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South Africa holidays and safaris

South Africa is a land of outstanding natural beauty. The size of France and Spain combined it boasts an excellent infrastructure, enabling easy travel around the country. And a chance to take in the many types of terrain and scenery that can be found here. [See South Africa itinerary ideas]

Cape Town sits at the foot of flat-topped Table Mountain; ride the cable car to the top of the mountain on clear days for panoramic views. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is where it all happens, with free entertainment, restaurants and bars plying their trade. Boat trips can be taken from here to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held. Go shark diving with Great Whites off the cape or bungee jump above the Bloukrans River.

Outside of Cape Town, head to Hermanus to watch whales migrate and breed, or settle down in towns such as Paarl and Stellenbosch in the heart of the Winelands to sample celebrated varieties from the 106 cellars in the region.

Follow the Garden Route along the south coast to see some exceptional coastline, excellent beaches and rugged coves. Nature reserves for dolphins and primates as well as bird watching sites act as further distractions.

The best wildlife watching though is in the Kruger National Park, which is the size of Wales and home to the Big Five and countless other creatures. With accommodation to suit all budgets and the greatest diversity of wildlife on the continent, it's one of Africa's great wildlife reserves.

Alternatively, head into the mountains and hike amidst the peaks and plunging valleys of the Drakensburg, listen to the silence in the Karoo, settle back on the warm sands of KwaZulu-Natal, visit the diamond mines in Kimberley and watch the stark landscape of Namaqualand burst into bloom during springtime.

Wexas Travel brochure for South Africa

South Africa brochure

Our in depth guide packed with background information, sample itineraries designed by our experts and hand-picked suggestions for what to see and do, where to stay and when best to go.


When to go

The seasons in South Africa are a reversal of those in the Northern Hemisphere, with winter at its height in July and August. This is the best time to view South Africa's wildlife; with dry conditions forcing animals to congregate around water sources in National Parks, making them easier to spot. This is when whale watching is easiest too.

Cape Town and the Garden Route are best visited during the warmer summer months (December and January) when temperatures average 25-30°C. During winter, temperatures plummet, overnight frosts are common, as is snow in mountainous areas and the Cape Town region.

Be aware that South African summers are prone to sudden and very heavy storms, and when driving in these conditions reduced visibility can make it necessary to pull over for a time.

JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
 BEST TIME
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Essential Experiences

We’ve rounded up our list of recommended sites and things to do. Click on the map to enlarge it and see what we suggest or follow the links in the list to discover how to get the best out of your holiday.


Practical Information

Capital - Pretoria

Size - 1.2 million sq km

Language - South Africa has 11 official languages. The most commonly spoken is isiZulu at 22.7%. English is widely understood, being the language of business and the media, but many people speak variations of African and Dutch languages in the privacy of their homes. 13.5% speak Afrikaans (including 60% of white South Africans), 16% is isiXhosa, 8% Setswana and 7.6% Sesotho, with the other official languages spoken by less than 5% of the population.

Population - 51.7 million (2011)

Religion - The South African constitution provides for freedom of religion.  79.7% of South Africans are Christian, with 11.1% specifically Zion Christian, while 8.2% follow Pentecostalism, 7.1% are Catholic, 6.7% Dutch Reformed and 46.6% follow another Christian faith. 15% of South Africans follow no religion at all, and 4.7% declared themselves followers of another religion, with large Muslim communities in some areas.

Currency - 1 South African Rand = 100 cents

Time zone - GMT + 2 hours

Flight time from the UK - Direct flights from London 11.5 hours (Johannesburg/Pretoria) to 12.5 hours (Cape Town).

Festivals

January - Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, typically held on New Year's Day, the city's longest-running parade kicks off the New Year in style. Historically it was held on 02 January, the one day Cape slaves were given off in the year. A flamboyant collection of performers dance and sing their way through the city centre, drawing thousands of spectators every year.

February - FNB Dance Umbrella, contemporary dance festival featuring new works from South African and African choreographers and international artists, held in Johannesburg.

March - Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour, the largest individually timed bike race in the world takes place along the coast, starting at Cape Town.

March - Cape Town International Jazz Festival, hugely popular, with international and local artists taking part.

April - Klein Kagroo Nationale Kunstefees, largest Afrikaans art and culture festival, Oudtshoorn, Western Cape.

April - Two Oceans Marathon, billed as the worlds most beautiful marathon, run out of Cape Town.

April - Splashy Fen Music Festival, four days of music and fun on a farm in Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal with the beautiful Drakensberg acting as a scenic backdrop.

May - Good Food and Wine Show, Cape Town.

June - National Arts Festival is the largest arts and culture festival in Africa, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.

July - Kynasta Oyster Festival, ten days of events along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.

August - Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival, a music festival held in Northam, North West Province, rocking the bundu (bushland) for four days and four nights.

September - Cape Town Comedy Festival.

November/March - Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, held on the botanical garden lawns at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

December - Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, three days of comparing and contrasting the finest local Cap Classiques with some of the best French champagne, in the pretty Franschhoek Wine Valley.

Visas

Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.

Passport requirements

Passports must be valid for the duration of you stay. If you are visiting another country or countries en route to or from South Africa, be sure to check any further entry requirements.

Money

The South African rand is divided into 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200; coins in denominations of  5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.

Traveller's cheques (in hard currencies) can be easily exchanged in banks (these tend to close at 3.30pm during the week and 11am on Saturdays), bureaux de change and in some hotels. ATMs can be found countrywide, and all major credit cards are accepted. It's worth being aware that you can't purchase fuel on a credit card.

Regions [13]

Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in South Africa, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0797.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world and is home to more animals than any other reserve in South Africa. The Kruger Game Reserves offer prestigious lodges and game viewing and plenty of free roaming wildlife - leapord and the Big …

Kwazulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal offers a great mix of historical, cultural and natural attractions, with majestic mountains, World Heritage sites and plenty to keep you entertained. The Battlefield Route around Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift offers an insight into the Anglo-Zulu and …

Luxury trains

Let the train take the strain and roll through dramatic landscapes and extraordinary scenery aboard one of South Africa's luxury trains, including the Blue Train and Rovos Rail.

Northern Cape

The Northern Cape is a land of wide open spaces, wild flowers, the world's most important diamond mining towns and South Africa's famous black-maned lions. The province is charaterised by the vast arid plains of the Kalahari and and the brilliant displays of wild …

Northwest Province

The vast, semi-arid Kalahari and bushveld habitats of the Northwest Province, near the border with Botswana, were the scene of the world's largest game translocation exercise: Operation Phoenix.

Route 62 & The Karoo

Route 62 is a scenic tourist route running 850 km along South Africa's East Coast, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.

Western Cape

The Western Cape is perhaps South Africa's most popular region. Explore picturesque vineyards along the world's longest wine route, enjoy wonderful whale watching in the pretty coastal town of Hermanus, discover historic sites, fantastic restaurants and tredy beachside …

Winelands tours

Magnificent mountain and valley scenery, world-class vineyards and restaurants, inviting luxury accommodation, historic charm and warm, friendly locals combine to make the Cape Winelands a must on any tailor-made South Africa holiday.


Itinerary ideas [27]

The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in South Africa. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0797.

African safari & Mozambique beach break

Special offer From £3,595 pp incl. flights
Beach History & culture Honeymoon

South Africa, home to the fabled Big Five of leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino, offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the world, and combining …

Kalahari, Cape & Coast

Special offer From £4,195 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure Honeymoon Luxury travel

South Africa is a spectacular country in terms of its culture, cuisine, landscapes and, most famously, its wildlife.

Botswana safari and Cape Town with Belmond

Special offer From £4,495 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure City Luxury travel

Botswana is often referred to as the ultimate and most luxurious safari destination in Africa. Perhaps its greatest treasure is the Okavango Delta, a lush oasis …

Wild beasts and beaches of South Africa

Special offer From £2,695 pp incl. flights
Beach Luxury travel Natural world

Referred to as 'Seven World's of Wonder, the pristine landscapes of the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve are home to no less than seven unique ecosystems, …

Classic Cape, Blue Train and Safari

Special offer From £3,145 pp incl. flights
City Luxury travel Natural world

This 13-day South African odyssey begins with a stay in the stunning Cape Winelands, where you'll enjoy your choice of luxury accommodation and the chance to …

South Africa with Red Carnation Hotels

Special offer From £2,295 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure Beach Luxury travel

An exceptional hotel will often form the basis of an exceptional holiday and Red Carnation’s three South African hotels – Twelve Apostles in Cape Town, the …

Madikwe & the Cape 8-day tailor-made tour

Special offer From £2,195 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure City History & culture

Easily reached from South Africa's capital Johannesburg and one of the few reserves in southern Africa that's malaria free, the Madikwe Game Reserve borders …

Cape Town, Winelands & Safari

From £2,695 pp incl. flights
Beach Luxury travel Natural world

This 10-day luxury tour starts in the picturesque city of Cape Town, before heading off to sample the delights of the Cape Winelands. From the scenic Cape, head …

South Africa Wine & Whales

From £1,599 pp incl. flights
Food & wine Natural world Self-drive

From June to December every year, the pretty seaside town of Hermanus to the east of Cape Town, hosts some of the best land-based whale watching in the world. …

Best of South Africa

From £4,095 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure City Food & wine

If you've any doubt as to why South Africa draws more visitors than anywhere else in Sub-Saharan Africa, the incredible diversity of this 21-day tailor-made …

Cape to Kruger

From £3,495 pp incl. flights
City Honeymoon Luxury travel

Explore the Mother City, Cape Town, enjoy a trip on one of the world’s most luxurious trains and spot the Big Five in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which shares …

Wildlife of KwaZulu-Natal

From £3,595 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure Beach Honeymoon

KwaZulu-Natal is surely South Africa's most dramatic and varied province, changing with altitude from its gorgeous Indian Ocean beaches through wetlands and …

Gourmet South African Adventure

From £1,895 pp incl. flights
Activity adventure Food & wine History & culture

All of our specialists agree that dining in South Africa is one of the greatest pleasures of visiting this amazing country. Since the fall of apartheid culinary …

Garden Route & Klein Karoo 9-day escorted tour

From £1,695 pp incl. flights
Beach City Escorted tour

Stretching from Mossel Bay in the west to Tsitsikamma in the east, the 300km coastline known as the Garden Route is something of a show home for South African …

Wine and wildlife of the Western Cape

From £1,595 pp incl. flights
City Food & wine History & culture

Combine the captivating culture and award-winning wines of Cape Town and Stellenbosch with the wilderness and wildlife of the Sanbona Private Game Reserve on …

KwaZulu-Natal Discovery Self-Drive

From £2,595 pp incl. flights
Beach History & culture Luxury travel

The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal is perhaps the most dramatic and varied in the country, and with Durban so well served by international flights, it …

andBeyond Twin-Centre Kruger Safari

From £2,795 pp
Activity adventure Honeymoon Luxury travel

South Africa is rightly renowned for its incredible wildlife and the Kruger National Park in the northeast of the country has a deserved reputation as one of …

Best of Zambia & South Africa

From £3,595 pp incl. flights
City Luxury travel Natural world

"Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight" is the often-quoted note that David Livingstone made when he first clapped eyes on …

Blue Train, South Africa

Call for details
Luxury travel Rail journey

Sleek, elegant and ultra-comfortable, the Blue Train cossets passengers in all the luxury and service of a 5-star hotel.

Western & Northern Cape Adventure

Call for details
Activity adventure Luxury travel Natural world

This itinerary would perhaps suit a second or third time visitor to South Africa, or simply those with a sense of adventure and a taste for the finer things in …

Cape Town City Break

Call for details
Luxury travel Short break

This short city break takes in the best of Cape Town over a four-night stay. The Mother City, under the shadow of Table Mountain, boasts a wealth of attractions …

Rovos Rail, South Africa

Call for details
Luxury travel Rail journey

Since its establishment in 1989, Rovos Rail has earned an international reputation for its truly world class rail journeys. Recapture the romance and atmosphere …

Places to stay [40]

The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in South Africa. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in South Africa, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0797.

The Plettenberg Hotel, South Africa

Luxury travel

Set on a dramatic rocky headland in Plettenberg Bay, this luxurious manor house offers spectacular views of the Indian Ocean framed by distant mountains and has …

Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa

£££££££
Activity adventure Family Luxury travel

Madikwe Safari Lodge is situated in the heart of the richly diverse 76 000-hectare Madikwe Game Reserve and it is formed by three sophisticated and intimate …

Majeka House, Stellenbosch

£££££
Food & wine Natural world Spa

Located in the historic Cape Winelands town of Stellenbosch, around 45 minutes by car from Cape Town, Majeka House offers guests a luxury boutique retreat in …

Mont Rochelle Hotel

The Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyards is located in the village of Franschhoek in the heart of the Cape Winelands. This working wine farm produces …

andBeyond Kirkman’s Camp, South Africa

Set within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and sharing unfenced borders with the prestigious Kruger National Park, Kirkman’s Camp was originally built in the early …

Isibindi Zulu Lodge, Zululand

Surrounded by the rugged beauty and abundant wildlife of South Africa's Zululand, Isibindi Zulu Lodge is a triumph in terms of both its location and style, as …

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Luxury travel

Grootbos Nature Reserve, with its two 5-star lodges and luxury Villa, is spectacularly situated on the fynbos and forest clad hills overlooking the …

Casa do Sol Hotel & Resort, Mpumalanga

Offering a mixture of stylish suites and villas in the heart of South Africa's Mpumalanga region, Casa do Sol Hotel & Resort provides its guests with a …

The Oyster Box, South Africa

Luxury travel

Originally built in 1947, the Oyster Box is said to be a favourite haunt of the Zulu King. The hotel re-opened its doors in October 2009 after an extensive …

andBeyond Dulini Lodge

andBeyond Dulini Lodge is situated on the banks of the Mabrak River in the world famous Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve which shares unfenced borders with the …

Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Cape Town

£££££
City Food & wine History & culture

Situated in the heart of Cape Town's buzzing V&A Waterfront, the Victoria & Alfred Hotel occupies a prime spot for exploring the many attractions of South …

andBeyond Leadwood Lodge

Situated on a wooded bank of the Sand River, Leadwood's four suites offer solitude and serenity. Fully sized private plunge pools and outdoor showers soothe and …

Cellars Hohenort, Cape Town

Surrounded by immaculate gardens, this charming property has an enviable position in the heart of the Constantia Valley on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. …

The Marine Hotel, South Africa

With its unique location right on the cliffs at Hermanus, the 5-star Marine Hotel boasts 42 rooms and suites and spectacular views across Walker Bay, home to …

Pumba Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Luxury travel Safari Wildlife

Close to Port Elizabeth, Pumba is equipped with two intimate lodges (the Water Lodge and Msenge Bush Lodge), each boasting their own touch of opulence. In …

Taj Cape Town, South Africa

Luxury travel

This five star hotel is ideally situated in the historic city centre, perfect for those wanting to discover authentic Cape Town.

Tswalu, Northern Cape, South Africa

Luxury travel

Tswalu Kalahari is the largest private game reserve in South Africa and covers an area of over 100,000 hectares. Tswalu makes conservation its absolute priority …

Four Rosmead, South Africa

£££££
City History & culture Natural world

Intimate eight-bedroom boutique hotel situated on the slopes of Table Mountain and within walking distance of Green Market Square and Kloof Street, in the …

andBeyond Exeter River Lodge

Luxury travel

Tucked away on the banks of the Sand River in the prestigious Sabi Sand Game Reserve, andBeyond Exeter River Lodge shares unfenced borders with Kruger National …

Radisson Blu Waterfront, Cape Town

With its unique location right by the Atlantic Ocean and within walking distance from Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the recently renovated Radisson Blu …

Kariega Game Reserve, South Africa

£££££
Activity adventure Luxury travel Natural world

This malaria-free "Big-5" private Game Reserve is situated 80kms from Port Elizabeth airport, at the end (or beginning) of South Africa’s prestigious Garden …

Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town

£££££
City Food & wine Romance

Without a doubt one of the most famous and iconic hotels in Cape Town, Mount Nelson is set on the lower slopes of Table Mountain and within nine acres of lush …

Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa

Luxury travel

Set in the prestigious Hluhluwe National Park, just over three hours drive from Durban, Phinda Private Game Reserve comprises 17,500 hectares of prime …

The Twelve Apostles, South Africa

Situated beneath the majestic Table Mountain and facing the Atlantic ocean, The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is just minutes from the elegant Camps Bay beach and …

Cleopatra Farmhouse, South Africa

Luxury travel

Set in the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is ideal as a restful refuge, offering personalised service, picturesque mountain …

Grande Roche, South Africa

£££££
Luxury travel

Dating back to the 18th century, the immaculately restored Grande Roche is centred on a working vineyard and offers 29 luxury suites and six executive rooms, …

Rocktail Beach Camp, Maputaland

Activity adventure Beach Luxury travel

Rocktail Beach Camp lies in the lush, tropical shade of the Maputaland Coastal Forest. With the World Heritage-listed Maputaland Marine Reserve just offshore …

Franschhoek Country House & Villas

Luxury travel

Franschhoek Country House & Villas is located in the heart of the Cape Winelands, 1km from the village centre of Franschhoek. The original Franschhoek Country …

Motswari Private Game Reserve

£££££
Activity adventure History & culture Natural world

Motswari Private Game Reserve is located in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in the heart of South Africa's iconic Greater Kruger National Park. The reserve …

Shumbalala Game Lodge, Kruger Nat Park

Luxury travel

Shumbalala Game Lodge is situated in the heart of the Thornybush Reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Set under shady African trees lining the seasonal …

andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp

Set on the banks of the seasonal Timbavati River, andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp has just six romantic tented suites on raised platforms with private wooden decks …

Lairds Lodge, South Africa

Luxury travel

Ideally-located along the world famous Garden Route, this luxurious country house is set on a 24 acre estate and offers direct access to stunning beaches, …

The Bay Hotel, Cape Town

The recently refurbished Bay Hotel is Cape Town’s only 5-star beach hotel, located in the stylish suburb of Camps Bay. On your doorstep are some of the finest …

Ngala Safari Lodge, South Africa

Sharing an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, Ngala Safari Lodge offers an intimate wildlife experience to see incredible animals such as lions, …

Steenberg Hotel

£££££
Food & wine Golf Relaxation

The Steenberg Hotel is nestled in the Constantia Valley winemaking region, considered one of South Africa's finest, just a 20-minute drive from the heart of …

Holiday types [1]

The types of holiday listed below are just a flavour of the experiences available in South Africa. We can also suggest and plan alternative types of holiday to take into account your individual interests. To start planning what to do whilst away, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0797.


Offers [12]

Wexas negotiates with a wealth of travel companies, airlines, cruise operators, hotels and tour operators to bring you the very best travel offers. For great value or a range of add-on benefits, review the list of offers below.

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