South Africa is Africa’s most well-known and developed safari and travel destination. It is the ideal country to travel to for a first time visit to Africa, as it provides a wonderful introduction to the continent.
The country is blessed with an incredible variety of wilderness areas from beautiful beaches and coastal drives to towering mountains, vast arid beauty and endless savanna-woodland landscapes that are well protected home of the Big 5.
Cape Town is extremely popular and forms part of most African journeys that include South Africa. The city enjoys a Mediterranean type climate with blue skies very prevalent in the summer months. World renowned gourmet restaurants, bars, nightlife and shops abound in this trendy city. All is set against the picture-perfect backdrop of Table Mountain and “The Twelve Apostles.” The city surrounds play host to some of the finest vineyards on the planet. Here the Cape Winelands offer up arguably the finest wine tasting experiences on the planet. If you like to keep fit then Cape Town is the perfect place with virtually every outdoor adventure activity you can think of on offer.
A trip to Cape Town is not complete without a visit to the Cape Winelands: the most popular towns being Constantia (the birthplace of South Africa’s wine-making industry), Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl all lie within easy reach of the city. Delicious wines combined with magnificent mountain backdrops, century old architecture and awe-inspiring food can be enjoyed in a single day trip.
The Western Cape extends up both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans with superb scenery on hand both ways. Along the warmer seas of the Indian Ocean there are some beautiful nature reserves with secluded beaches and select accommodation. Hermanus is famous for whale spotting and well worth a visit on its own or as a stopover on the way up the coast. Knysna, Wilderness and Plettenburg Bay form the heart of the Garden Route, an incredibly beautiful part of the country that lives by its name.
The Garden Route is a superb stretch of coastline that runs for 200km North West of Cape Town. Dotted with white sandy beaches, picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and wild mountains, it is a superb self-drive route that offers plenty of activities along the way. From whale and dolphin watching, hiking and exploring caves, canyon adventures, rafting and half a dozen nature and marine reserves to visit, there is much to see and do.
Further on the Eastern Cape is known as the country’s ‘wild province’ because of its immense tracts of pristine coastline and bush. It has developed into a niche safari destination with some incredible big 5 private reserves offering malaria free big-game encounters. The Eastern Cape also has huge cultural significance in the history of South Africa, being the homeland of Nelson Mandela.
Kwazulu-Natal is presided over by the Drakensburg mountains that overlook the battlefields where scenes of untold bravery and epic tales, like those from the Anglo-Zulu wars are brought to life by specialist storytellers. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park and its surrounding private game reserves are the perfect safari destinations in close proximity to the striking wild coasts of northern Kwazulu-Natal.
The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s biggest and most distinguished national park and typically forms a part of any high-end safari circuit in the country. Some of the finest high-end luxury camps and lodges on the continent can be found here and in the many private concessions. For a virtually guaranteed Big 5 encounter with all the frills of lavish accommodation in the bush this is a must visit destination. Mpumalanga province also has some stunning mountain scenery that is very rewarding on the eye and makes a stopover on the way to the Kruger by road a very worthy one.
The Limpopo and North West provinces are not to be belittled for their offerings that also include some of South Africa’s finest wildlife reserves. The Waterberg couples breathtaking rolling landscapes with specialist safaris like horse trails in Limpopo. In the North West most notable are the Madikwe and Pilanesburg safari experiences that couple with a taste of the traditional history of the Tswana people of the area.
Gauteng is the beating heart of South Africa, at the centre of which is Johannesburg or “Egoli – place of gold”. This sometimes-maligned city has a powerful energy that may inspire those who choose to give it a chance. A visit to Soweto and the Apartheid museum can change the way you look at life. Johannesburg is a major entry point for most safari goers visiting Africa, even those that are not including South Africa in their itinerary. It is worth considering what’s on offer in Joburg as it may well surprise you. There are some incredible places to stay and dine at here.
The Northern Cape is most notable from a safari perspective in that it hosts South Africa’s largest private game reserve, covering a massive 114,000 hectares of malaria-free pristine semi-arid desert. Tswalu-Kalahari is home to an incredible array of wildlife and one can experience this all on foot, on the back of a horse or in a 4×4 vehicle with expert guides. The Kalahari is a unique ecosystem that is home to some very special desert-adapted animal species.