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travel south africa

6 reasons to travel to South Africa

Are you still in two minds about going to South Africa? Why? Stop worrying and go there as soon as you can, South Africa has so much to offer, there’s no time to lose!
  1. 1
    Diving with the white shark
  2. 2
    Photograph the Big 5
  3. 3
    See the the superb scenery
  4. 4
    Walk into the heart of a township
  5. 5
    Breathe in the atmosphere of Cape Town
  6. 6
    Go to the end of the continent
1. Diving with the white shark

The great white shark can be found off the coast, near Cape Town and Durban and has made these cold waters its home. A dive, protected by a cage, and a terrifying face-to-face encounter, has become an essential part of tourism in South Africa. Come and discover this unique experience that makes the bravest and most fearless tremble at the knees.

2. Photograph the Big 5

With its dozens of private reserves and its famous Kruger National Park, a trip to South Africa is the chance of a lifetime to get close to the wildlife of the African savanna. You can come by car or on foot with a ranger and prepare to be amazed by seeing wild animals close up. You can see them all in South Africa, from the huge hippopotamus to the tiny chameleon, from the giraffe and the zebra to the iconic springbok, not forgetting the Big 5 - the elephant, the buffalo, the rhinoceros, the elusive leopard, and the lion king. Photograph them all.

3. See the the superb scenery

1,000 km of coastline, vast plains, deep canyons, and high mountains... the landscapes of South Africa will take your breath away. The nearly 200 km of the Drakensberg chain offer the most beautiful views in the country. Just to the north, the mountains of Mpumalanga are just as amazing. The viewing points on the Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels are phenomenal.

4. Walk into the heart of a township

Langa or Khayelitsha in Cape Town, Alexandra or Soweto in Johannesburg, every city has its townships, like other cities have suburbia. Millions of people live in them, often in terrible conditions. However, you need to see at least one of them from the inside. You can take a guide and see how people live their everyday lives in these sometimes dreadful shanty towns and also see places of historical significance, unequalled solidarity, and an energy that can make the impossible possible. A priceless lesson in life.

5. Breathe in the atmosphere of Cape Town

Cape Town sits like a jewel in the surrounding landscape. Enclosed on one side by the superb Table Mountain and by the ocean on the other, the city gives off a wonderful feeling of being at the ends of the earth. Cape Town attracts all kinds of tourists with unrivalled cultural riches. Those looking for a relaxed backpacker vibe, head for Long Street. Culture vultures wandering around the museum exhibitions. One thing is certain, there is something to please everyone in the most beautiful city in South Africa. Some people think it's too European, too American, not African enough, but it's just a reflection of the country itself, beautiful and modern.

6. Go to the end of the continent

Right down south, at the very end, at the base of the continent of Africa, there is a country - South Africa. And right down south, at the very end, at the base of South Africa, is the Cape of Good Hope. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Superb scenery and an indescribably unique sensation of being at the ends of the earth.

Discover the destination

Why travel in South Africa

If you’re interested in contemporary history, trekking through fabulous scenery, observing wildlife, such as whales, sharks and the Big 5, then South Africa is your ideal destination. Even more so, because the tourist infrastructure is excellent and just as good as in Europe or Australia, for example. On the downside, a trip to South Africa shows you that the country has lost its authenticity and will be lacking that certain something sought by travellers in search of darkest Africa.

You should go if...
  • Do you want to see modern Africa?
  • Do you want to feel as if you're at the end of the earth?
  • Do you dream of seeing the Big 5?
  • Are you unafraid of diving with white sharks?
  • Do you want to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela?
  • Do you like trekking through amazing scenery?
  • Do you want to see the hard life of a township?
You shouldn't go if...
  • Do you like to feel safe in big cities?
  • Are you short on time?
  • Are you looking for a total change of scenery?
  • Are you looking for the 'real Africa'?
  • Are you on a limited budget?

Customize your perfect trip to South Africa

Discover all our travel ideas for a trip in South Africa.

All our tours in South Africa

When to go in South Africa?

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South Africa is marked by two seasons: a hot and humid summer (November to March) and a dry cooler winter (April to October). The Western Cape region has winter rainfall from June to August. The good thing is that South Africa has something to offer for each season. Safari season is from April to October. From November to March, the beaches of the Western Cape are idyllic. If you come between June and September there is a fair chance you will see whales… And then there is the Kwazulu-Natal coast, perfect for bathing all year round.
See when to go

Inspiration and advice from local experts to travel in South Africa

Travel tips from our local agencies in South Africa.

What to see in South Africa?

Top places to discover.

See all places
Prepare your trip in South Africa
Here's some essential information to help you prepare for your trip to South Africa and ensure that you don't forget anything.

What documents to travel with in South Africa?

US, UK, and Canadian citizens require a passport that is valid for at least 30 days after date of departure from South Africa. A three month tourist visa is automatically issued on arrival. Warning the formalities for family travel in South Africa have changed recently and are relatively restrictive, make sure you check them out in plenty of time before leaving!

Health advise

The hospitals in the major cities are excellent, but very expensive. Make sure you take out medical insurance cover before you leave. No particular injections are required, but malaria is present in the north-east of the country. Nearly 18% of the adult population of South Africa is infected with HIV, so be sure to take precautions.

Language

English is spoken throughout the country. In addition to English, each region has speakers of one of the 11 other official languages, including Afrikaans, Ndebele, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.

Time difference

South Africa is 1 hour ahead of the UK. When it's midday in London it's 1 pm in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Phone and internet connection

Telephone prefix: +27

You can get internet access in city hotels and guest houses and in some bars and restaurants. 

Electricity

Power points are on alternating current and the supply is 220-230 volts. You will need an adapter.

South African High Commission in London.

South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP

southafrica.info/travel

British High Commission in Pretoria

255 Hill Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, Pretoria 0028

Tel: +27 12 421 7500

gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-high-commission-pretoria