Lions and penguins, traditional African cultures and Western creature comforts, all the Big Five on one morning’s game drive, some of the best food and wine on the planet - all that is South Africa. From metropolitan Cape Town to safaris in the Kruger area, from hiking in the Drakensberg to scenic drives and boat rides along the Garden Route, come and see why this place has been called “The world in one Country”.
best time to travel
The best time for a wildlife viewing safari in the north-east of South Africa is the dry season between April and November. Travel to South Africa's south coast and Cape Town can be done year-round, but it gets cool in July and August.
places to go
Not the prettiest of cities, Johannesburg nevertheless warrants a day or two, if only to explore the recent history of the country by visiting the Apartheid Museum or the township of Soweto.
Enroute from Johannesburg to Kruger, be sure to drive the incredibly scenic mountain passes and Panorama Route, exploring historic towns, waterfalls and viewpoints such as the Three Rondavels and God's Window.
Greater Kruger Area
The density, diversity and sheer numbers of wildlife in Kruger and the adjacent private game reserves are almost beyond belief. Game drives and guided game activities are the order of the day here and best enjoyed at the private game reserves.
One of the few parks in Africa where you can engage in night drives and walking trails, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is also famous for its population of white rhino.
Towering cliffs, imposing natural amphitheatres and thundering waterfalls make the Drakensberg a range unique in the world. Ancient Bushmen rock art and some spectacular vistas and hiking trails make this an area not to be missed by anyone with more than a passing interest in South Africa.
Sani Pass is a spectacular 4WD mountain route leading into the kingdom of Lesotho.
Forest-clad hills rolling down to a spectacular coastline, beautiful lagoons and beaches along with jaw-dropping scenery make this one of the most popular areas in the country. Knysna is the place to go for a relaxed beach getaway, while Storms River offers a short walk to a bridge over a canyon, or a longer hike along the Otter Trail.
Well-known for its great wines but less so for its spectacular mountains and vistas, the wine lands near Cape Town should be on anyone's itinerary. Pretty towns like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Tulbagh will complement stops at a winery or two.
This scenic seaside town just south of the winelands is famous for its whale watching (June to November) and shark diving. Hike the Cliff Path and you may see whales from some of the spectacular lookout points.
Known as The Mother City, Cape Town lies hemmed between beautiful beaches and Table Mountain. A true melting pot of Asian, African and European cultures, this is the place you'll find great restaurants and bars, a sprinkling of interesting museums and markets, and a vibe all of its own set within beautiful surroundings. Robben Island, a former prison island, lies just off shore, reached by ferry from the V&A Waterfront, a great place to enjoy dinner after your visit.
Cape of Good Hope
While not the most southern point of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope is the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Take a drive along the peninsula and see some spectacular scenery, admire the views and experience the unique flora and even see penguins at Boulders Beach.
An arid region in the northern Cape, up towards the border with Namibia, Namaqualand comes alive with wildflowers from late July through September.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Reminiscent of Australia’s Simpson Desert, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lies along the border with Botswana and is home to a great variety of wildlife, including cheetah, leopard, lion and meerkat.
The best way to see wildlife is from your vehicle, driven by your guide who will explain everything about the animals you encounter.
Private Game Reserves
These privately protected areas strictly control visitor numbers, making your safari experience an intimate one. You are virtually guaranteed to see the Big Five. Lodges vary from simple to luxurious and your stay will include all meals and a variety of game activities. South African safaris do not get better than this!
Offered within private reserves and some national parks, game walks are a unique and thrilling way to get up close to animals and see critters and spoor you would otherwise miss. Your armed guide and tracker will keep you safe.
Night drives give you a totally different perspective on wildlife. Watch the night come alive as hundreds of nocturnal critters forage and roam through the bush.
South Africa offers some of the best and most scenic hikes in the world. From the spectacular Drakensberg to the enigmatic Garden Route, Table Mountain and the Cederberg, the trails are yours to choose.
Knysna Lagoon cruise
Whether you take the ferry to beautiful Featherbed Nature Reserve or a sundowner cruise, the lagoon will impress you. Meanwhile, enjoy a glass of wine and some fresh mussels.
Shark cage diving
Need an adrenaline boost? Look no further than the town of Hermanus near Cape Town where you can come eye to eye with great white sharks from the safety of a cage.
Almost 40 species of whale occur along the South African coast. The waters off Hermanus, just east of Cape Town, are home to pods of southern right whale between June and November. Hike the Cliff Path and you may see whales from some of the spectacular lookout points, or take a boat cruise to get up-close to these animals.
Glorious wine and food
Boerewors, malva pudding, chakalaka & pap, melktert and biltong are local favourites. Visit a winery and have a traditional Cape Malay lunch with bobotie on a patio overlooking sweeping vineyards and towering mountains. This is why you came to South Africa!
The cute penguins at Boulder Beach on the Cape Peninsula are a must!
Former prisoners will show you around the island where political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were incarcerated, all the while preaching a message of hope and redemption.
Sunset at Table Mountain
Hike or take the cable car up Table Mountain, bring a picnic, and enjoy the stunning views overlooking Cape Town and the Atlantic.
Visit a township
A legacy of the dark years of Apartheid, townships are where a large part of the poor urban population still lives. Visit it with a local guide to get an insight into the past, present and future of South Africa and experience in what circumstances many people still live.
The wildflowers in Namaqualand are a sight to behold as they colour large tracts of land between late July and September.
With its many years of musical history, cities like Johannesubrg, Durban and Cape Town are the place to go for a spot of live music. Maskanda, African jazz, gospel, kwaito, or bubblegum pop anyone?