South Africa Travel

Cape Town cable car to Table Top Mountain, South Africa Travel

The cable car from near Cape Town to the top of Table Mountain, South Africa.

Why South Africa travel?

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!

In fact tourism here is generally low cost and high value with plenty of action including top class beaches hiking, wildlife safaris, scenic drives and surfing at the head of a long list. And, if you’re European, the time zone is similar so you won’t have to contend with jet lag!

Groot Constantia vineyards in the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa

Groot Constantia vineyards in the suburbs of Cape Town.

Downsides

• Visible crime deterrents such as depressing ‘armed response’ signs, razor barb and electrified fencing remind tourists they’re not in a comfort zone. But consult locals, take care and crime need not be an issue.
• Health precautions need to be observed also. Anti-malarials in season, see mosquitoes, but also there are a lot more dangerous animals around than in most traveler’s home towns so learn to keep your eyes open on land or in sea!

Best seasons in South Africa

Durban surf beach, South Africa beaches

Durban surf beach with the usual law-abiding citizens.

Best weather: 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.
Cape Town has a 40% chance of rain during winter, but if you’re lucky it’s chilly but a good time to be there. Winter is not a good time to swim.

Worst: arguably midsummer (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! The regional  exception except is the Cape when midsummer is the best season.

Cape Town summer (November-January) temperatures average 16C-26C (61F-79F) and winter (May-July) 7C-18C (45F-64F).

South Africa Things to See and Do

***Cape Town

South Africa, Cape Town, Bo Kaap district

The most colourful part of Cape Town, Bo-Kaap, the old Malay Quarter.

Cape Town is by far the most appealing city in South Africa. It’s sophisticated, has a variety of attractive buildings old and new, excellent beaches, bars, restaurants, clubs and entertainment facilities. Then there’s staggeringly beautiful Table Mountain in the middle of it all and a cluster of pretty, a fine and lively Waterfront area, old Dutch style wineries and vineyards in the suburbs and spectacular, scenic drives along the coast nearby.

**Durban

Durban North beach amusements, South Africa

Durban North beach amusements.

Durban is big, brash and the antithesis of Cape Town. This is the Atlantic City of South Africa, and it’s determined to part you from your wad with minimum intellectual input and and maximum speed. A lively, happening city, with wide, clean beaches, warm surf protected by shark nets and lifeguards, endless things to do and watch on and off the promenade and great bars, restaurants and clubs.

***Game Safari Parks

Elephant face-off, Kruger National Park, South Africa map

Self-Drive elephant face-off, Kruger National Park.

Wildlife safaris: all kinds, all over the country, in parks big and small, private and national. Kruger is the largest and most famous with good value accommodation and self-drive available while more luxury lodges cater to those who like to be pampered and money is no object.

Lukimbi Private Safari Lodge, linking to Kruger National Park animal pictures, South Africa

Lukimbi private safari lodge, Kruger National Park.

Drive-Yourself-Wild, Kruger NP: Car rentals can be made at airports, Nelspruit town or even Skukuza camp. Most Kruger roads are in good shape so 4WD is not necessary. Gas stations inside the park do not accept credit cards. SatNav is an asset.
With a maximum speed limit on tarred roads of 50kph and 40 kph on dirt time required to drive between camps is between 1-2 hours in the southern sector.

It is not permitted to get out of your car outside a rest camp. Gates to Kruger Park and rest camps close at more-or-less sunset (about 6pm) and open at about sunrise (5-6am).

a rhino near a car in Kruger National Park, South Africa travel

A rhino closes in on a self-drive car, Kruger.

***Go for a drive

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.

Coast Road Cape Town to Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Coast Road Cape Town to Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

The Garden Route – scenery that is wide and green and reminiscent of some of England’s rolling countryside, mountains that recede into the distance in layers, wonderful beaches, some of South Africa’s best walks, maddest activities and endless wonderful pictures demanding to be taken.

Riding an ostrich at speed, Oudtshoorn, South Africa

Enjoying a quiet ride in Oudtshoorn on the Garden Route.

***Take a hike

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.

The 5 day Otter Trail in Tsitsikamma is considered the best hike at present, along with a stunning 6 day Hoerikwaggo Trail along the Table Mountain Range.

Also on and around Table Mountain, Drakensberg, the Garden Route, Lesotho…

Drakensberg Mountain Walking Trail, South Africa

Drakensberg Mountains walking trail.

**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.

Needless to say whale-watching cruises are always an option.

Whales seen from the cliffs of Hermanus Bay, The Garden Route', South Africa

Whales seen from the cliffs of Hermanus Bay, on The Garden Route.