South Africa is a land of visual diversity and compelling, unforgettable beauty, whose landmarks, both natural and man made, tell the story of a country with a fascinating heritage, richly endowed by nature – and only partially tamed by man. South Africa offers every type of holiday imaginable, with one of the worlds most scenically varied, ethnically diverse and beautiful regions – a vast land of kaleidoscopic contrasts, vibrant, and steeped in tradition and history. Ngwe Safari offers scheduled tours for guests wishing to gain in-depth knowledge of our heritage and culture.
You can also experience South Africa with the worlds most luxurious trains – Rovos and the Blue Train.
Entry requirements for South Africa
All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. There should be sufficient blank pages (at least 3) for entry stamps upon arrival. Note that if you will be traveling to neighbouring countries and back, you should apply for a multiple entry visa.
Requirements for obtaining a visa
An application form, passport and photograph are required. All visitors may be requested to show proof of sufficient funds and an onward travel/return ticket. This information provides a guide only – please check with your nearest South African consulate for up to date information. You can also visit www.home-affairs.gov.za
Summer: November to April.
Winter: May to October.
In summer, days are hot and generally sunny in the morning with possible afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures can rise to 38ºC (100ºF) and night temperatures drop to around 20-25ºC (68-77ºF). The afternoons can be very humid. The rainy season begins late in October/November and ends in March. The northern areas receive up to 700mm while the Kalahari Desert area averages as low as 225mm.
In winter, days are dry, sunny and cool to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 20ºC (68ºF) and can drop to as low as 5ºC (41ºF) at night. Please note that exceptionally cold spells can occur (although this is the exception rather than the rule), so it is recommended to bring appropriate clothing, just in case!
Health requirements when travelling to South Africa
Travel to South Africa poses no medical threat, but remember that there is malaria in certain areas. Malaria prophylactics are recommended for travelers to Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal. Speak to your doctor/pharmacist about which anti-malarials are suited best for you. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers entering South Africa coming from an infected area or if coming from East Africa. As of October 2011, the yellow fever vaccination requirement includes travelers coming from Zambia.
For more information please visit: www.doh.gov.za/docs/policy/2011/draft_yellowfever.pdf
Do not underestimate the hot, strong African sun, bring plenty of sun cream, a good sun hat and gradual adjustment are recommended.
Medical services in South Africa are good and doctors and hospitals are available. It is advisable to secure medical cover on your medical insurance before arriving in the country. Note that major hotels have contracts with physicians and dentists. Visitors are, however, advised to bring along supplies of specialised medication they may require. Otherwise, medicine may be purchased at pharmacies and all night emergency pharmacies.
We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance, which includes curtailment and cancellation cover, as well as medical cover, upon confirming your booking.
When to go
South Africa is an all year round destination. However:
- The northern regions are good destinations in the winter months as game viewing is at its best and the temperatures are very mild (maximum 20–23ºC (68–73ºF). There is very little winter rainfall in the north.
- The southern regions are summer destinations with low summer rainfall and temperatures reaching 28–30ºC (82– 86ºF) or higher on beautiful days.
- Namaqualand in the Western and Northern Cape Provinces becomes a floral masterpiece in spring (mid-August to mid-September), when the desert-like terrain is transformed into a carpet of flowers and draws thousands of visitors.
The warm waters of the east coast make for almost year round swimming. Winter is mild, except in the highest parts of the country. South Africans tend to take their annual holidays in summer and this causes tourist destinations to be overcrowded from mid-December to late January, as well as during the other school holidays. (check these dates with your travel agent)
Very important: Packing space is limited on charter flights so you will need to restrict your baggage to 20kg (packed in a soft bag) including camera equipment. If you have more luggage that you need to bring with you, please advise so that further arrangements can be made. (additional luggage will carry additional cost)
Attractions and National Parks
The diversity of the scenery, people and cultures, the wildlife, climate and vegetation make South Africa one of the most interesting and attractive places to visit.
The Mpumalanga region is well-known for its spectacular scenery, wildlife and historical interest. En route to the Kruger National Park, you have the advantage of some stunning vistas. The Mac Mac pools are worth stopping for – you can treat yourself to a swim in the crystal clear pools. A small detour leads you to the town of Pilgrim’s Rest, a historic gold rush town worth exploring before you continue on to Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve. Here, you can feast your eyes on attractions like the Blyde River Canyon and the view across the Lowveld from God’s Window.
It is a short drive from here to the world famous Kruger National Park. This internationally renowned game and nature reserve, almost two million hectares in size, supports the greatest variety of wildlife species found on the African continent. The Paul Kruger Gate opens at 05:30 and closes at 18:30. Skukuza rest camp, situated in the southern portion of the park on the banks of the Sabie River, is the operational and administrative headquarters of the park. The speed limit in the park is 50km/h on the tar roads and 40km/h on gravel.
KwaZulu-Natal’s extraordinary scenic diversity encompasses wilderness, sandy beaches, the soaring peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains and the farmlands, towns and hills of the Midlands.
Durban provides a multitude of leisure choices to keep you endlessly entertained: when you’re not playing golf, fishing or lying on the beach, you can visit a crocodile farm, a nature reserve or follow an arts and crafts trail. A short flight takes you to the historic city of Pietermaritzburg, gateway to the Natal Midlands and the charming Drakensberg resorts. No holiday is complete without a visit to one of the game reserves, renowned throughout the world.
There is so much to see and do in Cape Town, the Peninsula and the Winelands, that it’s a pity that the average holiday itinerary only provides for a few of the major attractions: Table Mountain, The V & A Waterfront and the Winelands among them. Birders should make a point of visiting the West Coast National Park.
Northward, the flowers in the spring should not be missed (August/September). A drive to the coastal holiday playgrounds of the fertile Garden Route presents another range of entertaining choices.
The most attractive towns include Mossel Bay, George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, but many of the smaller seaside resorts are also worth exploring. Further afield, Oudtshoorn is best approached through the Great Karoo, passing through Matjiesfontein, Laingsburg and Prince Albert, crossing the magnificent Swartberg Pass en route. Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world and provides a fascinating introduction to the habits of the great ungainly, flightless bird.
The Whale Route stretches along the scenic Cape coast and almost forty species of whales can be spotted from June to December. The peak season for whale watching is September, when Hermanus holds a whale festival. The seaside towns along this route make for good scenic coastal getaways and are very popular.
Another very popular tourist attraction is Sun City, situated in the North West Province, just over 2 hour’s drive from Johannesburg.
Here you will find yourself on the southern boundary of the Pilanesberg Game reserve. There are many upmarket leisure options and sporting facilities of every description, championship boxing tournaments, casinos, cinemas, excellent restaurants and star-studded extravaganzas.