South Africa lies at the lower tip of the African continent, bordered by both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The country, a booming emerging economy, and equally vibrant tourism sector, is considered one of Africa's top destinations for its renowned safaris, diverse wildlife, and advanced infrastructure.
If you are thinking of visiting South Africa for your next holiday, whether alone or in a group, here are a few facts that can help you get started on your journey.
South Africa is a fascinating place because it is unique in a variety of ways. Here is a brief look at the country:
South Africa lies at the tip of Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean to its left and The Atlantic to the right. Because of its position, the southern African nation has about 3,000 km of beach stretching across its coastline
It is approximately 1.23 million sq. kilometers in area
South Africa shares numerous borders with its neighbors including Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. Additionally, it encloses two independent countries, The Lesotho and Swaziland
South Africa has nine provinces and more interestingly, three capitals. Pretoria is the administrative capital, Cape Town is the legislative one, and Bloemfontein handles the judicial functions.
The country has numerous national symbols, including and not limited to the national flag, national bird (blue crane), and the national animal (the springbok)
South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation because of its racial diversity
Rolling hills, rugged peaks, smooth beaches and extensive dunes – these are all part of the South African landscape. The country is primarily known for the beauty of its physical landscape. Table Mountain, the large, flat but raised piece of land overlooking the South African coast at Sea Point, is one of the main attractions in the country. The Sani Pass and Drakensberg Ranges are great tourist destinations for tourists who are not afraid to push themselves to the limit with strenuous hiking while enjoying the splendor of the surroundings. Finally, South Africa remains the home to the largest visible crater created by a meteor, stretching about 300km in diameter.
South Africa is not just popular for its features. Some tourists also come to the country to see for themselves the wealth of minerals that this nation has to offer. South Africa is renowned for producing the world's largest clear diamond (a 106 karat stone mined in the twentieth century). It is also the biggest producer of the most valuable minerals, gold, and platinum. If you’re interested in learning more about the mining significance of the Rainbow nation, be sure to schedule it into your trip around the country.
The People and their Culture
People call South Africa the Rainbow nation because it is filled with a wealth of races. To begin with, South Africa was a land of the San (the hunters and gatherers) and the Khoi (the nomadic pastoralists) collectively known as the Khoisan, or the Bushmen.
During the colonial period, the Dutch (Boers) and British occupied the country and had children by their slaves, producing a new generation of a multiracial people. Portuguese and German settlers added to the diversity of the country. Today, the country remains about 80% African, with 20% being shared between the Afrikaans (Dutch descendants), Asians and Caucasians.
What is unique about the 47 million South African people, apart from the fact that almost everyone speaks two languages or more, is that it has 11 official languages. Among them are the English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, siSwati, Afrikaans and Sesotho languages. Each group has its own language, culture, and traditions.
The people of South Africa also enjoy different religions. While every four out of five people in the country subscribe to Christianity, about 20% of the population practice either Buddhism, Hindu or Islam. No matter what faith you practice, South Africa allows you to practice it when you take a trip to the southern African country.
Wildlife and Wildlife Conservancies
Imagine a land so long and wide, a land full of lowlands and continuous ridges, sprinkled with scrubs and dunes, rainforests and extensive Savannahs. Now imagine that very space occupied by majestic animals, each unique in its own way. This is what South Africa offers each tourist who visits the country for its wildlife and safaris.
With over 2,000 species of birds and an equally extensive collection of animals, South Africa is a wildlife haven for any nature enthusiast. The country is not only the home to the ostrich, the world’s largest bird, it also hosts the biggest mammal alive (the elephant), fastest land mammal (the cheetah), largest reptile (the leatherback turtle), biggest antelope (the eland, unique to southern Africa) not to mention the world’s largest fish (the white shark). All these animals coexist in a delicate and fiercely protected biosphere that South Africa prides itself on.
The wildlife located in the Southern African nation is safeguarded in observation centers as well as well-protected game parks and reserves. Examples of these wildlife conservancies include the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Kruger National Park. Both these parks are recommended for tourists on their first visit to South Africa and looking to indulge in the full South African Safari experience. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park crosses into Namibia and Botswana whereas the Kruger National Park stretches 20,000 sq. kilometers from one province to the next. A trip into these parks will leave you with memories of the beauty of the African wild.
South Africa is considered one of the safest, most advanced and most progressive countries on the African continent. All through your visit in South Africa, you will have protection offered by your reservation team provided you also take some safety precautions. When you want to go on a shopping or explorative spree early in the morning or late into the evening, ensure that you have someone from your touring group with you. Alternatively, wait until it is light and tour the landscape with your group. Remember not to walk the beach alone when it is dark. In summary, do not unnecessarily draw attention to yourself during the period of your stay within the country.
Also, always carry your identification and all the necessary documentation with you as your tour the country, or as you cross over from South Africa to one of its neighboring countries. This will prevent any misunderstandings from occurring during the time of your stay.
South Africa is home to some world-renowned activities. Its Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump is the highest natural bungee jumping point at just over 700 feet. The longest bicycle race is hosted in South Africa, and so is the longest wine tour. Additionally, South Africa has one of the largest periodical fish migrations – big enough to be seen from space!
In other words, anyone with a taste for adventure and those who want to experience this once-in-a-lifetime journeys should put a visit to South Africa on their holiday destinations list.
Popular Destinations in South Africa
For all its pomp, South Africa has a few destinations that every tourist should visit on their next stay in the country. Here are the top three most popular tourist attractions in South Africa.
The Winelands Tour: this is an 850km long tour that crosses the famous wine estates of South Africa. During this tour which runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, you get to do a little wine-tasting, explore extensive vineyards and simply appreciate the richness of the wine industry in South Africa.
Table Mountain: named for its plateau-like shape, Table Mountain is the go-to place for many domestic and international tourists. Table Mountain itself is an interesting topographical feature on its own, but that is not the only reason a visit to Table Mountain should be on your to-do list. Instead, you should visit the mountain to enjoy one of the few aerial cableway tours on the continent.
Sea Point: towards the edge of Table Mountain, Sea Point overlooks the South African coastline. The Point is not only a great spot to admire the splendor of beautiful beaches and the intimidating grandeur of the ocean, it is also the best place to indulge yourself in the lavishness of South African hospitality.
Kruger National Park: as one of the largest parks in South Africa, Kruger deserves a visit if ever you are in the southern African country. The park not only acts as a habitat for a large variety of animals, it is also home to the nation’s only eco trail. If you’re passionate about wildlife conservation, then Kruger is the place to be.
South Africa as a Tourist Destination
With vast lands sprinkled with some of the most beautiful and interesting animal and plant life, rich culture spanning from diverse racial and tribal cultures, South Africa will always have something for tourists to explore during their visits. If you are interested in further exploring the richness of South African attractions on your next visit, contact a reservation team to plan for and enjoy indulging your interests in this southern African nation.