Cities, culture, wilderness & wildlife
Our Guide to
South Africa Safari
A modern country of beauty and surprise.
Welcome to South Africa, one of our all time favourite countries on the African continent. With over 470,900 square miles of land, the country forms the base of Africa with two oceans meeting and wrapping around its toe creating impressive coastlines. Here are some of the reasons why it’s a firm favourite amongst safari holiday seekers, particularly first timers. The offering is just so good and so is the value for money given the exchange rates.
Cape Town is a stylish and chic city with the monumental Table Mountain watching over it. Within an hour’s drive is the longest wine route, Cape Winelands. Here South Africa holiday makers can sample internationally acclaimed wines paired with world class cuisine. Take a scenic drive along the garden route passing lush wilderness and gorgeous coastal towns. Heading up along the coast will bring you to Natal, where the scenery transforms into a green and tropical oasis. Moving inland, South Africa’s landscapes become more arid with sparse open grasslands called the Highveld and it is home to capital city Pretoria and city of gold, Johannesburg.
This doesn’t even touch upon the South Africa wildlife safaris. Coming close to nature and witnessing Africa’s wildlife in the wild is possible in world renowned nature reserves and national parks in almost every province of South Africa. There is no shortage of places to go on a South African safari. Kruger National Park is the most famous and for good reason. There is an impressive array of safari accommodations to consider, great guides and inspirational untouched wilderness to explore that teems with wildlife.
The Kruger National Park is enormous, some 352 kilometres from north to south covering over 1.9 million hectares of land. In one of the world’s most loved safari destinations, you’ll relish seeing the big five, cheetah, wild dog and many other species in the wild. Enjoy guided safari game drives, bush walks with armed rangers, birding safaris and photographic safaris.
There is a myriad of private reserves bordering the Kruger for luxury South Africa holidaymakers seeking a more intimate bush experience with less vehicles and tourists and more off roading safari holiday adventure. Malaria free safaris are ideal for South African family holidays and there is Madikwe Game reserve just a few hours from Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape a flight and road transfer away.
There really are few other countries like South Africa when it comes to breathtaking landscapes and amazing wildlife. The country boasts deserts like the Karoo and a portion of the Kalahari, mountains and plateaus, fields of wild flowers on the West coast, forests and an impressive coastline that wraps the country spanning 2,500 kilometres.
With so much to choose from, what are you waiting for?Get Started
Cape Town Holidays
A visit to Cape Town allows you to meet some of the country’s iconic heroes of Robben Island and learn about the country’s fascinating history not least the significantly important Bo-Kaap region. Undeniably one of the world’s most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world, Cape Town has something for everyone. Imagine exploring endless beaches, a vibrant Waterfront, dynamic Greenmarket Square and creative city centre not to mention historically significant landmarks like Robben Island.
This spectacular city retains a strong colonial character with its beautiful buildings and manicured gardens nestled under the glory of its iconic Table Mountain, an impressive natural wonder that rises more than 3,500 feet above the city. Bo-Kaap is the city’s Cape Malay quarter and features colourful houses and historically significant landmarks and the District Six museum. Another must do is a scenic Cape Peninsula drive where you’ll savour stunning scenery from oceans to mountains and vineyards.
Want to read more? Check out our travel guide.Cape Town Travel Guide
Completely underestimated, Johannesburg is an outstanding and worthwhile destination for any South African safari holiday. This ‘City of Gold’ offers fantastic creative and cultural experiences with 40 art galleries, a host of cultural institutes and museums.
Markets have become the ‘in thing’ with everything from organic food markets to arts and crafts, Maboneng precinct is alive with the artesian flair and Neighbourgoods will have your mouth watering from the moment you set foot through the door.
Close to downtown Johannesburg is The Apartheid Museum, giving life in remembrance to the dreadful system of racial discrimination that plagued the country from 1948 until 1994.
Make the quintessential safari holiday complete with time spent in breathtaking nature that stretches out in every direction. There’s the magic of the Drakenberg mountains, the country’s largest range, the Namaqua National Park where you swim in a sea of flowers in spring and the coastal forest of Tsitsikamma. Here you walk through ancient forests, kayak on the rivers, hike epic South Africa trails or simply relax on remote beaches.
The Panorama Route, as the name suggests is spectacular with mind blowing views, impressive mountains and waterfalls, birds eye views with endless horizons and the world’s largest green canyon, Blyde River Canyon. It is also the third deepest canyon in the world and is on the way to Kruger National Park, so it’s easily incorporated for any South Africa safari holiday. With names like the Panorama Route. God’s Window and Wonder View it’s easy to understand the attraction of this epic mountain area with dense vegetation, rivers and sheer drop cliffs that span some twenty kilometres.
Cape Winelands Escapes
Situated east of Cape Town, the Cape Winelands are nestled amongst the mountains and form a myriad of fertile green valleys with historic towns and villages not to mention fantastic wines, wineries and restaurants. It is here you will get the opportunity to test the theory that food and wine really are concentrated messengers of a country’s culture.
The Winelands encompass several regions each with their own wine routes. The most famous town is Stellenbosch, synonymous because it has the oldest wine route in the country. Franschhoek, the ‘French corner’ is the most beautiful wine valley perhaps in the world. It also boasts a rich history and vibrant village atmosphere with a long street that bustles day and night with cafes, restaurants, artist studios and boutique shops. Lesser known yet equally rewarding towns include Wellington and Paarl. The Winelands are probably the most suitable spot for a South African Safari Honeymoon finale.
South Africa National Parks & Private Reserves
The Greater Kruger is home to the famous Kruger National Park and surrounding private reserves we mentioned earlier. The attraction to South African holiday planning is the immensity and variety of game from the Big Five through to thousands of herds of antelope, smaller game and abundant bird life. Here you can expect authentic bush camps through to uber luxury lodges and spas providing safari experiences for young and old, solo travellers, families, couples or groups of friends. The Kruger National Park itself is the largest game reserve in South Africa and one of the world’s biggest wildlife sanctuaries. It is located in one of the most ecologically heterogeneous regions of Southern Africa, the vastly shifting landscapes of the park connect expanses of grassy planes, traverse thorny woodland thickets that encircle rugged kopjes, and culminate in the imposing Lebombo Mountains of the east.
Adjacent to the Kruger National Park, is Sabi Sand, a fantastic private game park made up of private game reserves such as MalaMala, Lion Sands, Savanna Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Singita Game Reserve, Ulusaba and Nottens to name a few. There is everything from affordable owner run bush camps to uber luxurious South Africa safari lodges and your stay is guaranteed to be unforgettable.
Want to read more? Check out our travel guide.Kruger Park Travel Guide
Best time to visit South Africa
South Africa is in the southern hemisphere and offers a pleasant climate year round. The average day temperatures in summer range from 19 to 30 degrees whilst in winter it’s 15 to 23 degrees. Depending on what you are wanting to see and do on your South African tour, the times of year will vary. If the wild flowers of South Africa are on your list, late spring is the time to see the beautiful indigenous flowers bloom. Whale watching in South Africa runs May to November whilst the sardine run up the east coast is May to July. Autumn is the change of colour most notable in the Winelands and mountain ranges. Winter in Cape Town is the least attractive because it experiences rain and windy days as cold fronts move through.
South African safaris are best during the cooler months when animals can be easily spotted, from May to September. The South Africa holiday high season runs October to March and it gets busy but nothing to worrisome and the warmer weather makes exploring the country a great treat.
Conservation in South Africa
South Africa has a history of conservation and today, it’s a country that continues to tackle the issues it faces with population growth, economic growth and the increasing demands on natural resources including wilderness encroachment and of course poaching. Massive efforts are underway around food security and land reform addressing the very real challenge of food supply. Wilderness and wildlife protection programs are plentiful and results impressive. SANParks was set up to manage and protect the national parks across the country, protecting the wilderness and wildlife.
Education plays a huge role as conservationists work hard to teach about ecysystems, the different species and the roles they play and how to protect the building blocks to ensure success.
A South Africa holiday contributes to conservation efforts just by visiting because our preferred properties and safari activities benefit local communities, wilderness and wildlife where they exist to this today.
South Africa Feedback
From those who have ventured
As usual, all arrangements by Encompass Africa worked like clockwork,It is as close to stress free travel as you can get.
Tswalu Safari – Lee & ChrisRead more
We had a lot of fun in Cape Town and purchased a 2 metre tall carved wooden giraffe from tribal collections and are eagerly awaiting his arrival!
South Africa Romance – Smith & CoRead more
Africa is like no other place in the world! And the African people are like no other!