Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa takes some beating.

If you've seen the popular cities - Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban - and want to head away from the well-worn track then Lonely Planet Magazine has three suggestions:

Drakensberg mountains

The vertiginous cliffs, deep valleys and hidden ravines of The Drakensberg (‘The Berg’) mountains are a picturesque backdrop for gentle day hikes. This range, bordering the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, is also a living museum, with examples of well-preserved rock art, some works being thousands of years old.

Stay at Montusi Mountain Lodge, a luxurious base for exploring The Berg, comprising 14 individual thatched-roof garden suites with sumptuous beds and private patios with panoramic views.

Mango Airlines, South African Airlink and British Airways fly between Cape Town and Durban, the closest airport. From here you will need a rental car (try Avis or Europcar) for the 140-mile drive to Bergville, one of the gateways to The Berg.

Elephant Coast

This stretch of natural beauty runs up to the border with Mozambique in the north. It’s a relatively untamed area of deserted beaches, wetlands and rivers, and Africa’s largest estuary. It’s not unknown to see hippos strolling down the streets of St Lucia, the area’s gateway town.

Bed down at the Serene Estate Guesthouse which combines high-concept architecture and minimalist Dutch design in a peaceful garden setting. Birds and other wildlife can be spotted from the room’s private terraces.

Mango Airlines, South African Airlink and British Airways fly between Cape Town and Durban, St Lucia is a 150-mile drive northeast.

Kruger National Park

The best place in the country to view wildlife, Kruger consists of huge tracts of bushveld (sub-tropical woodland), interrupted by open savannah and rushing rivers. Look out for the ‘Big Five’ – the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros – plus cheetahs, giraffes and hippos.

The park’s ‘Olifants Restcamp’ offers bluff-top views of elephants and hippos as they drink from the river of the same name. Book at the Kruger Park website.

Airlink has daily flights between Cape Town and the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, in the park’s southern section near Nelspruit - from here you’ll need a rental car. Alternatively, local tour companies offer road transport to Kruger.

This article is reproduced from Lonely Planet Magazine, on sale now across the UK priced £3.70.

Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa takes some beating.

Explore related stories