When you think about ways to spend a holiday, it’s usually sunning yourself by the beach, hiking the Drakensberg mountains, or sporting your safari hat and searching for wildlife, but the country is big and there is even more to do than that.
If you’re looking for something a little different than the usual, consider road-tripping to one or two of these 10 unique attractions you never thought to visit in South Africa.
1. The big pineapple
This nearly 17-meter-tall pineapple is the biggest pineapple building in the world.
It is found just outside of Bathurst in the Eastern Cape, set amidst agricultural land that mostly produces pineapples.
Farmers were unable to grow a successful crop in the area until they started planting pineapples in the 1980s, so to honour the fruit that brought in the cash flow, the community built The Big Pineapple. Made of metal and fiberglass, you can enter the three-story building to use the observation platform and visit the museum dedicated to the fruit.
- Location: Summerhill Farm, R67, Bathurst, Eastern Cape
- Contact: +27 76 808 9448
- Website: facebook.coom
2. Sudwala Caves
Many people know of the Cango Caves in the Western Cape, but did you know there is more than one cave attraction?
These caves were formed more than 240 million years ago, and have been formed from limestone and dolomite. The cave was purchased by Mr PR Owen, who developed the caves as an attraction for the public to enjoy and learn about.
You can take a tour of the caves with a knowledgeable guide, and if you’re feeling brave (with adequate fitness levels) you can dare to do the Crystal Tour which takes you 6 km underground.
- Location: Sudwala Caves, R539, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga
- Contact: [email protected]
- Website: sudwalacaves.com
3. Sudwala Dinosaur Park
Step back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth at the Sudwala Dinosaur Park.
Walk between life-size models of prehistoric amphibious reptiles, dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, and even pre-historic humans. The models were realistically created by Jan van Zijl, the artist behind the black wildebeest on South Africa’s old 2c coin.
The park was launched in 1972, officially opened in 1977, and was named after Mr PR Owen who built the road up to the Sudwala Caves.
4. Eco Shrine
If you find yourself in Hogsback, Eastern Cape, consider visiting the Eco Shrine Centre for Art and Ecology.
Artist Diana Graham’s home neighbours an indigenous forest and showcases the beautiful Eastern Cape landscape. The location was perfect for the Eco-Shrine Centre for Art and Ecology that she created in 1995, a combination of ‘ecology, art, and a sense of the sanctity of Earth.’
Visitors are welcome to take in the natural scenery, as well as walk around the shrine and enter Graham’s art studio.
- Location: Eco-Shrine, 22 Summerton Drive, Eastern Cape
- Website: ecoshrine.co.za
5. Calvinia’s giant postbox
Maybe a strange attraction to boast about, but Calvinia in the Great Karoo has the world’s largest postbox.
During the flower season between August and September, many people make a special effort to stop by the post box, otherwise known as the ‘Flower Post Box.’ It still functions as a normal post box, so visitors can post mail and receive a hand-stamped flower.
The post box was originally a water tower and stands more than 6 meters tall.
- Location: 27 Hoop Street, Calvinia, Nothern Cape
- Contact: +27 341 1036
- Website: postoffice.co.za
6. Upside-down house
The Upside-down house is a quirky establishment in Hartebeestpoort, where you can let your creative juices fly.
Not only has the house been built on its side and slightly tilted, but the furniture has been placed where it would be if the house was right side up. There are no time slots or time limits when visiting the house, so you can meander through a couple of times, picking the best location for your impeccable Instagram post.
7. The Big Baobab
If you’re on the lookout for some kind of natural phenomenon to gawk at, then the Big Baobab is the attraction for you.
The Big Baobab Tree near Thohoyandou, or Sagole Baobob, is the biggest baobab tree in the world. The Venda people call it muri kunguluwa which means the tree that roars, which is what it does in the wind.
It has been carbon-dated as 1 200 years old, but many people believe it’s as old as 3000 years. Either way, it saw the fall of the Mapungubwe Kingdom, gold and ivory traders passing through, Sheltered San tribes, and was a landmark for Voortrekker families who explored the region.
- Location: Sagole Baobab, Masisi, Limpopo
- Website: tfpd.co.za
8. The Shoe
‘There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do.’
Artist, Ron van Zyl decided to bring the old nursery rhyme to life in 1990, by designing the giant shoe, complete with furniture like a bed, dressing table, kitchen, and fireplace.
You can also visit the museum that features Ohrigstad Valley history, the tea-garden restaurant, and the little shop while you’re there.
- Location: R36 Main Road, Ohrigstad, Limpopo
- Contact: +27 87 148 8610
- Website: theshoe.org
9. The Little Church
The Little Church with a big heart is situated in Van Reenens and is a national monument and the smallest Roman Catholic Church in the world.
In 1925, Llandaff Matthews was killed while trying to save eight miners. The church was built in his honour and has only eight seats, one for each man who died.
You can walk through the little church, enjoy the gorgeous views below, and indulge in delicious scones and jam with your kiddies and pets.
- Location: Llandoff Oratory, Humby Street, Van Reenen, KwaZulu Natal
- Contact: +27 58 671 0106
- Website: thelittlechurch.co.za
10. Adam’s Calendar
‘Africa’s Stonehenge’ is located in Mpumalanga, and ‘loosely aligns with the celestial world.’
In 2003, a South African pilot Johan Heine flew over the hills of Mpumalanga and crashed his plane into a mountainside. After safely exiting the plans, he saw ‘three monolithic, five-tonne dolomite stones sticking out of the ground, and behind them a giant stone circle.’
The true origin, purpose, and age of Adam’s Calendar remain unknown, although many believe it predates the Great Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge. It is solely accessible via dirt roads that take you past the wild horses of Kaapshehoop.
- Location: 17 Zasm Avenue, Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga
- Contact: +27 13 257 0479
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