We have provided you with the perfect travel guide to South Africa. South Africa is an African paradise with incredibly beautiful scenery. The country is made up of nine provinces that have diverse offerings for tourists throughout the year. Visitors can expect to experience gorgeous weather, vast wildlife, amazing beaches, and delicious food when visiting the large country. The cities have a brilliant mix of immigrants and locals, making them a perfect spot to learn about diverse African cultures and be part of their urban life.
I think that South Africa is the perfect destination for first time travelers to Africa. As a Black Traveler, I was treated like family and made lifetime friends with locals I met while traveling. Whether you are planning to go on safari, horseback riding, hiking, or spend time on the beach, South Africa is the perfect destination. If you are planning to visit South Africa alone or with friends, this is the best guide to ensure your trip is unforgettable.
Best time to go
The weather in South Africa is diverse because of its large size and its general climate is Mediterranean and subtropical with a few areas experiencing winter.
December to January is peak season in South Africa with many people visiting the national parks and spending time on the beaches. The weather is pleasant during these months, making it the perfect time to visit. If you prefer warmer months, consider visiting the western region from November to April, and May to October is best for the eastern region. The summer months from November to February are the best times to go because of the wonderful weather and various activities.
If you prefer, visiting when the attractions have fewer people and traveling is cheaper, the best time is March to May or September to October.
Interesting places to visit in South Africa
Whether you are visiting for a short or extended period, South Africa has a lot to offer. The country has plenty of places to visit for those who prefer staying in the urban areas or exploring the outdoors. Here are some “must visit” places when in South Africa.
Cape Town is a coastal city located at the base of Table Mountain with unique architecture, and a vibrant nightlife. Going up the Table Mountain using cable cars or hiking gives you a chance to get the perfect aerial view of the city. Visiting the famous Robben Island which housed Mandela while in prison is also a “must-see” when in Cape Town. The museum attracts thousands of visitors and may require early booking to access the notorious prison. Beaches such as Clifton or Camp’s Bay are the perfect place to relax, surf, and watch the sunset as the day ends. If you are a wine lover, a visit to Stellenbosch an adjacent town, would be a good place to go sip some of the best wines in South Africa.
Johannesburg is an economic powerhouse in Africa with vibrant cultural life and progressive nightlife. Often referred to as the “City of Gold,” it has a built a reputation as a city of extremes that draws the wealthy and astute, plus those looking to enjoy a different holiday. The cosmopolitan city is multicultural and diverse, offering visitors an opportunity to enjoy unique experiences at all times.
Beyond its economic status, the city is also home to famous townships like Soweto, which hosted history makers such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Visitors get to walk down the famous Vilakazi Street which hosts the former residence of Mandela which is a museum.
The street is a reminder of the struggles during the apartheid era. Other museums to visit include the Constitution Hill and Apartheid Museum. For fun visit, Gold Reef City, which is a theme park in a former gold mine. The theme park has many features such as rollercoasters, theatres, water rides, and a trampoline park that provide an exceptional experience for visitors.
Kruger National Park
Located in the North West Province, Kruger National Park is a major attraction in the country. Safari lovers will enjoy the vast grasslands, wildlife, and tranquility that the park offers. It is often an interesting change from the city for many visitors looking to get an up-close look at epic creatures.
Kruger National Park sits on over nineteen thousand square kilometers and is home to various magnificent animals. The park is home to the Big Five and other animals that may be abundant in different parts of the game reserve. Some of the best places to spot wildlife in the park are Satara, Skukuza, Crocodile Bridge, and Lower Sabie. Besides wild animals, Kruger is also a great destination for bird lovers. The park boasts of over two hundred migrant bird species from October to March annually. Some popular species to watch out for include bee-eaters, Southern ground hornbill, kingfishers, lilac-breasted rollers, and different storks. They allow visitors to drive through the game park to see animals while accessing various accommodation options. You can also be part of a safari tour, which often includes a knowledgeable guide.
Victoria Falls lies on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in the southern part of Africa. It is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the largest waterfall within Zambia. The volume of water that pours down into the Zambezi River and Basalt gorge are the largest when compared to others worldwide. For many tourists, watching the waters as they fall accompanied by the loud crashing sounds is an unforgettable sight.
Besides looking at the falls, you can also engage in various activities as part of the visit. Other things to do include walking on the Knife Edge Bridge, swimming in the Devils Pool, whitewater rafting, swinging across Batoka Gorge, visiting Livingstone Island, and bungee jumping.
Accommodation in South Africa is available for all types of travelers although it might be more pricy than in other African countries. Visitors are assured of exceptional services at places to stay no matter their budget. Hotels will be your biggest expense in South Africa as their cost are very comparable to US costs. The good news is that you will find all other services very reasonable in comparison to US cost.
If you are visiting cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, you can book a room at luxury guesthouses, country retreats, boutique hotels, and lodges. A wider range of accommodation is available for those visiting national parks, which include game lodges and rest camps.
Despite the enormous size of the country, traveling across South Africa is relatively easy. Trains and buses are available for those willing to use public transport but may be dangerous in some areas. Local flights are also available, making it possible to move from one destination to another quickly. Car rental companies are many and allow for the booking of cars at affordable prices. If you prefer exploring different parts of South Africa at your own pace and convenience, then renting a vehicle is the best option for long-distance or night travel.
Best foods to try
Sampling traditional South African food is the best way to interact with the culture of the people. Locals enjoy a wide variety of meals with the famous ones being Pap (grain porridge), “Braai” (boerewors, lamb cutlets, and barbecued steak), and “Potjiekos” (vegetable and meat dish). The dishes are available in local restaurants and are reasonably priced.
Wine is also popular in South Africa, as it is one of the largest producers of New World wines. The country has many wineries with the best ones located in Stellenbosch, Worcester, Paarl, and Constantia. Visitors to these wineries get to enjoy some of the best South African wines loved locally and internationally.
Overall, South Africa is a “must visit” destination for those looking for an authentic African travel experience.