Whether you're in South Africa on safari or to enjoy the beaches, breath-taking drives, whale-watching or unspoiled wilderness. South Africa is shaped by a remarkable unity, a collective identity that leaves an indelible mark on all who visit. From the moment you step off the plane, you know you’re in the ‘Rainbow Nation’. Friendly welcomes are unanimous and universal, regardless of the language. The diverse geography provides endless magic: from the hippo-infested swamps of the Limpopo, to the soaring snow capped peaks of the Drakensburg, and dozens of sun-drenched beaches tucked away on the country’s 2000-mile coastline. Even its cities can harmoniously package everything together – epitomized by Cape Town, one of the most singularly spectacular destinations on the planet.
The beauty of South Africa is breathed through the smiles of friendly faces, the mosaic of cultures and cuisines, and the complex history that has shaped it. But, most of all, it is the natural splendour of this country that sets it apart. South Africa's landscapes are made up of valleys, mountains, forests, deserts, coastlines, and grassy savannahs that are breath-taking in their picturesque scale.
Cape Town arguably has the best urban beaches in the world, from fashionable Camps Bay close to to the city centre to Boulders Beach with its comical colony of endangered African penguins which waddle about. All the way along South Africa’s Garden Route and kwaZulu-Natal's Indian Ocean coastline you'll find long stretches of pristine golden sand lapped by waves that become warmer and warmer the further north you go - there are even tropical coral reefs and excellent diving and snorkelling at Rocktail Bay.
South Africa's varied terrain allows you to spot desert-adapted dwellers like pangolin or anteaters in Tswalu in the heart of the Kalahari, then search some of the most densely populated leopard country in the southern Kruger before seeking out elusive bat-eared foxed and porcupines in the malaria-free Eastern Cape.
When you visit Cape Town, we highly recommend spending time in the Cape Winelands, exploring the beautiful estates, sampling award-winning wines in cool cellars and on vine-covered patios, and sampling some of the world's best cuisine in its sumptuous restaurants. On the country's eastern seaboard, indulge in a gourmet getaway in the lush hills of the kwaZulu-Natal Midlands, fortifying you for a comfortable hike in the foothills of the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains.
With plenty of sunshine, mountains, sea and rivers, South Africans tend to treat their country like a massive playground. For a taste of the great outdoors, hike to the top of Table Mountain; horse ride in the Drakensberg; watch whales in Hermanus; paraglide over Cape Town’s beaches; take a walking safari in the Kruger; cycle through the Cape Winelands; explore the forest canopy in the Garden Route... You'll never have a dull moment!
Visitors often comment on the fact that South Africans smile a lot... yes, we are a friendly bunch! We love to meet new people and passionately recommend our favourite place and things to do. We are a melting pot of many fascinating cultures forming one nation so you'll hear several distinct accents in our English, notice many different faces and taste a rich fusion of flavours in our cuisine.
did you know that Durban, Ballito and the beaches of the kwaZulu-Natal Coast average over 300 days of sunshine a year? Even the December to March 'rainy season' over the Kruger is actually quite sunny: rainfall generally consists of short-lived showers in the late afternoon, leaving the air washed clean of dust and making for bright, crisp photographs.
If you are bringing young children on safari for the first time, ask your Africa Safari Expert to find you a lodge that is geared for kids: many have amazing junior rangers' programmes, shorter game drives, educational games and special play areas with trained nannies. Long game drives can be tough on little ones but gentle nature walks with trained guides that teach them about bugs, birds and blooms can be very exciting.
How far back do you want to go? We have the Cradle of Humankind, where the 2.3-million-year-old fossil nicknamed Mrs Ples was found. Africa's remarkable modern history is perhaps best illustrated in a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his incarceration alongside other political prisoners under Apartheid.
In South Africa, it’s easy to find a cosy guesthouse or family-run lodge that offers that extra bit of holiday pampering plus great value for money. What’s more, eating out in South Africa is affordable, so you can generally enjoy a great meal and local vintage without the bitter aftertaste of an unreasonable bill.
South Africa welcomes a steady flow of international airlines at international airports around the country, which were all upgraded when we hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Also, once here, you’ll find a network of national highways roads criss-crossing big sky Karoo landscapes, winding through farmlands, nipping along coastlines and over magnificent mountain passes. South Africa is one of only two countries in Africa where we recommend a self-drive holiday – a fantastic option for independent travellers.