South Africa

South Africa is a captivating land, so diverse that it has been dubbed the “Rainbow Nation”.

Situated at the southernmost tip of the African continent, this enchanting destination intrigues travellers with its rich tapestry of experiences, blending with a developed infrastructure, all rooted in its profound connection to its storied history.

At the heartbeat of the country is the celebration of a unique cultural diversity, evident in its 11 National Languages that recognise the influence of Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Indian and more. Regardless of their heritage, one thing South Africans are renowned for is their affectionate welcome and enthusiasm to embrace visitors.

Just like its diverse culture, the country offers a kaleidoscope of options, which is a big part of its appeal. From mountains to climb, cities to explore, tiny towns to hide away in, desert landscapes to photograph and, of course, plenty of wildlife to watch. From the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town to the Garden Route, the Wild Coast, the Drakensberg Mountains, or the vast savannas of the Kruger National Park, there is a place for every traveller to find a piece of paradise.

For outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts, South Africa is a dream destination. Embark on game drives to witness the “Big Five” in their natural habitat, marvel at penguin colonies on the shores of the Western Cape, dive into the Indian Ocean to witness the majesty of great white sharks, or bear witness to the annual sardine run – the largest bio-mass migration on the planet.

South Africa’s cities pulse with energy. Cape Town, with its iconic waterfront and eclectic neighbourhoods; Johannesburg, a thriving cultural hub and Durban, where the warm Indian Ocean meets a vibrant urban scene – each offer a unique and dynamic urban experience.

Whether seeking adventure, cultural experiences, or a truly African getaway, this diverse and welcoming nation invites you to experience on an unforgettable journey where the spirit of Ubuntu, the belief in shared humanity, resonates in every corner.

Time zone: UTC + 2

Currency: The official currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). It is advisable to exchange currency at authorised currency exchange offices or use ATMs. Credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas, but it’s recommended to have some cash if travelling to more remote locations.

Language: While there are 11 official languages, almost everyone speaks English, except for very rural areas.

Transportation: There are a range of domestic flight options for travel between major cities. In Johannesburg, the Gautrain connects Johannesburg, Pretoria, and the OR Tambo International Airport and is a quick and easy way to travel to and from the airport. In other major cities, use established transfer companies between the airport and hotel. Major cities also offer transport options like Uber. But, the best way to see the country is to rent a car – just be sure to book ahead over holiday times.

Cuisine: The local cuisine is diverse due to the different historical and cultural influences, such as Dutch, French, Malay, and Indian flavours. This provides travellers with a smorgasbord of tastes over and above the usual international cuisine that is available. Don’t leave without trying some local delicacies like the traditional braai (barbeque) boerewors, malva pudding, Cape Malay curry or Chakalaka and pap.

Safety: South Africa does have a reputation for a high crime rate, but like anywhere, stay safe by taking basic precautions like locking your doors and windows, keeping your valuables safe, and being aware of your surroundings and don’t venture alone at night.

Tipping: It is customary to tip in South Africa. A 10% tip is acceptable for appreciation of good service at a restaurant. Drivers don’t fill their fuel tanks in South Africa, so expect to pay at least R5 to the attendant or R10 if the attendant also checks your tires, water, etc. In cities, also expect to be “helped” by informal car guards who will offer to keep watch over your car while you’re away – they will expect a tip too.

Social: South Africa is a diverse nation with various cultural practices. Respect local customs and traditions and be sure to greet. A handshake is a common form of greeting. A unique South African habit is flashing lights at courteous drivers on the road – you can say thank you for the thank you by flashing your lights back!

What to See
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South Africa’s attractions are so diverse that travellers will have to choose what to fit into a holiday. For first-time visitors, most travellers begin with a visit to Cape Town, which includes a visit to Table Mountain, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. From a historical perspective, a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, is also popular. A hop-on-hop-off bus also visits popular tourist attractions like Camps Bay, Clifton Beach, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Hout Bay and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. And, of course, no visit is complete without exploring the Cape Winelands for world-class vineyards and picturesque landscapes.

Journey along the Garden Route, a coastal stretch adorned with lush forests, pristine beaches, and charming towns. Wildlife enthusiasts can choose from an array of superb game parks to view the Big Five and an array of diverse species.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Johannesburg and visit Soweto, a township with a rich history. Don’t miss the Drakensberg Mountains for stunning hikes and Zulu cultural experiences. The coastal city of Durban offers golden beaches and a blend of Indian and African influences.

What to Taste & Smell
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South Africa assails the senses with a rich tapestry of flavours and aromas. Fynbos is a unique vegetation that consists of over 8000 species and is found in the Western and Eastern Cape region. These plants release a spicy, aromatic, woody scent when you brush against them, which evokes a sense of relaxation.

Rooibos, native to the Fynbos eco-region, is a tea that is naturally free of caffeine and has a sweet and earthy aroma.

From a culinary perspective, the land offers vibrant contrasts in its culinary landscape. But one thing everyone loves is a braai. The quintessential smoky flavour of the uniquely South African meal features grilled meats like boerewors (sausage), lamb chops, and steaks, often accompanied by pap (maise porridge) and salads.

Equally traditional is the habit of following a meal with a sweet treat. Malva pudding is a warm, sticky pudding served with custard or ice cream, especially popular during the winter months.

What to Feel
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Ask any visitor, and the most common answer is the overwhelming feeling of space. The expansive and diverse natural landscapes will leave you feeling awestruck and humbled by the power and beauty of nature.

South Africans are renowned for their welcoming nature, and you will feel instantly at ease in this place. Overall, a visit to this remarkable country is a journey that will touch your heart and soul.

What to Hear
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South Africa’s vibrant tapestry of languages translates into a captivating soundscape for visitors. You will hear a blend of different languages with a distinct rhythm and melody, as well as click sounds unique to some South African languages.

Be prepared to hear greetings like “Molo” (Xhosa) and “Sawubona” (Zulu) or “Goeiedag” (Afrikaans) during your travels.

Prepare to be swept away by the infectious rhythm of the nation. The urban scene pulsates with a distinct energy filled with lively chatter in different languages, the honking of cars and the lively rhythmic hum of daily life. South Africans love music, and you will also be serenaded by local sounds, including the foot-stomping beats of kwaito to the soulful melodies of maskanda.

As you move out of the city, you will be greeted by the distinct sounds of wildlife. From the trumpet of elephants and the roar of lions on safari to the melodic calls of exotic birds like the Knysna loerie, South Africa’s natural world provides a unique auditory experience.


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