South Africa Safari Overview
There are few countries in the world that compare with South Africa’s scenic splendor and diversity of leisure options: game reserves, mountain resorts, spectacular beaches and cosmopolitan cities offer a variety of experiences for all interests. The traveler can combine game viewing in the rich bushveld, wine tasting in the countryside, the casinos of Sun City and the cosmopolitan cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg all in one visit. There are tranquil beaches, tribal villages and unique coastal habitats. Situated at the tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, this country encompasses a diverse variety of landscapes offering stunning scenery. For the visitor, daytime diversions include bus tours, cruises, museums, art galleries, and an extensive range of sporting opportunities. Nightlife incorporates the cocktail, cabaret, and restaurant circuit, as well as film festivals and the classical performing arts. The sightseeing is magnificent, the climate sunny and mild, and the country’s friendly hospitality is legendary. So whether you want to relax and soak up the sunshine, enjoy the social whirl, or follow a quest for adventure, South Africa has everything you are looking for and more. With its landscapes, history, people and wildlife, this so-called “World in One Country” is sure to provide a holiday to remember.
Durban is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the world. It boasts the busiest harbor in South Africa, which is also one of the 10 largest in the world. Durban’s beachfront is also known as the “Golden Mile”. This stretch of golden sand is Durban’s main attraction. Indulge in swimming, sunbathing and other water sports. Luxury hotels, markets and amusement parks are found along the beachfront and there are a variety of cultural and sightseeing tours available.
The Drakensberg is the country’s most impressive mountain range and a very popular holiday destination. In the perpetual process of creation, the principal tools of nature have always been water, temperature and wind. In the Drakensberg, still retreating before those erosive forces, the spectacular results of their combined onslaught is clearly in evidence. Peaks, pinnacles, towers, spires, domes and walls make up the forbidding dragon’s back of Quathlamba, the Barrier of Spears. The Drakensberg extends south from Mpumalanga ending in the north of Eastern Cape Province, but the heart of the range is the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. Sightseeing and hiking are main activities, but there are many others. Horse riding, fly-fishing, game viewing, mountain biking, kloofing, abseiling, rock climbing, birding, and 4×4 driving and are other options. Nestled at the foot of these mountains are numerous fine hotels and holiday resorts.
Plettenberg Bay is the jewel of The Garden Route. It’s more than a village, less than a town. Plettenberg Bay is tranquil and charming, hospitable and rather special. Originally christened “Bahia Formosa” (beautiful bay) by early Portuguese explorers, Plettenberg Bay can now be accessed by first class national roads, by sea or by scheduled air flights. “Plett”, as it is affectionately referred to by the locals, is characterized by sweeping, unspoiled, golden beaches, a dramatic rocky peninsula, intriguing lagoons and estuaries, towering indigenous forests and unpolluted rivers and sea. With its exceptional climate, and beautiful view sites over the Indian Ocean, Plettenberg Bay is perfect for tourists interested in exploring, watching or just relaxing the day away.
The Eastern Cape is a land of rolling hills, endless sweeps of rocky coves and sandy beaches, towering mountain ranges and verdant forests, and is physically the second largest of the nine provinces. However, the main feature of the Eastern Cape is its astonishing coastline. With its wide-open sandy beaches, secluded lagoons and towering cliffs, the Indian Ocean coastline provides the province with a rich natural tourist attraction. The graceful curve of Algoa Bay provides an ideal setting for the Port of Port Elizabeth. It is South Africa’s fifth largest city and is both known as the windy city and the friendly city. Its position on the Eastern Cape coast, makes Port Elizabeth an ideal place to start or end a trip down the Garden Route or to explore the Eastern Cape.
Sun City, a Kingdom of Pleasure in an ancient African bushveld setting just north of Johannesburg, is a uniquely exciting casino leisure resort with sparkle, sophistication and 24 hour sizzle. It offers four choices of accommodation from the opulence of The Palace of the Lost City to the elegance of the Cascades, to the Sun City Hotel, forming the heart of the resort, as well as the more family oriented Cabanas. While surfers ride to a beach of white sand in the Valley of Waves, and golfers are challenged by the two world-renowned courses, there is also a superb range of other water and land based sports. Add superstar entertainment, a plenitude of restaurants, extensive casino gaming and a neighboring game park which boasts the Big Five, and you have the sensation that is Sun City. Game viewing is also available at several excellent safari lodges in nearby Pilanesberg Nature Reserve.
Lake St. Lucia
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park with its rich birdlife has been declared a World Heritage Site. Lake St Lucia is part of the St Lucia estuarine system – the largest in Africa – and was designated a Wetland of International Importance in terms of the Ramsar Convention in 1986. It is also one of five lakes worldwide protected by the Living Lakes coalition. Covering some 250,000 hectares, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park incorporates the entire Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. It encompasses a great variety of habitats, including coral reefs and beaches, coastal forests, salt- and freshwater marshes, coastal plains and woodland areas. The protected area is home to the largest, southernmost population of hippos as well as prolific bird life and a wealth of other animal and plant species.
Located in eastern South Africa along the Indian Ocean, Natal is the home of the Zulu and a large variety of wildlife concentrated in several small reserves. A land of towering mountains, scenic hills and valleys, this region also encompasses marine reserves, which offer important breeding grounds to several species of turtle, including the endangered leatherback turtle. The riverine floodplains are renowned as the “birding mecca” of South Africa. This region offers cultural explorations, wildlife safaris and ocean activities such as snorkeling and fishing. Visitors to the province have a chance to see and experience true Zulu culture and their proud history, interact with Indian people whose forefathers came to the province as indentured laborers and merchants in 1860 and get a taste of traditional English culture still practiced by residents whose descendants came to the territory in the nineteenth century. Built around these cultural experiences are significant tourist attractions ranging from the steamy beaches in the busy metropolis of Durban and the province’s south and north coast’s to mountain resorts nestled away in the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range. Over and above this the province also boasts a host of world-class game parks and ecotourism facilities. There are private and national reserves throughout the region of the KwaZulu-Natal. National parks such as the Royal Natal, Mkuzi, Lake Sibaya, Itala, Hluhluwe/Umfolozi and Ndumu offer every variety of game viewing and accommodation. The park offers eco-tourists some of the most diverse wildlife and outdoor experiences imaginable. Lakes, islands, estuaries, grasslands, forests, wetlands, mangroves, beaches and coral reefs all form part of this magnificent area. Wildlife include rhino, elephant, crocodile, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, nyala and a host of other species
Fifty kilometers inland from the cold Atlantic Ocean and south of the Orange River, is the remote region of Namaqualand. This area is world renowned for its spectacular wild flowers, making this region unique among South Africa’s natural attractions. Namaqualand becomes a paradise of flowering plants during spring (August and September) when millions of brightly colored flowers carpet the landscape and is one of South Africa’s natural wonders
Kruger National Park
Roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts, Kruger National Park is located in the subtropical eastern Mpumalanga region. Established by President Kruger in 1926, this sanctuary is inhabited by more species of wildlife than any other game reserve in Africa. Cape buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant and giraffe can be found along with over 460 species of bird. This world-renowned game reserve offers a wilderness experience you will never forget. View the “Big Five” by four-wheel drive vehicle or on foot in the company of a well-trained game ranger. The wilderness region surrounding Kruger National Park is made up of smaller, private game reserves. These safeguard a large proportion of the country’s wildlife resources. Luxurious game lodges and tented camps are located within these reserves and offer both day and night game viewing along with walking safaris. A large variety of animals and birds are showcased in these conservation minded reserves.
The Garden Route is a magnificent stretch of coast with breathtaking scenery stretching from Heidelberg to the Tsitsikamma forest and the Storms River. This is a region of great natural beauty, creating a paradise graced with evergreen forests, lakes, golden beaches and exquisite fauna and flora, so named because this region, from Cape Town northeast to Port Elizabeth, has more plants than the entire continent of Europe. Here a Mediterranean climate prevails and unique plants and animals abound. Over 3000 plant species comprise the “fynbos” which includes the spectacular proteas and ericas. This vegetation is not found in a native state anywhere else on earth. The cities of Swellendam, Mossel Bay, George and Oudtshoorn are charming and quaint. The vast Cango Caves, reputedly one of the world’s most naturally colorful and scenic wonders, can also be seen in this region. Other attractions include the Tsitsikamma National Park with its lush indigenous forests of giant yellowwood trees and the Addo Elephant Park, known for its elephants. And along the route, a number of charming bed and breakfast country inns await
When Sir Francis Drake rounded the Cape in 1580, he declared, “this Cape is the most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth”. Cape Town, South Africa’s “Mother City”, lies nestled between Table Mountain and Table Bay. It is truly one of the world’s most gracious and lovely cities. The city is framed on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean, the spectacular Table Mountain and the craggy Twelve Apostles. The distinctive Cape Dutch architecture, bustling waterfront of Cape Town and beautiful sandy beaches are a few of the interests offered by the Cape Peninsula. From Cape Town, one can explore Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is an unspoiled stretch of land and coast with a wealth of fauna and flora. The Cape Winelands of Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch are not to be missed. South Africa produces some of the world’s best wines. The magnificent farms along the wine route are popular tourist destinations. Enjoy wine-tasting, delicious meals or even horse-riding through the vineyards. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has also become on of South Africa’s biggest tourist attractions. Worth visiting is the Two Oceans Aquarium as well as the Maritime Museum. Situated off the Western Cape coast, the barren windswept Robben Island was the prison home of former President Nelson Mandela for many years. It is now a World Heritage Site. Here you can experience the view that kept Nelson Mandela’s dream of freedom for his country alive. And take the cable car to visit South Africa’s most famous landmark offering magnificent views from the summit across the Cape Peninsula, Table Bay and Robben Island.