Destinations > South Africa
‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there.
South Africa is a country defined by its human struggles, you’ll witness the impact of this legacy as you tour historical sites such as Robin Island near Capetown where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. You’ll also have the opportunity to witness the impact of the present day challenges experienced by people you’ll meet during a township tour.
This country with its rich human history also boasts some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the world. Known as one of the six great floral kingdoms, South Africa’s ‘Cape Floral Kingdom’ with its dramatic floral landscapes offer a feast for the eyes. Seven well defined biomes present exquisitely unique plants, animals and birds.
Better known highlights in South Africa include;
Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger
Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger – what is the difference? Greater Kruger is made up of private lands that used to be fenced on all sides including those parts that join the Kruger National Park. Some of Greater Kruger was farmed, other parts were simply private nature reserves. Today, all the fences have been removed so that animals can freely move through the National Park and Greater Kruger. There is one Western boundary fence that runs the full length of Kruger National Park and then follows the western boundary of Greater Kruger, keeping all wildlife within these two regions. Any areas not connected to the GKNP or Greater Kruger would have had to stay fully fenced due to surrounding farming and habitation activity. In our highlights we have mentioned the well known private reserves of Greater Kruger like Mala Mala Game Reserve and Sabi Sands. The only really ‘wild’ area of Kruger now left is in the far north of the National Park. This area was once part of the GKNP, but has since been given back to the Makuleke people to manage. The Makuleke area of Northern Kruger is wild and diverse. If you want to see the Africa with large herds of buffalo, Elephant and others, this is the destination for you. If you want to ‘be sure’ to see the big five, and see just a few of each animal, visit one of the private reserves in Greater Kruger. The best scenario is to visit both.
Addo Elephant Park
Addo Elephant National Park is an elephant park situated close to Port Elizabeth. The original section of the park was founded in 1931 in part due to the efforts of Sydney Skaife, in order to provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining elephants in the area. The park has proved to be very successful and currently houses more than 450 elephants and a large number of other mammals. The original park has subsequently been expanded to include the Woody Cape Nature Reserve that extends from the Sundays River mouth towards Alexandria and a marine reserve, which includes St. Croix Island and Bird Island, an important breeding habitat for gannets and penguins, not to mention a large variety of other marine life. Bird Island is home to the world’s largest breeding colony of gannets – about 120,000 birds – and also hosts the second largest breeding colony of African penguins, the largest breeding colony being St Croix island. The expansion has meant not only that the park contains five of South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones (biomes) but also that it is probably the only park in the world to house the so-called “Big 7″ (elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo, leopard, whale and great white shark) in their natural habitat. For those looking for a Malaria free destination, Addo is a perfect choice, especially when combined with one of the private game reserves in the area.
Cederberg Wilderness Area
The Cederberg is renowned for its quality of rock climbing routes particularly around the Krakadouw and Tafelberg peaks. The Table Mountain Sandstone creates ideal conditions for spectacular routes. There are numerous day and overnight hikes including the popular and spectacular Wolfberg Arch, Wolfberg Cracks and the Maltese Cross. The area is also home to an amateur astronomical observatory, which regularly hosts open evenings for the public. The Cederberg mountains and nature reserve are located near Clanwilliam, approximately 300 km north of Cape Town. The mountain range is named after the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis), which is a tree endemic to the area. The mountains are noted for dramatic rock formations and San rock art. Read more on Wikipedia.
The Garden Route
The Garden Route is a popular stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Heidelberg in the Western Cape to Storms River which is crossed along the N2 coastal highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme western reach of the neighbouring Eastern Cape. The name comes from the ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley; with George, the Garden Route’s largest city and main administrative centre. Here you will find an oceanic climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. It has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Temperatures rarely fall below 10°C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28°C in summer. Rain occurs year-round, with a slight peak in the spring months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean rising and releasing their precipitation along the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains just inland of the coast. The Route is sandwiched between the aforementioned mountains and the Indian Ocean. The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and Temperate Forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December). Although the most popular exploration of the Garden Route is by car, it is also the site of Africa’s last remaining passenger steam train, the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe. Whether you choose to self-drive or take an organized tour o rjump on the train, the garden route is certainly the place where everyone will find something to please them.
The Drakensberg “the Dragon Mountains” is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to 3,482 metres (11,424 ft) in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba (“barrier of spears”). First class accommodation and hiking are available here and anyone visiting South Africa should take the time to take in these ‘Dragon Mountains’. Offering great flora, fauna and views, take a close look at this destination.
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park, previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on May 29, 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation. The park is managed by South African National Parks. The park contains two well-known landmarks: Table Mountain, for which the park is named; and the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern most extremity of Africa. The park is not a single contiguous area; the undeveloped mountainous areas which make up most of the park are separated by developed urban areas on shallower terrain. Thus the park is divided into three separate sections; Table Mountain, Silvermine-Tokai and the Cape Point section. All these areas of the park you will make contact with as you explore the cape region. Wikipedia explain all these areas in depth. We have a quick link in our quick facts at the bottom. The Penguins at Boulders Beach are one of many attractions while taking a tour that includes the various destinations within Table Moutain National Park.
Blyde River Canyon
The Blyde River Canyon is a significant natural feature of South Africa, located in Mpumalanga, and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 16 miles (26 kilometers) in length and is, on average, around 2500 feet (800m) deep. The Dam itself, when full, is at an altitude of 665m (2182 feet). The Canyon consists mostly of red sandstone. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 6378 feet above sea level (1944m) whilst its lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 1840 feet (+- 560m) above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is over 4500 feet (about 1400m) deep. Blyde River Canyon. While it is difficult to compare canyons world-wide, Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may be the largest ‘green canyon’ due to its lush subtropical foliage. It has some of the deepest precipitious cliffs of any canyon on the planet. It is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent. Possibly the best view in the whole of the Blyde River Canyon is of the “Three Rondavels”, huge, round rocks, thought to be reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous people, known as rondavels. This canyon is part of the famous Panorama route. This route starts at the town Graskop and includes God’s Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
St Lucia Wetlands
St Lucia Estuary is one of the tourism focal points of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a recently declared World Heritage Site. The Park comprises of a number of conservation areas, the oldest of which is the St Lucia Game Reserve, established in 1895. St Lucia Estuary is the gateway to the Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia. The region contains the highest vegetated dunes in the world, extensive and diverse wetland systems, as well as coastal grasslands with an associated fauna which includes Africa’s highest density of common reedbuck. Numerous waterfowl, grassland, forest and sea birds provide an attraction to birdwatchers from around the world. This destination is an easy drive from Durban and certainly worth a visit. Utilizing a local expert guide makes all the difference when visiting these destinations. Talk to an expert.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve
This is an incredibly scenic park with rippling hills covered in low acacia bush. The north of the park is more rugged and mountainous with forests and grasslands, while the south and west is more undulating with open savannah. Hluhluwe is a difficult word to pronounce though something sounding like “Shoushlooee” is close enough. The park contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora and is particularly famous for its conservation of black and white rhino. Hluhluwe Umfolozi is home to 1,600 white rhino and 370 black rhino – an impressive number which means you are very likely to see one or both species. It also contains the rest of the Big Five; buffalo, elephant, lion and leopard, as well as many other species including blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffe waterbuck, nyala, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, cheetah, hyena and jackal plus lots of impala.
Cape Town is the second-most popular city in South Africa and anyone visiting South Africa, has Cape Town on their list of stops and for very good reasons. Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. The city is famous for its harbour (The Waterfront) as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, including such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is also Africa’s most popular tourist destination. Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East. Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa. Today Cape Town is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates in South Africa. Cape Town must be on your destination list.
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country’s three capital cities, serving as the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital. The city’s original name was Pretoria Philadelphia (“Pretoria of brotherly love”). It gave its name to the Pax Praetoriana, referring to the country’s relative stability. Pretoria in South Africa is popularly known as The Jacaranda City due to the thousands of Jacaranda trees planted in its streets, parks and gardens.
Johannesburg also called Jozi or Joburg is the largest city in South Africa based on population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthy province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa’s three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court, which has the final word on interpretation of South Africa’s new post-Apartheid constitution. The city is the source of a large-scale gold and diamond trade, due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills. Johannesburg is served by O.R. Tambo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Africa and a gateway for international air travel to and from the rest of Southern Africa. Johannesburg includes Soweto, which was a separate city from the late 1970s until the 1990s. Originally an acronym for “South-Western Townships”, Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg populated mostly by native African workers in the gold mining industry. Eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, the apartheid regime separated Soweto from the rest of Johannesburg to make it a completely Black area. The area called Lenasia is now also part of Johannesburg, and is predominantly populated by those of Indian origin since the end of the apartheid era. Many people fear Johannesburg, though we like to stress that as a tourist in transit and on a tour within South Africa, there is no risk, or at least no greater risk than getting in a plane, or driving your car to work in your home country. Safety is our number one priority, and knowledge and education is the way to alleviate any fear or concern when visiting South Africa.
Kalahari Game Reserve & Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid desert in Southern Africa covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. Whether your in South Africa, Botswana or Namibia, the Kalahari offers a great contrast to the rest of each country, where you have the opportunity to view animals and plants adampted to living in these often very harsh conditions. We offer you comfort in the desert. Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a national park in the Kalahari desert of Botswana, it is the second largest game reserve in the world. The park and many other areas of the Kalahari contain giraffe, brown hyena, warthog, cheetah, wild dog, leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu and red hartebeest. The land is quite flat and some areas undulating, covered with some sand dunes, and areas of larger trees. Ancient river valleys like the well known Deception Valley made well known by the work of Mark and Delia Owens, are remote destinations we love to take our guests to experience true desert wilderness, and the unique species that live there. The Bushmen or San people, have inhabited the Kalahari for thousands of years. The Kalahari is a great destination.