South Africa Travel Guide
A South Africa travel guide is essential to every wanderer because the cities and towns found in this large country can be very intimidating.
It’s distinguished by skyscrapers, grassland, tourist attractions, historical monuments, vast Winelands, magnificent landscapes and an agreeable climate.
South Africa was first colonized by the British who fought a series of wars with the Zulu and Dutch settlers for years.
As a result, this country became part of the British Commonwealth in 1934 and was known as the Republic of South Africa in 1961.
What followed was a state of apartheid for almost half a century, where blacks and whites were segregated and many people killed and exiled.
These dark days were marked by boycotts, protests, international sanctions and opposition from the African National Congress (ANC) until the apartheid laws were repealed.
On the 27th day of April 1994, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president, a day that is celebrated annually as Freedom Day.
South Africa has 3 capital cities: Pretoria (administrative) Bloemfontein (judicial) and Cape Town (legislative)
South Africa tourism
South Africa travel packages usually center around any of the following:
- Picturesque landscapes: The sun-drenched Kalahari and Karoo semi-deserts, Table Mountain, the Winelands, Indian Ocean beaches, Coffee Bay and the waterfalls of Mpumalanga offer scenic views of the Rainbow Nation.
- Wildlife: A top safari destination, wildlife game viewers have a chance to see the Big Five in the Kruger, Kgalagadi, Sabi Sand and other parks and reserves. Penguins may be sighted at Boulder Beach and seals as well as great white sharks abound at the coast.
- History: Walking through the streets, museums and towns in South Africa is an enlightening experience. You get to learn South Africa’s past which has greatly shaped its present and future. Your history lesson should probably start at the Sterkfontein Caves where fossils of the early man were discovered resulting in the area being referred to as the ‘cradle of mankind.’
- Adventure: Surf off the Eastern Cape coast, bungee jump from Orlando Towers, hike through the Karoo semi-desert or scale the peaks of Drakensberg to your heart’s content.
South Africa – Cape Town
Known as Kaapstad in Afrikaans, Cape Town is considered South Africa’s Mother City.
A tour in Cape Town offers a geographical, historical and cultural festival, from white whales to the Castle of Good Hope, Robben Island, Atlantic seaboard, effervescent nightlife, beaches, and Winelands.
The Ritz is a luxurious all inclusive hotel in Cape Town where you can stay during your South Africa travel.
Places to explore in Cape Town:
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- Boulder Beach
- Iziko Slave Lodge
- Cape of Good Hope
- Canal Walk
- Castle of Good Hope
- Afrikaans Language Monument
- Company’s Garden
- Dorp Street
- District 6 Museum
- Signal Hill
South Africa – Johannesburg
Johannesburg is situated in Witwatersrand which is the center of gold and diamond trade which has earned it the moniker ‘City of Gold’.
Not all of it glitters though, part of Johannesburg is Soweto, which originated from native African worker settlements and is a testament to years of oppression under apartheid.
There are electrifying markets for shopaholics, exciting places for outdoorsy travelers to bungee jump, paddle a boat or take a hike, and art galleries and cultural workshops for the creative types.
For a better exploration of Jozi, take a red bus city tour which offers radio commentary in 15 different languages.
Places to explore in Johannesburg:
- Soweto Theatre
- The Living Room in Maboneng
- Workshop Newton
- Lesedi Cultural Village
- Zoo Lake
- Bioscope Independent Cinema
- Melville Koppies
- Mountain Sanctuary Park
- Montecasino Bird Garden
The best time to visit Johannesburg is during the summer from December to February.
South African people
South Africa is extremely cosmopolitan and you will find people from all over the world who have made it their abode which is why it’s called the ‘rainbow nation.’
79% of South Africans are African, 9% are white, 2.5% are Asian and 9% are colored (people of mixed African, Asian and white descent).
Afrikaners were descended from Dutch settlers while the Asians were brought into the country as slaves by the Portuguese, French, and Germans. 80% of South Africans are Christians with 20% making up Hindu, Islam, Buddhist and other religions.
South Africa has 11 official languages: English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sepedi, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, Swati, Venda, and Xitsonga.
Art, dance, and music though reflecting modern styles like jazz and rock, have strong local influences. Kwaito, kwela and mbube incorporate South African homegrown sounds.
During your South Africa travel excursions, treat yourself to a gumboot dance. It originated from the mines of South Africa where Africans communicated in the dark by slapping and stomping their boots.
Traditional beadwork is not to be missed in South Africa. It is common to see both men and women adorned in beadwork done in different colors and patterns.
Different ethnic groups wear different colors and it is easy to know if the wearer is Zulu, Ndebele or Xhosa.
South Africa facts
- Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains in the world hosting over 2000 endemic plant species
- Every year millions of silverfish migrate from Cape Point to Eastern Cape in an event called the Sardine Run
- It is believed that humans originated from Africa because of the fossils found at Sterkfontein Caves northwest of Johannesburg
- South Africa is world’s largest platinum producer
- South Africa was the first African country to recognize same-sex marriage
- There are 3000 shipwrecks off the South Africa coast and are protected by South African Law
- The native people of South Africa are the Khoisan; the Zulu and Xhosa people came much later
- The highest natural bungee jump in the world is at Bloukrans Bridge, Western Cape
South Africa points of interest
- Orlando Towers: 2 giant cooling towers where thrill seekers bungee jump
- Constitution Hill: Guided tours take guests through prison and women’s’ jail unravelling South Africa’s struggle for independence
- Carlton Centre: The observation deck at Africa’s tallest building provides you with rewarding views of Jozi
- Liliesleaf Farm: The underground headquarters of the African National Congress where many freedom fighters were arrested
- Mandela House: The Late President Nelson Mandela’s home in Soweto
- Cape Town City Hall: Mandela gave his first speech here after 27 years imprisonment
- Apartheid Museum: A guided tour that allows guests to discover the rise and fall of apartheid
- Water Sisulu Botanical Gardens: Guided tours take guests through the gardens and shows them areas beneath the waterfall where they can have a picnic lunch
If Rainbow Nation is on your wishlist, check out the South Africa travel packages available or call an agent to customize your trip.
|Languages spoken||English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Venda, Tswana, Ndebele|
|Currency used||South African Rand (ZAR)|
|Area (km2)||1.22 million|