What is your idea of an ideal holiday break? Maybe it's spending time with friends and family exploring new places. Perhaps it's meeting interesting people or trying exciting activities like hiking, horse riding and game viewing. Is it lazy lunches in beautiful surroundings and days spent soaking up the sunshine on a sandy beach?
Welcome to South Africa – where we can honestly say that you can have it all. Here are our top 10 reasons to visit South Africa, often referred to as 'a world in one country'...
1. Breath-taking Beaches
Cape Town arguably has the best urban beaches in the world, from fashionable Camps Bay (close to the city centre) to Boulders Beach, with its comical colony of endangered African penguins which waddle about. All the way along South Africa’s Garden Route and KwaZulu-Natal's Indian Ocean coastline, you'll find long stretches of pristine soft sand lapped by waves that become warmer and warmer the further north you go. There are even tropical coral reefs and excellent diving and snorkelling spots to discover when visiting South Africa.
2. The Best Big 5 Sightings in Africa
South Africa is one of the very few places on Earth where you're able to tick off all of the Big 5 (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard) in one day. The country is one of the world's finest Big 5 safari destinations thanks to its outstanding conservation areas and national parks such as:
3. Superb Food & Wine
When you visit South Africa's Mother City, Cape Town, we highly recommend spending time in the Cape Winelands, the country's undisputed 'gourmet capital'. Explore the beautiful estates, sample award-winning wines in cool cellars and on vine-covered patios, and relish some of the world's finest cuisine in its incredible restaurants.
On the country's eastern seaboard, indulge in a gourmet getaway in the lush hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, fortifying yourself for a comfortable hike in the foothills of the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains.
Cape Town is South Africa's oldest 'foodie' destination, but Johannesburg is catching up fast – very fast! Both are hubs for craft beer, great coffee, exciting markets and inspiring restaurants that meld local flavours with international trends, all dished up with typical South African hospitality.
4. Activities in Abundance
With plenty of sunshine, mountains, sea and rivers, South Africans tend to treat their country like a massive playground. For a taste of the great outdoors, hike to the top of Table Mountain; horse ride in the Drakensberg; watch whales in Hermanus; paraglide over Cape Town's beaches; take a walking safari in the Kruger; cycle through the Cape Winelands; explore the forest canopy in the Garden Route; enjoy a round on one of the many world-class golf courses... You'll never have a dull moment when you visit South Africa!
5. Friendly People & Local Cultures
Visitors often comment on the fact that South Africans smile a lot... yes, we are a friendly bunch! We love to meet new people and passionately recommend our favourite place and things to do. We are a melting pot of many fascinating cultures forming one nation, so you'll hear several distinct accents in our English, notice many different faces, and taste a rich fusion of flavours in our cuisine.
In Cape Town, you can learn to cook traditional Malay curries while in Johannesburg, you can visit Nelson Mandela's house and walk in the footsteps of our history in Soweto.
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6. Near-perfect Weather
Did you know that Durban, Ballito and the beaches of the KwaZulu-Natal Coast average over 300 days of sunshine a year? Even the December to March 'rainy season' over the Kruger is actually quite sunny: rainfall generally consists of short-lived thundershowers in the late afternoons, leaving the air washed clean of dust and making for bright, crisp photographs. South Africa is blessed with a generally temperate climate, meaning sensational summers and mild winters.
Choosing the best time to visit South Africa depends entirely on what you want to see and do:
|South Africa safari||May to October|
|Cape Town beach holiday||November to March|
|Cape Winelands tours||All year round|
|Garden Route holiday||All year round|
|Whale watching||July to November|
7. It's a Family Favourite
Your kids will love it! South Africa has plenty of child-friendly accommodation and loads of great options for a family holiday. Cape Town and the Garden Route are particularly popular for a beach break. For a family safari, we recommend the Pilanesberg, Madikwe or one of the Eastern Cape reserves – all malaria-free with superb game viewing. For loud, unrestrained whoops of joy, try thrill-a-minute Sun City, a holiday resort that even has a sandy 'beach' and 'ocean' built in the middle of the bush, less than a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg.
If you are bringing young children on safari for the first time, ask your Africa Safari Expert to find you a lodge that is geared for kids: many have amazing junior rangers' programmes, shorter game drives, educational games and special play areas with trained babysitters. Long game drives can be tough on little ones but gentle nature walks with trained guides that teach them about bugs, birds and blooms can be very exciting.
8. Rich in History
How far back do you want to go when visiting South Africa? We have the Cradle of Humankind, where the 2.3-million-year-old fossil nicknamed Mrs. Ples was found – along with numerous other (and some of the oldest) hominin fossils. For a taste of more recent history, we highly recommend the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields. Excellent guides bring to life the world of 1875, when bravery, victory and defeat played out in the bloody battles between British soldiers, Boer commandos and Zulu warriors. South Africa's remarkable modern history is perhaps best illustrated in a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his incarceration alongside other political prisoners.
Cape Town is our oldest city, the Constantia Winelands date back over 300 years and San Bushmen can teach you more about their desert lifestyle that remained largely unchanged for thousands of years.
9. Excellent Value for Money for Any Type of Traveller
In South Africa, it’s easy to find a cosy guesthouse or family-run lodge that offers that extra bit of holiday pampering plus great value for money. What’s more, eating out in South Africa is affordable, so you can generally enjoy a great meal and local vintage without the bitter aftertaste of an unreasonable bill.
In addition to being value for money, a safari can often be all-inclusive so you know exactly what you're in for, upfront. Ask your Africa Safari Expert to create a tailor-made itinerary around your budget that is as inclusive as possible.
10. Getting Around is Easy
South Africa welcomes a steady flow of international airlines at international airports around the country. Also, once here, you’ll find a network of national highways roads criss-crossing big sky Karoo landscapes, winding through farmlands, nipping along coastlines and over magnificent mountain passes. South Africa is one of only two countries in Africa where we recommend a self-drive holiday – a fantastic option for independent travellers.
In additon, Wi-Fi is widely accessible, the mobile phone network is excellent, ATMs are readily available and self-drivers will never be far from a full-service petrol (gas) station when visiting South Africa.
Ready to Start Planning Your Visit to South Africa?
Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make an itinerary based on your travel wishes: