South Africa

South Africa

With a landscape diversity to satisfy all adventurers, a collection of safari options to showcase the best of African wildlife and a vibrant and evolving culture to complement your whole travel experience, South Africa offers the ultimate African adventure.

Not surprisingly for a country where travel is largely about the great outdoors, South Africa's cities are more jumping off points rather than destinations in their own right. Jo-burg, more than anywhere offers an insight into the struggles of the apartheid era, and a visit to Soweto is always an enlightening experience - but, it's very much a base for exploring Kruger and the north. And Durban is a beach playground with wonderful ocean scenery. But, the exception that proves the rule is Cape Town, a spectacular locale dwarfed by the iconic Table Mountain. After you’ve climbed the mountain, experienced the beautiful waterfront, visited the colourful architecture of Bo Kaap and made the compulsory homage to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned)’s time to set off and explore the rest of the country.

And the Cape is the place to start, with one of the great ocean journeys in the world, the Garden Route, a stunning stretch of 300km along the Western Cape coastline that takes in Plettenberg Bay (the spot for whales) and the surfing mecca of Jeffrey’s bay among others. And, before you get too far away from Cape Town, make sure you find time to sample the finest wine and gourmet food on the continent in the Stellenbosch wine region.

If it’s animals that are on your mind (and, of course they are), you’re ridiculously spoilt for choice. Kruger justifiably holds centre stage as the original and still the premier destination, where the Big 5 are (relatively) easily ticked off, and the range of experiences go from the simplest in-and-out tours right up to the ultimate in luxury tented camps. For a more off-the-beaten track and authentic experience, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the border with Botswana is one of the greatest wilderness areas in the world, with an incredible diversity of wildlife, and some species not found anywhere else. The coast offers whale watching and shark diving, while there are so many other smaller reserves featuring wildlife that you could spend weeks here and just scratch the surface.

If you’d prefer to get out of the car and move around, South Africa also serves up some great options. The spectacular Drakensberg is the country’s highest mountain range, and the home for hiking and mountain-biking through the scenic valleys and incredible jaw-dropping cliff-faces. Throw in an amazing array of wildlife and plant species, and it’s a must on your journey. Further to the north, Blyde River Canyon features some of South Africa’s most impressive scenery, and again, enough wildlife and plant life to keep you occupied with your species-spotting.

Aptly nicknamed the ‘Rainbow Nation’, the diversity of cultures, ethnicities and tribal groups in South Africa provides a wonderful backdrop to your holiday, influencing the foods you taste, the languages you hear (there 10 official languages in the country, with English the most widely used, but not the most common) and the different groups of people you come across.

But, enough reading, start planning and get out there and experience it all!

Image by Brian Behrens, Shutterstock