Your full Wanderlust guide to

South Africa

South Africa
View of Franschhoek, South Africa (Shutterstock)

There are many different sides to the Rainbow Nation. Explore buzzing cities like Cape Town or Johannesburg, kick back in the wine country of Stellenbosch, hike up the rocky slopes of Table Mountain and head out in search of its varied wildlife in its vast national parks.

Exploring South Africa is like leafing through Mother Nature’s scrapbook of landscapes. There’s the leafy Garden Route towns that dot South Africa’s south-west coast, the semi-desert vistas of the Karoo, the subtropical coastline of KwaZulu-Natal and the mix of bucolic countryside and jagged peaks of the Western Cape. Head further inland and you’ll bump into pristine swathes of riverine bushveld and savannah in game reserves like the Sabi Sands and Madikwe. These are prime for classic safaris spotting the Big Five and other wildlife like cheetahs, hippos, African wild dogs and more. But it’s the Rainbow Nation’s diversity that is its true drawcard. Whether it’s whale-watching, wine-tasting or anything in between, South Africa is a country packed with highlights.

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Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein
English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Venda, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Swati and Ndebele
58.7 million
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No visas required for UK nationals for 90 days
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When to go to South Africa

South Africa has a relatively diverse climate, partly due to its vast size and partly the result of ocean currents passing over the country. Generally speaking, the south of the country has a Mediterranean climate, the north-east is subtropical and the north-west a small desert. Expect summer rains (November to March), except in the south around Cape Town which experiences winter rain. South Africa is mild compared to the rest of the African continent.

International airports

Cape Town International Airport (CPT) 18km from Cape Town city centre; O.R. Tambo International (JNB) 30km from Johannesburg city centre; Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN) 10km from Bloemfontein; King Shake International Airport (DUR) 35km from Durban; Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP) 40km from Kruger National Park.

Getting around in South Africa

South Africa is one of the largest countries in Africa, so navigating it needs consideration. Nearly every major town and city in the country is connected by comfortable, efficient bus and coach services, while trains offer a slower (but more scenic) way of traversing the country between major cities. For ultimate flexibility, hiring a car is the best option.

Health & safety

It’s advised to have a Hepatitis A immunisation before travelling to South Africa, as well as taking a course of malaria tablets if you’re heading on safari.

While the safety of tourists is paramount for police in South Africa, crime unfortunately still exists in its major cities. Keep your wits about you in places like Cape Town and Johannesburg, although crimes usually take place in the townships and areas away from the main tourist trail.

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