Six of South Africa’s most spectacular views

Posted by Nina Louw on 30 January 2012

Take in breathtaking views at some of  South Africa’s most incredible viewpoints.

1. Chapman’s Peak Drive

For nine glorious kilometres, this road carves into the mountainside that rises steeply from the shoreline between Noordhoek and Hout Bay. It’s one of the most magnificent marine passes in South Africa and among the most popular must-dos for local and foreign tourists. Enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean from various lookout points and picnic spots dotted along the road. Between July and November, keep your eyes peeled as this is a prime whale-watching site. Costs R31 a car.

2. Kompasberg

At 2 502 metres, Kompasberg in the Sneeuberge is the highest peak in the Eastern Cape. Just a 40-minute drive north of the quaint little village of Nieu Bethesda, it offers an incredible view of the desolate Karoo plains. There’s a moderate, two-hour hike to the peak, but you’ll need permission from the landowner. Contact Owl House Backpackers for information and costs. Tel 049-841- 1642, email [email protected] or [email protected]

3. God’s Window

With an awe-inspiring view of the lowveld and lush indigenous forests 900 metres below, God’s Window in the Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, is one of the most famous lookout points in South Africa and has inspired photographers across the globe. From the parking area, where you can browse the curio stalls, visitors follow a steep, stepped footpath along the escarpment to get to the viewpoints. Open between 07h00 and 17h00. Costs R10 a person.

4. Amphitheatre

A three-hour trek to the top of this 3 030-metre Drakensberg summit is rewarded with some of the most spectacular vistas in South Africa. Take in the view of the Tugela Falls, which plummet 948 metres into a gorge, as well as a panorama of Beacon Buttress and Sentinel peaks to the north. The hike – which includes a slightly hair-raising climb up a chain ladder – starts from the day visitors’ car park at Royal Natal National Park. You can get more info from the park’s reception office. Costs R30 a person.

5. Brandwag Rock

The much-photographed ‘gate’ to Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State provides great views of the valley below. A short but steep hike that begins at Glen Reenen Rest Camp takes you to the top of the huge sandstone cliff, gazing down at the patchwork vale beneath. This stretch is the first leg of the two-day Rhebok Hiking Trail, which takes you to an equally spectacular viewpoint at Generaalskop. Costs R27 an adult, R14 a child.

6. Ararat

Formed by the Orange River as it tumbles over the cliffs, the Augrabies Falls in the Northern Cape drop up to 60 metres into the gorge below. Ararat lookout point, which is within short walking distance from the restaurant complex, provides impressive views of the thundering falls and the 18-kilometre gorge. To fully experience the park’s scenery, walk the five-kilometre Dassie Trail, which takes you to many other incredible, less crowded viewpoints. Costs R27 an adult, R14 a child.

(Photograph by Geoff Spiby)

What amazing views in South Africa have we left out? Add yours to the comments below.

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