SOUTH AFRICA HOLIDAY
South Africa - Experience Big-Game Safari and Incomparable Natural Beauty on the Edge of Africa
South Africa Holiday Overview
A South Africa Holiday will delight you in its destination diversity. This is where untouched wilderness meets luxurious comfort and where wild safari experiences are complemented by plunge pools with fine dining; furthermore a South Africa safari is combined with world-class vineyards, dazzling coastal cities and seemingly endless beaches. In short, South Africa is a country that offers something for everyone, one that will make every visitor feel at home.
A South Africa Holiday
Many consider South Africa the ideal destination for first-time visitors to Africa. We agree; once you’ve visited you’ll want to be back for more. There’s just so much to see and do. The big-game safari is among the best on the continent, especially in the reserves around the Greater Kruger.
Shimmering between the oceans and Table Mountain, Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The Cape Winelands are as serene as they are sublime and then there is the Garden Route, Sun City, Madikwe and Pilanesberg. Plus shark diving, Mandela’s legacy, Robben Island and so many beaches.
South Africa is a great first-time-to-Africa destination because there’s no need to jump out of your comfort zone. Here you get all the thrills and excitement of a world-class wildlife experience, from tracking leopards on the prowl to watching white rhinos wander past at dawn. But you certainly aren’t roughing it.
The lodges here are amongst the very best accommodation in the world, not just in Africa. So as you get close to the big five and more, you also luxuriate in first-class contemporary comfort. Make no mistake about it, South Africa is a prosperous and developed nation. Here you can enjoy the same four or five-star luxury you can have in Europe. The beauty is that in South Africa it all comes at a much better price. Plus the weather is much better and the natural beauty is incomparable.
Even with six weeks in the country you couldn’t see it all. We like to handpick destinations and experiences based on your interests and budget. There is no standard route and even with a safari there’s a superb selection of options dependent on animal populations and the experiences you’d like to have. When there’s something everyone, we like to ensure everybody can experience what is best for them.
Inspiring Highlights on a South Africa Holiday
- Marvel at an intimacy with wild leopards and lions on a safari in the Sabi Sands.
- Sit back amid the vines with a stay at a Stellenbosch wine estate.
- Experience a perfect first-time safari at one of the country’s exclusive big-five reserves; Madikwe is just one we recommend.
- Stand on the summit of Table Mountain before exploring Cape Town’s colourful streets and superb beaches.
- Encounter the big five, again, and again, and again.
- Discover the history behind all us when you visit the World Heritage Cradle of Humankind.
- Explore the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, including at Robben Island.
- Take a self drive holiday on South Africa’s excellent roads, with the Garden Route being an excellent option.
- Surround yourself with wild animals, at the best lodges in the most wildlife-rich areas.
- South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 710 feet.
- There are more than 1950 shipwrecks just off the South African coast, most dating back at least 450+ years ago.
- South Africa is the land where 2 Oceans collide. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean & the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Table Mountain alone has over 1,500 species of plants, more than the entire United Kingdom.
- The Rovos Rail in South Africa is considered the most luxurious train in the world.
Recommended Destinations on a South Africa Holiday
Africa’s kingdom of pleasure, less than two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Sun City offers fine hotels, magnificent golf courses, casinos, and truly great modern entertainment. The vast complex is set amongst winding paths, cascades, pools and trees, besides a tranquil lake in the imposing Pilansberg Mountains.
Cape Town – on a South Africa Holiday
Backdropped by Table Mountain, Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The city is lively, made up of a series of colourful neighbourhoods and beach suburbs. It epitomises how there’s so much to do on a holiday in South Africa. Enjoy magnificent views from Table Mountain, reached by the cable car or on a famous trek; savour the dramatic scenery of Cape Point, the meeting point of two oceans; visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; explore Robben Island, the former prison island that housed Nelson Mandela; lounge on the beaches; check out food markets; the list goes on and on!
Over 500 vineyards carpet the valleys around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek, South Africa’s oldest towns. These form the Cape Winelands and the wine tasting is the best in the world. Unlike some countries, South Africa loves to make wine tasting accessible to all. Think sipping on a dozen wines with an endless view, pairing wines with chocolate and appetisers, and an unpretentious approach that’s all about having fun and relaxing into the local atmosphere.
The Garden Route
Port Elizabeth. It’s a mosaic of sweeping forests, shimmering lakes, unspoiled beaches and beautiful mountain passes. The charming towns along the Garden Route are filled with history, culture and fine food, while the beautiful landscapes and coastlines make the journey a big part of the experience. The Garden Route can be explored as a side trip from Cape Town, or as an independent self drive journey from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
One of the world’s oldest and largest protected wildernesses, Kruger is the best place in South Africa for a multi-day African safari. The big five are found in abundance; in particular, this is the best place in the world to see often elusive rhinos and leopards. It’s possible to rent a vehicle for a self drive safari in the park. We recommend private reserves that share unfenced borders with the main national park. Here, the experience is more exclusive and you can get closer to the animals. And the lodges take safari luxury to a new level.
Madikwe Game Reserve
A three-hour drive or short flight from Johannesburg, Madikwe is one of Africa’s least known large reserves. Its Kalahari grasslands and woodlands are packed with animals and it’s one of the best places to see the highly endangered African wild dog. Madikwe lies outside the malarial belt and offers excellent family-friendly lodges, as well as romantic retreats and honeymoon suites.
From the broad beaches of a sunny subtropical coast to the evocative game reserves at its heart, KwaZulu-Natal is like its own country. There are soaring mountain peaks and historic battlefields, superb game viewing, bird watching, adventure, history and on-the-beach relaxation. You may even glimpse hippos on the sand, wading towards the Indian Ocean.
Once a volcanic crater, Pilamesberg is one of South Africa’s best wildlife destinations and is centred around a large hippo and crocodile-filled lake. Although conveniently close to Sun City, these two top destinations feel words apart: some visitors choose to stay in Sun City and travel across for a half-day safari. But with such great big five game viewing on offer, plus a wide choice of excellent safari lodges, we’d highly recommend a night or two in this beautiful piece of African wilderness.
Key South Africa Considerations
Is it safe? That’s the number one question we get from those considering a South Africa holiday. Yes it is safe. Most of the country’s reputation is unfounded and the negative stereotyping puts a lot of people off visiting. Of course, you need to follow basic precautions and there are some no-go areas. That’s why we partner with South Africa’s best guides, who will show you what to do and what not to do, as well as where not to go. We only use hotels and lodges in very safe areas, so you will feel confident and comfortable when exploring the local area.
In addition, South Africa is the only country in Africa where you can experience a malaria-free safari. That means there’s no need to take malarial medication for your trip. This naturally makes it hugely popular with families.
With so much to experience it can be difficult knowing where to start. We’ve got you covered. If you dream of tracking a leopard on a misty morning we know where the encounter can almost be guaranteed. If South Africa means adventures on Table Mountain and tutored wine tasting then we know the guides to show you around. If it’s a self drive holiday we’ll book you into the best hotels for your budget, as well as providing detailed advice on planning a realistic route.
For South Africa safaris it all depends on your preferences and interests. Some of the lodges we use are pure luxury, with private plunge pools, decadent dining and a butler bringing bottles of wine to your suite. Others are more geared towards adventure, with nighttime game drives and walking safaris part of the daily program. We’ll recommend a different reserve and lodge if you are a family, or a couple on a honeymoon. A South Africa safari could be one day. Or it could be one week or more. We can guide you through all the options so you can make informed holiday choices.
In a country where there is something for everyone, we want you to experience something that’s unique to you.
South Africa has a dual climate and is a true year-round destination. The most popular time to visit is October to April, when you can escape the cold of home to enjoy South Africa’s long and warm summer along the coast. Cape Town and the Winelands are particularly enjoyable during these times, before the grapes are harvested.
The best game reserves are located in the north of the country, where the winters are cool and dry. This provides the best conditions for a big game safari. Wildlife must cluster around what little water that remains, so they are easier to find. Animals don’t need to find shade as it’s not as hot during the middle part of the day, so your activities see more and continue for longer. So these months, May to October, are best for a South Africa safari.
The best time to travel is dictated by whether you plan to spend more of your time on safari or along the coast and in South Africa’s other destinations. But don’t worry too much – any month of year has its positives. Note that mid-December to late-January is peak season and prices go up substantially; this is mostly due to local school holidays.
GMT + 2 hours
South African Rand. The exchange rate is currently very favourable to the British Pound; the Rand has halved in value against the Pound since the 2010 World Cup.
Visas are not required for British Passport holders. Passports must be valid for six months after your arrival date. When travelling with children you must produce their full, unabridged birth certificate at immigration. There are additional immigration rules if a child is not travelling with both their biological parents – we can advise you on these.
South Africa has 11 official languages. Almost everyone you encounter will speak good English, although not necessarily as their first language. They may speak Xhosa, Afrikaans or Zulu at home.
These Exclusive Reserves Also Have A Handful Of Secluded, Luxurious Lodges That Are Among Our Favourites For A Romantic Safari Break.
Kwazulu-Natal – Beaches, Safaris & Historic Battlefields
From the broad beaches of the sunny KwaZulu-Natal subtropical coast and the luxury accommodation of its big game reserves to its soaring mountain peaks and historic battlefields – this is where to go in South Africa for game viewing, bird watching, adventure, history and on-the-beach relaxation.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Once a volcanic crater, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s best wildlife destinations and is centred around a large hippo and crocodile-filled lake. Although conveniently close to Sun City, these two top destinations feel words apart: some visitors choose to stay in Sun City and travel across for a half-day safari, but with such great Big 5 game viewing on offer plus a wide choice of excellent safari lodges, we’d highly recommend a night or two in this beautiful piece of African wilderness.
Madikwe Game Reserve – Exclusive Big 5 Game Viewing
About a 3-hour drive or a short flight from Johannesburg lies one of South Africa’s least known large reserves, the Madikwe Private Game Reserve. Its Kalahari grasslands and woodlands are full of animals and the Reserve is one of the best places to see the highly endangered African wild dog plus the Big 5. Madikwe lies outside the malarial belt and offers excellent family-friendly lodges as well as romantic retreats and honeymoon suites.