South Africa Featured, Countries
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 and scenic splendour.
* South Africa 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.
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 there or let us arrange guided tours and transfers for you. From Johannesburg to Cape Town is a 2 hour flight. From Johannesburg to George or Port Elizabeth (to visit the Garden Route or Eastern Cape) is just less than a 2 hour flight. The Garden Route is about 4-5 hours from Cape Town by road. The Kruger National Park is about 5-6 hours driving from Johannesburg, or a one hour flight. From Cape Town, the Kruger Park is a 3 hour flight (to Nelspruit, the nearest town).
Please have a look at our map of South Africa to help orientate you. 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 is found in the far north-east corner of South Africa, and is the country's prime 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 is between 3 and 6 days.
Greater Cape Town is known for its beautiful scenery, pristine beaches (although the sea water 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 is the point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The average length of stay in greater Cape Town is between 4 and 7 days.
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 4-5 hours east of Cape Town, and stretches for about 200km along the coast. Along the way you can stay in holiday towns like Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Storms River Village. Further inland is Oudtshoorn, famous for the Cango Caves, dry landscapes and for being the heart of South Africa's ostrich farming industry. The average length of stay is 2-4 days.
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 view points 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.
Northern Kwazulul-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). The 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 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 are also popular and worth visiting, such as the Karoo, the Wild Coast, Namaqualand (famous for the annual flower season in August and September), and various other 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.
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 15-20°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. Summer is usually dry and sunny (from October to April). The central parts of South Africa (the Higveld, Karoo, Kalahari and the mountain regions) do experience frost in winter, and occasional snow on 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 is a concern for most visitors to a foreign country. As far as tourists are concerned, South Africa is as safe or more safe 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 crime on any of our safaris. Don't let the fear of crime stop you from visiting this beautiful country!
When to visit Cape Town Know when is good to go…
A guide to the best time to visit Cape Town, laid out in a calendar format with seasonal descriptions.
When to visit Cape Town