INFO on South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Lesotho is an enclave entirely surrounded by South African territory.
South Africa has two capitals. Cape Town, the oldest city, is the legislative capital, where Parliament sits. Pretoria, 1 500 kilometres to the north, is the executive capital, where the government administration is housed. Next door to Pretoria, and close enough that the outer suburbs merge, is the commercial centre of Johannesburg, once the world's greatest gold mining centre, now increasingly dominated by modern financial and service sectors. The second-biggest city is Durban, a fast-growing port on the eastern coast, and the supply route for most goods to the interior.
Over much of South Africa, summer (mid-October to mid-February) is characterised by hot, sunny weather - often with afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell in the air.
The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is the exception, getting its rain in winter.
Autumn (fall) in South Africa (mid-February to April) offers in some ways the best weather. Very little rain falls over the whole country, and it is warm but not too hot, getting colder as the season progresses.
In Cape Town, autumn is fantastic, with hot sunny days and warm, balmy nights which many people spend at outdoor cafés.
Winter in South Africa (May to July) is characterised in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights. So it's a good idea to bring warm clothes.
The hot, humid KwaZulu-Natal coast, as well as the Lowveld (lower-lying areas) of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, offer fantastic winter weather with sunny, warmish days and virtually no wind or rain.
The Western Cape gets most of its rain in winter, with quite a few days of cloudy, rainy weather. However, these are always interspersed with wonderful days to rival the best of a British summer.
The high mountains of the Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal usually get snow in winter.
Nowhere in South Africa is spring (August to mid-October) more spectacular than in the Cape provinces. Here the grey winter is forgotten as thousands of small, otherwise insignificant plants cover the plains in an iridescent carpet of flowers.
The journey to see the flowers of the Namaqualand in the Western and Northern Cape is an annual pilgrimage for many South Africans.
Best time of the year to travel?
That depends on what you want to do. The flowers are obviously best in August and September. The best time for game viewing is late spring (September and October). The southern right whales hang around off our coasts from about mid-June to the end of October.
A feast of South African festivals
- Origin Festival
- FNB Dance Umbrella
- Prickly Pear Festival
- Cape Town Jazz Festival
- Lambert's Bay Kreeffees
- Oppikoppi Easter Festival
- Tonteldoos Peach Festival
- Sedgefield Lakes Festival
- Sasol Scifest
- Windybrow Theatre Festival
- Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees
- Splashy Fen
- Tulbagh Goes Dutch
- Philippolis Witblits Festival
- South African National Belly Dance Festival
- Prince Albert Olive, Food & Wine Festival
- Pink Loerie Mardi Gras
- Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival
- National Arts Festival
- Knysna Oyster Festival
- Ellisras Bushveld Festival
- Calitzdorp Port Festival
- Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival
- Joy of Jazz
- Hantam Vleisfees
- Cellar Rats Wine Festival
- Arts Alive
- Aardklop Arts Festival
- Gariep Kunstefees
- Hermanus Whale Festival
- Rustler's Valley Spring Equinox Gathering
- Awesome Africa Music Festival
- Knysna Gastronomica
- Prince Albert Agricultural Show
- Southern Cross Music Festival
- Bosman Weekend
- Ficksburg Cherry Festival
- Rustler's Valley
- Spier Summer Festival
South Africa Wildlife
South Africa is perhaps most famous for its beautiful abundance of wildlife ? and so it should be. There is such incredible variety of mammals, birds, plants, insects and marine life that the hardest part of enjoying such natural riches is usually trying to decide where to start. Well, we can't make that choice any easier for you but we can wet your appetite with a few stunning photographs of these natural beauties. Below is a gallery of pictures focusing mainly on the country's spectacular big five ? the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo. Each of these magnificent creatures have become the focus of legends, fanciful tales, romantic stories of Africa, photographic exhibitions and have otherwise earned their place at the top of South Africans most visited attractions. They are the generally considered to be the most fantastic animals that can be seen while on a safari due to the animals size, grace and the danger involved with getting so close to these animals in their wild state. However, remember that South Africa is full of wild animals, mysteries and natural beauty and keep an eye out for the many other fine creatures that this country is happy to care for.
Addo Elephant National Park
This national park is near the Zuurberg Range in the Sundays River Valley. There are hundreds of elephants in the park and you'd be unlucky not to see some. They are the remnants of the herds that once roamed the Eastern Cape. Be aware that the park closes if there has been heavy rain, as the dirt roads can become impassable; call ahead if in doubt.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is one of South Africa's scenic highlights, featurin...
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Covering an area about twice the size of Kruger, and described as semi-desert, this park is hauntingly beautiful, with large populations of birds, reptiles, rodents, small mammals and antelopes. Aim to visit in June and July when the days are coolest and the animals have been drawn to the bores along the dry river beds.
Kruger National Park
As well as being one of the most famous wildlife parks in the world, Kruger National Park is among the biggest and the oldest - it turned 100 in 1998. You can see the 'big five' here (lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos) as well as cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, all sorts of antelope species and smaller animals.
Although most people will have seen African animals in zoos, it is impossible to exaggerate how extraordinary and completely different it is to see these animals in their natural environment. That said, Kruger is not quite a wilderness experience: it's highly developed, organised, accessible and popular.
The main entry points to the park are through the towns of Skukuza and Nelspruit, both about a day's drive from Johannesburg. Accommodation is usually in well-managed huts run by the National Parks Board. Facilities vary from communal and basic to private and swish.
In this beautiful city even transient visitors can't help but devote a few million brain cells to storing images of its grandeur: its striking Table Mountain backdrop, its glorious beaches and enchanting vineyards, its rugged landscapes, its strange and wonderful plants and animals.
South Africa Map
INFO on South Africa