South Africa is an amazing country of wondrous wildlife and cultural diversity. Here, one gets to encounter the most beautiful species of animals and plants and also, the countryside life that is probably absent in the other parts of the world. With stunning landscapes and commendable natural beauties in the form of waterfalls, forests, and grasslands, it attracts travelers from across the globe. The country also hosts several ancient sites and historical monuments that share deep insight into the evolution of Africa. Plan a trip to this underrated destination and discover bewitching places. Delve into a hidden world of wonders with us in South Africa.
USEFUL INFO ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of South Africa
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary dominant-party Parliamentary Republic
Capital(s): Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), and Cape Town (Legislative)
Largest City: Johannesburg
POPULATION: 58.7 Million (As of 2019)
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE(S): Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, Ndebele and South African English
LANGUAGES SPOKEN: Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, Ndebele and South African English, Dutch, Hindi, Portuguese
ETHNICITY: Black Africans 80.7%, Cape Coloureds 8.8%, White South Africans 7.9% and Asian 2.6%
General emergency number: 112 Police:10111 Ambulance: 10177 Fire:10177
Rand is the legal currency in South Africa. However, it is also used as the official currency in several other nations including Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. Unofficially, the South African rand is also used in the countries of Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
It was introduced in the country in the year 1961 and since then, it has been used extensively as a medium of exchanging goods and services.
Symbol: R Code: ZAR
1 South African Rand = 100 Cents
1 South African Rand (ZAR) = United Arab Emirates Dirham AED (As of 16 March 2020)
South African Rand banknotes are generally available in the denomination of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200.
South African Rand bank coins are generally available in the denomination of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1, 2 and 5.
South Africa has a history of millions of years. However, as per archaeological excavations and the evidence found, the country is believed to have been inhabited by humans for about 170,000 years now. Hence, you would find innumerable ancient sites within its boundaries that would take you back in time.
The presence of the Cradle of Humankind, a paleoanthropological site with ancient limestone caves, surely proves that
However, the development commenced when the country became a home to Portuguese explorers in the early 15th century. Till then, South Africa was all inhabited by Bantu-speaking people who were indigenous to the country. Later, Dutch colonization happened in the early 17th century and the present-day country witnessed further growth and development.
However, it was during the British Era starting from the late 18th century when South Africa saw a rapid growth in infrastructure. Gradually, the country gained fame amongst international traders and sailors. And by the late 19th century, it became one of the most significant cultural, political, and trade center in Africa.
South Africa gained independence in the early 20th century when the Union of South Africa was created in the year 1910. Since then, the country has worked for its betterment. Today, South Africa is recognized for its wildlife, diverse culture, natural beauty, beautiful shores and more all across the world.
South Africa is one of the major countries in Africa and has a varied topography. With hills, mountains, valleys, shores, plains and streams, it is one of the most diverse nations in the continent. Set peacefully on the shores of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the country has a coastline of about 2798 Km.
That's one of the reasons South Africa has become immensely popular amongst vacationers, especially beach lovers. South Africa is spread over an area of about 1.22 million sq. km, of which about 99.7% makes for the land region and the remaining 0.3% makes for water.
The countries that border it include Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Hence, the country is easily approachable by road and rail. The highest point and the lowest point in South Africa are Mafadi Peak at 3450 m and the sea at 0 m.
Art and Music
Though the indigenous South African art and music has influences from the cavemen era, its present-day art and music has derived its values and elements from several cultures across the globe. The country has been colonized by numerous powers in the past and that's the reason one would find several foreign elements in the art and music of South Africa.
Today, people love traditional symphonies as well as rock and jazz music. They indulge in admiring cave rock paintings as well as contemporary masterpieces. No wonder some of the biggest art and music festivals are organized in a beautiful country.
Food and Drink
South African cuisine is quite unique. It has different styles of cookery that have roots in the kitchen practices of the west as well as the east. As the country has remained colonized for years by different powers in the past, its cuisine reflects those foreign elements. Hence, it can be said that South African cuisine is a mix of the Dutch, the German, the British, and the French styles.
However, it is mainly recognized for the use of vegetables and domestic crops. South African cuisine is loved across the world, though most of its dishes can be savored only within the country. Over a period, numerous local delicacies and drinks like bunny chow and Amarula have become popular beyond domestic boundaries.
Umqombothi, Mampoer, Witblits, Amarula, South African Beer, Rooibos and Amasi
People in South Africa are helpful and kind. They wouldn't mind showing you the ways to your destinations. They respect tourists and perfectly know how to cater to their needs and desires. Hence, no tourist finds difficulty while exploring the country.
Satisfy the wildlife lover in you at some of the most beautiful and largest national parks and sanctuaries in the world.
Enjoy water sports adventures and dare to try your hand at shark cage diving, ostrich riding, and more.
Gulp down the best wine in Africa. South Africa is home to hundreds of wineries where one can relish the best of the beverage.
Learn about the history of apartheid and the struggle of Nelson Mandela in making the country independent.
Jump off from the famous Bloukrans Bridge, the highest commercial bungee jump on the planet at about 710 feet.
Stay at budget-friendly resorts and hotels and bless your vacation with innumerable memories.
Visit the charming city of Cape Town and enjoy its ancient sites, modern settlements, wondrous shores, and towering hills.
Relax on serene uncrowded beaches, go camping on tranquil shores and bathe under the warm sun.
Savor the interesting food scene of South Africa as you relish some of the most flavorsome dishes.
Photograph stunning expanses and beautiful skylines and make them your favorite wallpapers.
South Africa experiences a temperate climate. However, in the coastal regions, the country has milder climatic conditions at the same time. On account of diverse topography, South Africa has arid regions as well as the tropical atmosphere. That's why the temperature conditions across the country are never the same. At hilly places, you would experience a cold environment, while at the shores, you would get a warmer atmosphere.
The summer season in the country lasts from October until the end of April, while the winter season starts from May and remains up till August.
May to September
The best time to visit South Africa is from May until the end of September as this is the time when you can relish the best flavors of the country. This is the period when the beauty of South Africa is at its peak with cool mornings and evenings and comfortable afternoons. The climatic conditions throughout the country are optimum from May to September.
Visit South Africa with Family/Kids
Go on a wildlife safari and witness beautiful species of animals at Kruger National Park
Take a cable-car ride from the famous Table Mountain and enjoy aerial views of Cape Town
Shop for fresh delicacies at the neighborhood markets
Spend time together at lush green gardens of South African cities
Plan a day trip to Sun City and let your kids indulge in fun activities
Visit the farming town of Oudtshoorn and watch hundreds of ostriches
Enjoy snorkeling, boating, and kayaking in the seawaters of South Africa
Visit South Africa as a Couple
Spend hours together romancing amid the composed environment of beautiful beaches
Go for a candle-light dinner and relish traditional delicacies
Stay at a treehouse or a beach-facing property and enjoy luxury and opulence
Go trekking in the prepossessing green valleys of South Africa
Watch a film at an outdoor cinema and feel romantic
Get on a hot-air balloon at Magaliesberg Mountains and ride high in the sky
Visit South Africa with Friends
Go scuba diving, snorkeling, and more in the South African waters
Enjoy bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge at a height of about 710 feet
Unwind at sandy shores while spending hours sunbathing
Set off on an unexplored trail and discover the hidden wonders of South Africa
Visit the ancient monuments and learn about the history of the country
What to Buy?
Shwe Shwe Fabric
South Africa beer
The jewel of South Africa, Cape Town can't be missed by any chance. The legislative capital of the country has innumerable sights to savor. Take a cable car down the Table Mountain or indulge in exploring the rich architecture of the city. Laze by peaceful beaches or enjoy water sports in the seawater. The city serves ample sites to look forward to.
Also known as the City of Gold, Johannesburg is one of the largest and most significant cities in South Africa. This is the place where you would find people from different corners of the world. Hence, one gets to experience various cultures within its boundaries. Apart from relishing the beauty of ancient sites, one can indulge in exploring art galleries, beautiful skyline, nightlife, and lively squares.
A coastal paradise tucked away on the shores of the South Atlantic and Indian oceans; Durban makes for a great escape. Though it is one of the most populous cities in South Africa, it harbors peace and tranquility. From botanical gardens to the famous Durban Golden Mile, everything would grab your attention.
Kruger National park
One of the largest game reserves in the continent, Kruger National Park must be on the top of your bucket list for the place hosts an amazing variety of wildlife. It is spread over an area of more than 19,000 sq. km and hence makes for a great getaway to witness rare species of plants and animals. Come here and frame scenic locations.
Used as a prison for almost three centuries, Robben Island became a tourist spot since the end of apartheid in the country. Today, this significant isle holds natural charm along with historic sites to dig into the history of the country. From museums to shores, everything appeals to you to the core.
Serving an impression of the mythical European Dragon, Dragon Mountains are believed to have been formed about 180 million years ago. That's why they gained a special place in the hearts of nature lovers. The place hosts varieties of flora and fauna and several hiking spots and trekking trails. So, what are you waiting for? Head towards this wondrous expanse and savor its unearthly charm while in South Africa.
Cradle of Humankind
Located in the proximity of Johannesburg and spread over an area of about 47,000 hectares, the Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being home to limestone caves where fossils dating back to millions of years were found. If history is something that fascinates you, then add it to your travel list. The place would surely leave you in awe with its stunning age-old marvels.
A waterfront settlement on the outskirts of George with beautiful blue lagoons, Knysna makes for a great weekend escape. Come here and get drenched in peace and composure. Feel the essence of calmness in the air as you sail down convincing waters. The place also houses a museum, hills, and more to enjoy.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN SOUTH AFRICA:
Addo Elephant National Park
South African Cheese Festival
If cheese is all you die to savor every time, then the South African Cheese Festival is all there for you. It is one of the biggest events in the country and is attended by thousands of foodies and chefs. People partake in the festival and showcase their talent by presenting luscious dishes made from cheese. Beginners, as well as popular chefs, are part of the celebration. Time: April
Thai Poosam Kavady Festival
Thai Poosam Kavady Festival is a popular religious festival in South Africa and is generally observed among the Tamil community. The festival is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Murugan, and is celebrated with full zeal and zest. People come out in the open dressed up traditionally and take part in dancing and singing events. Traditional meals are prepared at home. Time: January
Royal Reed Dance
Get an insight into the royal culture of South Africa as you gaze upon the beautiful celebration of Royal Reed Dance. The event is observed across the country wherein girls wear traditional dresses and perform on folk beats and music. It is mainly celebrated in the Nongama region of the country. Time: September
Cape Town Minstrel Carnival
Unarguably, one of the major festivals in South Africa, Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, as the name suggests, is all about musicians and singers performing on different musical instruments. Thousands of people conquer the streets in beautiful costumes and listen to traditional as well as contemporary music. This is the time when the entire city shines with love, happiness, and togetherness. Time: January
The National Arts Festival
Celebrated in Grahamstown, the National Arts Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the country. Thousands of artists from across South Africa come to the town and observe it with great interest. Witness hundreds of masterpieces on display. Watch musical and dance performances. Time: June/July
Other festivals celebrated in South Africa
Knysna Oyster Festival
Splashy Fen Music Festival
Cape Town Jazz Festival
Finksburg Cherry Festival
Hermanus Whale Festival
To enter the boundaries of South Africa, a tourist needs to have a valid visa unless he/she belongs to a visa-exempt nation. As per the visa policy of South Africa, the following given is the list of all the nationalities that have a right to stay within the country for a maximum period of 90 days without a visa.
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Below given are the countries that have the right to stay within the boundaries of South Africa without any visa for a maximum period of 30 days only:
Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Eswatini, Gabon, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Jordan, Lesotho, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Peru, Poland, Seychelles, South Korea, Thailand, and Turkey
The citizens of all the remaining countries need to apply for a regular visa to enter the boundaries of South Africa. To obtain a tourist visa, you need to have the following:
A valid passport that doesn't expire within one month from the travel date
Two blank pages in your passport
Two color passport-size photographs
A return ticket
Evidence of your stay in the country
Adequate amount in your account to support your stay financially
Via Air Route
TReaching South Africa by air is quite comfortable and easy as the country hosts about 10 international airports. However, the busiest airports that receive an influx of tourists in millions every year are Cape Town International Airport and O.R. Tambo International Airport at Johannesburg.
One can get direct flights to South Africa from most of the European Union countries, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and more. All the airports are well connected to city centers by bus and cab services.
Via Road Route
South Africa boasts of a commendable road network and hence, all the major cities and towns in the country are greatly connected to other parts of Africa by road. No wonder one does not find any difficulty taking up the road route.
You can either hire a car or drive your own vehicle to reach South Africa. You can also use international bus services from nearby countries of Zimbabwe, Namibia, and more.
Via Water Route
South Africa can also be accessed via water as the country has a sea route to reach. Numerous cruise ships ply between Cape Town and other parts of the globe TRAVEL TIPS
Not all the places in the country accept cards. Hence, always keep cash with you.
Tipping is quite common in South Africa and it is always appreciated. So, do not shy away from doing so.
Rely on public transport as much as you can as it is comfortable and would help you a lot cut down on money.
If you want to feel actual South Africa and enjoy that local vibe, then always go for B&B (Bed & Breakfast) option.
If you are on a shoe-string budget, then it is always better to find accommodation on the outskirts of the city.
Wear sunscreen and a hat, especially during the summers, to avoid getting tanned at shores and other hot places.
If you really want to know the raw culture and lifestyle of the country, it is advisable to stay with a local.
Hire a local guide before you take up untrodden paths. They would help you know the ways and the place in detail.
Get travel insurance that could cover all your losses on the vacation.
Avoid scammers and do not try to converse with them. They are there extort money from you.
Do not loiter around at night. Though South Africa is quite safe for tourists, you never know the intentions of the people around you.
Keep all your valuables safe in a fanny bag while exploring around. Do not flaunt at public places.
Never leave your food or drink or baggage unattended at any place.
Always keep a copy of your passport and hotel details with you to help you in case of an emergency.
Do not get into any unregistered vehicle and always prefer public transport while travelling at night.
Keep a tourist city map handy, just in case you get lost.
Tap water in South Africa is safe to consume and hence, you need not depend on bottled water.
Use sunscreen while visiting the coastal region to protect your skin from direct sun rays.
Apply insect repellent wherever necessary, especially while exploring outs in the remote areas of the country.
Get required vaccinations for Hepatitis, Malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, chickenpox, influenza and pneumonia before flying.
Do not eat at stalls that look dirty or at restaurants that prepare food unhygienic way.
WHAT TO PACK?
Phone/laptop/tablet and their charger
Light summer clothes
Warm clothes for winters and high-altitude regions
Flip flops and sandals
DRESS CODE & ETIQUETTE
Dress modestly while visiting religious places like churches, mosques, and temples.
Do not make fun of South African culture and traditions.
Talking ill of Christianity is not at all accepted in the country. People here take their beliefs very seriously.
Speak politely while conversing with locals. Do not offend them with your talks.
Always greet people with a gentle smile while shaking hands with them.
One of the few nations sharing borders with South Africa, Namibia is a beautiful country on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. With deserts, beaches, and wildlife on offer, it attracts the attention of numerous offbeat travelers. Make an excursion from South Africa and explore its beautiful culture and lifestyle. Experience countryside life or just roam around hidden beaches.
Though Botswana has never been a prominent tourist destination in Africa, it surely has incredible beauties to look forward to. From the diversity of Chobe National Park to the colorful wildlife of Okavango Delta, there is a lot to acknowledge and savor. Visit the grasslands of Central Kalahari Game Reserve or enjoy meeting some of the oldest inhabitants of Africa.
Another country that deserves to be on your bucket list while visiting the southern parts of Africa! Zimbabwe is a landlocked nation and is generally recognized for its extensive landscapes and beautiful national parks and sanctuaries. The country hosts a lot of waterfalls, streams, forests and a lot more to admire and enjoy.
Mozambique in Africa must be explored by every traveler for the country has an intriguing history to listen to and gorgeous islands to stay at. From Bazaruto Archipelago to the Quirimbas Islands, everything is set to soothe your nerves. The country has numerous cathedrals and other religious sites also where one can feel the essence of divinity. Visit ancient monuments and learn in detail about the country's colonial past. Scuba-dive and watch wild dolphins swim past you.
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that has deserts, wetlands, grasslands, subtropical forests, mountains, shores, streams, and cliffs.
South Africa has three capital cities namely Pretoria (Executive capital), Bloemfontein (Judicial capital) and Cape Town (Legislative capital).
South Africa is also referred to as the 'Rainbow Nation' for its cultural diversity. The country has more than 11 official languages.
Located in Soweto, Vilakazi Street has been home to two of the Nobel laureates - Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In Africa, South Africa is the first country to accept homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The drinking water in South Africa is considered one of the best and safest in the world.
Located at Rustenburg, the Palace of the Lost City is the largest theme resort hotel on the planet with a 25-hectare manmade forest.
At about 708 feet, the Bloukrans Bridge in Western Cape makes for the highest commercial bungee jump in the world and hence, is quite popular amongst international travelers.
With 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, South Africa is one of the most underrated historically-significant places in the world.
The Iconic Table Mountain in the country is older than the Alps and the Andes. It has a history of more than 260 million years.
South Africa is the only nation across the globe that has willingly deserted its nuclear weapon programs.
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