Read our pocket guide to South Africa
South Africa: A pocket guide
Spotting your first herd of elephants bathing at a drinking hole; sipping a full bodied glass of Pinotage while watching the sun set over the vineyards; surfing through the chilly Atlantic with the backdrop of Table Mountain; treasure-hunting at a colorful craft market; South Africa enlivens the senses and creates an incredible range of emotions. Let yourself get swept away while holidaying in the vibrant Rainbow Nation.
Joburg, Kruger & Exploring the North and East
Johannesburg, or Joburg to the locals, is the gateway to South Africa for many visitors. It’s worth staying a night or two to explore the city’s cutting edge art scene, tour one of its fascinating museums or receive an introduction to South Africa’s traditional cultures at a cultural village found within the city. You could also include a day or two in the country’s capital, Pretoria, located an hour north and en-route to Kruger National Park for those driving. The administrative heart of the country, the attractive and diverse city is known for its historic buildings and abundance of jacaranda flowers which bloom in spring.
If it’s wildlife you’ve come for, then Kruger National Park is a must. One of the continent’s largest game reserves, it has a high density of wild animals and many visitors leave having been lucky enough to see at least four of the “the Big 5”: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and more elusive rhinos. The park is also home to some exquisite luxury lodges which help to create a magical setting in this stunning place.
Surrounded by gorgeous golden beaches, the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean and dense subtropical flora, Durban attracts beach-goers with a passion for sports, shopping, fine-dining. Travel down the country’s east coast and you’ll have to chance to have some authentic cultural experiences at traditional villages as well as enjoy the area’s stunning, rugged coastline and deserted pristine beaches.
Stunning Nature & Beaches of the South
The south of the country stands out for the unique ecosystem of the verdant Garden Route, a 300-kilometer stretch from Mossel Bay to Storms River presenting awe-inspiring topography, vegetation, wildlife, and beaches. It’s the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts who will love hiking or biking around its pristine forests, lagoons, and lakes.
Driving east along the south coast you’ll be able to admire some breathtaking coastal vistas. Take a pit stop in at Cape Agulhas, what is now known as the southernmost point of the African continent and the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Further along, you’ll come to Hermanus, a popular place for whale watching and a bit further you reach the Cape Peninsula. Be sure to take a detour south passing through quaint fishing villages like Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town, where you can stop in at Boulder’s Beach penguin colony. Push on a little further and you’ll make it to the Cape of Good Hope, what was previously thought as the southernmost tip and left its mark in the explorer’s history book.
The Many Pleasures of Cape Town & The Winelands
Just above the Peninsula is Cape Town, the country’s second largest city and a common entry point for visitors spending time in the Western Cape. The lively city has an international vibe, excellent hotels and luxury apartments, exquisite dining options, excellent shopping and various unique sites of interest like Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was held as a prisoner), Greenmarket Square and traveling to the summit of Table Mountain (or why not see it by private helicopter?).
A highlight of any visit to the area is certainly a day or more in the Cape Winelands. Home to hundreds of vineyards, excellent restaurants and charming historic villas, the towns of the region, like Franschhoek, are a food and wine lover’s dream. The perfect place to toast to a divine holiday in this diverse country! Contact one of our local luxury villa specialists listed here to start designing a bespoke trip to South Africa.
Before you travel, why not have a read some of our fantastic blog posts about South Africa to help give you some inspiration:
If there is something you would like to learn more about, please let us know here.