Situated between the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain and the glistening sapphire waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the exceptionally scenic city of Cape Town is in a class of its own. Some cities boast rich culture, vibrant nightlife, a cosmopolitan atmosphere and extraordinary architecture, while others boast breathtaking landscapes and extraordinary natural wonders. Cape Town is fortunate to be blessed with all of these attractions and so much more. With its bustling harbour, world-class beaches, top-notch vineyards, and its mountainous surroundings brimming with diverse flora and fauna, Cape Town consistently captivates the hearts of all who visit.
Kruger National Park
The world-famous Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest game reserve and one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries on the planet. The park has nearly two million hectares of unfenced African wilderness, in which more mammal species roam free than in any other game reserve.
At the top of the must-see lists of most visitors to South Africa is the Garden Route. This 200km stretch of coast connecting Mossel Bay to the Storms River Mouth is dotted with excellent beaches, while inland you will find picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and eventually the mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges that divide the verdant Garden Route from the arid Little Karoo.
A paradise of warm waters, sun-drenched beaches and eco-wonderlands, KwaZulu-Natal is steeped in history and adventure. From Durban’s bustling gateway of ports, fine dining and first-class shopping outlets to big 5 game reserves, rare marine species and the historic battlefields where strategists Shaka and Winston Churchill showed their might; this sunny region is fantastic for adventure seekers and discerning travellers.
Johannesburg is one of Africa’s largest and most vibrant cities. It is the economic capital of Africa and the gateway to Southern Africa. This bustling city offers a wide range of activities, attractions and plenty to do in and around the city including nearby Pretoria. Downtown is a multi-cultural mixture of traditional medicine shops, Chinese restaurants, taxi ranks and ultra-modern skyscrapers. There are excellent museums, art galleries and organised tours of historical and political interest. The shopping is Southern Africa’s best and the many restaurants cater for all tastes. The nearby township of Soweto is Johannesburg’s most popular tourist attraction.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Bordering Botswana in South Africa’s North West Province, the lesser-known Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth-largest reserve in South Africa. It is home to a wild dog reserve and abundant wildlife including the world-renowned Big Five and over 300 bird species such as vulture, ostrich and the large kori bustard. The landscape is characterised by vast grasslands, woodlands, and the rugged Tshwene-Tshwene Hills sheltering a host of wildlife. Visitors can look forward to sunset drinks overlooking the Madikwe Dam, ample game viewing opportunities and a variety of accommodation; options ranging from community lodges to luxury safari lodges in a malaria-free zone.
When to Go
There are four seasons: Autumn from March to May, Winter from June to August, Spring from September to November and Summer from December to February.May to September is the best time to visit South Africa, as the cooler winter months in the northern regions provide ideal conditions for wildlife viewing. It can be rainy from November to February, but this is the best time to travel for bird watching, and temperatures remain warm at 22°C to 33°C.
South African temperatures, which are measured in centigrade, average at highs of 28°C to average lows of 8°C in the summer months while winter temperatures range from 1°C at night to around 18°C during the day. Average annual rainfall is on the low side at under 500mm a year, making the country somewhat dry. Much of the rain falls in the Western Cape in the winter, differing from the rest of the country, which experiences summer rainfall. On the plus side, the South African climate boasts more than its fair share of sunshine, recording an average of 8.5 hours a day.
A good pair of walking shoes and binoculars are ideal for safaris. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, suntan lotion and mosquito repellant, as well as appropriate seasonal clothing and undergarments. Medical essentials, electronic devices and adaptors come in handy.
South Africa is largely informal, behaviour and expectations familiar from Western countries prevail in tourist venues. In this multicultural country, etiquette varies wildly between ethnic and demographic groups, so check with your guide or a local if unsure.
Customs & Traditions
South African art features the 4,000-year-old cave paintings of the San Bushmen which is richest collection of rock art in Africa. The country’s homegrown conceptual art movement sprang up in the 1990s as apartheid came to an end. Baker designed structures that suited the South African climate by combining elements of Palladian (Italian Renaissance) with Neoclassical architecture (the style of ancient Greece and Rome). These combined styles, along with Cape Dutch, created the defining look of South African colonial buildings.
South Africa is known as the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures and religions. Contained within South Africa’s borders are Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele, Khoisan, Hindu, Muslim and Afrikaner people, to name but a few.
The origins of theatre can be found in the ancient oral tradition of indigenous South Africans – the folk tales which were shared around the fires. Performances on stage came much later: The formal South African theatre tradition dates back to the 1830s, when Andrew Geddes Bains’s “Life among the Hottentots” was performed in 1838 by the Grahamstown Amateur Company. Today, the State Theatre in Pretoria is the largest theatre complex in Africa.
Similar as in many other countries, guests are expected to greet everyone upon arrival and with a decent amount of respect. Most common is a handshake accompanied with eye contact and a smile. When shaking hands with a person of the opposite gender, the man usually waits for the lady to extend her hand first. People who know each other very well may greet with a hug.
It is considered polite to remove shoes before entering homes. Gifts are usually not expected, however, it is nice to bring something to drink, such as juice, wine or beer.
Always acknowledge an elder, let them ask questions, and during mealtime elders should be served first.
South Africa is a nation of about 60 million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages and religions. There are 11 official languages namely English, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Swazi, Venda, Ndebele, Pedi, Tsonga and Afrikaans. Each of the official languages are guaranteed equal status. Most South Africans are multilingual and able to speak at least two or more of the official languages.
The constitution of South Africa allows for freedom of religion with the majority of the population identifying as Christian. Other major religions in the country include Islam, traditional African religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism.