The Silo Hotel Silo Square, Waterfront, 8001 Cape Town, South Africa
Visa Requirements:Visa on arrival
Languages Spoken:Zulu,, Xhosa, Africaans, English, Dutch, German
Currency Used:South African rand
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded on the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; on the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and on the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland; and surrounds the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with close to 56 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere.
South Africa has eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. In this regard it is third only to Bolivia and India in number. While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2011 census, the three most spoken first languages are Zulu (22.7%), Xhosa (16.0%), and Afrikaans (13.5%). Despite the fact that English is recognized as the language of commerce and science, it ranked fourth, and was listed as the first language of only 9.6% of South Africans in 2011 but remains the de facto lingua franca of the nation
South Africa has a mixed economy, the second largest in Africa after Nigeria. It also has a relatively high GDP per capita compared to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa ($11,750 at PPP as of 2012). Despite this, South Africa is still burdened by a relatively high rate of poverty and unemployment, and is also ranked in the top 10 countries in the world for income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient.
Places To Go
With more landscapes and terrain than just about another country on Earth, South Africa takes the lead when it comes to diversity. As any country should that boasts hippo sightings on the Limpopo River and penguin sightings on the Cape. An epic country at the tip of an epic continent, wildlife is likely your first draw. But don’t forget about the entertainment, nightlife, dining, and coasts. There are several incredible national parks and equally incredible national dishes (on a completely different scale!). South Africa struggled for decades under apartheid, and the evidence of this can still be felt in places. But the education and welcome you’ll receive will give you hope for the country’s future. Be sure to plan for a long trip, or at the least plan to return again and again, because you’ll need a lifetime to experience and appreciate this magnificent country. Let’s explore the best places to visit in South Africa!
Frequently listed as one of the world's most livable urban areas, South Africa's Mother City is a beacon of culture perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and framed by the breathtaking silhouette of Table Mountain. It is world-class restaurants and golden beaches, colorful historic districts and hipster farmer's markets. Outside the city center, the stunning coastal suburbs of Simonstown, Hout Bay and Fish Hoek await; while inland lies a patchwork of award-winning vineyards. If your visit to South Africa is centered exclusively around Cape Town, you can even find several rewarding safari destinations within a few hours' drive of the city.
Cape Of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is one of two world-renowned landmarks within the Table Mountain National Park, the other is Table Mountain. These two familiar attractions are what draws thousands of visitors to Cape Town, not a new attribute to the Cape of Good Hope that functioned as something of a beacon for sailors for years and is still widely referred to as ‘The Cape’ by sea farers.
Table Mountain National Park boasts global recognition for its rich, varied and utterly unique fauna and flora. This is the only place on the planet where, essentially within the metropolitan area of Cape Town, one finds such a heady mix of rich bio-diversity and incredible beauty.
Most visitors to Cape Town regard a trip to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point (the tip of the Cape peninsula) as obligatory. This part of the park is home to an array of fynbos, over 250 species of birds, buck, baboons and Cape mountain zebra.
Known as Surf City-Sunny weather and golden beaches await you on a vacation in Durban, a busy port city on the Indian Ocean known for its outdoorsy atmosphere. Wandering the buzzing city streets, you can discover colonial-era architectural gems and a vibrant blend of African and Asian cultures. Things to do in Durban include, among others, a wide range of recreational activities, from diving and surfing on one of the beaches, to hiking, skydiving, and swimming with sharks.
High on the must-see lists of most visitors to South Africa is the Garden Route, and with good reason: you can’t help but be seduced by the glorious natural beauty. The distance from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River in the east is less than 300km, yet the range of topography, vegetation, wildlife and outdoor activities is remarkable.
The coast is dotted with excellent beaches, while inland you’ll find picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and eventually the mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges that divide the verdant Garden Route from the arid Little Karoo.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is the second-largest game reserve in Africa and the largest in South Africa. We make many Kruger National Park reservations each year for this, the flagship of South African National Parks. Spanning 360km, North to South, and 65km from East to West, the scenic beauty of Limpopo is situated to the west, the lush Mpumalanga to the south and with Zimbabwe to the North. It has nine entrance gates and is home to the famous Big Five, the Little Five and the birding Big Six, in addition to a range of fauna and flora unique to the area.
The capital of Free State and one of South Africa’s three national capitals, Bloemfontein is sometimes called “the city of the roses” thanks to the rose festival held here each year. But it’s more than just beautiful to look at; the city has a plethora of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. For a start, try the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, the National Museum, the Free State National Botanical Garden, Vodacom Parkland the Anglo Boer War Museum. For round two, try the digital planetarium, the music scene at die Mystic Boer, and then go fishing at Maselspoort. The lists are endless so plan to stay at least a couple days.
South Africa is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses on the planet, and they're surprisingly affordable. Gary Player and Ernie Els earned their first birdies on South African golf courses, and some of the country's top spots were designed by these two golfing legends. Stand-out favorites include The Links at luxury hotel the Fancourt (located in George, Western Cape); and Leopard Creek, located near Kruger National Park.
The former is the top-rated golf course in South Africa, and the 34th best course in the world. Designed by Gary Player, it boasts spectacular views of the Outeniqua Mountains. The latter is special for its truly African flavor. Where else can you see giraffes wandering across the green, or spot crocodiles and hippos wallowing in the water hazards? Many of South Africa's golf courses are affiliated with luxury spa hotels, so that non-golfers have plenty to do too.
South Africa's coastline stretches for more than 1,600 miles/ 2,500 kilometers, from the frigid Atlantic to the balmy Indian Ocean. Both coasts have their fair share of surf spots, but the most famous are all in the Cape Town area, or further north along the east coast. If you're headed to the Mother City, check out Muizenberg for beginner waves, or Big Bay near Blouberg Beach. For pros, the most famous wave here is Dungeons, a beastly right-hander known to get as big as 60 feet/ 18 meters.
South Africa's surfing capital, however, is Jeffreys Bay, located 50 miles/ 85 kilometers south of Port Elizabeth. This laid-back town welcomes the likes of Kelly Slater and Jordy Smith for the annual J-Bay Open, which focuses on legendary right-hand break Super tubes. Further north, Durban is another hotspot for beginners and pros alike. For the biggest thrills, check out the waves at North Beach, Bay of Plenty and New Pier.
History lovers will find plenty of interest in South Africa. At Blood River, two monuments stand as a record of the conflict between the Zulu people and the Dutch Voortrekkers. The Anglo-Zulu War is commemorated by memorials and museums at historic battlefields like Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana. Of course, South Africa's modern history was overshadowed by the horrors of apartheid, and many of its sights are connected to that period of racial injustice.
In Cape Town, you can take a tour of Robben Island, the one-time political prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. You can also tour District Six, where forced evictions of non-whites took place after the passing of the racist Group Areas Act in 1950. In Johannesburg, it is possible to see firsthand the revival that has taken place since apartheid with a tour of Soweto. Once the site of bloody uprisings, the township is now a cultural hotspot.
South Africa's natural scenery is undoubtedly some of the world's finest, and the best way to experience it is on foot. There are many long-distance hiking trails to explore, some of which take you along the breathtaking coast, while others introduce you to the hidden secrets of the country's interior. Amongst the most famous routes are the Fanie Botha trail in Mpumalanga, and the Rim of Africa, which traverses the Western Cape mountains.
If you're looking for a less structured hiking experience, head to the Wild Coast or the Drakensberg Mountains. In both places, an abundance of short and long trails allow you to explore as much or as little as you like. The Wild Coast (also known as the Transkei) offers an insight into the rugged beauty of the Eastern Cape shore and the culture of the Xhosa people. The Drakensberg is home to the highest mountain range in South Africa.
Sharks and Whales
If you'd rather be under the water than on top of it, consider signing up for an encounter with the world's greatest apex predator - the great white shark. These magnificent animals are drawn to the waters of the Cape by an abundance of their favorite prey - Cape fur seals. Several companies in Gansbaai, Mossel Bay and Simonstown offer cage-diving tours, allowing you to see the sharks in their natural environment without compromising your safety.
If you'd rather do away with the steel bars, head further north to Aliwal Shoal, a Marine Protected Area located just south of Durban. Here, you can dive with several species of shark without the protection of a cage. In summer (November to April), baited dives allow you to get up close and personal with tiger sharks, while bull sharks and oceanic blacktip sharks are common throughout the year. In winter (June to September), sandtiger sharks congregate on the reef to mate.
South Africa has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder Southern Hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones range from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.
The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous fynbos biome of shrub land and thicket. This area also produces much of the wine in South Africa. This region is also particularly known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is popularly known as the Garden Route.
Because of a very high inequality index, South Africa is a country with a high crime rate, some parts of the cities are to be absolutely avoided by travelers, and tourists are prime targets for petty theft.
South Africa is ranked 112th on the ranking of world’s safest countries. Still, most tourists travel unharmed, so don’t let the crime spoil your vacation, but on the other hand don’t let negligence ruin your trip.
Stay alert and be aware. It is advised to travel with tour guides when going to remote locations or visiting the cities (the risks are higher in the cities : jump to the part on Johannesburg for more details.)
The main threats for tourists are muggings, theft, scams and carjacking.Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) is known for petty theft: there have been many reports of items stolen from passenger luggage, and the pilferage rate is twice as high as in other airports. Keep your valuables in hand luggage, and consider wrapping your luggage with cling-wrap (or any other luggage security apparatus) to deter potential thieves.
To prevent snatch-and-grab attacks, do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, consider using a money pouch or belt, hide your camera, leave your passport in the safe of your hotel.
It is unadvised to take public transport if you are travelling alone in large cities – prefer taking taxis or renting your own car. If you rent a car, be very careful : South Africa has one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world.
Beware of wild animals crossing the road , if you are in a reserve keep your distance with elephants and other large animals.
When you stop at a traffic light at night, always leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you : it is a common carjacking maneuver to block your car in order to rob you; if you leave enough space you could get around the other car. At least 30 cars are carjacked every day in South Africa.
Be alert around ATMs, as there have been many reports of scams involving stealing your cash, your card and memorizing your PIN. Always use ATMs in populous areas, refuse any “help” from strangers, if the withdrawal fails retrieve your card and try another ATM. Park in well lit areas and never leave valuables in your car.
As unlikely as it is, if you ever get mugged or carjacked, DO NOT RESIST. Your assailants could think that you are armed, and could shoot you.
The nationwide emergency number is the 112. For National Tourism safety advice, call +27 (0)83 123-2345.
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
South Africa is a dangerous country with a high crime rate – although travelers are very rarely targeted. It is ranked 112th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There is a medium pickpocket-related risk in South Africa, in public transport and crowds. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
South Africa is a dangerous country regarding risks of mugging and kidnapping, urban areas are better avoided late at night, and it is recommended to travel in private cars. They were over 4,000 kidnapping cases in 2014.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There are a lot of scammers and con-artists trying to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities and around major landmarks in South Africa. Beware of weird people around ATMs, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Public transport should be avoided for solo travelers at night, although the Gautrain in Johannesburg is mostly safe. There is a high risk of traffic accidents, as well as carjacking.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There can be some occasional natural hazards in South Africa. Beware of wild animals.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
South Africa is a very safe country in respect to terrorist threats.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There has been several reports of attacks and shaming of women travelers. Do not venture alone in shady neighborhoods of large cities, or isolated villages.