AN EXHILARATING AND SPECTACULAR COUNTRY
South Africa boasts breathtaking scenery, quaint coastal villages and cosmopolitan cities that can all be combined with a truly invigorating South African safari. This beautiful country has the most diverse concentration of flora – 23,200 different species of plants.
It neighbors Namibia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, and Mozambique and Swaziland in the northeast, with the kingdom of Lesotho forming an enclave within the southeast. Pretoria is the capital of South Africa and Cape Town its legislative centre. The country is comprised of 9 provinces with 11 official languages, and a diverse range of cultures and ways of life. It is an exhilarating, spectacular and complex country: Nelson Mandela named it “The Rainbow Nation”.
Situated at the southernmost tip of the African continent, bounded by two oceans and blessed with magnificent landscapes, diverse peoples and a veritable melting pot of cultures, South Africa has a fascinating history and a young and dynamic democracy. Historically, under its infamous apartheid regime, South Africa was a disgrace to the world, but caught the world’s attention and admiration with Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1991, followed by its first peaceful democratic elections in 1994. Today, it is has become one of the top travel destinations in the world.
South Africa’s varied terrain and climate regions, ranging from semi-desert to subtropical landscape, support a rich diversity of bird, plant and animal wildlife, and guarantee a wide range of experience to all visitors.
Where to stay
SAFARI IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is home to some of Africa’s most renowned wildlife reserves, including the massive Kruger National Park. Its exceptional game parks are spread throughout the country, offering a range of landscapes and experiences that are easily accessible, and all include outstanding game viewing. South Africa offers diverse safari experiences, from self-drive adventures in the country’s national parks, to walking trails through untouched African wilderness, and guided luxury trips in private game reserves.
The city is multi-national, multi-cultural and cosmopolitan, while at the same time being truly African. Its gold rush background and its standing at the forefront of South Africa’s freedom movement combine to make the attractions of this Metropolis interesting as well as evocatively significant. A richly diverse culture, fabulous restaurants, music venues, theaters, pulsating energy and wonderful climate make Johannesburg the perfect destination to begin or end an African adventure.
With a population of over 4 million, it is the largest sub-Saharan African city – a genuine, flamboyant meltingpot. Its lively streets reflect the incredible diversity of its inhabitants. During the gold rush of the late 19th century, Europeans, Americans and Australians flocked here to seek fame and fortune. As the city expanded from a fledgling town into a thriving prosperous community, traders and entrepreneurs from India, China, Japan and Eastern Europe established their roots. In more recent times, there has been a steady influx of West, East and Central Africans, now adding their own distinctive imprint to the city’s profile.
Cape Town, a combination of historical coastal charm and urban sophistication, is also the gateway to Garden Route, the lush Cape Winelands – famous for their excellent vintages – and the Whale Route where southern right whales can be sighted from June to November, and humpback whales, Bryde’s whales, minke whales and bottlenose dolphins all year round.
Cape Town is a city of magnificent beauty nestling beneath impressive Table Mountain, amongst the sensationally unique Cape Floral Kingdom, one of only six Plant Kingdoms covering the Earth. More species of plants and flowers can be found in and around Cape Town than in the whole of North America, or the whole of Europe! The coastline of South Africa is spectacular, offering superb scenery, such as sandy beaches and the sheer, fynbos-covered cliffs of the Garden Route, as well as opportunities to catch a glimpse of some amazing wildlife, like the southern right whales breaching off the Cape Town coast.
Some of its more famous landmarks include Table Mountain, Robben Island (where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades), Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Unique architecture, a charming inner city vibe, excellent restaurants and lively nightlife, coupled with a fascinating blend of Cape Malay, African and other cultures, combine to create the city’s exceptional allure. The magnificence of Cape Town lies in its scenic pleasures, its fascinating history and its fine food and wines. Cape Town and its surrounds offer an overwhelming number of consistently excellent restaurants; ranging from fine cuisine, French as well as oriental, to fusions, seafood and African gastronomic delights.
This is the largest wine-producing region in the Western Cape and is home to world-famous restaurants, hotels, spas and romantic getaways, situated in charming French-influenced towns. South Africa produces many of the world’s finest wines, most of which originate from the fertile and abundant valleys known as the Cape Winelands – less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The mountains and valleys are covered with rolling vineyards and sprawling wine estates, where guests are invited to lunch at homesteads nestling at the foot of the Cape Mountains.
The area boasts over 200 wine cellars and offers wine tasting of world-famous, award-winning wines. The Cape Winelands were the first rural areas to be taken over by the early settlers of South Africa who turned the land over to pasture, wheat farming and increasingly, the cultivation of wine grapes. As the farms prospered, the colony expanded and a number of small towns were founded: Stellenbosch in 1679, Franschhoek 11 years later; followed by Paarl, Wellington and Tulbagh; all worth visiting for their history, beauty and wine estates.
South Africa has a wide, exotic variety of indigenous as well as migratory birds. It is home to one-sixth of the world’s marine species and has more species of wild animals than North and South America, or Europe and Asia – combined! This amazing country is home to nature’s extremes; the world’s largest land mammal – the African elephant, the world’s smallest – the pygmy shrew, the tallest – the giraffe, the fastest – the cheetah, the world’s heaviest reptile – the leatherback turtle, the largest antelope – the eland, the largest bird – the ostrich and the heaviest flying bird – the Kori Bustard.
Whatever your photographic passions, you should be able to fulfill them here in this vast, diverse country in people, places, cultures, climate, terrain, and wildlife – the photographic possibilities are endless. South Africa provides magnificent tapestry of landscapes, from woodland to grassland, wetland and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, river courses, marches, pans and ocean, allowing for a rich variety of birds, animals and vegetation and excellent photographic opportunities.
The subtropical location, moderated by ocean on two sides and the altitude of the interior plateau, accounts for the warm temperate conditions of South Africa.
October – February
This period is characterized by hot, sunny weather, often with afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell in the air.
February – April
During these months there is very little rain, with the temperature warm and getting colder as the season progresses. In Cape Town, the weather is fantastic, with hot sunny days and warm nights.
May – July
The winter season here is characterized in the highlands of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights, the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in the winter.
August – October
Nowhere in South Africa is spring more spectacular than in the Cape provinces when thousands of plants cover the plains in an iridescent carpet of flowers.
The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, gets its rainfall in winter. It has dry sunny summers with maximum temperatures around 26°C/78°F. Winters can get cold, with an average minimum temperature around 7°C/44°F, and maximum around 17°C/62°F. Johannesburg has a dry, sunny climate in winter with maximum temperatures of around 20°C/68°F and crisp nights with temperatures dropping to around 5°C/41°F.