South Africa is divided into 9 provinces, namely: Eastern Cape; Free State; Gauteng; KwaZulu-Natal; Limpopo; Mpumalanga; North West; Northern Cape & Western Cape.
There are 3 capital cities: Pretoria in Gauteng is the Administrative capital; Cape Town in Western Cape (known as the Mother City) is the Legislative capital and seat of Parliament and Bloemfontein in Free State is the location of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Other major cities include Durban in KZN, Johannesburg in Gauteng which is the economic heart of Africa, Nelspruit in Mpumalanga which is the gateway to Mozambique; Polokwane in Limpopo and Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape.
Climate in South Africa is varied, with desert & semi-desert in the north western areas, Mediterranean in the south western areas and sub-tropical on the eastern coastline. The rainy season for most of the country is summer, except for Western Cape, where it rains in winter. Eastern Cape generally has rainfalls evenly distributed throughout the year.
Temperatures range from around 0 Celsius in winter to above 35 C during summer. Some areas have a light winter snowfall, especially in mountainous regions.
A good way to travel around South Africa is to hire a car as roads within SA are generally well maintained. A trip from Johannesburg or Pretoria to Cape Town along the N1 or N2 offers many interesting stop-off opportunities, including the world renowned Garden Route. Overnight stays in smaller towns such as Port Elizabeth, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Swellendam and many others, will provide travellers with wonderful insight into South Africa’s colourful diversity.
During winter, the whales visit the southern coasts of the country and travellers are able to view these magnificent creatures in such towns as Witsand, Gansbaai, Hermanus, Gordon’s Bay and all along the Cape coastline, including West Coast.
Other must-do tourist delights, especially for eco-friendly traveller include:
- Numerous well known game reserves, a few of which are Kruger National Park; Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari desert; Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park in KZN; Addo Elephant National Park in Eastern Cape (world famous Shamwari is nearby); Pilanesberg National Park (close to Sun City) and many more.
- Also worth a visit: Augrabies Falls in Northern Cape; Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga; Drakensberg Mountains in KZN; Wild Coast in Eastern Cape and Whale Coast in the Overberg area.
- If it’s flowers you’re looking for, then a trip up the West Coast of Western Cape is a must. The Namaqualand area abounds with colourful displays of wild flowers during the early spring season.
- For wine-lovers, a visit to South Africa must surely include the famous Wineland areas of Durbanville, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Somerset West and the Breedekloof Valley.
- South Africa is also home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg; Robben Island off Cape town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned; iSimangaliso Wetland Park; Cape Floral Region in Western Cape; Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park and Vredefort Dome, remnants of the largest and oldest meteorite impact crater.
Accommodation in South Africa is generally of a high standard. There are large internationally recognised hotels, smaller boutique hotels, self-catering, lodges, country houses, guest houses, B&B’s, backpackers & camp sites. Many properties are Star Graded and when choosing your accommodation, it’s a good idea to check if that property is an accredited member of a well known organisation, such as Guest House Accommodation of South Africa (GHASA).
Guest Houses, B&B’s & self-catering properties can be found all over South Africa and they are perfect for “self-drive” travellers, although we do recommend that you pre-book accommodation during peak season.
Safety is a concern to many travellers. However, most travellers visiting South Africa do not experience problems with crime, provided they adhere to general safety precautions. These include: Not travelling through known unsafe areas, particularly late at night; keeping items such as cameras, wallets and handbags tucked away; locking car doors and not parking in dark unlit areas. If you’re staying at a guest house or B&B, the owner or manager will be happy to assist with advice and information.
For specialized tours and transfers in the Western Cape,
contact Dave Coxford of Born in Africa Tours at 021 7855624/072 1693276 of firstname.lastname@example.org and website www.borninafricatours.co.za