South Africa Travel Guide
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South Africa Travel Guide
South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game. The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.
The stark northwestern Kalahari is a semiarid savannah that’s home to leopards, cheetahs and several game reserves. In KwaZulu-Natal province lie the Drakensberg Mountains and the Amphitheatre, a dramatic semicircular cliff with the Tugela Falls at the top. Major urban areas include Johannesburg and the township of Soweto, where Nelson Mandela worked to end apartheid. Durban’s Golden Mile has a refurbished promenade and is famous for its surfing beaches. Northeastern Sun City is a huge resort complex of casinos and golf courses. Capital Pretoria features key historic Transvaal sites such as the Voortrekker Monument and Kruger House.
South Africa’s Regions
South Africa is divided into 9 provinces, they are:
Pretoria the administrative capital of the country. Johannesburg is the seat the provincial government, also the economic heart of Africa and the most common entry point into Southern Africa.
- Western Cape
Cape Town, the mother city, the legislative capital and seat of Parliament, with famous landmarks as Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope. The winelands near Stellenbosch, the Whale Coast along the Overberg, Agulhas where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet and the Cape Floral Region. The Garden Route, one of the top destinations, running along the Southern Coast from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth, with cities like Knysna and ostrich capital Oudtshoorn.
- Eastern Cape
The remainder of the Garden Route, known as the Tsitsikamma. The former homelands, the Wild Coast, spectacular coastlines without the tourist crowd. Superb beaches in Port Elizabeth, East London and Jeffreys Bay, the surfing mecca of South Africa. Great parks like Addo Elephant National Park and Tsitsikamma National Park.
- Northern Cape
Capital Kimberley, famous for its diamonds and the “Big Hole”. Biggest province with fewest people, Upington is the second big city, a good base when exploring the Kalahari desert, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River. Also Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and the semi-desert Karoo.
- Free State
Capital Bloemfontein which also hosts the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest court in non-constitutional matters (the Constitutional Court is in Johannesburg since 1994). The world heritage site Vredefort Dome, remnants of the largest and oldest meteorite impact crater.
Durban, the largest city in the province and third largest in South Africa and popular coastal holiday destination for South Africans. The Drakensberg mountain range, if you like hiking and also the Tugela Falls, the world’s second highest waterfall.
- North West
Rustenburg, famous for Sun City and Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
Capital Nelspruit, gateway to Mozambique and southern section of the Kruger National Park. The Drakensberg Escarpment with the Blyde River Canyon is the third largest Canyon in the world.
Capital Polokwane (formally known as Pietersburg) a good jump off point for visits to the northern parts of the Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe.
Territories : Marion Island, Prince Edward Islands
When to visit South Africa
Most visitors arrive during summer (Nov–Mar), when the weather ranges from warm to hot on the coast, depending on location (the interior High Veld and Drakensberg Mountains tend to be much cooler). The ideal season for the wildlife parks is May–Sep, when the weather is dry and big game is more likely to be spotted. Major events include the Minstrel Carnival/Kaapse Klopse (Cape Town, Jan), Two Oceans Marathon (Cape Town, Apr), the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, Jun–Jul) and Cape Town Comedy Festival (Sep).
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