Johannesburg is Africa's economic powerhouse known to locals as Joburg, Jozi and Egoli (the ‘city of gold’). The city is modern and enormous, sprawling in all directions as the heart beat of commerce demands more offices, houses and malls. About 60 kilometres away lies Pretoria, which is the seat of administrative government in South Africa and a very pretty city with jacaranda-lined streets. Both of these urban centres are vibrant and cosmopolitan, linked by a fast-moving, multi-lane highway and the high-speed Gautrain, making it easy to explore the places that played a critical role in Nelson Mandela’s life story or which honour his legacy.
September in Africa see temperatures climbing steadily and many safari destinations across the continent rapidly approaching their annual best.
Famous for its Kalahari setting, Botswana is generally a place of empty blue skies and dazzling sunshine. It does have a rainy season, however - called the Green Season - but don't worry too much about that word, 'rainy'. The absolute wettest part of the country records as much precipitation in a year as London or Melbourne do, while the rest of the country gets about enough to fill a coffee cup. You're not going to need to pack an umbrella. And, besides, nearly all the rain falls between December and April with February accounting for the bulk of it.
August in Southern Africa marks the end of the region’s short-lived winter and the welcome return of warmer temperatures. Down in Cape Town, the last few winter storms wring themselves out and the days get longer, while up in safari country the weather is pretty perfect: sunny, warm and dry.
Timing is everything. If you want the best seats in the house, you need to book your place well in advance. When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime journeys to Africa’s vast playground, you definitely want front-row seats to all the legendary spectacles.
The Green Season is a specific period in Africa that falls between or after the annual rains. Wildlife spreads out from waterholes and rivers, making the most of the abundant surface water and, most importantly, taking advantage of the fresh grazing that turns the dry savannah into lush rolling grasslands. This new grazing triggers the migrations of large herds of wildebeest and zebra in both East and Southern Africa.
Is it just coincidence that August is the month when many people go on holiday and Africa becomes the perfect place to visit? In fact, there’s so much happening across the continent that travellers really are spoilt for choice: safari destinations feature the best game-viewing conditions, while the beaches and tropical islands bask beneath warm, dry skies.
East Africa is where the concept of safari travel was born in the 1850s, and the region's flagship destinations are still Kenya and Tanzania. In these countries you'll find those classic safari images that resonate with travellers around the world today: elephants set against the backdrop of snow-capped Kilimanjaro; herds of wildebeest plunging across crocodile-infested rivers; red-robed Maasai warriors watching their livestock; and tented camps overlooking the rolling golden savannah.
Halfway through the year, Africa’s mostly dry winter months arrive along with the beginning of safari high season.
You follow a narrow hiking trail through the lushness of a tropical rainforest, wiping sweat from your eyes and feeling grateful for your gaiters. Suddenly, a tracker returns from scouting ahead and excitedly halts your group - it's time to drop your backpack and move forward slowly with nothing but your camera and the thrill of anticipation. Grinning, your guide turns and whispers the words you've been waiting to hear: ‘There they are.’