Why visit South Africa
South Africa has earned the prestigious reputation of being one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From the flat-topped Table Mountain in Cape Town to the roaming wildlife of the Kruger National Park, South Africa has many unforgettable experiences to offer. This Southern African country is rich with diverse culture and traditions; with every citizen having a unique heritage, culture and story to share. South Africa is renowned for its beautiful mountain ranges, beaches, abundant wildlife, Cape Winelands, whale sightings, architecture, antiquity and favorable weather. The combination of the picturesque landscapes and friendly nature of the locals makes South Africa an indelible and welcoming country to visit.
Where to go in South Africa
Kruger National Park
The iconic Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa, attracting many national and international visitors yearly. Experience the thrill of being on safari, observing the Big Five as well as zebras, giraffe and rhinos – an authentically African experience. A safari is a journey on a specially rigged vehicle lead by a professional guide to observe wildlife in their natural habitat offering wonderful photographic opportunities. The Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s most sought after safari destinations and one of the world’s most diverse and abundant nature and game reserves. The Kruger was established in 1898 by Paul Kruger to protect the wildlife in the area from being hunted to extinction. It was this foresight that ensured the existence of many of the species that exist only in the Kruger National Park. The Kruger spans across two provinces in South Africa – Mpumalanga and the Limpopo Province – with centrally located airports ensuring ease of access to the Kruger and other private game reserves (see below) within or adjacent to the Kruger.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve shares an unfenced boundary with the Kruger offering unique close encounters as wildlife are well habituated, including the leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, adding to the bio-diversity of this area.
Madikwe Game Reserve is situated against the Botswana border close to the Kalahari Desert. The Big Five are represented in the park and during your visit you could have the rare privilege of seeing the highly endangered African Wild Dog.
Thornybush Private Game Reserve is situated adjacent to the Kruger Park. Home to the Big Five and a variety of other fauna and flora, offering nearly perfect climate all year round.
Timbavati Private Game Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger and lies between the Kruger on the east, Klaserie in the north and Thornybush in the west. Wildlife sightings are exceptional with the critically endangered African wild dog being a regular visitor.
Kapama Private Game Reserve is nestled between the Kruger National Park and Blyde River Valley. Kapama is home to a wild variety of wildlife, including; Big Five, 40 species of mammals and thriving bird colonies.
Klaserie Private Game Reserve is one of the largest privately owned nature reserves in South Africa, forming part of the Greater Kruger. Visitors can expect to see lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo, plentiful plains of game and birdlife.
KwaZulu-Natal (also known as the Zulu Kingdom) is a paradise of warm waters, sun-drenched beaches and eco-wonderlands. This sunny region is suited for both the adventure seeker or the discerning traveller; from Durban’s bustling gateway of ports, fine dining and first-class shopping outlets to the historic battlefields. KwaZulu-Natal is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites; the iSimangaliso/Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, and the breathtaking mountainous region of the uKhahlamba-Drakensburg Park. The Drakensberg is the largest and highest mountain range in Southern Africa showcasing exceptional San rock art and offering adventure trails for avid hikers. Four valleys can be explored in the northern and central regions, and are undeniably breathtaking and inspiring. Kwa Zula-Natal is also a perfect safari destination as the wildlife sightings are simply breathtaking.
Apart from its wildlife sanctuaries, seaside getaways and dramatic mountain landscapes, KwaZulu-Natal is also a province steeped in history. The battles fought in the rolling hills and of northern KwaZulu-Natal some 120 years ago changed the course of South African history. Travel to the renowned sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, where some of the most dramatic clashes between the British and the mighty Zulu Kingdom took place. Immerse yourself in tales of courage, strife, ingenuity and drama on fascinating tours led by masterful storytellers. Visit historic sites and museums or enjoy a cultural tour to a traditional Zulu settlement. At the Battle of Isandlwana, the first major encounter between the British and the Zulus, a portion of the British troops was overwhelmed by 20 000 Zulu warriors, who easily overthrew the trained soldiers, making this one of the Empire’s worst defeats.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is South Africa’s very first World Heritage site since 1999 (Unesco) and it is also the third largest protected area in South Africa. iSimangaliso incorporates a variety of habitats from the Ubombo Mountains to grasslands, forests, wetlands, mangroves and ancient dunes, beautiful beaches and coral reefs. Beginning of November the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles come ashore on the beaches in the St Lucia Turtle Sanctuary to lay their eggs.
“iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the Rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the Elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the Coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the Whale)” – Nelson Mandela.
Also known as the Mother City, this cosmopolitan city has plenty highlights on offer; beautiful beaches, a foodies playground, vibrant nightlife and some of the best award-winning wines produced in the Cape Winelands. The unforgettable flat-top of iconic Table Mountain towers over a city that is vibrant both in its attractions and the people that inhabit it. There is shark cage diving and Robben Island; penguins and the peninsula, District Six, crafts and curios, art and museums; sky diving and boat trips. There is something for everyone. To access Table Mountain, visitors can enjoy a scenic ride up its revolving cableway or, for the more adventurous, enjoy a nature hike on one of the many trails that wind their way across its beautiful landscape. From the flat table top you will have glorious views of sprawling Cape Town below, nearby Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and the sparkling coastline. The Table Mountain National Park is a must-see too and covers a region that spans across Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain itself, Devil’s Peak, the Twelve Apostles and Orange Kloof. Here, you will find a flora-rich habitat that is home to rare and endemic vegetation including the stunning king protea and various forms of fynbos. As a coastal destination, Cape Town experiences unpredictable weather so be sure to take advantage of the clear, calm days in the city.
The Garden Route is a very popular and scenic stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. Here, you’ll be able to explore several different eco-systems and a variety of landscapes, all unique to South Africa. Offering stunning scenery, quaint and quiet seaside towns and a vibrant yet laid back atmosphere, the Garden Route is a truly idyllic getaway. The Garden Route is famous for its magnificent scenic views. As most of the route follows a coastal road between the Indian Ocean, various mountains and seaside towns, guests can enjoy stunning views of the sea and majestic mountains; the best of the best that South Africa has to offer. The region became known as the Garden Route due to its ecologically diverse vegetation and numerous lakes and lagoons. From the fynbos of the Cape to the Tsitsikamma indigenous forest, guests who travel the beautiful coastal route will be enchanted by the diversity and uniqueness of the beauty. The Garden Route is also home to over three hundred bird species, an elephant sanctuary and several game reserves. During the whale season guests can also observe the graceful Southern Right Whales from the coast line. The Garden Route has the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii. It has year round gentle rain – keeping it green and lush – and warm temperatures throughout, making it the perfect getaway throughout the year. With its beauty, mountain, towns and sea, the Garden Route comes with a variety of activities to participate in.
When to go to South Africa
South Africa has two different regions and two different rainfall patterns. In the Cape the Winter months of June, July and August are the rainy season whereas the rest of the country has summer rains. The best would be to determine what you would like to see. June, July and August would be the best time for the game reserve as the dry weather brings all the animals down to the waterholes. But you would not miss out if you came in September and October as this is when all the animals drop their young.
Many flock to the Cape during its warm summer months, but to visit this area in winter is also inviting – there is something quite pleasing about warm fires, good wines and great food in the winter too. There are certain things that can only be experienced at certain times, such as the sardine run which attracts great sharks and whales and that is from May to July.
Namaqualand and its flower display is September and October. Hiking trails and walks would be September and October too. Whichever time you come, South Africa will not disappoint in any way.
For updated weather forecasts across Africa, please visit www.africanweather.net .