country guide South Africa

quicklinks: accommodation | travel itinerary planning | Overland Trips | Travel Highlights | route suggestions & selfdrive tours | Cape Town | Johannesburg & Pretoria | Durban | Garden Route | Kruger National Park | Pilanesberg National Park | A Guide to Travelling Across South Africa

South Africa, or the “Rainbow Country”, is a very diverse country with eleven official languages, stunning landscapes and booming cities, like Johannesburg in the North and Cape Town in the South. After the end of the political and economical isolation because of the racist, white Apartheid regime, the new democratic and free South Africa was born in 1994 as Nelson Mandela became president of the country.
South Africa extremes include snow in the Drakensberg Mountains, subtropical beaches along the Zululand coast in KwaZulu Natal, the arid semidesert of the Karoo and the Mediterranean climate in the Western Cape around Cape Town.
For backpackers and individual tourists South Africa is close to paradise. Buses, trains and planes are connecting almost all places of interest at reasonable rates. Hostels, Bed & Breakfasts, hotels and camp sites can be found all over the country. The cost of living is also pretty reasonable for most travellers, so pack your bags and visit South Africa!

How to get around in South Africa?

By Car - by far the easiest way of getting around in South Africa. Rental cars are available throughout the country at moderate prices. If you’re in a group, renting a car is also often the most economical way of exploring the country. Most major roads are in excellent condition. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road.

By Baz Bus - A good alternative is the Baz Bus , which mainly caters for backpackers and other travellers. It offers hop-on, hop-off fares and door-to-door service between Cape Town and Johannesburg via the Northern Drakensberg, Durban and the Garden Route.

By Bus - The main long-distance bus operators Intercape, Translux and Greyhound have services connecting most of the major cities. Note that many long-distance services run through the night. Booking for the buses should be made a minimun of 24hrs prior to departure (72 hours in advance for Intercape , and as much in advance as possible for travel during peak periods, such as school hols!). It’s sometimes possible to get a seat at the last minute, but this shouldn’t be counted on.

By Train - Shosholoza Meyl passenger trains offer regular services connecting major cities. These are a good and safe, but slow, way to get around. On overnight journeys, 1st- and 2nd-class fares include a sleeping berth. (additional charge for bedding hire). Alternatively, you can hire a private compartment (which sleeps 4 in 1st class and 6 in 2nd class) or a coupe (which sleeps 2 in 1st class and 3 in 2nd class) – these are a good way of travelling more securely. Meals are also available.
Tickets must be booked at least 24 hours in advance (you can book up to three months in advance). Bookings can be done at any individual station, or through the Shosholoza Meyl Reservations Centre. Also see our blog for recent updates on travelling by train in South Africa.

By Air - travelling by plane became quite affordable over the years. It is no big deal to find cheap flights connecting Cape Town with Durban or Johannesburg. Regular flights at pretty good rates are connecting the three major cities in South Africa, as well as Port Elizabeth. Flights to Nelspruit (Kruger National Park), Bloemfontein or to airports along the Garden Route are also available, but more expensive.

Airport Transfers - you can either take a metered (!) taxi, or book an airport shuttle!

Kruger Express - Camping (4 days) - Intrepid Travel
start: Johannesburg
end: Johannesburg
Day 1 Johannesburg/ Kruger National Park: Depart the urban wilds of Johannesburg and discover the vast plains of the Kruger National Park where the Big Five roam. The park is home to 150 species of mammals, including cheetahs, lions, zebras and aardvarks. The staggering amount of bird species, plus the wide variety of insects and reptiles make this the ultimate wildlife experience. Jump on board an open safari vehicle to explore the park in search of iconic animals.
Day 2 Kruger National Park: Depart at first light for an entire day's game viewing. With luck there will be close encounters with lions, elephants and even a giraffe or two. At night, head out once more for a sunset safari drive and keep eyes peeled for night predators and other nocturnal animals.
Day 3 Greater Kruger National Park: Enjoy another full day of game-viewing in Kruger before travelling to a private reserve in the late afternoon. In the evening, settle into a lodge and enjoy a drink and a tasty traditional dinner.
Day 4 Greater Kruger National Park/ Johannesburg: Complete the safari experience with an early morning nature walk. Explore the wilderness one last time with a field guide and learn how to track wild animals. Sadly, it's then time to bid the African wilderness farewell. Travel along the Drakensberg Escarpment and see the spectacular Three Rondavels while overlooking the awesome Blyde River Canyon. Continue on to Johannesburg where this short but thrilling adventure ends.

City Sightseeing Cape Town
Explore the best of Cape Town’s world-famous attractions aboard an open-top, double-decker bus! With two routes to choose from, this hop-on hop-off tour of Cape Town is the easiest way to get around the city and see all the sights in just one or two days. Also included in the two-day pass are a wine tour and a nighttime bus tour to see the famous Cape Town sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Bustling and beautiful, with a wealth of attractions, Cape Town has a lot to see – get around town easily and conveniently on this hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. With great views from the top of the bus, strategically placed stops and interesting commentary, this open-top, double-decker bus tour is the ideal way to explore the multitude of sights around Cape Town at your own pace.

Soweto Tour

A fascinating tour through the colourful streets of Soweto to sample its diverse and vibrant culture, learn about its tragic history and its hopes for the future. 
After a morning pick-up from your hotel, head to the outskirts of Johannesburg and the sprawling township of Soweto, scene of the tragic riots in 1976 and home to nearly 3.5 million inhabitants. Synonymous with South Africa's turbulent past, today Soweto is a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood. Houses range from small shacks to affluent mansions and despite the crowded and chaotic conditions, there's a tangible sense of community in these neighbourhoods which is often missing from the affluent walled suburbs. Stand on the only street in the world which carries the honor of two recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize - Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and then continue to Baragwanath Hospital, thought to be the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere. Your tour also includes a visit to African merchants of traditional medicines, a typical Shebeen (tavern), Winnie Mandela's house and the Hector Peterson Memorial


more tours in South Africa - Cape Town, Garden Route, Wildcoast, Durban, Zululand, Kruger National Park, Johannesburg ...

Travel Links

Tourism in South Africa - offical website | South African National Parks | South African Yearbook 2007/08 | South African newspaper - Mail & Guardian - IOL South Africa | TV News (updated daily) | South African Event Calendar | South African English | South African history | South Africa: Info about changed street, city or place names | South African Grocery prices / Cost of Living | South African Airports | South African Fuel Prices | ATM/Branch Locator - FNB - Nedbank - Standard Bank - ABSA | South African VAT Tax Refund | South Africa Cell phones - frequency, SIMcards, phones etc. | South African Phonecards | South African International Tariffs for direct-dial calls | South African Phone Book - Phonebook | South African Yellow Pages | South African Wi-Fi Hotspots | South African Postal Services Branch Locator | South African Health Information | South African Health Directory (health care practitioners in your area) | Info about Malaria | South African tidal, solar and lunar data| South African Route Planner I - Route Planner II - Route Planner III| South African Road Conditions | South African Road Tolls | South African Traffic Reports | South African Taxi Services | South African Camp/Caravan Sites | Hiking Trails in South Africa | 4x4 trails in South Africa | - Cape Town - Durban - Johannesburg | Visa Requirements for South Africa | Travel Advices - UK - USA - The Netherlands - France - Australia - Germany | Embassies in South Africa - UK - USA - The Netherlands - France - Australia - Germany

South Africa at a glance


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© Sebastian Hermanns - All Rights Reserved - last modified 2017-08-23 11:47 AM

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School & public holidays
in South Africa 2018

Game & Nature Reserves in South Africa

South Africa boasts a huge collection of wildlife regions and game parks - both public (rather affordable) and private (a little more expensive). Read more »

New and old city/place names in South Africa NEW!

The South African Constitution mandates government and, indeed, the entire nation to take active steps to redress the injustices of the past. Read more »

World Heritage Sites in
Southern Africa

Southern Africa has currently 14 official UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. Read more »»

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