Often described as ‘a world in one country’, South Africa is the continent’s jack of all trades. With landscapes that range from expansive savannahs and pristine beaches to world-class game reserves and colourful cities, there’s a little bit of everything on the southern tip of Africa. But this isn’t to say that the ‘Rainbow Nation’ is master of none – in fact, it does beach breaks, city sojourns and safari stays all exceptionally well. And with so many settings, it’s also one of the best places in the world to see the sun slipping beneath the horizon each evening. Wildlife-lovers can gaze at the sky above Kruger National Park streaked with crimson and ochre after a day of animal spotting, while beach bums mustn’t miss the sun sinking into the ocean at Camps Bay. Read on for our list of the six best places to see the sunset in South Africa.
- Chapman’s Peak
- Camps Bay Beach
- Table Mountain
- Madikwe Game Reserve
- Kruger National Park
Affectionately known as ‘Chappies’, Chapman’s Peak Drive winds its way from Noordhoek to Hout Bay along the Atlantic Coast of South Africa. The meandering route skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak (1,945ft), spanning five-and-a-half miles and containing an impressive 114 curves. It’s renowned as one of the best marine drives in the world and the sea views are second to none at any hour. However, if you opt to drive just before dusk, you’ll be rewarded with rosy pink and rich ochre sunsets as the day dissolves into twilight.
Cresent-shaped Camps Bay is Cape Town’s most well-known beach and sometimes referred to as the city’s ‘party beach’, thanks to the promenade of restaurants, bars and clubs bordering the buttery blonde sand. But late-night revelries aren’t the only reason why people congregate here come evening, as the Twelve Apostles mountain range and wide expanse of sand leading into the Atlantic offer the ideal backdrop for watching the sun descend. Some sunset chasers have even gone so far as to say that Camps Bay boasts the best sunset in the world, let alone South Africa. No two sunsets here are the same; some evenings you’ll see a pretty pastel wash over the sky’s canvas, while at other times it looks like the horizon has been set on fire.
Dominating Cape Town’s skyline, the majestic plateau of Table Mountain is challenging to ignore as you explore the city. And as well as gazing up at the imposing peak that sits 3,563ft above sea level, you can get up close and personal by taking the Aerial Cable Car to the top. In our humble opinion, the best time to head up there is early evening to see sun dipping into a sea of gold and the sky streaked with violet and maroon. Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, both part of the Table Mountain National Park, are also worthy vantage points from which to watch the sunset in South Africa. And if you fancy really earning the swoon-worthy views, try tackling one of the hiking trails that lead up to their peaks.
It’s well documented that South Africa’s coastline excels when it comes to sunsets. But what about if you’re visiting the ‘Rainbow Nation’ for its safari expertise? Luckily, the country’s game reserves and safari parks also put on spectacular celestial shows, with the sky set ablaze with a melting pot of colours. For a stellar safari sunset in South Africa, look no further than Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in the northeast of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. After a day spent ticking off sightings of the iconic Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos), enjoy sundowner drinks with a sunset side order.
Another of South Africa’s standout game reserves is Madikwe, tucked away in the North West province near the border with Botswana. The park is one of the largest, yet lesser-known, safari destinations in South Africa, playing host to more than 86 mammals, 350 bird species and 104 tree varieties. See as many as you can before the daylight diminishes, then watch as a spill of gold spreads across the sky and the sunset’s colours bleed into dusk’s blank canvas.
Last up on our list of places to see the sunset in South Africa is Kruger National Park, a huge stretch of wilderness that's even larger than Wales. Come for its high density of wild animals – including the famed Big Five – and stay for the array of habitats, namely mountains, bush plains and tropical forest. Sunset game drives are another draw; watch the resident wildlife carrying out their nighttime routines, as the sun melts into the horizon and the heavens are brushed with fiery strokes.
Written by Luisa Watts