From the beaches, rural and city attractions of Cape Town to superb game viewing in the many national parks and private reserves, South Africa is a country of great diversity, adventure and beauty. It’s also a welcoming place, and one drenched in fascinating culture and history, from the battlefields to rock art and Apartheid struggle sites to contemporary art galleries.
Since the end of Apartheid and the establishment of a democratic government in the 1990s, South Africa’s borders have opened to a flood of tourists who come to enjoy the country’s stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture.
South Africa’s sense of history is strong, and visitors have the chance to explore important historical attractions, including the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town.
South Africa is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. It has 11 official languages, and it’s colourful population draws their heritage from African, Asian and European cultures. Whether browsing the Indian markets in Durban, enjoying a shisa nyama (barbecue) in Soweto, or tasting celebrated local varieties at a winery in Stellenbosch, visitors will encounter a warm welcome.
However, the true lure of South Africa lies in it’s untamed wilderness. Home to the Big Five of African wildlife (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino), along with thousands of other species of plants and animals, big game safaris in nature reserves like Kruger Park and Hluhluwe National Park remain among the most popular activities in South Africa. The landscape encompasses a range of climates and terrains, including deserts, mountains, plateaus, grasslands, bush, wetlands, and subtropical forests.
Best time to visit South Africa
The climate of South Africa varies markedly between regions, making it important for travelers to research the specific regions they are visiting. Generally, the best time to visit South Africa is late spring (October and November) and early autumn (March and April) to avoid the intense heat of summer and the cold and wet winters in the Cape. However, many tourists relish the hot summer months between December and February.
What to pack
Pack malaria tablets if you’re heading to Kruger, and lots of insect repellent.
What to buy
Ndebele beaded jewellery, wooden and soapstone carvings.
A final word
The culturally and environmentally diverse landscape of South Africa is the ultimate holiday destination for adventurous travelers.
DISTANCE FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE: Cape Town: 22 kilometres, Johannesburg: 21 kilometres, Durban: 35 kilometres
TIME ZONE: GMT +2 hours
CURRENCY: South African Rand (ZAR)
There are 11 official languages, including English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, and isiZulu. Although only 10% of the population has English as its mother tongue, English is the language most widely understood and is the second language of the majority of South Africans