South Africa is situated on the southern tip of the African continent. South Africa has often been described as a world in one country… It has a wealth of natural beauty, pristine wilderness areas, warm and friendly people, cosmopolitan cities and excellent infrastructure – making South Africa a favorite safari destination. South Africa is bordered on the north by Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and on the north-east by Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho is contained entirely inside the borders of South Africa.
South Africa’s History & Background:
Europeans set up a halfway station for ships traveling to the East at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century. The Dutch were the first to govern this area until the English took over in the 18th century. In 1948; the Afrikaner-dominated National Party came into power, implementing Apartheid – which was designed to segregate racial groups and repress the black population. South Africa is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa, and has the largest white population on the African continent. Racial and ethnic strife have played a large role in much of the country’s history and politics. Resistance led by the African National Congress (ANC) prompted the first democratic elections in 1994. Under charismatic leader Nelson Mandela, the country then started its slow growing curve towards a better life for all its citizens.
South Africa Safaris Information:
Area: 1 219 912km²
Capital: There are three Capitals in South Africa: Pretoria is the administrative; Cape Town is the legislative and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital
Climate: Warm and sunny summers (October-April), getting warmer in the north – winter rainfall only in Cape Province (June to August).
Official language: 11 official languages, including English
Time: GMT plus two hours
Premier national parks & game reserves
Kruger National Park
Mala Mala GR (Greater Kruger)
Sabi Sand GR (Greater Kruger)
Timbavati NR (Greater Kruger)
Phinda Game Reserve
By alphabet – This list contains South Africa’s major national parks and game reserves, not all
Addo Elephant National Park Classic safari, Big 5 present, but only elephants are regularly seen
|Ai-|Ais Richtersveld TP Scenery, hiking, transfrontier park with Namibia, animals scarce, no Big 5
Amakhala Game Reserve Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Augrabies Falls National Park Scenery, animals scarce, some antelope species, giraffe and leopard
Balule NR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Camdeboo National Park Scenery, hiking, classic safari, some antelope species and herbivores
Djuma GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Exeter Leadwood GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Golden Gate Highlands NP Scenery, hiking, animals scarce, mainly antelope species, none of the Big 5
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi GR Classic safari, Big 5 present, famous for its rhino population
Idube GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Inyati GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Ithala Game Reserve Classic safari, 4 of the Big 5 (no lion), cheetah present but rare
Kapama Private GR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Karoo National Park Classic safari, mainly antelope species, black rhino and lion (rare) present
Kgalagadi TP Classic safari, transfrontier park with Botswana, all big cats present
Kruger National Park Classic safari, great abundance of all major safari animals- including the Big 5
Kwandwe Game Reserve Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Lion Sands GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Londolozi GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Madikwe Game Reserve Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Makalali GR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Mala Mala GR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, abundant wildlife- including the Big 5
Manyeleti GR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Mapungubwe National Park Classic safari, 4 of the Big 5 and cheetah, no buffalo, lion and rhino are rare
Marakele National Park Classic safari, 4 of the Big 5 present (no buffalo)
Mkhuze Game Reserve Classic safari, Big 5 present, wild dog present but rare
Mokala National Park Classic safari, rhino, giraffe an antelope species, no elephant, lion or leopard
Mountain Zebra National Park Classic safari, Cape mountain zebra, cheetah, lion, black rhino and antelopes
Phinda Game Reserve Classic safari, private reserve, abundant wildlife- including the Big 5
Pilanesberg Game Reserve Classic safari, Big 5 present
Sabi Sabi GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Sabi Sand GR (Greater Kruger) Area consisting of multiple private reserves, excellent Big 5 wildlife viewing
Shamwari Game Reserve Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Singita GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Spioenkop Game Reserve Classic safari, white rhino, giraffe and antelope species, no big cats
Tembe Elephant Park Classic safari, the Big 5 is present, famous for its big tuskers
Thornybush GR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Timbavati NR (Greater Kruger) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Ulusaba GR (Sabi Sand) Classic safari, private reserve, Big 5 present
Waterberg Biosphere Reserve Area containing multiple reserves- including Marakele NP and private reserves
Weenen Game Reserve Classic safari, rhino, giraffe and antelope species, no elephant or big cats
Zulu Nyala Game Reserve Classic safari, private reserve, 4 of the Big 5 present (no lion) present
South Africa is a popular self-drive destination. The roads and general infrastructure are good. The circuits described below can be done as a self-drive package or you can book a comparable group or tailor-made tour, in which case all transport will be arranged by your tour operator.
Kruger and Zululand (2 to 3 weeks) – Kruger NP, Mala Mala GR, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi GR, Mkuze GR, Durban
After arriving in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport you head east to the Lowveld in the Mpumalanga province where the best wildlife parks are situated. Your first stop is Kruger NP. Whether you stay in one of the private concessions within the park or choose the more budget friendly self drive option, you won’t be disappointed. You could decide to top it off with a couple of nights in one of the private reserves bordering Kruger, where the Big Five can be ticked off on a single game drive. Mala Mala would be an excellent choice. Leaving the Greater Kruger area, you continue south through the Kingdom of Swaziland to arrive in KwaZulu Natal, home to many interesting parks, each with its own appeal. Mkhuze GR is excellent for watching game from a hide. This offers some of the best photo opportunities. Nearby is Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, a beautiful park with rolling hills, known for its rhino and nyala populations. You can end your trip with some shopping and time on the beach in Durban by the sea.
Drakensberg, for some hiking in this beautiful mountain range on your way back from Durban to Johannesburg
Cape Town for visiting Africa’s most beautiful city and taking a cable car up Table Mountain
Garden Route for whale-watching and scenic beauty
Cape and Coast (1.5 to 2 weeks) – Cape Town, Cape Point, Garden Route, Addo Elephant NP, Tsitsikamma NP
After arriving in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, you can take a connecting flight to Cape Town. Cape Town is one of the world’s most attractive cities with great city life and natural beauty. One of the highlights is a daytrip to Cape Point and Boulders beach, a nesting place for African penguins. Driving east, you can follow the Garden Route, one of South Africa’s most scenic regions within the endemic Fynbos zone. From June to December, you should stop off in Hermanus, the whale-watching town. De Hoop Nature Reserve is another great base for whale-watching in a more pristine environment. Knysna and Wilderness are both quant little towns surrounded by stunning scenery and wonderful beaches. Oyster sampling in Knysna and a canoe trip on the Touw River are both recommended. Next is Tsitsikamma NP, a great place for walks along the rugged coastline. A visit to Addo Elephant National Park will guarantee some good elephant watching. These gentle giants are so relaxed here; you probably come within a few meters of them. You can make your way back to Cape Town along the Swartberg Pass or the popular R62. In either case, you should stop-over in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of South Africa, and base for a visit to the extensive Cango caves.
Winelands tour for wine sampling and culture
Cape Agulhas for standing on the spot where two oceans meet
The Otter trail for hiking the most popular coastal trail in South Africa. It’s a 5 day hike and runs through Tsitsikamma NP
The Atlantic Route (2 to 3 weeks) – Kgalagadi TP, Augrabies Falls NP, Namaqualand, Cape Town
After arriving in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, you can choose the less-obvious route west of the country. A long drive to Upington brings you to the Kalahari, South Africa’s desert. Kgalagadi is a great park for seeing predators and dry-country adapted animals in a special setting. Moving on south, you can stop at Augrabies Falls NP, a scenic gem with plenty of wildlife. You can meander further south along this undeveloped coastline. Around August and September the arid area of Namaqualand transforms to a flowering desert. Driving through nothingness from desert to Karoo, you’re set up for a culture shock arriving back to civilization in Cape Town. A connecting flight through Johannesburg will get you back home.
Winelands tour for wine sampling and culture
The Garden Route for whale-watching and scenic beauty
Best Game Viewing Months for South Africa Safaris:
The northern regions are best enjoyed during winter from May through to September. The temperatures are mild, the bush is dry and less dense and the wildlife viewing is superb. This is where the Kruger National Park is situated which has fair game viewing from November to May, good game viewing in June and July and excellent game viewing in August to October. The southern parts are most pleasant during summer from October to March. The days are hot and sunny and you can’t beat the Cape Town weather in December through to March. The best time to see the flowers of the Cape is in Spring. Whales arrive to the Cape Town coast from July onwards – which the best place in the world to view the Southern Right whales from the Coastline.
How to get to South Africa
O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg is the air transport hub of Southern Africa and is linked to the rest of the world by many major airlines. This competition makes flights to South Africa relatively cheap and it is always worth looking for specials. Onwards travel is mostly by car. Because of excellent roads and facilities in South Africa, some people choose the self-drive option. In most other cases your local tour operator will arrange pick-up from the airport and further transportation as part of your tour package.
Other international airports are located in Cape Town and Durban, but these are less relevant for further travel to your safari destination. In any case, few flights from Europe or America fly directly to either destination.
Passport, visa and other entry requirements
Entry requirements can change, so please contact your local South African embassy to verify the information below is current.
A passport is required for all foreign visitors and has to be valid for at least six months.
All foreign visitors will need to carry a return or onward ticket.
Citizens from most countries do not require a visa and will get a 90-days entry permit on arrival.
South Africa malaria risk & vaccinations
The information on this page is just a loose guide and should not be used as a replacement for a consultation with your travel doctor. The government organizations and travel clinics below are trusted resources for complete and up-to-date info about travelers’ health in South Africa.
|Vaccinations:||Recommended; see websites below for more detailed immunization advice.|
|Malaria:||Most of the country is free of malaria, but the main wildlife area lies in a low-risk zone, including Kruger NP and all other Lowveld reserves in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal. The highest risk of transition is in the rainy season from October to May. See websites below for more detailed advice.|
A South Africa safari and tour can be mixed and matched and extended to your liking or we can totally customise a tour to South Africa for you.
South Africa is the most popular tourist destination in sub-Saharan Africa and it’s easy to see why so many people embark on a South Africa safari travel experience or undertake many of our South Africa safaris and tours. It has world class wildlife watching and lodges in a wide array of National Parks, cosmopolitan cities, stunning natural panoramas and vibrant cultures, which makes it appealing to a wide array of tastes. Our South Africa safari and tours have a wide range of travel options including the glitz and glamour of Sun City, South African safari experiences in many of its wildlife filled National Parks (including Kruger National Park) and scenic South African tours along the famed Garden Route. Travel to South Africa and experience diverse landscapes and stay in vibrant cities, including what many consider the most stunning in the world, Cape Town.
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We have a range of South Africa tours & safaris available which can be customised with more or less nights as well as activities.