able to travel again, your entire region will benefit.