South Africa has it all - from penguins to vineyards, Zulu battlefields to the Big 5 in abundance. Isn't it time you explored Africa at its most accessible?
South Africa's defining characteristic is its breath-taking diversity. As well as the Big 5 in Kruger National Park (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos), safari enthusiasts can spot hippo in the Limpopo River, whales off the coast at Hermanus, and penguins at Boulder's Beach, Cape Town.
Like its wildlife, South Africa's landscapes vary dramatically from the heights of the Drakensberg mountains to the subtropical KwaZulu Natal coast, from the flowering Cape to the vast Karoo semi-desert in its heartland. And with an excellent network of highways, good public transport and clearly-marked hiking trials, South Africa is one of the easiest countries to explore on the African continent.
South Africa also has a rich range of cultures and peoples – a fact often obscured by the Apartheid's attempt to categorise in black and white. With 11 official languages, it truly is the Rainbow Nation. So even if you've visited before, you'll have many more South Africas left to see.
No matter the season, there’s always something to do in South Africa. So much so that Hazel Plush has put together a list of the top 5 things to do in South Africa for every month of the year. From stargazing in Western Cape in December or boogieing with the locals at the Makana Freedom Festival in April, you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy. Make sure you drop by William Gray’s South Africa Travel Blueprint where he lists the five places you must include in your itinerary.
Lyn Hughes sings the praises of the twisting woodland paths, mountains, wildlife reserves and wild coastline of South Africa's Eastern Cape and warns: Don’t step on the fairies! Nigel Hughes explores the wildlife reserves and great-value lodges in KwaZulu-Natal and says you should too. And William Gray pops back again with tips on getting the most from Cape Town and its environs.
Looking for something really different? Lyn Hughes went horseriding on the Waterburg Plateau, a journey that brought her face-to-face with giraffes, cattle and crocodiles.
South African Travel Blueprint: 5 unmissable trips – William Gray
South Africa’s Eastern Cape – Lyn Hughes
Exploring KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – Nigel Richardson
Explore Cape Town and its surrounds – William Gray
Horseriding in South Africa’s Waterberg Plateau – Lyn Hughes
Chances are, you’re travelling to South Africa to go on safari. And why not? It’s one of the best places in the world to see wildlife, offering an abundance of creatures and creature comforts. Our guide to the best of African safaris is a great place to start planning, but make sure you check out Lisa Skyes’ overview of the best wildlife watching opportunities in South Africa and Chris McIntyre’s list of South Africa’s best national parks.
South Africa is a great place to watch whales too, so much so that Mark Carwardine reckons that South Africa’s legendary ‘Big 5’ should really become ‘Big 6’ to accommodate them.
Of course, the big stars of the South African wildlife circuit – and a rare conservation success story – are the rhinos. Pete Oxford reckons the best place to see them is the relatively unknown Marataba Reserve. Dramatic landscapes and a mega-population of rhinos. What more could you ask for?
The Wanderlust Guide to the best of African safaris
Wildlife watching in South Africa – Lisa Skyes
Southern Africa’s best National Parks – Chris McIntyre
South Africa’s big six? – Mark Carwardine
South Africa’s celebrity black rhino – Mark Carwardine
Roaming with Rhinos – Pete Oxford
Matthew Coe is a bit of a South African aficionado and has dug deep to come up with 7 unusual things to do in South Africa, including a visit to Joburg’s oldest restaurant, also home to the country’s best curry. He has also put together a list of South Africa’s top diving locations, probably best experienced before the curry.
7 unusual things to do in South Africa – Matthew Coe
South Africa’s top 5 diving locations – Matthew Coe
7 cheap things to do in Cape Town – Jo Price
5 things to do on Nelson Mandela’s birthday – Sam Shead
D-SLRs may have replaced guns, but bagging the best wildlife 'shots' has not become any less competitive or intense. We've sought advice from some of the biggest names in wildlife photography – including Steve Davey and Mark Carwardine – to help you to capture those magic moments.
If it’s inspiration you’re after, then look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels. They’re stunning.
Top tips for photographing wildlife – Steve Davey
5 essential photography tips for wildlife – Mark Carwardine
Ready to start planning your trip? Our South Africa Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by our South Africa Essential Info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information.
Landing in Cape Town? Claire Wilson lists everything you’ll need to get through the first 24 hours.
If you have a particular question about South Africa, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Our check out the questions that have already been asked about South Africa. The answer to yours might already be there...
South Africa Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team
South Africa Essential Info – Wanderlust Team
First 24 hours in Cape Town – Claire Wilson
Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From up-close wildlife encounters to more gentle rambles along the Garden Route, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.