Capital: Pretoria (administrative)
Area: 1 219 912 km²
Population: 54 002 000 (2014)
Currency: Rand (ZAR)
Time Zone: GMT +2
Official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu
Calling Code: +27
GDP (PPP per capita). : $13 215
The mother city lies at the foot of Table Mountain. A cosmopolitan city full of culture, language, music and good weather. With beach side bars and restaurants, a relaxing day sipping cocktails in Camps Bay can finish with a night out in one of the many bars or nightclubs which run the length of Long Street.
Alternatively a short boat ride could lead you to the prison which held Nelson Mandela, the creator of the rainbow nation. This short trip starts from the beautiful V&A waterfront and ends at Robben Island, less than 10 km from the coast.
Home of the uShaka Marine world and also some of the greatest curry in the country. This seaside town boast warm waters and stunning underwater wildlife, from colourful sea slugs to ragged tooth sharks otherwise known as the sand tiger shark or grey nurse shark.
If, however, you prefer to stay on dry land, the immense Indian district can be experiences through guided tours or a simple walk through the traditional markets.
Otherwise known as Jozi to the locals, this vibrant city at the heart of South Africa is making a comeback with urban renewal projects and rapid construction. With historical finds such as the cradle of humankind and the more recent Constitution Hill, Johannesburg is a must for any tourist passing through the country. If time is not on your side, however, the hop-on hop-off bus tours or the walking guided tour could allow you to explore the whole city.
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Weather / When to leave:
This large countries has a climate that varies depending on the region you intent on visiting. Starting in Cape Town and surrounding areas we find a Mediterranean climate which quickly turns dry and hot as you travel north. Closer to Johannesburg the temperatures varies greatly between day and night with the included summer thunder storms. In general the best time of year to visit remains spring, with its comfortable temperatures and abundance of fauna and flora.
History / culture:
Dating back to the beginning of the country as we know it today, South Africa has been a tourist destination. The Dutch East India Company founded the Cape Colony then lost possession to the British before regaining control. This sharing of the country continued for years between the British, the Boers and the Zulu. That is if sharing meant constant war and conflict.
Today a country with eleven official languages emerged from all the disorder as a mixing pot of cultures from all over the world. This country recently released from the apartheid, is on the road to recovery as the rainbow nation boasting a variety of music and dance which represents its amazing history and people.
South Africans are a health conscious people and with good weather and beaches it makes perfect sense. Avid followers of three sports: cricket, rugby and soccer; these teams have been affectionately nicknamed the Proteas, Springboks and Bafana Bafana.
The religions within South Africa are a diverse mix with the majority being Christianity (79.8%) followed by Islam (1.5%), Hinduism (1.2%) and other African religions. Religion as a whole is on the decline in the country with 64% of the population considering themselves religious in 2012.
Cities located close to the coast make use of the supply of fresh seafood, while all over the country a healthy dose of meat makes its way into most meals. The cuisine can overall be classified into groups depending on where it comes from. The indigenous people, Dutch, French, Italian, Greek, Indian as well as the British all left a few recipes which make up the rainbow cuisine of South Africa.
Places not to miss:
Kruger National Park:
The chance to see the big 5 up close as well as a multitude of other species makes this park the greatest in the country. With more than 20 camps and daily guided tours through the park, your stay in Africa can be just as you imagined.
Get to know Africa’s Big 5
A small island less than 10 km off the coast that held Nelson Mandela as well as many other political prisoners during the apartheid years. This island of 5.07 km2 has become a museum with tour guides that experienced the life of a prisoner during apartheid first hand.
Cape Wine route:
With around 400 wineries this region close to Cape Town boasts many great wines ranging from Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay for the whites, and Shiraz to Merlot for the reds. The 200 km of historical building and wine tasting opportunities can be completed in a car or with an organised tour for those who would swallow rather than spit.
One of the best views of Cape Town and if you want you don’t even have to walk to get to the top. With more than 900 routes to the top, if climbing routes are included, as well as a cable car to the top, this well-known flat-topped mountain with its table cloth cloud provides panoramic views and sport all of which can be finished at the restaurant at the top.
Cape of Good Hope:
A peninsula just outside of the city of Cape Town that ends in a rocky point. In earlier times this rocky tip marked the turning point for boats travelling between Europe and the east. Today, however, it is a nature reserve with ostriches, a restaurant and a view that absolutely has to be seen.
Things to do:
Whether is adrenaline pumping thrills or the natural beauty of the country that you’re after, South Africa has what you’re looking for and more.
- Sunset concert in Kirstenbosch Gardens
- Shark cage diving
- Safari with the Big 5
- White water rafting on the Orange River
- Hike up Table Mountain
- Watch a game of rugby
- Horseback beach ride
- Cape Town International Jazz Festival (March)
- National Arts Festival (Graham’s town) (June)
- Knysna Oyster Festival (July)
- Hermanus Whale Festival (October)
Passport and Visa:
A passport that is valid for at least 30 days after the date of departure from South Africa is required to enter the country.
Tourists visiting for 90 days or less do not require a visa, for the majority of the counties. There are, however, a few exceptions so it is best to check with the up to date list found on the home affairs website.
Technically speaking there exists certain forms of public transport within the country, but you would be better off with a rental car. Private vehicles are the main mode of transport around South Africa, but make to take note of the side of the road you are expected to drive on. Yes, it’s one of the few countries that drive on the left, with 60 km/h speed limits in urban areas and 120 km/h on free-ways.
As with any busy city, taxis can be found almost anywhere within the centre and can be booked for collection at your domicile.
Health and Safety:
There is no risk of yellow fever in South Africa, although you will be required to provide proof of vaccination if you arrive from a country with risk of yellow fever.
Malaria is largely not present, although Antimalarials are recommended for tourists partaking in safaris in the northern parts of the country.
Crime is present in most of the towns in South Africa, but if valuables aren’t flashed around and reasonable precautions, such as those taken in any big city are taken there is no reason to be scared of Africa.
Fire Department: 10178
The supply of electricity in South Africa is of 220 volts with a rather unusual three prong plug, as well as the more common European two prong plug. Adapters can be purchased locally and most hotel rooms include 110 volt electric shaver and appliance outlets.
Sneak a peek of what’s on offer: