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Truly a world in one country, South Africa is a land of great scenic and cultural diversity, which offers an equally diverse range of holiday options, from intense Kruger safaris to relaxing Cape Town city and beach breaks.
South Africa is one of Africa's greatest safari destinations, rivalling even the famous safari parks of East Africa. There are more than 300 game and nature reserves in South Africa, encompassing a wide range of habitats, from the game-rich acacia savannah of the Kruger National Park to the red rolling sand dunes of the vast Kalahari Gemsbok. Bordering Kruger is Mpumalanga, home to many of South Africa's finest game reserves, such as Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Thornybush and Londolozi. These small, well-maintained private reserves are a defining feature of the South African safari circuit, and a contrast to the larger national parks and game reserves found in East Africa.
Some of South Africa's reserves are malaria-free, making them suitable destinations for a family safari. Choose from Madikwe Game Reserve, easily accessible from Johannesburg, or the private reserves of the Eastern Cape such as Kariega, Lalibela, Shamwari and Kwandwe. These reserves are a perfect add-on to the Garden Route and can easily be included in a self-drive South Africa holiday. All of these parks and reserves offer an excellent safari experience with top-class wildlife viewing and a range of accommodations to suit every budget.
South Africa's attractions as a safari destination are clear, but of course the country's great appeal is that it offers much more than safaris. The Garden Route and the Cape Winelands region between them offer a number of beautiful country and coastal retreats, while the Cedarberg and the Drakensberg ranges are a paradise for keen hikers.
A few days in Cape Town, with its stunning backdrop of beaches, mountains and wine valleys, is a must. There is much to see and take in here, so be sure to allow a few days and don't try to rush through! Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and enjoy the incredible views of the city and coast from its summit. On the slopes of Table Mountain are the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with a wide array of indigenous flora, trees, birds and small mammals. To the south is the rugged beauty of the Cape Peninsula and Cape Point, and in the Bay you can visit Robben Island, now a World Heritage Site.
Cape Town's charming waterfront has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere as well as South Africa's finest restaurants. Seafood is a speciality. From here you can also visit the fertile Winelands and a number of historic towns such as Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, where you may spend a night or two enjoying gourmet food and some of the world’s best vintage wines.
A self drive holiday or guided tour from Cape Town along the Garden Route is particularly rewarding. Here you will find an idyllic coastline with a mosaic of lakes, lagoons and wooded valleys. Diced by river gorges and locked between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountain ranges, this is one of Africa’s most scenic spots. Your first stop might be Hermanus, which offers exceptional whale-watching between July and December, followed by some time at Wilderness National Park taking in its patchwork landscape of lakes, rivers and fens, before continuing on to Knysna to see the mighty yellowwoods of Knysna Forest and the beautiful lagoon. Further on, Plettenberg Bay provides a wonderful location for a South African beach holiday, while Tsitsikamma National Park, at the end of the Garden Route, offers exciting canopy tours and luxury treetop retreats.
With a 3,000km coastline, South Africa offers excellent scuba diving and superb beaches. For the active traveller, there is trekking in the mountain regions of Drakensberg, Cedarberg and the Wild Coast. Whale watching by boat from July to December is also a highlight, while botanists will thoroughly enjoy a drive along the Garden Route or better yet a visit to Namaqualand when (during late August and early September) the hills and heath-lands burst into flower with displays of vibrant oranges, purples and yellows.
All of these South African regions are easily explored as part of a self-drive holiday. Alternatively, we can arrange a variety of guided tours to South Africa ranging from one to fourteen day explorations – ask us for details.
Contact us now to take advantage of our many South Africa special offers and book your tailor-made safari with Gane and Marshall.
SOUTH AFRICA HOLIDAYS AT A GLANCE
The climate changes dramatically across South Africa. The Cape area enjoys a Mediterranean climate and may be visited year round, but is hottest December-March.
The best game-viewing throughout South Africa is from June to October.
Travel connections between South Africa and Tanzania/Kenya are easy.
South Africa offers a number of malari-free game reserves, making it the perfect destination for a family safari.
Regions in South Africa
Situated on the south-western tip of Africa, Cape Town is regarded as one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world, boasting a rich past, stunning location, and a host of city attractions.
One of the most diverse regions of South Africa, the Eastern Cape encompasses much of the semi-arid greater Karoo, Tsitsikamma Forest, the Garden Route and a number of bustling towns, including Port Elizabeth and Graaff-Reinet. Inland, you'll find several malaria-free safari reserves, including Addo, Shamwari and Kwande.
The Garden Route is a beautiful stretch of South Africa's coastline, running from Tsitsikamma Forest in the east to Mossel Bay in the west. The region is so-named because of its wild flowers, the famous Cape fynbos, which blossom in spring creating fabulous flower displays. Other local attractions include the coastal towns of Plettenberg and Hermanus, which offer beautiful beaches and seasonal whale-watching.
Despite being the smallest province in South Africa, Gauteng is one of the most densely populated, with a number of major cities situated in the region, including Johannesburg, Soweto and Pretoria. Outside the cities, Gauteng offers a number of nature and game reserves of limited interest.
Kruger National Park is the largest, and best, game park in South Africa. It is home to a huge variety of game, including endangered species such as wild dog as well as the 'big five'. It caters to most budgets and interests, offering both basic and luxury safari camps, traditional 4x4 and walking safaris.
One of the largest provinces in South Africa, Kwazulu Natal is a scenically diverse region, bordered by the Drakensberg Mountains to the west and the warm Indian Ocean to the east. It houses a treasure trove of attractions, from coastal wilderness reserves and big-5 safari parks to traditional Zulu settlements and Boer War battlefield sites.
The Little Karoo is a fertile valley bounded by three mountain ranges, the Swartberg, Langeberg and Outeniqua. It runs parallel to the more famous Garden Route, and offers a similar combination of stunning scenery, country guesthouses and old historic towns, yet it attracts a fraction of the visitors.
Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most unique destinations. The region is divided in half by the Drakensberg Mountains, with expansive grasslands to the west and savannah to the east.
The North West province of South Africa is an oft-overlooked region of the country with a number of unique attractions, from the Cradle of Mankind world heritage site to the big game parks of Pilanesberg and Madikwe.
The largest yet least populated region of South Africa, the Northern Cape and West Coast is a hugely diverse region, with large expanses of desert, rugged coastline, flatland salt pans and dramatic mountains. See floral displays in Namaqualand, safari in the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, or relive the Anglo-Boer War in Kimberley.
Considered the bread basket of South Africa, the Overberg's countryside is dominated by rich pastures, fruit orchards and wheat fields, while the coastal region around Hermanus, the Whale Coast, offers fabulous opportunities to spot South Right Whale.
A region of picturesque valleys populated by grand estates, pretty towns, and endless vineyards, the Winelands are also a region steeped in culture and history, home to some of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture in South Africa.
Example itineraries in South Africa
Experience the unforgettable sights and sounds of Africa’s wilderness in this Kruger wildlife safari. You will travel by luxury coach from Johannesburg to the scenic town of Hazyview, situated on the border of South Africa’s greatest safari destination, Kruger National Park. You will enjoy game drives in a closed vehicle with viewings at waterholes, rest breaks at camps and tranquil overnight stays at a picturesque safari hotel.
South safari and star-gazing special. Spend four nights at Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park for the price of three. This special offer is valid until the end of 2014.
Travel to the private Pumba Game Reserve, in south Africa's Eastern Cape, to see the rare white lion in the wild.
Journey from Cape to Cape on this comprehensive 20-day private self-drive itinerary.
Gondwana Game Reserve offers an in-depth conservation experience for those wanting a more involved safari, during which you will learn about wildlife and veld management, while taking on board important bush skills.