South Africa

About South Africa

South Africa is said to be the most diverse country in Africa and home to some of the continent’s most iconic wildlife, destinations, and experiences. From family holidays and honeymoon escapes to value-for-money vacations and luxury safaris, holidays in South Africa cater for all tastes and budgets.

Looking for a Big 5 safari? soak up the sun on unspoiled beaches, fine wines in vineyard-clad valleys, or revel in world-class restaurants. No matter what’s on your vacation wish list, a South Africa holiday will tick all the right boxes.

South Africa’s Mother City is consistently voted as one of the top holiday destinations in the world for families, couples and solo travelers. Cape Town boasts spectacular natural beauty, superb accommodation and fantastic weather year-round – and some of the best beaches in the world! The city’s acclaimed food and wine experiences are as alluring as its iconic landmark: Table Mountain, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. And for some of the best land-based whale watching on the planet.

A safari visit around the republic of South Africa brings great pleasure to the beautiful sceneries and wildlife in its fascinating national parks. South Africa has more national parks than any other country in Africa (40) with the best experience in Kruger national park and Sabi sand game reserve. Other national parks include Kgalagadi Transfrontier parkAddo Elephant national parkTsitsikamma national park, Mapungubwe national park, Marakele national parkGolden gate highlands, Augrabies national parkRichtersveld Transfrontier ParkGarden route national parkMountain Zebra national parkTable mountain national park and many other rich and stunning national parks. These destinations have a wide range of wildlife ranging from the Big 5, lots of elephants, habituated leopards, giraffes, zebras to mention but a few, hence making South Africa a number one wildlife destination for an African safari. Wildlife in South Africa is however featured by the beautiful scenery of the highlands, the rich and diverse culture, freshwater bodies crossing through some national parks, and the breathtaking coastal destinations for luxury relaxation.

Getting to South Africa

O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg is the air transport hub of southern Africa. Onward, travel is mostly by car. Because of excellent roads and facilities in South Africa, some people choose the self-drive option. In most other cases, your local tour operator will arrange pick-up from the airport and further transportation as part of your tour package.

Other international airports are located in Cape Town and Durban, but few flights from Europe or America fly directly to either destination. The National airline is a South Africa airway that runs direct flights from various destinations in the UK, and the USA to Johannesburg.

British Airways also offer a direct flight from London to Cape Town and run a direct flight between London and Durban.

Delta flies to Johannesburg from Atlanta, from South East Asia.

Singapore Airlines flies direct to Johannesburg from Singapore.

Most of the time, flights tend to be more expensive in December and January while in April and May are usually cheap.

Getting around South Africa

There are regularly scheduled domestic flights throughout the country, and various chartered airlines fly to and from safari camps. Several domestic airlines fly to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP), located near Kruger National Park, and to Skukuza Airport inside the park. Federal Airlines has scheduled flights to several upmarket safari destinations.

Best time to visit South Africa

South Africa is a large and diverse country with a climate that varies from region to region: Cape Town and the Western Cape experiences winter rainfall (June to August) and a largely bone-dry hot summer while much of the rest of the country, including the Kruger Park area, have heavy summer thundershowers (December to March) and a dry winter period from May to October. The Garden Route and Eastern Cape on the other hand can experience rain at any time of year.

The drier winter months between May and October is the best time for superb game viewing on a South Africa Safari in Kruger, Madikwe, Pilanesberg and KwaZulu-Natal as animals

Are Concentrated around water sources and are easier to spot in the thinned-out bush?

For a Cape town beach holiday, you simply can’t beat the hot summer months between November and March – although book your accommodation early if you want to visit over Christmas or New Year.

The Kwanzulu natal coast has year-round sunshine, beautifully mild winter, and warm ocean temperatures so any time is a good time.

If you want to see whales in the south-western Cape on the aptly named Whale coast then visit between June and November, although numbers are at their peak in September.

South Africa Safari Parks and Reserves

South Africa is one of the destinations with a variety of national parks some of which are among the oldest protected wildlife habitats due to poaching and hunting in decades ago. There are 21 national parks in South Africa which are known for having a variety of game and are always easy to encounter by visitors on game drives. It gives a chance to spot the Big 5 and is one of the few destinations that sill has rhinos in their natural habitat. Your South African Safari takes you through some of the prominent national parks such as

Kruger National Park

The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers amazing wildlife experiences for South Africans. There’s plenty to see in the park, which boasts an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.  The south can be pretty busy but is more accessible and productive for day visitors as sightings tend to be better. All the main rest camps have day visitor areas and there are also many beautiful picnic spots (bring some cash to hire a skottel for a great brekkie), plus viewpoints where visitors can stretch their legs. Whether you like to tick off the big five or chill out and watch the birds at Kruger’s peaceful bird hides. This is still one of the easiest places for an injection of bushveld bliss.

Camdeboo National Park

You could easily be in and out of the 195 square kilometer Camdeboo National Park in half a day, but the park is open past sunset on weekends for the express purpose of watching the sunset at the Valley of Desolation. Watch the pastel pink light fade as Graaff-Reinet flickers to life beautifully in the valley below. One of South Africa’s smallest national parks, historical Karoo buildings lie within sight of herds of plains game, harking back to a time when the Karoo’s wild animals would walk through town,

Table Mountain National Park

The Table Mountain National Park stretches 70km from Signal Hill all the way to Cape Point and also includes Boulders in Simon’s Town, Silvermine, Tokai, and Oudekraal. Signal Hill and Lion’s Head are popular outings and offer excellent views of the city. It is from here that the noonday gun marks 12:00 in Cape Town.

The Cape Point Nature Reserve also forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. Take a brisk walk or catch the funicular railway to the very edge of the continent. The kids will love the shipwreck trail, too, where they’ll find the remains of some of the 26 ships that came to a watery end on the shores. Diaz Beach is also worth a visit. This unbelievably beautiful beach is dramatically surrounded by cliffs. Swimming can be a bit dangerous here, but it’s a good spot for photography and secluded romance.

West Coast National park

Home to the magical Langebaan Lagoon, white sandy dunes and incredible birdlife, the West Coast National Park is so close to the city it’s an effortless day trip from Cape Town. The park hosts a total of 250 bird species and blankets of wondrous wildflowers in the winter when rainfall has been good.

Garden Route National Park

The Garden Route National Park is made up of three sections – Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma – and offers a variety of habitats to explore. Wild indigenous forest, beautiful coast, and dark-water rivers.

In Wilderness, you can canoe the Touw River, which leads to the wide Wilderness beach or meander gently alongside the Half-collared Kingfisher Trail as it stretches out toward the waterfall at the end.

There are plenty of day hikes in the Knysna section too, but it’s great for mountain biking or birding as well. Then, Tsitsikamma is where the ocean meets lands in a striking array of colors, rocks, and fynbos. There’s a place to snorkel, rock pools to play in, and seascapes to admire.

Mokala National Park

Mokala National Park is about 70 kilometers from Kimberley and is best known for harboring endangered species like sable, roan and tsessebe, aardvark, and the tiny aardwolf. Mosu Lodge offers four game drives each day: in the early morning, during the day, at sunset, and at night, and there’s an option to view old rock engravings that are about 2000 years old. Mosu Restaurant is at the back end of the main Mosu Lodge on the vast expanse of grass overlooking the parklands, and there are tortoises walking about. The good old Russian and chips is a winner. But if that’s not for you, there’s a load to choose from off the à la carte menu. Pre-booking is advised.

Augrabies Falls National Park

There are a distinct calm and isolation about the desert areas in South Africa, but Augrabies is the one place where the water cuts right through it all and makes an almighty noise about it. A rambling trail at the main rest camp links a series of viewpoints to see the Orange River in full flow and after that, be sure to explore the rest of the park. Drive downriver and witness the calmness of the river in the stunning Oranjekom Gorge.

Marakele National Park

Did you know you can see the Big Five at Marakele National Park? The Waterberg Mountain range stretches all the way into the park and it’s one of the best places to gaze up at the cliffs and catch sight of the raptors swooping around the Cape vulture colony. It’s also one of the only places in the area that day visitors can self-drive in Big Five territory.

Addo Elephant National Park

Addo’s Main Game Area and Colchester Section are the regions that most people think about when envisioning the park. Together they are roughly 24000 hectares and this is the place to see elephant hoards (in future, some of the allies will also be moved to other sections of the park).

Other special sights include naturally tusk-less elephants, the Addo flightless dung beetles, and caracals. You’ll also see kudu in numbers as large as the herds of impala in Kruger, and an abundance of warthog snuffling about on their knees.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the northeastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The Free State’s only national park, Golden Gate Highlands National Park is currently also the only national park proclaimed to protect the grassland biome. It’s also perfect for travelers heading from Joburg, Durban, or Bloem, sitting just a three-hour drive from either of these city centers.

Wildlife and Birds in South Africa

South Africa has various landscapes namely forests, coastal vegetation, grasslands, mountains, deserts, and more as they are subdivided further into different vegetation types depending on their characteristics. They are favorable for different animals for the provision of food, shelter, water, hunting, and comfort. South Africa is characterized by savannah grasslands with fewer trees, bushes, and shrubs. There are 230 mammals, a few reptiles and amphibians and primates. On a safari in South Africa, the common sightings you’ll spot are rhinos, buffaloes, lions, leopards, elephants, zebras, giraffes, blue wildebeests, kudus, impalas, cheetahs, hyenas, mongooses, jackals, baboons, tortoises, adders, frogs to mention but a few.

South Africa Birds

South Africa records over 840 bird species. The best time to go for birding tours is from November to April after the arrival of the migrants. Some of the birds include ostriches, blue crane, African penguin, blue crane knod-billed duck, south African shelduck, African black duck, Indian peafowl and more bird species, animals, reptiles, fish and plant life, flamingos, rock pigeons, red-eyed dove, yellow-throated sandgrouse, bustards, turacos to mention but a few. The best destinations for birding in South Africa are Mkhuze, Kruger, and Kgalagadi which is famous for raptors.

South Africa Safari Lodges

South Africa has some of the best luxury hotels and lodges both in towns and in national parks. These include Abbey Manor luxury guesthouse on the slopes of Table Mountain, Cape town Hollow boutique hotel in the capital city, Lions Sand Narina lodge, Jacana river lodge, aha Bongani Mountain lodge, Mjejane river lodge, and Buckler’s Africa hotels among others in Kruger National Park. Barefoot Addo elephant lodge, Kuzuko lodge, Zuurberg mountain village, and River Bend lodge provide extraordinary accommodation services while at Addo Elephant national park. Some of the best attendants while at Kgalagadi national park are at Xaus lodge, Kalahari farmstead, Kalahari cottage, Askham Chalets. You may stay at Simbavati Machaton camp, Makuwa safari lodge, Hornbills lodge, Wild dogs safari lodge, or at Shick Shack backpackers on a safari to Timbavati game reserve and Jaci’s lodges, Buffalo ridge safari lodge and Thakadu river camp in Madikwe game reserve.

South Africa Weather & Climate

The climate of South Africa is determined by its location. It is bordered by the oceans of Atlantic and Indian on the right and left respectively. It has varied climate of Mediterranean climate in the southwest, arid climate, a mild climate seen at the south and east coast, the temperate climate around the center of the plateau, and a desert climate in some parts of the northwest. South Africa has classic weather in the Southern Hemisphere, where the days are sunny while the nights are cold. Temperature varies according to the movement of the high-pressure belt area. Places with the lowest temperatures record seventeen degrees celsius and places with very high temperatures register more than forty degrees celsius. The different provinces of South Africa are characterized by different climatic conditions.

Is South Africa safe for tourists?

South Africa is one of the safest destinations to visit in Africa. It is however safer to do safaris through tours and travel companies. These companies give guidelines and instructions which will be of help against being a victim of the robbers, scammers, and any other danger at the destinations. The country has a high rate of crimes and is known for robbery and scamming. Durban and Johannesburg register the highest crimes which are sometimes very violent. Therefore, be very careful while at any of the towns, coastal areas, markets, clubs, and on the roads especially when using public means of transport. You are advised not to carry money in cash and don’t trust anyone else with your property apart from your guides and attendants at the hotel.

South Africa Safaris and tours

South Africa is one of the destinations with a variety of national parks some of which are among the oldest protected wildlife habitats due to poaching and hunting in decades ago. There are 21 national parks in South Africa which are known for having a variety of game and are always easy to encounter by visitors on game drives. It gives a chance to spot the Big 5 and is one of the few destinations that sill has rhinos in their natural habitat. Your South African Safari takes you through some of the prominent national parks such as

Kruger National Park

The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers amazing wildlife experiences for South Africans. There’s plenty to see in the park, which boasts an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.  The south can be pretty busy but is more accessible and productive for day visitors as sightings tend to be better. All the main rest camps have day visitor areas and there are also many beautiful picnic spots (bring some cash to hire a skottel for a great brekkie), plus viewpoints where visitors can stretch their legs. Whether you like to tick off the big five or chill out and watch the birds at Kruger’s peaceful bird hides. This is still one of the easiest places for an injection of bushveld bliss.

Camdeboo National Park

You could easily be in and out of the 195 square kilometer Camdeboo National Park in half a day, but the park is open past sunset on weekends for the express purpose of watching the sunset at the Valley of Desolation. Watch the pastel pink light fade as Graaff-Reinet flickers to life beautifully in the valley below. One of South Africa’s smallest national parks, historical Karoo buildings lie within sight of herds of plains game, harking back to a time when the Karoo’s wild animals would walk through town,

Table Mountain National Park

The Table Mountain National Park stretches 70km from Signal Hill all the way to Cape Point and also includes Boulders in Simon’s Town, Silvermine, Tokai, and Oudekraal. Signal Hill and Lion’s Head are popular outings and offer excellent views of the city. It is from here that the noonday gun marks 12:00 in Cape Town.

The Cape Point Nature Reserve also forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. Take a brisk walk or catch the funicular railway to the very edge of the continent. The kids will love the shipwreck trail, too, where they’ll find the remains of some of the 26 ships that came to a watery end on the shores. Diaz Beach is also worth a visit. This unbelievably beautiful beach is dramatically surrounded by cliffs. Swimming can be a bit dangerous here, but it’s a good spot for photography and secluded romance.

West Coast National park

Home to the magical Langebaan Lagoon, white sandy dunes and incredible birdlife, the West Coast National Park is so close to the city it’s an effortless day trip from Cape Town. The park hosts a total of 250 bird species and blankets of wondrous wildflowers in the winter when rainfall has been good.

Garden Route National Park

The Garden Route National Park is made up of three sections – Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma – and offers a variety of habitats to explore. Wild indigenous forest, beautiful coast, and dark-water rivers.

In Wilderness, you can canoe the Touw River, which leads to the wide Wilderness beach or meander gently alongside the Half-collared Kingfisher Trail as it stretches out toward the waterfall at the end.

There are plenty of day hikes in the Knysna section too, but it’s great for mountain biking or birding as well. Then, Tsitsikamma is where the ocean meets lands in a striking array of colors, rocks, and fynbos. There’s a place to snorkel, rock pools to play in, and seascapes to admire.

Mokala National Park

Mokala National Park is about 70 kilometers from Kimberley and is best known for harboring endangered species like sable, roan and tsessebe, aardvark, and the tiny aardwolf. Mosu Lodge offers four game drives each day: in the early morning, during the day, at sunset, and at night, and there’s an option to view old rock engravings that are about 2000 years old. Mosu Restaurant is at the back end of the main Mosu Lodge on the vast expanse of grass overlooking the parklands, and there are tortoises walking about. The good old Russian and chips is a winner. But if that’s not for you, there’s a load to choose from off the à la carte menu. Pre-booking is advised.

Augrabies Falls National Park

There are a distinct calm and isolation about the desert areas in South Africa, but Augrabies is the one place where the water cuts right through it all and makes an almighty noise about it. A rambling trail at the main rest camp links a series of viewpoints to see the Orange River in full flow and after that, be sure to explore the rest of the park. Drive downriver and witness the calmness of the river in the stunning Oranjekom Gorge.

Marakele National Park

Did you know you can see the Big Five at Marakele National Park? The Waterberg Mountain range stretches all the way into the park and it’s one of the best places to gaze up at the cliffs and catch sight of the raptors swooping around the Cape vulture colony. It’s also one of the only places in the area that day visitors can self-drive in Big Five territory.

Addo Elephant National Park

Addo’s Main Game Area and Colchester Section are the regions that most people think about when envisioning the park. Together they are roughly 24000 hectares and this is the place to see elephant hoards (in future, some of the allies will also be moved to other sections of the park).

Other special sights include naturally tusk-less elephants, the Addo flightless dung beetles, and caracals. You’ll also see kudu in numbers as large as the herds of impala in Kruger, and an abundance of warthog snuffling about on their knees.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the northeastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The Free State’s only national park, Golden Gate Highlands National Park is currently also the only national park proclaimed to protect the grassland biome. It’s also perfect for travelers heading from Joburg, Durban, or Bloem, sitting just a three-hour drive from either of these city centers.

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