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South Africa

With an extensive range of excellent game reserves and safari lodges, South Africa is the ideal destination for special wildlife encounters

Tailor-Made Holidays
To South Africa

South Africa is a country of great natural and cultural diversity, five times the size of Great Britain, located on the southern tip of the African continent, bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and fully encompassing the independent kingdom of Lesotho and most of Eswatini (Swaziland). South Africa is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean, fuelled by the chilly Benguela current on the west and the warm Agulhas current of the Indian Ocean on the east. The mixing of these currents off the Cape of Good Hope causes eddies and upwelling of nutrients, leading to a richly productive marine ecosystem. On land, the varied landscapes and habitats, globally-renowned flora and fauna, fascinating distant and recent history, friendly populace, exceptional lodges, service levels and value for money make South Africa a world-class destination.

There is a bewildering choice of high quality wildlife reserves to choose from, all offering a subtly different experience, many containing Africa’s ‘Big Five’ (Leopard, Lion, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhinoceros – animals which are considered dangerous to approach on foot) with lodges from rustic to five star. Other attractions add great variety to a holiday, including beautiful Cape Town and surrounds, with the classic ‘Garden Route’, wildflowers and whale watching; the spectacular Drakensberg mountains for hiking, and historic Zulu Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal; and the deserts of the Karoo and Kalahari. Although some areas are malarial zones, it is also entirely possible to arrange a malaria-free holiday to South Africa.

REMEMBER!

We offer combination tours to SOUTH AFRICA & MADAGASCAR for a mindblowing mix of wildlife worlds – with lemurs, wildlife walks and other-worldly adventure in Madagascar to the ‘Big Five’ and out-of-this-world safari lodges of South Africa! Please find some sample itineraries below and contact us for endless other possibilities!

Self-Driving in South Africa vs Chauffeured Tours

South African itineraries tend to lend themselves to self-drive arrangements since the roads and signage are good and this allows more flexibility and value for money. It can also be a great benefit for keen photographers. Self-drive safari is permitted in some areas of the Kruger National Park and other public reserves (or one can simply drive to the lodge and be taken out on dedicated safari vehicles with a qualified ranger). Hire cars are modern, usually with power-steering and air conditioning and British drivers will be pleased to learn that driving is on the left.

However, if you would prefer chauffeured transfers this can be arranged for most itineraries as well as scheduled and charter flight hops between locations. Some of our sample itineraries include a private driver, but please ask for details if you’d like to add the services of a driver to any itinerary.

A wonderful shot of an inquisitive young Gorilla in Nyungwe park

Photography by Dan Burton

Best Time To Visit South Africa

A pleasant climate throughout most of the year is a major asset of South Africa. Seasons are the reverse of ours in the Northern hemisphere with midsummer falling in December and January and midwinter June and July.

The coastal lowlands of the south around Cape Town enjoy a Mediterranean climate of hot summers and warm rainy winters. Peak southern right whale-watching season along this coastline falls between July and October.

The lowveld of KwaZulu-Natal – Durban and the eastern coastlands – have a subtropical climate with most rainfall in summer between October and April coinciding with highest temperature and humidity. Leatherback and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in this region in summer.

The northeast lowveld areas (Kruger and surrounds) have a tropical climate of high temperature and humidity with rainy summers (with impressive electrical storms) and dry winters (note – the opposite of the west!). Game viewing is generally good throughout the year. Animals may be a little easier to spot during the winter months from May to September when the grass is lower and the bush less dense, but the thick bush of the summer encourages animals to use roads as walkways, sighting can be outstanding and colours vivid.

The western interior has a hot sunny climate and is mostly desert or semi-desert with any rain falling in summer between November and April.

In Johannesburg and Pretoria in the highveld or eastern interior the summers tend to be rainy and warm and winter days are mild with the chance of a dramatic drop in temperature at night. However, the high sunshine hours and low humidity produce a year-round pleasant climate.

South Africa Travel

Getting There

Flight Time

12 hours

Time Zone

GMT +2

Language

Afrikaans & English

Population

52.98 million

Highlights

What To See

Makuleke Private Concession

In Northern Kruger, the 24,000 hectare Makuleke Private Concession or ‘Pafuri Triangle’ is an area of land at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers, with the Limpopo River defining the border with Zimbabwe, and the more powerful Luvuvhu River carving its way through the sandstone escarpment, creating the impressive Lanner Gorge. The wildlife here in the northern Kruger is not as dense as in the centre and south of the National Park, but the ‘Big Five’ are present and excellent sightings are still possible. Large herds of elephant congregate in the drier months and the rivers attract species such as eland, nyala, warthog, bushbuck, zebra and other game. The area is particularly noted for its exceptional birdlife (including species such as three-banded courser, Pel’s fishing owl, Böhm’s and mottled spinetails, racket-tailed roller, black-throated wattle-eye …) and stunning scenery. The variety of landscape ranges from baobab forests, fever tree forests, gorges with dramatic cliffs and peaceful rivers edged with riverine forest. It is also an important area for both ancient and more recent human civilisations with interesting sites showing signs of early Stone Age and Thulamela civilisations as well as recent Makuleke villages. The area is best explored on game drives and on foot.

Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve

The 35,000 hectare Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve (also known as the Makalali Conservancy) is ultimately intended to recreate the wildlife migration corridor linking the Kruger National Park to the Drakensburg Mountains in the west. The Makhutswi River flows through the reserve of lowveld acacia bush and open savanna grassland interspersed with occasional marula, knobthorn and jackalberry trees. It lies an hour’s drive westward from the Phalaborwa Gate of the Kruger National Park. The Shangaan translation of Makalali is ‘place of rest’ and the concept of the luxurious lodge retreats is to experience the African bush in an unhurried manner. Game drives and walks are on offer, but also outdoor candlelit bush baths and sleep outs – a very special experience where one is left with a bed under the African Sky, with only a net between you and the sounds of the night.

Surrounding Lowveld

The area to the west of Kruger National Park includes the popular town of Hazyview – a base from which to explore the Kruger and also to visit the nearby Elephant Whispers sanctuary and explore the stunning 156km Panorama Route along the Drakensberg Escarpment to encounter the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, Gods Window and numerous waterfalls. Visit the gold-mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest for a chance to pan for gold and learn about the early gold prospectors’ stories. For the adventurous, white water rafting, hot air ballooning, rock climbing, bungee jumping, and caving are all possibilities – as is freefalling 68 metres at 180km per hour on a ‘Big Swing’…if you so wish!

Manyeleti Private Game Reserve

Manyeleti, meaning ‘’Place of the Stars’’ in Shangaan language and managed for the community’s benefit by the local Mnisi tribe, shares fenceless borders with Kruger, Timbavati and Sabi Sands reserves so that elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard and other wildlife can roam freely. The 23,000 hectare reserve is easily accessible, but away from major tourist areas and hosts the ‘Big Five’ and a great diversity of other wildlife in a landscape of open grasslands and rocky outcrops. Accommodation ranges from rustic to luxury and so can cater for various budgets. Enthusiastic rangers, great food and service will leave you with unforgettable experiences of your stay in the bush under the glorious African sky.

Balule Private Game Reserve

Balule Private Game Reserve is a 40,000 hectare nature reserve straddling a 20 km stretch of the perennial Olifants River. Balule was created when farm owners decided to eliminate the game fences between their properties and more landowners are constantly joining the scheme, increasing the Greater Kruger National Park Management Area. The ‘Big Five’, abundant plains animals and bird life inhabit the reserve and high quality lodges ensure a great African bush experience.

Klaserie Private Game Reserve

Klaserie, unfenced from Kruger National Park so animals can roam freely between the two as part of the Greater Kruger Park, is situated to the northwest of Timbavati. General game is less plentiful than some other areas but Klaserie is noteworthy for its undulating scenery, winding river beds and herds of elephants who enjoy grazing by the Klaserie River and where rhino, warthog and lions are also seen. The reserve covers 60,000 hectares spanning either side of the river and accommodation ranges from simple self-catering rondawels to five star all-inclusive luxury.

Soutpansberg Mountains

The Soutpansberg Mountains (Afrikaans for Salt Pan Mountains) are dramatic outcrops of pink quartzite rock which rise over 1700m extending from the town of Vivo in the west to Punda Maria in the Kruger National Park in the east. Moist sea air from the Indian Ocean precipitates on the southern slopes and, due to the terrain, varied microclimates range from verdent areas with over 2,000mm rainfall to semi-desert. In turn this has encouraged high species diversity and endemicity and the Soutpansberg is proposed to become part of the Vhembe UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This is no ‘Big Five’ experience (although rhino and leopard are present) – it is an area to enjoy scenic hiking through rocky gorges and forests with giant cabbage trees, proteas, yellowwood trees, forest fever trees, ancient tree ferns. It is also a fascinating area for the indigenous culture with rich archaeology, diverse rock art and also for the important history of European settlement in the region. Horse riding for experienced riders is also possible.

Waterberg Savanna UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

The malaria-free Waterberg Savanna Biosphere Reserve was designated by UNESCO in 2001 and an area marrying conservation with the benefits of tourism. It includes the Lapalala Wilderness Area, Marakele National Park – both offering simple accommodation – and Welgevonden Reserve with more luxurious options. The extensive Waterberg Massif reveals deep valleys, grassy hills, majestic mountains, open plains, rivers and bushveld. The varied habitats are ideal for wildlife.

The Waterberg is fascinating for its archaeology, with finds dating back to the Stone Age. Skeletons and from primitive man (Australopithecus africanus and Homo erectus) have been found nearby which suggest early humans could have lived in the Waterberg as early as three million years ago, perhaps using the overhanging cliffs as natural shelters. San (bushmen) hunted in the Waterberg around 2000 years ago, leaving rock at Lapalala depicting antelope and rhino. In the Iron Age around 1300AD, Nguni people left defensive dry stone walls, some of which can be seen today.

As well as game drives, the area offers great bush hiking, mountain biking and excellent horse-riding through the wilderness

Thornybush Private Game Reserve

The 11,500 hectare Thornybush Private Game Reserve is fenced off from Kruger but still has the ‘Big Five’ plus a high density of other African wildlife. The setting is mainly undulating open lowveld with a delightful backdrop vista of the Drakensberg mountains.

Timbavati Private Game Reserve

The 53,400-hectare Timbavati Private Game Reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, ensuring a great diversity of free roaming wildlife. The ground is more undulating and the bush thicker than Sabi Sands but sightings are still excellent from the accommodation, open vehicles or foot safaris. This is the area noted for its white lions (a recessive genetic trait) – though none has been seen for many years. Accommodation choices range in style from luxury tented safari camps, traditional thatched bush lodges and colonial style game lodges.

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve

The 65,000 hectare Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve has some of the most exclusive lodges in Southern Africa and is probably the best place anywhere for sighting leopard and lion. As there are no fences between this reserve and the Kruger National Park wildlife is free to roam over a vast area. Viewing is assisted by rangers being able to drive off road to approach the animals (unlike in public parks such as Kruger), which also has the secondary effect of opening up the bush for greater lines of sight. Sabi Sands comprises several smaller private game reserves: Singita, Djuma, Mala Mala, Londolozi, Lion Sands, Exeter, Sabi Sabi, Savanna and Ulusaba and there is a comprehensive range of accommodation to suit individual requirements (at a price). The lodges pride themselves on superb service, food and general experience.

Northern Kruger

The remote Northern Kruger is the driest and least visited area of the park with fewer tarmac roads than elsewhere and more dramatic scenery. Wildlife is more sparse and skittish than in the south, but tend to congregate around the rivers and water holes especially in the drier winter months. Wild dogs sightings are more common in the far north, the dogs using termite mounds as dens when they produce their pups from May to July. This region is dominated by mopane trees with baobabs becoming a feature towards the north. Roan, nyala and sable antelope, Liechtenstein’s hartebeest and eland may be spotted in this region. The Luvuvhu River in the far north provides outstanding bird watching including Pel’s fishing owls, silvery-cheeked hornbills, narina trogons, broad-billed rollers and swallow-tailed bee-eaters. Three-banded coursers are likely to be spotted between Pafuri Gate and Punda Maria Camp. The Northern Kruger is also important historically with various San art as well as sites with stone- and iron age artefacts.

Central Kruger

Central Kruger with its more open grassland landscapes provides excellent wildlife watching opportunities with a good chance of seeing all the Big Five plus hyenas and countless impala.

Southern Kruger

Southern Kruger is the most accessible area of the park with abundant wildlife (less skittish than in the north) and a wide choice of accommodation. Vegetation tends to be dense especially in summer due to the higher rainfall in this region but this is the season when herbivores give birth and migrant birds are at their peak. Animals tend to congregate round water in winter (May to October) and the vegetation is thinner. This is a great base for spotting elephants, lions and buffalo as well as general game such as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and tsessebe antelope.

Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve

The malaria-free Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve in the wider Kalahari is the largest privately owned game reserve in South Africa where a maximum of six safari vehicles explore the 100,000 hectares, giving a sense of unparalleled privacy in the wilderness of dunes and savannah with the backdrop of the Korannaberg mountains.

A third of South Africa’s endangered desert black rhino thrive here, together with the huge Kalahari black-maned lion, wild dog, cheetah, sable and roan antelope, tsessebe, wildebeest, giraffe, eland, both Burchell’s and Hartmann’s mountain zebra and buffalo.

A chance to enjoy the endearing antics of meerkats is a big draw and over 230 species of bird have been recorded. At night there is a chance to glimpse more elusive creatures such as aardwolf, aardvark, brown hyena and bat-eared fox.

Activities are tailored to individual interests and include game drives, bush walks, night walks and horseback safaris as well as simply enjoying the stillness, sky and stars of the Kalahari. Guests leave Tswalu with a rounded appreciation of the whole ecosystem – from the geology, plants, insects and reptiles to the smaller mammals and larger game as well as the human history of the area and how the San people learned to survive in this arid land.

Lesotho

The small mountain kingdom of Lesotho, entirely surrounded by South Africa, may be reached from the Drakensberg by the Sani Pass with its stunning vistas. It has a distinctly African feel compared with the European influenced South Africa. Maseru, the nation’s capital is a good base for exploration if not of great interest itself. From here it is possible to reach Thaba Bosiu, the mountain stronghold of King Moshoeshoe I, the nation’s founder. Semonkong in the central highlands enjoys breathtaking scenery with many outdoor activities and a nearby dramatic waterfall. Malealea is famous for its popular lodge, originally a trading lodge set up in 1905 by a British man Mervyn Bosworth-Smith, now greatly extended to provide accommodation from camping and forest huts to twin-bedded houses. The scenery is spectacular, adding some credence to Bosworth-Smith’s brass plaque 6km before the lodge on the Gate of Paradise Pass, “Wayfarer, pause and look upon the gateway to Paradise”.

Traditional Basotho villages of circular huts are to be seen. For hiking enthusiasts it is worth visiting the Tsehlanyane National Park, the Bokong Nature Reserve and the remote Sehlabathebe National Park. Access on horse back is also popular with pony trekking lodges all over the country. Autumn (February to April) is perhaps the best time to visit because of the moderate daytime temperature and less rain. Winter (May to July) often sees snow in the highlands and sometimes at the lower altitudes too, plus very cold nights. Spring (August to October) is pleasant with the melting snow giving rise to fresh vegetation but in summer (November to January) there is often torrential rain. Nights are generally very cold, especially in the highlands.

Eswatini

Eswatini (previously known as Swaziland) is a landlocked kingdom with lovely scenery surrounded by South Africa on three sides and the Lubombo Mountains and Mozambique to the east. It is a popular stop between KwaZulu-Natal and Kruger to break up the drive, enjoy a game reserve such as in Mkhaya Private Game Reserve, and learn about the country’s fascinating cultural traditions. One of the more famous traditions is the ‘Reed Dance’ ceremony held at the Eludzidzini Royal Residence – an annual event which allows King Mswati III to choose an additional wife from the many thousands of young women (at time of writing he has 13!)

Namaqua National Park

In the land of the Nama people, descendents of the Khoikhoi herders, the 144,000ha Namaqua National Park is a biodiversity hotspot and part of the semi-desert Succulent Karoo biome. It is deservedly renowned for providing one of the floral wonders of the world. Whilst relatively bare at other times, in spring (sometime during August and September) the dry valleys of Namaqualand explode with the brilliant colours of its wild flowers. A perfectly timed visit after the winter rains will reveal the richest bulb flora display of any arid region world-wide and lilies, mesembryanthemums (vygies), aloes, gladioli and various colours of daisies emerge from their underground dormancy to carpet the land in brilliant fashion. Around 1000 of its estimated 3500-4,000 plant species are found nowhere else on earth. It is also a paradise for butterfly and bird enthusiasts and, of course, photographers. As per the wildlife safaris, tracking the best floral display involves skill, local knowledge and luck – and as with a lion sighting, vehicles may converge out of nowhere at the best spots! Another factor to consider is that accommodation needs to be booked in advance and so one must hope for lucky timing.

Namaqua National Park is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and reaches 1700masl at its highest altitude. Winding dusty roads curve through a landscape of endless horizons, massive granite outcrops and sandy alluvial valleys, with quiver trees (kokerboom) standing sentinel.

Wildlife of Namaqua National Park must be well-adapted to the challenging climate. Reptiles thrive, including the Namaqua speckled padloper (roadrunner) – the world’s smallest tortoise, reaching 6-10cm. Mammals include aardvark, baboon, porcupine, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, black-backed jackal and (though rarely seen) leopard. Around 250 bird species include black harriers, cinnamon-breasted warbler, Cape long-billed and Karoo lark, black-headed canary and cape bulbul.

Augrabies Falls National Park

In the north of the Northern Cape in the green Kalahari bordering Namibia, the Augrabies Falls National Park protects 28,000 hectares of barren, rocky semi-desert terrain surrounding the Orange River. This mighty river tumbles 56m over a sheer granite cliff at Augrabies Falls then cascades a further 135m into a turbulent pool below. This is best seen in March-May after the summer rains when it justifies it’s original Khoikhoi name of ‘Ankoerebis’ or ‘place of big noises’ as the water thunders into the gorge below (the name Augrabies was later derived from this by the Boer Voortrekkers).

Augrabies Falls National Park provides sanctuary to specialised flora and fauna which are able to survive the aridity and extreme temperature fluctuations. As well as smaller succulents, the kokerboom (aka quiver tree) can be found here – a giant aloe which can store water in its stems and so survive lengthy drought. Their name comes from the tradition of the San people to keep their arrows in kokers (quivers) made from hollowed branches of this plant. There are several varieties of mesembryanthemums (known locally as ‘vygies’), shrubs such as raisin bush and tree species include camelthorn acacia, wild olive and white karee.
Small reptiles and mammals such as Broadley’s flat lizards and rock dassies (hyrax), slender and yellow mongoose find shelter in rock crevices, fallen trees or burrows. Klipspringer are some of the more commonly seen antelope, as well as gemsbok (oryx) steenbok, kudu, eland and springbok. Giraffes here are paler in colour than elsewhere as an adaptation to reflect the sun’s heat. The park is home to black rhino and Hartmann’s mountain zebra and predators include leopard, African wild cat, black backed jackal, caracal and bat eared fox. Cape clawless otters may be found hunting for fish in the river.

Nama people, who are descendents from the original Khoikhoi, have inhabited the Augrabies Falls National Park area for many centuries and learnt many fascinating methods of survivial.
Visitors can explore this wilderness on 4×4 trails, game drives, river rafting trips, on mountain bikes or hiking trails.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Located in the Southern Kalahari and bordering Namibia to the west, Kgalagadi (meaning ‘Place of Great Thirst’ in San language and Africa’s first official Transfrontier Park or ‘Peace Park’) is the result of a management agreement between South Africa’s Kalahari-Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. Spanning over 3,6 million hectares (around 38,000 km²), almost twice the size of Kruger National Park, 27% of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is in South Africa and the remainder is in Botswana. The vast unfenced area allows for the essential seasonal migration of desert-dwelling wildlife such as blue wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok (oryx), eland and red hartebeest.

The arid terrain consists of undulating red sand dunes, sparse vegetation, occasional trees, and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob rivers – said to flow once a century or briefly after large thunderstorms. Wildlife concentrates in these dry river beds as here the water flows unseen underground, utilised by grasses and trees such as camelthorn, vaalkameel and swarthaak (black thorn) acacias, raisin bush and African blackwood which grow and in turn provide sustenance to grazers. Naturally, the whereabouts of herbivores attracts predators such as the rare and striking Kalahari black-maned lion as well as cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena.

Smaller mammals found in the reserve are ground squirrel and the adorable suricate (meerkat), gerbils and whistling rats. At night, with luck, pangolin (scaly anteater), the notoriously aggressive honey badger (ratel), and bat-eared fox may be seen.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park contains over 200 species of bird and is renowned for raptors such as the secretary bird, black-breasted and tawny snake eagle, martial eagle, bateleur, lappet-faced and white-backed vulture, pale chanting and gabar goshawk, greater kestrel and pygmy falcon. The summer months (December-March) are particularly rewarding due to the arrival of migratory species (though this time can be very hot – see below!). Other birds featured include the ostrich (the world’s largest bird), the kori bustard (the world’s heaviest flying bird) and sociable weaver birds which together construct the largest nests of any bird which may accommodate over 100 pairs and can be seen weighing heavily on tree branches.

The ‡Khomani San and Mier communities who traditionally roamed this area but lost their land under apartheid, reached an historic land settlement agreement with the government of South Africa and South African National Parks (SANParks) in May 2002 which resulted in their being granted ownership of 50,000 hectares of land within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which they lease to and jointly manage with SANParks. The agreement means the San and Mier people have benefited from funding and employment in various aspects of tourism and conservation work which filters through to benefit the communities as a whole.

The weather in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park can be extreme, with sub-zero temperatures at night in winter and soaring over 40 degrees C in summer. The best time to visit is between March and May when some greenery remains from the summer rains and the temperatures are pleasant.

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

The only true desert in South Africa, receiving less than 50mm annual rainfall, this transfrontier park spans part of the border of north-west South Africa and southern Namibia. The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is formed by the merging of South Africa’s Richtersveld National Park and Namibia’s Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park. The temperatures are extreme (over 50 degrees C in summer), the landscape dramatic and inhospitable and the sandy roads and tough mountain passes are only to be attempted by experienced drivers in suitable vehicles. Wildlife is scarce, though leopards are present and lizards and klipspringers may be seen. The best time of year to visit is August/September when the succulents are in bloom. Activities include gentle canoeing along the wide Orange River (best for birding) and simply exploring this ruggedly beautiful landscape by 4×4 vehicle.

Pretoria

Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country’s three capital cities, serving as the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital; the others being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.

Known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees which line its thoroughfares, Pretoria is a relatively quiet city with a long, involved and fascinating history. Here you will find many significant old buildings and some fascinating museums. The Transvaal Museum has wonderful natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind. Also worth visiting are the Cultural History Museum and the Smuts Museum, just outside town.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg (often shortened to Jo’burg) is normally only used as an overnight stop between flight connections or onward travel. Undeniably troubled by crime issues, the city nevertheless has sights of significant interest. Jo’burg offers the visitor a chance to see the gold fields which fuelled the city’s growth and also to understand South Africa’s past and hopeful future at the acclaimed Apartheid Museum and on a tour through Soweto – the sprawling township which was the site of so much unhappiness and rebellion under apartheid. Here one can see the stark contrasts from the slums and original ‘matchbox’ houses through to the Soweto ‘Beverly Hills’. Must-sees include the terrific new Hector Pietersen museum, named after the first child shot dead in the 1976 youth uprising; the Kliptown Memorial where the ANC signed its Freedom Charter in 1956 and Regina Mundi Church, an important gathering place during the apartheid years. Orlando West is the tourist centre of Soweto. Vilakazi Street has Nelson Mandela’s old house at number 8115 which has now been converted into a visitor’s centre; and Desmond Tutu and Winnie Mandela’s mansions are in this neighbourhood.

For those wishing to embrace city life a little more thoroughly, the main tourist centre is the Newtown Cultural Precinct, which has the Market Theatre, Newtown Music Hall (a hugely popular jazz club), the recently opened Nelson Mandela Bridge and Museum Africa, as well as restaurants, shops and markets. The Melville area offers pavement cafes, bars and sophisticated nightlife. Rosebank is the Covent Garden of Johannesburg, with stylish shopping malls, quality markets selling craftwork, antiques, jewellery, clothes, fabrics and curios from all over Africa, art galleries, art-house cinemas and an eclectic mix of over 200 restaurants and coffee shops.

There is the new state-of-the-art visitor centre at the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site in the Sterkfontein Valley, where dolomitic limestone caves have produced nearly half of the world’s hominid fossil discoveries.

Pilanesberg National Park

Bordering the brash Sun City entertainment complex, Pilanesberg National Park is situated in the crater of a massive extinct volcano, resulting from eruptions some 1,200 million years ago. Pilanesberg is in the transition zone between Kalahari and Lowveld, flora and fauna of both habitat can be found overlapping here. All of the Big Five have been introduced to the park.

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Your Very Own

South Africa Specialist

Alan Godwin

Area Specialist

There is so much to see and do in South Africa that it makes an excellent stand-alone destination. However, it is also easily combined with Madagascar or the neighbouring Kingdom of Eswatini for a wonderfully contrasting wildlife holiday.

We can also combine South Africa with magical Mozambique with its pristine Indian Ocean beaches and spectacular marine life, and beautiful Botswana where safari experiences are as wild and raw as can be.

If you have any questions regarding travel to South Africa, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965