Situated at the southern tip of Africa, SA has a landmass of 1 233 404 km² edged on 3 sides by a nearly 2800km coastline washed by the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also wraps itself around the two independent countries of Lesotho and Swaziland.
SA has 3 capitals: Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Administrative) and Bloemfontein (Judicial).
A well-known fact about SA is that since 1994 we have enjoyed democratic government, the apartheid policies of the past overthrown. Our constitution is regarded as an example to the world, and enshrines a wide scope of human rights protected by an independent judiciary. The country is headed by a State President who is president of the ruling party – African National Congress (ANC).
A lesser-known fact on SA is that it has achieved steady economic growth in gross domestic product (GDP) since the late 90s. The country, regarded as an emerging market, has a well developed financial sector and active stock exchange. Financial policies have focused on building solid macroeconomic structures. The country’s central bank is the Reserve Bank.
Travel SA – since the demise of apartheid, international tourist arrivals have surged, making tourism one of the fastest growing sectors. The tourism industry is well-established with an exciting sector of emerging entrepreneurs. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife travel and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism.
The SA population of more than 49m people is extremely diverse. Africans make up the majority of the population approx – 78 %, followed by the white population approx – 13 % the coloured population approx – 5 % and the Indian / Asian population at approx – 4 %.
South Africa’s currency is the rand, which offers visitors great value for money. The rand comes in a range of coins (R1 = 100 cents) and note denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 & R200.
SA has a temperate climate and is known for its long sunny days, hence the title: ‘Sunny South Africa’. Most of the provinces have summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape (winter rainfall). Winter is from June to August; spring is basically just the month of September, summer from October to April and autumn is the month of May.
SA has an exceptionally well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cell-phone (mobile-phone) providers provide national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas.
Provinces (similar to states or counties):
There are 9 provinces in SA, namely: Eastern Cape, Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal; Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
The SA flag is a much-loved symbol of patriotism, which replaced the old republican flag in 1994 and it is the only flag in the world with six colours. Other significant national emblems include: National bird – blue crane, National animal – springbok, National fish – galjoen, National flower – king protea and National tree – Outeniqua yellowwood. The first 3 verses of South Africa’s national anthem comes from the Xhosa hymn ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika which was composed by a teacher and Sunday school teacher named Enoch Sontonga in 1899. The fourth verse was worked into the new national anthem from the old Afrikaans version of the anthem called “Die Stem” or “The Voice” written by CJ Langenhoven in 1918. The fifth verse comes from the English translation of the “Die Stem” in 1957 which was known as “The Call of South Africa”.
SA is a multi-lingual country and there are 11 official languages including: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Almost 80% of South Africa’s population are Christian. Other major religious groups include Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. The constitution guarantees freedom of worship.
Tap water is potable. However, ensure that you take bottled water with you when travelling to remote rural areas and the bush.
Animals and Plants:
SA has been declared one of the 18 mega diverse destinations in the world. As a pioneer and leader in responsible tourism, SA has numerous conservation projects to protect its natural heritage – when you travel SA you can support and take part in many of these projects. The country is home to the famous “Big Five” (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo).
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. When you travel SA, with a few exceptions (in deep rural areas) electricity is available almost everywhere.
The 3 major international airports in SA are: O R Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport (Durban) as well as 90 regional airports including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit and the Eastgate International Airport in Hoedspruit.
Travel by Road and Rail:
SA has an extensive good quality road infrastructure including national highways and secondary roads. Speed limits are set at 120 km / h on highways; 100 km / h on secondary roads and 60 km / h in urban areas. The rail network, except for the metro networks in the large cities, such as the Gautrain in Johannesburg & Pretoria are not frequently used by local travelers. However, if you want to travel SA by rail, then various top-glass tourist trains are available such as:
- Rovo’s Rail
- The Blue Train
- Shongololo Express
- Premier Glass
To travel SA you require a valid yellow fever certificate from all foreign visitors and citizens over 1 year of age travelling from an infected area or having been in transit through infected areas. For visa requirements, please contact your nearest South African diplomatic mission.
Health and safety:
SA is well-known for its medical skill since Professor Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant on 3 December 1967. There are many world-class private hospitals and medical centre’s around the country, especially in the urban centres. Most of SA is malaria-free, but always check with your local tour operator or game reserves that you are planning to visit in the summer months and then take precautions, if necessary. When you travel SA, it is important to make sure you have the latest safety travel tips from the establishments where you will be staying or company you plan to travel with. Take common sense precautions, just as you would when travelling anywhere else in the world.
There is no wrong time to travel SA. Here the sun is almost always shining and warm, and pleasant weather is plentiful. Because of the varied landscape of this African country, the weather can change drastically from one region to the next. Before you pack your bags, you should make sure that you are well informed. prepared and have clothing options for all climates, as per our – Travel Information & Tips.
If you’re from the United States, UK or Europe you will find that the seasons to travel SA are the opposite of what you’re used to. While you’re enjoying the summer heat, SA is in the middle of its winter, but although some frigid temperatures can occur in the evening, the days are usually warm. Most of southern Africa, including SA is summer rainfall with a winter rainy season in the south western Cape, so you’ll want to plan to travel SA accordingly to ensure that you get to participate in all of the activities that you have planned. One of the biggest mistake made by tourist that travel SA is they don’t take into account how cold it gets in winter when out on an open vehicle early morning or night safari in one of the wildlife reserves such as Kruger National Park, Timbavati private game reserve, Korongwe private game reserve, Hluhluwe / Umfolozi game reserve, Madikwe game reserve, Pilanesburg game reserve, Sabi Sands private game reserve, Lion Sands private game reserve, Thornybush private game reserve, Selati private game reserve, Kapama private game reserve, Zulu Nyala private game reserve, Kagga Kamma private game reserve, Shamwari private game reserve, Addo Elephant National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park, etc. It can be freezing so make sure you bring a warm coat with gloves and a “beanie”.
To travel SA on a holiday / tour can be a great relief in September, October, November, February, March or April when you’re tired of snow, ice and gloomy days in the USA, UK or Europe or your could decide to travel South Africa in May, June, July & August to get away from that blistering heat in some places of the world such as the southern states in the USA. The winter months are also a good time to travel SA from a safari point of view (your best game spotting on safari is in South Africa’s winter). When you travel SA, you’ll find sunny beaches and a hot sub-tropical climate throughout. In addition to sunbathing, you may also enjoy the large diversity of the various cultures that exist, interesting history, beautiful landscapes, modern cosmopolitan cities and adventurous safari through some of the protected wildlife reserves or national parks in the region.
Here at Self Drive Southern Africa or Bushveld Safaris, Tours & Transfers, we’ll send you on a trip / tour / holiday of a lifetime, through some of the most fantastic sites of SA. Travel SA by exploring on safari the massive Kruger National Park or other reserves or private game reserves, playing golf on championship golf courses, driving through magnificent mountain ranges which offer panoramic views of the surrounding country, bathing on romantic sub-tropical beaches, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, shark cage diving, “wining & dining” on beautiful wine estates or in vibrant cities, visiting iconic landmarks such as Table Mountain & Robben Island, various national botanical gardens, visit historical battlefields, experience the rhythm and soul of famous townships / settlements such as Soweto, Langa or District Six, etc.
“Top 10 Reasons” to travel SA
During these tough times, who doesn’t want an affordable holiday? When you travel SA, you can even afford luxury and have spending money for shopping and other treats!
- Natural Beauty
South Africa’s scenic wonders are legendary. From Table Mountain to God’s Window, our mountains, forests, coasts and deserts will feast your eye and lift your spirit when you travel SA…
- World-class facilities
Whether you opt for Afro-chic or authentic Africa, you’ll find it easy to get around, find a comfortable place to stay, have a great meal and connect when you travel SA.
SA is the adventure capital of the world. With over 130 adventures and counting, there is something for everyone from mountain walks to shark cage-diving! and all is available in the vaious regions on tours when you travel SA.
- Good Weather
In “Sunny South Africa”, our great weather invites you to enjoy the outdoors, play golf year-round and take advantage of the nearly 2800km coastline…
- Rainbow Nation
The Rainbow Nation celebrates all its African and immigrant cultures. Find out how friendly our people are whilst you travel SA, you can even try your tongue at 11 official languages!
- Diverse Experiences
Go almost anywhere in SA and experience the ultimate combo of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure, heritage and vibe – you’re spoilt for choice, so pack it in and come and travel SA!
Warning! Watching wildlife is addictive. First you start with the Big Five in so many ways, then whales, penguins, meerkats, wild dogs, birds, dung beetles and so much more whilst you travel SA.
- Freedom Struggle
Discover a nation’s struggle for freedom whilst following the footsteps of Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionaries. It will touch and inspire you when you travel SA.
- Responsible Tourism
Travel with care whilst you travel SA, you can explore our protected areas, contribute to social and conservation projects, buy recycle art and stay green.