Land of the Zulus, but also of the famous Big Five, South Africa is as famous for its safaris as for its historical heritage. Spoiled by nature, the “Rainbow Nation” also offers much more: beaches, mountains, breathtaking panoramas, etc. A single trip to South Africa is not enough to discover all its riches. However, as long as you are well organized, it is possible to get the most out of every stay in the country. In this article, we therefore offer you a detailed and practical guide to making your next trip to South Africa a success.
Prepare for your trip to South Africa
Like any other such expedition, your trip to South Africa should be prepared a few months in advance. Administrative formalities, vaccines, preventive measures and other advice… Here is what he has to know and to do before taking your flight.
For tourist stays of less than 90 days, obtaining a visa is not necessary. All you need is a passport valid for at least 30 days after the scheduled return date. Also make sure that your passport still has at least two blank pages. Upon arrival, you will be issued a residence permit valid for 90 days.
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No vaccine is required to travel to South Africa. However, it is recommended to renew the usual vaccines before the trip. In addition, in order to protect yourself effectively against malaria, taking an anti-malaria treatment, before and during the stay, is recommended. On the spot, the use of repellent sprays is also very useful.
While on vacation in South Africa, be sure to protect yourself from the sun as well. During safaris, wear wide hats over caps to protect the back of your neck and cover up well in the evenings. Also drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
In addition to these precautions, also take care to properly prepare your suitcase. Depending on the period chosen and the planned tour, choose suitable clothing:
Summer clothes if you travel between September and April, but also some warm clothes for the nights;
Mid-season outfits if you travel between May and August;
Warm clothes, a raincoat and a coat if you plan to spend a few days in Cape Town, whatever the season.
For safaris, plan to wear neutral-toned clothing, as well as walking shoes. And above all, don’t forget your camera and / or your camera!
Which cities to visit during a trip to South Africa?
The possibilities for stays and tours in South Africa are as numerous as they are varied. The country offers the choice among a multitude of landscapes, activities and experiences. However, here are some of the cities that we think a visit is essential during a stay there.
Largest city in the country, Johannesburg is a true modern megalopolis, with its large residential districts and huge buildings. However, the main so-called interest of the city remains the popular district of Soweto. Cradle of the great historical figures of the country, such as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, this historic district was the heart of the struggle against apartheid. To fully understand its historical dimension, the ideal is to be accompanied by a local guide for the visit.
In this township and its surroundings, be sure to visit:
The Vilakazi street and the Nelson Mandela Museum. Transformed into a museum, the house of the Father of the Rainbow Nation is a must-see;
the apartheid museum ;
The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum.
In a completely different register, the Orlando tours offer a breathtaking view of the city. Bungee jumping is offered here for travelers looking for adrenaline and thrills.
Cape Town (or Cape Town)
Located in the far south of the country, on the peninsula of the same name, Cape Town is an essential stopover during a trip to South Africa. Renowned for its superb beaches, surf spots and his nature reserve, it offers a real melting pot of activities and places to discover. Among these, we recommend in particular:
Bo-Kaap : it’s the malay quarter from the city. Its beautiful houses in shimmering colors offer a picturesque charm to the place;
Robben island : Accessible by ferry from Cape Town, Robben Island is the famous prison island where Nelson Mandela was detained. Today it is a museum visited every year by thousands of tourists.
Table Mountain : this flat mountain offers a unique panorama over the entire peninsula. It is accessible via a cable car.
Before leaving Cape Town, be sure to plan an excursion to the Cape of Good Hope.
Other big cities such as Port Elizabeth, Knysna or Hermanus also offer a very wide choice of activities and discoveries.
What to see and do on a trip to South Africa?
Safari, treks, wine tours, visits to Victoria Falls, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in South Africa. In addition, each of them guarantees a unique experience.
With its many national parks and nature reserves, South Africa is the ideal destination for safaris. In addition to the “Big Five”, these immense protected natural spaces are home to many species that evolve in their natural habitat: giraffes, hippos, impalas, zebras, moose, cheetahs, reptiles, etc.
To take pictures and videos of these wild animals, embark on a safari, day or night, in:
The Kruger National Park;
Addo Elephant National Park;
Golden Gate Highlands National Park;
Karoo National Park;
The Santa Lucia reserve;
The Madikwé reserve.
Hikes and treks
The reliefs as well as the vast natural spaces of the country also offer the possibility of fascinating excursions. By road or via the trails, you can, during your trip to South Africa, explore:
The Drakensberg, its immense summits and its rock caves;
The Blyde River Canyon: it is the third largest canyon on the planet;
The Garden Route: 700 km of road between plains, mountains, vineyards and coastal littoral, with breathtaking landscapes. It is an ideal romantic excursion if you are traveling as a couple.
The Cape wine route
A trip to South Africa is also an opportunity to afford a memorable wine tour. The Cape Peninsula is indeed home to several wineries that produce some of the best wines on the planet.
To discover them, go to the wine route of Cape Town, in the Stellenbosch region. On the program, discovery, tasting or even learning the winemaking method, according to your desires.
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience available to you! South Africa is indeed one of the countries from which tourists can admire one of the wonders of the world: Victoria Falls. To admire them, the most favorable period is that of from April to June. The flow is then maximum and the falls offer a breathtaking spectacle.
When is the best time to travel to South Africa?
It all depends on the region you want to visit and the planned activities. Basically, remember that:
For a safari
The period going from April to October is the best place to go to observe wild animals. It is the dry season: vegetation is scarce and the animals often go out to drink.
To enjoy the beaches
To surf or soak up the sun on the beautiful sandy beaches of the Western Cape, plan your trip to South Africa between November and March. The beaches of the Kwazulu-Natal coast are, for their part, suitable for swimming in all seasons.
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