South Africa Safari
South Africa provides an assortment of cultures, landscapes, wildlife and activities for visitors to partake in. The diversity of this vast country is no more apparent than in the landscape, which is home to white sandy beaches, multiple waterfalls, game reserves, and even a desert. With 11 official national languages, it is clear to see why it is often dubbed “the rainbow nation”. As there is so much to see and do here, many visitors prefer to stay in multiple locations on their trip so that they can experience the true variety of activities in the country. We simply couldn’t choose between Cape Town and Johannesburg whilst exploring South Africa and so we decided to include them both!
Cape Town on the South West coast is a popular tourist destination because of its award winning beaches, shopping, and wineries. Whilst the inland city of Johannesburg, some 800 miles away, is a more business-focused city that is ideal for Safari trips and exploring the African countryside and rural villages.
Popular in particular with Western tourists, Cape Town is one of South Africa’s three capital cities. Donning an idyllic coastline of pure white beaches and pale blue waters and with year round sunshine Cape Town is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa. Just 20 minutes from the city centre is the Constantia Valley, where some of the country’s oldest and most prestigious wine farms are located. Combining a day of wine tasting with the stunning views across the city and African horizon make for a relaxed yet cultured experience.
For the true African experience, Johannesburg provides a base close to Safari parks and African villages whilst being a large well-developed business district. South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg is a dynamic cosmopolitan city teeming with history; both good and bad. The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is well worth a visit, illustrating the 20th-century history of South African with documents and artefacts on display showing the apartheid ruling that South African’s faced up until as recently as 1994.
Kruger National Park
If it’s elephants, lions and giraffes you are after then Johannesburg provides the perfect base as it is the closest large city to Kruger National Park. One of Africa’s largest game reserves, Kruger national park offers the ultimate tourist activity to get up close to the majestic animals in their natural habitat. The national park runs along the Mozambique border and covers an area larger than Wales. You can expect to encounter ‘the big 5’ animals – lions, elephants, leopards, rhino and buffalo, as well as giraffes, zebras and birdlife. Being that the majestic African elephant is one of the world’s most endangered species, seeing these phenomenal creatures in the wild is a novelty opportunity not to pass up. The best way to get in the heart of the national park is on a guided group tour where experts safely take you along routes guaranteed to encounter wildlife. Alternatively, take a self-driven safari with your own personal guide to take in the experience at your own pace.
Whilst tourist areas in South Africa are relatively safe to travel around, it is important to be wary of danger and take certain safety precautions. When travelling, hiring a car or getting uber’s is generally advised as a safer option to getting in a random taxi. When going on excursions and guides, book through reputable companies and the areas of Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea should be avoided.
South Africa has a range of shopping centres and outdoor markets, all providing an eclectic mix of traditional African garments, ornaments, artwork and high-end brands. Whilst in Johannesburg, the Cresta or Eastgate shopping mall offer an array of brands in hundreds of shops. Victoria and Alfred Waterfront shopping centre in Cape Town is a shoppers paradise set on the waterfront with a picturesque mountain backdrop. If it is local handmade crafts, jewellery, clothing and ornaments that you are after then Bruma flea market is the place to be. A vibrant and bustling alternative to traditional modern shopping malls, Bruma flea market oozes character and charm with unique handcrafted local pieces.
Stay: Lodges and Cabins
Of course, there are an abundance of hotels to stay in the city, both in Cape Town and Johannesburg, all tourist areas and hotels will be reasonably safe and in well-established areas. It is important that you plan every detail of your trip in advance so that you turn up knowing where to go and not looking lost at the airport (as this makes you more of a target to muggers). Whilst in and around the national parks and more rural areas there are an abundance of luxurious lodges and cabins to hire; the perfect blend of a 5* hotel and your own private apartment.
Hiring a lodge or cabin within the park also means that you can also take advantage of the unique landscape from the comfort of your bed by waking up to stunning panoramic views across the reserve. Cabins with swimming pools are often positioned so you can take a dip whilst watching a herd of elephants, wildebeest and zebra do the same in the rivers down below.