South Africa technically has three capitals: Pretoria the administrative, Cape Town the legislative and Bloemfontein the judicial capital
Principal city and international flight hub is Johannesburg
BEST TIME TO GO
All year round
Direct flights from London to Cape Town, 11hrs 25mins
Direct flights from London to Johannesburg, 10hrs 45mins
South Africa has so much to offer travellers no matter where their interests lie – wine regions, wildlife, golf, iconic train rides, beautiful landscapes and coast, wonderful drives, sophisticated towns and cities with fantastic restaurants, great museums and so much more…
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, dominated by dramatic mountains, beaches and oceans. It never fails to impress. The Cape has something for everyone, being malaria free, it is perfect for families and with only a two hour time difference from the UK and overnight flights, you could even just go for a long weekend.
Activities are plentiful. For the more adventurous, hike up (or take the cable car) to the top of Table Mountain, go horse-riding, deep-sea fishing, paragliding or sailing to name a few. For those who enjoy a slower pace, why not visit the resident penguins at Boulders Beach, go whale watching, take a tour of Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated), stroll through Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, sample wines at the vineyards, relax on the beautiful beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, or just eat out with friends at one of the city’s many world class restaurant.
The Garden Route runs from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, where Bartholomew Dias, the first European explorer – landed in 1488, to the estuary of Storms River in the Eastern Cape. It is a stunning drive and must rank among the most beautiful in the world. From the town of George to the aptly named Wilderness the coastal scenery is stunning. Pass through Knysna, Pletten Bay, and Nature’s Valley to the indigenous sub-tropical forest of Tsitsikamma, which is a superb to get out and stretch your legs. Or stop off for a day or so and enjoy the diving; there is even an underwater trail for divers to follow.
Cape Town is an all year round destination, but perhaps the best time to visit the city and surrounding beaches, wine lands and game reserves of the Eastern Cape is in its summer (our winter). With a Mediterranean climate from November – April. If you can’t travel at this time, then travel between June – October. While the weather is not quite so warm, it is peak season for whale watching,
If you want to try a different mode of transport, then a great way of arriving in Cape Town is by train. Rovos Rail is an Edwardian steam train restored to perfection. Take a spectacular two day journey between Johannesburg and Cape Town, sit back and relax, watch the wonderful scenery sweep past while you enjoy the fine food and wine with impeccable service. Not content with a short journey? Rovos Rail also offers a range of luxurious journeys across Southern and Eastern Africa.
The famous Kruger National Park, second only to Kenya’s Tsavo in size, has over 120 mammal and nearly 500 bird species. Adjacent to the Kruger are luxury large private game reserves such as Mala-Mala, Londolozi, Timbavati, Manyaleti and Phalabora, which also benefit from a wealth of wildlife. The game in Kruger and in these reserves is a testament to the significant conservation efforts, including the recent removal of the fence between the National Park and the reserves that now allows for natural animal migration.
KwaZulu Natal, situated to the east of the country is dotted with Zulu and Boer war battlefields, including the renown Rorke’s Drift, which can make an interesting diversion if you are interested in military history. The area has a long coastline on the Indian Ocean, with some great diving, snorkelling and boating opportunities. North of Durban are Umfolozi and Hluhuwe Game Reserves, which have been significant in saving the White Rhino from extinction and where the population remains healthy. Further north, Sodwana is a great place for diving, watching dolphins frolic, and leatherback turtles lay their eggs, while Lake Lucia is a paradise for ornithologists.
An Ideal South African Safari
For some of the best game viewing in South Africa, spend three or four nights in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, right next door to the Kruger National Park, before returning to nearby Johannesburg. As well as perfect accommodation for couples, many of the Sabi Sands lodges are also geared up for families with kids activities and clubs.
In Johannesburg, board the ‘Pride of Africa’ (Rovos Rail) and gently steam along to Cape Town. Visit the wineries, stay at the best hotels and enjoy the incredible cuisine they offer. Drive to the coast for two days and stay at the secluded Beach House on Sandown Bay. Set out for a leisurely drive along the Garden Route before returning to Cape Town by air.