South African Tours, Safaris, Vacation Packages & Travel Experiences
There is absolutely no doubt South Africa is blessed with spectacular natural beauty, a fantastic climate and diversely interesting regions with diverse cultures. To say that South Africa is a virtual paradise is a true statement. The country geographically consists of an unspoiled coastline stretching for 2800 kilometres/1740 miles, dramatic mountains and escarpments, extensive bushveld, subtropical forest and outstanding wetlands. Although a comparatively large country, it is easy to get around on a South Africa vacation due to its excellent air and rail services.
About South Africa
It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and itself surrounds two independent countries, Swaziland and Lesotho. The coastline is part of both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Interestingly, South Africa has 3 capitals. Cape Town is the legislative capital, Pretoria, the administrative and Bloemfontein the judicial. The country is divided into 9 provinces and has 11 official languages.
What are the best things to see and do in South Africa?
Although the main attraction is no doubt the natural beauty on a South African vacation, the visitor can also enjoy the many wildlife reserves suitable for South Africa safaris, outdoor pursuits, historical sites, wine tasting, local arts and crafts, art galleries and museums plus much more. Some interesting facts are South Africa has the deepest mine in the world, the highest commercial bungee jump, 2000 shipwrecks along its coastline, some more than 500 year’s old and some of the world’s oldest fossils. Table Mountain has more than 1500 different species of plants and Kruger Park has the greatest variety of wildlife on the continent of Africa.
Where should I go on my South Africa trip?
A good starting point on South Africa tours is Cape Town, a cosmopolitan and modern city surrounded by incredible natural landscapes like Table Mountain and a multitude of beautiful beaches. Table Mountain dominates the city and hovers over not only the downtown core but also the near lying suburbs. It can be reached by cable car and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a bustling shopping, dining and entertainment neighbourhood and a pleasant place to simply stroll around or enjoy a meal or a drink. Robben Island, a short ferry ride from the city, is where Nelson Mandela spent many years incarcerated and is now UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens have some of the most beautiful unique flora anywhere and around 2000 plant species are grown here. One of the most interesting cultural attractions in Cape Town is the District Six Museum, a memorial to the forced movement of inhabitants of various races in District Six during Apartheid in the seventies shown in photographs, recordings and testimonials. A must visit from Cape Town on South Africa travel is the Cape of Good Hope which offers awesome breathtaking scenery, great walks and some 250 different species of birds. Its rocky promontory is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet with sheer cliffs plunging into the pounding ocean. Make sure to see the fascinating penguins at Boulders Beach en route.
Johannesburg is certainly a sprawling metropolis but it is one of the most modern and prosperous cities in South Africa. Interesting things to do here include visits to Gold Reef City to get some idea of what the city was like in the Gold Rush days, the Apartheid Museum, a vivid and powerful experience by means of enlarged photos, artifacts, newspaper clippings, and film and Soweto, built as a separate township community for native African people and former home to Nelson Mandela.
Not far from Johannesburg is the administrative capital, Pretoria with its plethora of blossoming trees that gave it its nickname, Jacaranda City. Here certainly pay a visit on a South African vacation to the interesting parliament buildings, the imposing Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park with its Garden of Remembrance, built in memory of all who died in the struggle against Apartheid.
Durban with its mild climate and sandy beaches is a good place to relax, swim or maybe surf. It offers an exciting mix of urban Zulu culture, a large Indian population and English-speaking South Africans. Take in the city’s interesting Indian Quarter and explore the markets offering exotic spices. Nearby Uhmlanga is a very popular beach resort with locals and visitors alike with its great sand and attractive rocky coastline.
Port Elizabeth nicknamed "The Friendly City" or "The Windy City" stretches for 16 kilometres/10 miles along Algoa Bay. It is the second oldest city and the fifth largest in South Africa. Life here revolves around the ocean and it is one of the major seaports in South Africa with many fine beaches plus a number of historic attractions, many of which are linked by the Donkin Heritage Trail. These include the Campanile (bell tower), built in 1923 to commemorate the arrival of the 1820 Settlers and which offers a great viewpoint over the city on a South African vacation.
The best Safari in South Africa
Internationally renowned Kruger National Park is South Africa’s number one wildlife reserve. It encompasses nearly two million hectares and fourteen different ecosystems, Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and boasts “the Big Five”, the lion, the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros plus of coursed a myriad of other wildlife species and birds. One can choose on South African safaris to stay at a private game lodge of which there are many located within the park itself or stay at one of the hotels just outside the park’s perimeter.
Especially beautiful is the scenery along the picturesque Garden Route on South Africa travel which stretches several hundred kilometers/miles from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. The name comes from the abundance of flora and fauna. However it also offers lakes, lagoons lush forests and amazing rugged coastal scenery. Some of the major towns are Mossel Bay, George, Knysna and The Wilderness. While the Garden Route road is extremely scenic, the hidden destinations on its side roads are worthwhile visiting. These include Oudtshoorn with its Ostrich farms, Cango Caves with their limestone formations, the Tsitsikama National Park, a coastal reserve well known for its indigenous forests and dramatic coastline and Plettenburg Bay to catch sight of humpback whales, bottlenose and common dolphins and even killer whales that frolic close to shore.
The best Wine Region in South Africa
For oenophiles, some time spent in the Cape Winelands is a must. Besides being South Africa’s wine growing region, it is also offers magnificent soft scenery with its classic Cape-Dutch homesteads and mountainous backdrop. Its many sumptuous restaurants have earned the Cape Winelands the right to call itself South Africa’s culinary capital. Apart from a wide choice of wine estate cellars lined with top-class wines, visitors on South African tours can discover a variety of locally produced cheeses, olives, fruit and organic produce to sample and buy. Principal places to visit are Paarl with its breathtaking scenery and the chance to go cycling and or walk on nature trails, Stellenbosch, a pretty University town and Franschhoek with its galleries and antique stores.
The spellbinding scenery along the Panorama Route has to be seen to be believed with its breathtaking vistas around every corner and waterfalls plunging down faces of sheer rock. Blyde River Canyon is the world’s third largest canyon with awe-inspiring views. Scenic landmarks here with names like God's Window, Wonder View, the Pinnacle, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Three Rondawels are all to be wondered at. Nearby is the authentic gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest which gives you the chance to relive the 1873 gold rush.
The Drakensburg Mountains are an area of outstanding natural beauty to be considered fora visit on South African tours. They are also home to more than 600 rock-art sites with close to 35,000 individual images painted by the San people who once roamed here. The mountains are also home to several species of birds and plants.
Zululand is the home of some of Africa’s most traditional settlements and cultural sites. Known as the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, Zululand was the place where many tribes and clans came together to form a united kingdom. The battlefields here have been witness to many of the clashes between the British and Zulu forces over the past 200 years. It is also a region rich in nature and wildlife which includes Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, one of the oldest protected game reserves in the country.
St. Lucia Wetlands, also known as Isimangaliso Wetland Park, is one of South Africa’s most beautiful wetland and coastal sites with coral reefs, long, sandy beaches, dunes, lakes with hippos and crocodiles and swamps with birdlife.
For a very different experience, consider a visit to Sun City north of Johannesburg, a unique, self-contained resort centre featuring everything from golf courses to casinos. From here one can take a hot air balloon ride over the Pilanesberg Game Reserve which offers game viewing that includes the Big Five, ideal on South African safaris.
Kimberley, the City of Diamonds, came into existence with the diamond rush of the 1870s. It is the capital of the Northern Cape and is steeped in history and culture. It is now a modern city with malls, art galleries, restaurants and an active nightlife.
Namaqualand is popular with visitors during the early springtime, when for a short period this normally arid region becomes covered with a kaleidoscope of colour during the flowering season. This is known as the Namaqualand daisy season, when orange and white daisies, as well as hundreds of other flowering specie, spring up.
Swaziland, although not strictly part of South Africa politically can easily be fitted into a visit to South Africa, It is very scenic and offers more wildlife viewing. Two attractions here are the Swazi Candle Factory located in Ezulwini Valley where you can buy beautifully waxed colorful animal figures in all sizes and the Ngwenya Glass Factory. Here you can find lots of glass works made on location.
Other activities to consider during any stay on a South African vacation are whale watching which can be done around Cape Town, the town of Hermanus, possibly the best land-based place in the world, Cape Agulhas and Plettenburg Bay and also swimming with sharks while in a cage. The latter can be done just outside Cape Town along the Indian Ocean coast.
Finally, it is essential to plan your trip to South Africa carefully obviously based on time available and interests. What to leave out could be your hardest decision.
Book a South Africa safari or one of our South Africa tours today and experience a "world in one country"!
"Globetrotting with Goway" blog articles
For some additional reading, the following articles are from our blog “Globetrotting with Goway”….. a great source of information for those people who are, or who want to be, world travellers!
South Africa Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to South Africa trips.
Learn about the history and culture of South Africa, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about South Africa's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering South Africa for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our South Africa tours today!
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A World in One Country
Enjoy a tour of the best of South Africa, packed full of activities and ‘must-see’ areas from Kruger National Park to the Zulu Kingdom, ending in Cape Town, South Africa’s ‘Mother City’.More Details
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- 7 Days
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- Luxury and Beyond, Safaris Worldwide, Tailor-made Travel Ideas