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South Africa

At the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa is bordered by Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe and it surrounds the small Kingdom of Lesotho. Flanked to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the south and east by the warm Indian Ocean, this vast country is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth. Fondly known by locals as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, its multicultural inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of African, Asian, and European cultures.

South Africa’s landscapes are made up of valleys, mountains, forests, deserts, coastlines, and grassy savannas that are breath-taking in their picturesque scale. Some of the planet’s most exciting wildlife species can be found here, so it is not surprising that South Africa is home to a collection of the most abundant and diverse game reserves on earth. This country truly is a masterpiece; the perfect portrayal of the magic that is the African continent.

Top 5 places to visit

Matakataka SA Kruger
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The world-famous Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest and also most important national park with a size of nearly 2 million hectares. The park is home to 147 mammal species, 507 bird species, 114 different reptiles, 34 amphibians, 49 fish species and 336 different trees. The park lies across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north-east of South Africa, just south of Zimbabwe and west of Mozambique. It now forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a peace park that links Kruger National Park with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and fences are already coming down to allow game to freely roam in much the way it would have in the time before man’s intervention.

This is the land of baobabs, fever trees, knob thorns, marula and mopane trees underneath which lurk the Big Five and more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve.

The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, and is the largest ‘green canyon’ due to its lush subtropical foliage, with the deepest precipitous cliffs of any canyon on the planet. It is 26 kilometres in length and, on average, around 800m deep. The Blyde River Canyon Reserve extends along the Blyde River Canyon’s winding path, which at every turn offers more and more impressive views over sheer edges dropping 800m into the riverbed. It includes natural wonders such as the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, Pinnacle Rock and God’s Window, where on a clear day, you can see as far as the Kruger National Park and Mozambique. The fresh mountain scenery and panoramic views over the Klein Drakensberg escarpment are quite spectacular and give the area its name of ‘Panorama Route‘.

Matakataka SA Blyde
Matakataka Cape town

Resting at the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, situated between the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain and the glistening sapphire waters of Table Bay, Cape Town is a city of mind-boggling cultural diversity, complexity, and intense natural beauty. Vibrant, colourful, exciting, and bursting with energy, it is a destination unlike any other. With its bustling harbour, world-class beaches, top-notch vineyards, and its mountainous surroundings brimming with diverse flora and fauna, Cape Town consistently captivates the hearts of all who visit.

The city offers something for everyone: stroll through the city to Greenmarket Square, where you can browse the bustling market stalls for beautiful and unique African mementos, visit the colourful houses of the Cape Malay quarter „Bo Kaap“ and Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden which is considered as one of the most beautiful in the world. Have lunch in one of the many restaurants at the famous „V&A Waterfront“, explore the historic prison (and now World Heritage Site) of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated- along with countless other convicts.

Take a tour around the Cape Peninsula which stands at the core of the world’s smallest and most botanically diverse floral kingdom, one that supports a wealth of endemic plants and animals, ranging from the beautiful King Protea to the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and striking Cape Sugarbird. See the Cape of Good Hope, visit the penguins at Boulder´s Beach and enjoy the spectacular views over Hout Bay from Chapman´s Peak Drive, known as one of the world’s most beautiful drives.

Last but not least, take a ride in the revolving cable car or hike to the top of iconic Table Mountain and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the peninsula.

The Garden Route is a beautiful 200km stretch of coastline in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa. The official Garden Route starts in Mossel Bay in the west and ends at Storms River in the east, but the full extent of the popular drive is from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. As well as beautiful beaches, lagoons and coves, there is also indigenous forest, beautiful flowers (hence its name) and quaint towns. Offshore there is the chance to see Southern Right Whales, dolphins, Great White Sharks, and African Penguins. On shore there are nature reserves, vineyards and a host of attractions and museums.

Matakataka SA garden route
Matakataka SA Hluhluwe
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Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Parkformerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in South Africa. It consists of 96,000 ha of hilly topography, 280 kilometres (170 mi) north of Durban in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts. Due to pioneering conservation efforts, the park is responsible for saving the Southern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and in 2008 had the largest population of white rhino in the world.

Being the historical hunting grounds of the Zulu nation, including the famous King Shaka, has given this park an aura of history and mystique, with Zulu spear makers’ bellows and sharpening stones still being uncovered within the boundaries today.

Its natural beauty ranging from rolling hills to flat savannahs makes this a paradise for a huge variety of species. The park is home to Africa’s “Big Five”: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard and many more species including: Nile crocodile, hippo, cheetah, spotted hyena, blue wildebeest, jackal, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, nyala, eland, kudu, impala, duiker, suni, reedbuck, warthog, bush pig, mongoose, baboons, monkeys, a variety of tortoises, terrapins, snakes and lizards. It is one of the world’s top spots for viewing nyala. The park is a prime birding destination and is home to around 340 bird species. The Hluhluwe River Flood Plain is one of the only areas in the whole of South Africa where yellow-throated, rosy-throated and Cape Longclaw species can be seen together. Bird life include night heron, Wahlberg’s eagle, Shelley’s Francolin, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Little Bee-Eater and Crested Barbet.

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General Information

Currency: Rand (ZAR)

In all larger towns there are ATMs where you can withdraw cash with international debit and credit cards (Visa & Mastercard preferred). Your card needs to have a chip and pin. Direct payment by credit and debit cards is also widespread possible. However, it is advisable to always have some cash with you in case of emergencies or if you want to buy something in remote areas.

While changing money at a Bureau de Change is possible, it is not recommended as it is often a complicated and lengthy process.

Please be sure to advise your bank before you travel that you will be using your card in a different country as they may block access to your card if they do not know that you are currently travelling.

For current exchange rates please use this website. 

Official languages: South Africa has 11 official languages: English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, Afrikaans, siSwati, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Tshivenda, Xitsonga

Visa Requirements: Most visitors to South Africa (e.g. most nationals of the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) receive a visitor´s/tourist visa for a maximum of 90 days at the port of entry. Passports must be valid for at least 30 days after the intended date of departure and should also have at least two blank pages.

Please find a list with countries that require a visa here.

There are special requirements for travelling to South Africa with children under the age of 18. Parents wishing to apply for a visa for their child to enter South Africa will need to submit additional documentation. There are different requirements for unaccompanied children entering South Africa.

Check the advisory from the South African Department of Home Affairs for more details and consult your nearest South African high commission or embassy if you have any questions about these requirements.

Independence: 31 May 1961 from Britain

Religion: Christians account for 79.8% of the population. There are an estimated 200,000 indigenous traditional healers in South Africa, and up to 60% of South Africans consult these healers, generally called sangomas or inyangas. These healers use a combination of ancestral spiritual beliefs and a belief in the spiritual and medicinal properties of local fauna and flora, commonly known as muti, to facilitate healing in clients.

Souvenirs: Beadwork crafts and wood carvings are available anywhere in South Africa, from curio shops to street corners. The products are all handmade and range from almost any animal you can think of. Handmade baskets have become extremely popular in interior decor and South Africa is the place to take your pick. Baskets are available in all shapes and sizes, colours, and styles.

The creamy Amarula liqueur made from the fruit of the African marula tree, is possibly the best-known South African drink. Serve it over ice or at room temperature and, for those that like to indulge, it is delicious over ice cream.

Agricultural products: Maize, wheat, sugar cane and sunflowers

Main Industries: Mining (gold, platinum, diamonds, uranium), Agriculture, Manufacturing (food processing, textiles, electronics, chemicals, technology, and automobiles)

Best time to visit: The best time for a Cape Town beach holiday is from late January to late April, the tail end of the city’s dry summer months. Cape Town enjoys a temperate climate with warm, dry conditions from October to April.

Best time for a safari in the Kruger region is during the dry winter season (May – September) when animals congregate around water sources, making for good game viewing. Day temperatures are pleasant with cold nights below 10°C degrees.

This does not mean, however, that game viewing is impossible during the summer season (October to March). November and December marks the calving months which are an excellent time to witness nature’s own timetable of regeneration. Summers (particularly from December through to February) can become exceptionally hot, and rain may make some roads muddy and impassable.

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