South Africa Pictures
Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa.
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Pictures and Information
South Africa enjoys a superb climate, a magnificent collection of mountains and beaches, rampant wildlife, an efficient infrastructure, an interesting history (to say the least), lively friendly locals, delicious cuisine - particularly seafood and fruits - and fantastic high quality but affordable wines in BIG glasses! Get an idea of the delights in store from our big picture galleries or more information from our Travel Guide.
Autumn (February-April) and Spring (August-October),
but winter (May-July) though chilly at night usually
provides blue skies, T-shirt days and good game-viewing due to the
dry season short grass effect.
Worst: arguably midsummer except for the Cape when it's the best season (mid-December, January) due to extreme heat, rains, humidity and massively crowded holiday places - with both foreigners and locals. On the positive side, this is the beach and party season, but book accommodation ahead!
Cape Town summer (November-January) temperatures average 16C-26C (61F-79F) and winter (May-July) 7C-18C (45F-64F).
Hiking: South Africans have trekking
in their blood so combine that with a magnificent fertile, hilly
country, striking coastline, great weather, good organisation and
you will find some of the world's best walks here.
Biking and Horse Riding: widely available but especially good in the Cape area, for example Noordhoek.
Wildlife safaris: all kinds, all over the country, in parks big and small, private and national. Kruger in the far east of the country is the largest and most famous, with self-drive available and a range of accommodation from budget restcamps up to luxury lodges.
Scenic drives: This country is far more mountainous than many people expect, the coast is beautiful and the roads are excellent, so driving can be a great pleasure. The Cape area and the south coast especially - including the Garden Route - offer endless stunning views and make an excellent three or four day round trip.
Wine tasting tours or just drives through
suburbs like Cape Town's Constantia or nearby towns like Stellenbosch, Franschoek
or Paarl are well signposted and yield attractive, varied old Dutch
buildings - all whitewashed and often thatched - in spacious surroundings,
with vineyards and serious wine tasting sessions on offer all over, sometimes in exquisite surroundings.
Surfing: there are vast numbers of
premium, underused surf beaches, though the west half of the country
gets thrashed by the chilly Atlantic rather than the warmer Indian
Whale watching: Rich waters attract a lot of marine life and whales appear at a distance in many locations, but Hermanus Bay, a few hours drive from Cape Town, expanding but still with a tranquil small-town feel gets regular close-up visits from Southern Right Whales from July-December. From a rocky promontory you can get clear, near views of the puffing, cruising, leaping big boys, if you're not unlucky.
Rock Climbing: again, Cape Town is the focus for much of this activity - after all it has a lot of amazing climbs in its city limits.
Scuba Diving: much of the country's water is too chilly for coral but offers good
Golf: The courses here are magnificent.
South Africa has three capital cities!
As a result of a compromise that created the Union of South Africa in 1910, the administrative capital is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town, and the judicial capital is Bloemfontein.
Food for the common man means large portions of well-prepared meats or fish, often fried or barbecued, and at low prices by European standards.
Seafood is especially fresh, varied and succulent and combined with the normal outsize glass of superb local wine makes a great meal.
Meat ranges from serious beef steaks to gamey ostrich, croc, kudu and spicy sausages, with high quality beers or red wines as an excellent support act. Dried meat - biltong - is the local's primary snack.
Vegetarians can have a thin time in this beefy country, though Indian and Italian restaurants are some help and cheese and eggs are always available.
Restaurants are generally relaxed and kid-friendly and tap water is clean and good to drink.
Air: the country is huge so those with limited time - even budget travellers - should consider domestic air travel. e.g. from Kruger Park's airport (Nelspruit) to Durban or Cape Town.
Car Hire: Prices are low and there is such a profusion of scenic drives, excellent roads and worthwhile places to go, coupled with limited public transport that self-drive makes sense. Car-jacking is very rare but keep all doors locked habitually.
Driving tips: Robots are traffic signals!
Many roads are two lanes with emergency lanes that slow vehicles often use to let faster ones go by. The overtaking car then flashes hazard warning lights in thanks.
Roads are generally wide, straight and uncrowded so you can make good time if you wish, particularly on some gorgeous secondary (R) roads.
Other drivers are usually controlled and considerate, but beware night driving when drunks hit the highway.
If you stop at night at a red light and feel uneasy, especially in Durban/Jo'burg, check left/right and drive on.
Citizens of Britain, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other Commonwealth countries, most of West Europe and Japan do not need visas for up to 3 months, but must have at least 2 blank pages in their passports. More Visa information.