South Africa is Africa's most visited country, and is known as the "world in one country". If you travel to South Africa, you have the opportunity to see Africa's magnificent wildlife, sunny beaches, vibrant cities, rich culture and history, and breathtaking nature. From deserts to forests, from mountains to beaches, from grasslands and wetlands to the dry savanna of the Kruger National Park, South Africa is known for its natural beauty, scenic splendour and warm hospitality.

Highlights
  • Kruger National Park safaris
  • Scenic Cape Town
  • Rich culture and history
  • Big 5 game viewing
  • World-class dining and entertainment
  • Favourable exchange rate
  • Easy to get around
  • First world infrastructure
  • Safe for tourists

South Africa is known for its history, its wines, its wildlife, its breathtaking landscapes, sunshine and beach weather, and its diversity of peoples and cultures. Whatever your travel interests, South Africa has something for you.

The top two travel destinations in South Africa are the greater Kruger National Park, one of the world's greatest game reserves, and the city of Cape Town, famously perched on the slopes of Table Mountain, recently voted top destination city in the world by New York Times and UK Guardian readers.

Distances

South Africa is a big country, and it is impossible to see all of South Africa in one trip. Flights are affordable and safe, so the best way to get around is to fly between your main destinations, then rent a car when you get there or let us arrange guided tours and transfers for you.

From Johannesburg to Cape Town it's a two-hour flight. From Johannesburg to George or Port Elizabeth (to visit the Garden Route or Eastern Cape) it's just less than a two-hour flight. The Garden Route is about four to five hours from Cape Town by road. The Kruger National Park is about five to six hours driving from Johannesburg, or a one hour flight. From Cape Town, Kruger Park is a three-hour flight (to Nelspruit, the nearest town).

Please have a look at our map of South Africa to help orientate yourself. You can use the map as a basis from which to plan your trip to South Africa.

Overview of the most popular tourist regions

The Greater Kruger National Park

South Africa Greater Kruger National Park game drive

Game viewing in Greater Kruger National Park

The Greater Kruger National Park is found in the far northeast corner of South Africa and is the country's premier safari destination. The Greater Kruger includes the Kruger National Park itself (a vast national park of over 2 million hectares) as well as the adjacent private game reserves, such as the famous Sabi Sand and Timbavati reserves.

  • The average length of stay in Kruger is between three and six days.

Greater Cape Town

Cape Town Travel

Cape Town, South Africa

Greater Cape Town is known for its beautiful scenery, pristine beaches (although the seawater is very cold all year), Table Mountain and other majestic mountains, the Cape Winelands (where some of the world's best wines are produced), a rich cultural and historical heritage, and plenty of activities to enjoy (including shark cage diving and whale watching). It's a world-class tourist city that offers something for everyone.

Cape Town is not known as a safari destination, however. The Cape Peninsula forms the southwestern tip of South Africa, and the popular viewing area at Cape Point is famously regarded as the point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.

  • The average length of stay in greater Cape Town is between four and six days.

The Garden Route

South Africa Garden Route Sedgefield Shearwater on Sea Sedgefield

Sedgefield on The Garden Route

(Image: Shearwater on Sea)

The Garden Route is a scenic region along the southern Cape coast, from Mosselbay to Tsitsikamma. The area is known for its beaches, mountains, forests, lakes and beautiful coastal scenery. The Garden Route is about four to five hours east of Cape Town and stretches for about 200 km along the coast.

Along the way, you can stay in picturesque coastal towns and villages like Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Storms River Village. Further inland is Oudtshoorn, famous for the Cango Caves, arid landscapes and for being the heart of South Africa's ostrich farming industry.

  • The average length of stay along The Garden Route is two to four days.

The Panorama Route

Panorama Route South Africa

Panorama Route, South Africa

The Panorama Route is found along the Mpumalanga escarpment which separates the Highveld from the Lowveld, close to the Kruger National Park. This area is known for its breathtaking viewpoints and waterfalls, and the highlights can be seen in one or two days. However, many visitors combine it with a longer stay in the adjacent Lowveld or nearby Kruger National Park.

  • The average length of stay along The Panorama Route is one or two days.

Northern KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa Kwa Zulu Natal

Lakes and mountains in KwaZulu-Natal

Northern KwaZulu-Natal is a warm, subtropical region of South Africa along the east coast. The city of Durban is a one hour flight from Johannesburg and the gateway to Kwazulu-Natal Province. The northern part of the province is the best area to combine bush and beach (a safari combined with a beach holiday). There are some wonderful game reserves in this region, and pristine beaches along the coast, where the water is warm most of the year.

Further inland, the Drakensberg mountains and a number of historical battlefield sites are popular attractions, too, which is why the region is known for its Bush, Beach, Battlefields and Berg (Mountain) tours. Or just Bush and Beach trips, if you leave out the battlefields and the Drakensberg mountains.

  • You can easily spend an entire two-week trip exploring this beautiful province.

Malaria-free safaris

South Africa Madikwe Game Reserve North West Province Male lion Andrew Rice I Unsplash

Madikwe Game Reserve male lion

(Image: Andrew Rice I Unsplash)

Malaria-free safaris are also possible in South Africa. The most popular malaria-free safari destinations are found in the Eastern Cape (greater Addo National Park and surrounding private reserves such as Shamwari), Madikwe and Pilanesberg in the North West Province, the Waterberg region (although a few isolated cases of malaria have occurred there so it is not entirely malaria-free), and the Kalahari region (Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and nearby private reserves such as Tswalu). While the risk of contracting malaria is low in greater Kruger, these malaria-free options are popular among families with young children or expectant mothers.

Other regions

South Africa Hole in the Wall Wild Coast

Hole in the Wall, Wild Coast

There are so many other popular regions in South Africa worth visiting, such as the Karoo, the Wild Coast, Namaqualand (famous for the annual flower season in August and September), the Drakensberg Mountains, and various other game reserves and mountain ranges in South Africa.

It truly is a world in one country, and it would take you months, perhaps years, to see it all.

Weather

The weather in South Africa is usually mild to warm. We seldom get any snow, and even in winter, the average daytime temperatures are reasonable (around 15°C to 20°C depending on the region). The weather differs from region to region.

The northern and eastern areas (including the Kruger National Park) are hot in summer and mild in winter. Summer is the rainy season. It does not really get very cold in these areas, except at night when temperatures can drop to below 10°C in winter, and sometimes even reach freezing point.

In Cape Town, winter is the rainy season and it gets rather cold and windy between June and August, but never below freezing. Summer is usually dry and sunny (from October to April). The central parts of South Africa (the Highveld, Karoo, Kalahari and the mountain regions) do experience frost in winter, and occasional snow in the high lying areas.

Any time of year is great for visiting South Africa, although generally summer is considered better for Cape Town and winter is considered better for safari destinations. This is why autumn (April and May), as well as spring (August to November), are popular for trips that combine these destinations.

Safety

Safety is a concern for most visitors to a foreign country. As far as tourists are concerned, South Africa is as safe or safer than many other tourist destinations in the world. The tourist areas are generally not crime hotspots, and millions of tourists visit South Africa each year without incident. That said, we are aware that South Africa sometimes receives bad press regarding the crime situation. However, most incidents of crime involving tourists occur in areas or situations that are known to be unsafe. Please read this blog post about safety in South Africa.

Speak to us before you travel to South Africa, so we can give you advice on where to go and where not to go. Venturing into a township on your own, for example, is not safe. We only recommend lodges and hotels in safe areas and have never had an incident of violent crime on any of our safaris.

Don't let the fear of crime stop you from visiting this beautiful country!

South Africa
South Africa Kruger National Park Leopard Simon Vegter

South Africa is Africa's most visited country, and is known as the "world in one country". If you travel to South Africa, you have the opportunity to see Africa's magnificent wildlife, sunny beaches, vibrant cities, rich culture and history, and breathtaking nature. From deserts to forests, from mountains to beaches, from grasslands and wetlands to the dry savanna of the Kruger National Park, South Africa is known for its natural beauty, scenic splendour and warm hospitality.

Kruger National Park
Feature Kruger National Park South Africa Simon Vegter

The Greater Kruger National Park is South Africa's premier safari destination: it's the largest wildlife conservancy in Africa, set in one of the most accessible yet unspoilt wilderness areas in South Africa. It encompasses the Kruger National Park and a number of adjoining private reserves which share unfenced boundaries with the park; including Sabi Sand, Timbavati, Klaserie and Balule Game Reserves, which are home to a wide variety of private game lodges, each with its own brand of style and luxury.

Thornybush Game Reserve

Thornybush Game Reserve recently dropped their eastern boundary fence and now forms part of the Greater Kruger conservation area. Thornybush has a diverse collection of safari lodges.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Feature Sabi Sand South Africa Leopard Beyond Kirkmans Kamp

Bordering Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a collection of privately-owned game reserves which have dropped their fences by mutual agreement. There is also no fence between the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Kruger, allowing the free movement of animals through the reserve. Sabi Sand is without a doubt South Africa's top luxury safari destination and the best place in the world to see leopards in the wild.

Timbavati Game Reserve
Timbavati Game Reserve

The Timbavati Game Reserve is most famous for its white lions, which are still spotted in this area from time to time. The Timbavati is a collection of privately-owned game reserves which share an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park. It is a vast Big 5 game reserve situated to the west of Kruger, and to the north of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The bush and game viewing in the Timbavati is similar to what you will find in the Kruger National Park.

Klaserie Game Reserve
Feature Klaserie Game Reserve South Africa Game drive in Klaserie Africa on Foot

The Klaserie Game Reserve is a privately run game reserve that forms part of the Greater Kruger Park. You'll find a variety of safari lodges here, ranging from rustic bush camps and walking trails to luxury game lodges. Klaserie offers a tranquil, private and unhurried safari experience. Guest numbers are low and the lodges are small and intimate.

Balule Game Reserve
Feature balule private game reserve South Africa Simon Vegter

Balule Private Game Reserve is a collection of private game farms and reserves with no fences between them, allowing for the free movement of game throughout the 2 million hectare Greater Kruger conservation area. The perennial Olifants River flows through the centre of the reserve, which attracts a wide variety of wildlife to this plentiful water supply.

Panorama Route
00 Feature Travel Guide Panorama Route South Africa

One of South Africa's most scenic areas, the Panorama Route refers to the escarpment in Mpumalanga Province, where the Drakensberg mountains separate the Highveld from the Lowveld to the east. Studded with numerous waterfalls, spectacular viewpoints and geographical phenomena and a breathtaking canyon, it's easy to see why it's such a popular tourist destination.

Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve Feature Game drive

Madikwe is one of South Africa's popular Big 5 safari destinations for those looking for a malaria-free safari. It's especially family friendly as there's no need for malarial prophylactics. Most lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve welcome children and offer specially designed child-friendly programmes to keep the little ones busy and to help them really enjoy their safari experience, too.

Cape Town
Cape Town Travel Guide

Cape Town is South Africa's oldest and most beautiful city and the top travel destination in Africa. Built on the slopes of Table Mountain, the city offers something for everyone, from beautiful views and beaches to world-class cuisine and inspiring culture. Cape Town is a must-see destination for anyone travelling to South Africa.

Garden Route
Feature The Garden Route Stormsriver Bridge Tsitsikamma

The Garden Route is the coastal area between Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth along the southern Cape coast of South Africa. It is known for its beautiful scenery, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and beaches. A number of interesting, laid-back coastal towns add character to the Garden Route, including Knysna, Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay, Nature's Valley, Sedgefield and, of course, George with its regional airport.

Phinda Game Reserve
Phinda Game Reserve - KwaZulu Natal - South Africa

Phinda Private Game Reserve is not far from the well-known iSimangaliso/Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Phinda offers you abundant wildlife, courtesy of its incredibly diverse habitats. There, a handful of private lodges share excellent game sightings in a 23,000-hectare wilderness. Within easy distance of the warm Indian Ocean and its pristine beaches, Phinda makes for an ideal "bush and beach" safari destination.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
Elephant Hluhluwe Imfolosi

Formerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa (1895) and, for many, certainly the most scenically beautiful reserve in southern Africa. It's also the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal province with the Big 5.

Greater Addo National Park
Addo Elephant Park South Africa Kuzuko Lodge

Greater Addo and the nearby private game reserves are among the most popular malaria-free safari destinations in South Africa.

Johannesburg
Feature People riding go karts in Soweto Johannesburg South Africa

Johannesburg is Africa's most modern city. It is the thriving commercial, financial, industrial, mining, retail and business hub of South Africa. Generating 16% of South Africa's GDP, Johannesburg is one of the world's leading financial centres. Welcome to eGoli, the City of Gold!

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park along with the nearby Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve is a fantastic, semi-arid safari destination. The Kalahari desert teems with wildlife and boasts dramatic scenery.

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