South Africa- South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game. The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the South African consulate website: https://www.vfsglobal.com/southafrica/UAE/
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options. Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette, and how shoppers can take advantage of VAT refunds.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things to see & do:
Johannesburg-South Africa's biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement. Its sprawling Soweto township was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s former residence is now the Mandela House museum. Other Soweto museums that recount the struggle to end segregation include the somber Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison complex. To the northeast, Herman Eckstein Park encompasses a boating lake and Johannesburg Zoo. The Gold Reef City theme park combines thrill rides with mining history and an underground tour. The Johannesburg Art Gallery features contemporary local work and 17th-century Dutch paintings.
Cape Town-is a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain. Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the mountain’s flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela, which is now a living museum. Hikers’ paths crisscross the slopes and also climb the mountain, via forests and manicured lawns at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the lush wine-producing suburb of Constantia, and steep Platteklip Gorge.
V&A Waterfront-is a chic shopping and entertainment district that includes the Two Oceans Aquarium. Historic sites include the Dutch-built, 17th century Castle of Good Hope. City beaches range from ritzy Clifton to Boulders, where there’s a penguin colony. Popular out-of-town trips take in Chapman's Peak Drive, with coastal views, and the Cape of Good Hope, where craggy cliffs meet the ocean.
Durban-a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, is known for its African, Indian and colonial influences. Refurbished for soccer’s 2010 World Cup, the seafront promenade runs from uShaka Marine World, a huge theme park with an aquarium, to the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Durban Botanical Gardens showcases African plant species. The Golden Mile beachfront is a popular destination for water sports. Durban’s surfing spots range from beginner breaks at Addington and South beaches to the challenging Cave Rock at Brighton Beach. Inland, vendors at the Warwick Junction street markets include Zulu shopkeepers offering traditional medicines and Indian food carts selling “bunny chow,” a traditional curry dish. The Campbell Collections, a museum and library in a neo-Cape Dutch home, displays African art and artifacts that explore the city’s ethnic mix. The Port Natal Maritime Museum, based on 3 vessels in the harbor, traces the city’s seafaring tradition.
Pretoria-(Tshwane), in Gauteng Province, is the administrative capital of South Africa. Known as "Jacaranda City" for its thousands of jacaranda trees, it's also home to universities and government buildings. The semicircular Union Buildings encompass the president's offices and hosted Nelson Mandela's inauguration. Nearby is the Voortrekker Monument, honouring 19th-century Afrikaans settlers from the Cape Colony.
Soweto-is a township of the city of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa, bordering the city's mining belt in the south. Its name is an English syllabic abbreviation for South Western Townships. Formerly a separate municipality, it is now incorporated in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Suburbs of Johannesburg.
Knysna-is a town with 51,078 inhabitants in the Western Cape Province of South Africa and is part of the Garden Route. It lies 34 degrees south of the equator, and is 72 kilometres east from the town of George on the N2 highway, and 25 kilometres west of Plettenberg Bay on the same road.
Port Elizabeth-is a city on Algoa Bay in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. A major port, it's also known for its numerous beaches. The Donkin Heritage Trail takes in the Old Hill neighbourhood's Victorian landmarks. Coastal boat tours spot whales and rare seabirds, while wildlife reserves outside the metropolitan area are home to elephants, rhinos and other big game.
George-is a city in South Africa’s Western Cape, on a coastal stretch known as the Garden Route. It’s known for its golf courses and the George Museum, which has exhibits on the local timber industry. The Outeniqua Transport Museum has steam trains and vintage cars. The Garden Route Botanical Garden features trails and local fynbos plants. The Seven Passes road to Knysna town winds through the Outeniqua Mountains.
Stellenbosch-is a university town in South Africa's Western Cape province. It's surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the mountainous nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg. The town's oak-shaded streets are lined with cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Cape Dutch architecture gives a sense of South Africa's Dutch colonial history, as do the Village Museum's period houses and gardens.
Sandton-is an affluent area situated within the Johannesburg Municipality, Gauteng, South Africa. It is well known for being the richest square mile in Africa. The name comes from the combination of two of its suburbs, Sandown and Bryanston. In 1969 Sandton was promulgated as a municipality in its own right, but lost its status as an independent town after the re-organisation of South African local government.
Bloemfontein-is the capital city of the province of Free State of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals and is the seventh largest city in South Africa. Situated at an altitude of 1,395 m above sea level, the city is home to approximately 520,000 residents and forms part of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality which has a population of 747,431.
Hermanus-is a seaside town southeast of Cape Town, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. It's known as a whale-watching destination. Beaches include Voëlklip Beach and the broad Grotto Beach, overlooking Walker Bay. The Old Harbour Museum is a site encompassing the old harbour, a fishermen’s village and the Whale House Museum. The latter has informative displays and a suspended skeleton of a whale.
Franschhoek-is a town in South Africa’s Western Cape with centuries-old vineyards and Cape Dutch architecture. Trails wind through flowers and wildlife at Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve to views over Franschhoek Valley. The Huguenot Memorial Museum and neighboring monument honor the area’s French settlers, who arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. Franschhoek Motor Museum displays vintage cars amid mountain farmland.
Simon's Town-sometimes called Petersham, is not in the Inner West. It's definitely in the city. It's home to the infamous DJ ReyRey Simon Reynolds It is located on the shores of False Bay, on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula. For more than two centuries it has been a naval base and harbour. The town is named after Simon van der Stel, an early governor of the Cape Colony.
East London-a city on the Indian Ocean, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. It’s known for its beaches, such as Nahoon and Cove Rock. The Buffalo Pass is a road crossing a forested valley and the Buffalo River. Fossilised human and animal footprints, plus artefacts from the Xhosa-speaking people, are exhibited at the East London Museum. Elephants, lions, zebras and other wildlife roam in several nearby game reserves.
Soweto-a township of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng, South Africa, bordering the city's mining belt in the south. Its name is an English syllabic abbreviation for South Western Townships.
Pietermaritzburg-is the capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838 and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its Zulu name umGungundlovu is the name used for the district municipality.
Mbombela, formerly Nelspruit-is the capital of South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province. It’s a gateway to Kruger National Park, home to elephants, zebras, rhinos and other wildlife. The city’s Lowveld National Botanical Garden features a man-made rainforest. Northwest are the prehistoric Sudwala Caves, with unusual rock formations. South, Umhloti Nature Reserve contains the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimp Eden sanctuary.
Polokwane-also known by its former name, Pietersburg, is a city and the capital of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. It is South Africa's largest urban centre north of Gauteng. Polokwane was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Hoedspruit, Limpopo-Hoedspruit is a town situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, on the railway line from Tzaneen to Kaapmuide.
Kimberley-is the capital city of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. It’s known for its 19th-century diamond mines, like the deep, hand-dug Big Hole. Nearby, the Kimberley Mine Museum is a re-creation of the town in its heyday, and displays jewellery and uncut diamonds. The William Humphreys Art Gallery exhibits South African work, Old Master drawings, 17th-century European paintings and modern art.
Queenstown-officially Komani, is a town in the middle of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, roughly halfway between the smaller towns of Cathcart and Sterkstroom. The town was established in 1853 and is currently the commercial, administrative, and educational centre of the surrounding farming district.
Hout Bay-is a town near Cape Town, South Africa situated in a valley on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, twenty kilometres south of the Central Business District of Cape Town. The name "Hout Bay" can refer to the town, the bay on which it is situated, or the entire valley
Plettenberg Bay-is a seaside town on the Garden Route in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. The sandy Central Beach and Lookout Beach both have surf breaks. To the south, Robberg Nature Reserve is a rocky peninsula with trails and the Stone Age Nelson Bay Caves. Northeast are Birds of Eden, a free-flight bird sanctuary in indigenous forest, and an elephant sanctuary. Whales come near the coast in migration season.
Mossel Bay-is a harbour town on the Garden Route in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. It’s known for the wide Santos Beach and the 19th-century Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse, which offers bay views. The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex includes the Maritime Museum, the Shell Museum and botanical gardens. The Post Office Tree, a milkwood tree in the complex, has been used as a mail collection point since the 1500s.
Jeffreys Bay-is a town located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The town is situated just off the N2 Highway, about 75 km southwest of Port Elizabeth.
False Bay-is a body of water defined by Cape Hangklip and the Cape Peninsula in the extreme south-west of South Africa.
Richards Bay-is a city in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is situated on a 30 square kilometre lagoon of the Mhlatuze River, which makes it one of the country's largest harbours. Richards Bay also has the deepest natural harbour on the African continent.
Oudtshoorn-is a town in the Klein Karoo area of South Africa’s Western Cape. It’s known for its ostrich farms and rests along the Route 62 wine route. The central C.P. Nel Museum traces the ostrich-feather boom era and houses a working synagogue. The nearby Cango Wildlife Ranch is a conservation park offering animal petting. To the north, the Cango Caves are a 20-million-year-old network of limestone chambers.
Vereeniging-is a city located in the south of Gauteng province, South Africa, situated where the Klip River empties into the northern loop of the Vaal River. It is also one of the constituent parts of the Vaal Triangle region and was formerly situated in the Transvaal province.
Mahikeng-still commonly known as Mafikeng and previously Mafeking, is the capital city of the North West province of South Africa. Close to South Africa's border with Botswana, Mahikeng is 1,400 km northeast of Cape Town and 260 km west of Johannesburg.
Welkom-is the second-largest city in the Free State province of South Africa, located about 140 kilometres northeast of Bloemfontein which is the provincial capital. Welkom is also known as Circle City, City Within A Garden, Mvela and Matjhabeng.
Germiston- is a small city in the East Rand region of Gauteng, South Africa, administratively forming part of the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality since the latter's establishment in 2000. It functions as the municipal seat of Ekurhuleni, hosting the municipal council and administration.
Klerksdorp-is located in the North West Province, South Africa. Klerksdorp used to be the largest city in the North West Province located south-easterly to Mahikeng. Klerksdorp was also the first capital of the then Transvaal Republic and used to be the home of the first Stock Exchange in the region.
Uitenhage- officially renamed Kariega is a South African town in the Eastern Cape Province. It is well known for the Volkswagen factory located there, which is the biggest car factory on the African continent.
Upington- is a town founded in 1873 and located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, on the banks of the Orange River.
Bhisho- is the capital of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. The Office of the Premier, Provincial Legislature and many other government departments are headquartered in the town. The town, three kilometres from King William's Town and 70 kilometres from East London, is also part of Buffalo City.
Mthatha, or Umtata-is the main city of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality in Eastern Cape province of South Africa and the capital of OR Tambo District Municipality. The city has an airport, previously known by the name K. D. Matanzima Airport after former leader Kaiser Matanzima.
Qonce- is a town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa along the banks of the Buffalo River. The town is about 60 kilometres northwest of the Indian Ocean port of East London. King William’s Town, with a population of around 100,000 inhabitants, forms part of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.
Sasolburg- is a large industrial city within the Metsimaholo Local Municipality in the far north of the Free State province of South Africa. Sasolburg is further sub-divided into three areas: Sasolburg proper, Vaalpark and Zamdela.
Benoni-is a town in Ekurhuleni municipality, Gauteng, South Africa, Benoni was also the setting for the MTV-inspired movie Crazy Monkey: Straight Outta Benoni, released internationally in 2005.
Potchefstroom-is an academic city in the North West Province of South Africa. It hosts the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. Potchefstroom is on the Mooi Rivier, roughly 120 km west-southwest of Johannesburg and 45 km east-northeast of Klerksdorp.
Vanderbijlpark-is an industrial city with approximately 75 000 inhabitants, and 95 000 inhabitants in the metropole, situated on the Vaal River in the south of Gauteng province, South Africa. The city is named after Hendrik van der Bijl, an electrical engineer and industrialist.
Newcastle-is the third-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with a population of 414,996 citizens according to the latest NLM Final IDP Review. The bulk of these citizens reside in Newcastle East, in the main townships of Madadeni and Osizweni, with the balance residing in Newcastle West.
Secunda-is a town built amidst the coalfields of the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. It was named for being the second Sasol extraction refinery producing oil from coal, after Sasolburg, some 140 kilometres to the west.
Brakpan-is a mining town in the Gauteng province of South Africa. The name Brakpan was first used by the British boatman in the 1920s because of a non-perennial lake that would annually dry to become a "brakpannies pan".
Carletonville-is the seat of the Merafong City Local Municipality in the West Rand District Municipality in Gauteng, South Africa, just north of the richest gold-mining area in the world. At 3,749 m, Western Deep Levels holds the record for the world's deepest gold mine.
Thembisa-formerly Tembisa, is a large township situated to the north of Kempton Park on the East Rand, Gauteng, South Africa. It was established in 1957 when black people were resettled from Alexandra and other areas in Edenvale, Kempton Park, Midrand and Germiston.
Ladysmith-is a city in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It lies 230 kilometres north-west of Durban and 365 kilometres south-east of Johannesburg. Important industries in the area include food processing, textiles, and tyre production.
Phalaborwa-is a town in the Mopani District Municipality, Limpopo province, South Africa. It is located near the confluence of the Ga-Selati River and the Olifants, halfway up along the western border of the Kruger National Park in the Lowveld.
Paarl-is a town with 112,045 inhabitants in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is the third-oldest city and European settlement in the Republic of South Africa and the largest town in the Cape Winelands. Due to the growth of the Mbekweni township, it is now a de facto urban unit with Wellington.
Randfontein-is a gold mining city in the West Rand, Gauteng, South Africa, 40 km west of Johannesburg. With the Witwatersrand gold rush in full swing, mining financier JB Robinson bought the farm Randfontein and, in 1889, floated the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company.
Khayelitsha-is a township in Western Cape, South Africa, on the Cape Flats in the City of Cape Town. The name is Xhosa for New Home. It is reputed to be the largest and fastest-growing township in South Africa.
Bethlehem-is a town in the eastern Free State province of South Africa that is situated on the Liebenbergs river along a fertile valley just north of the Rooiberg Mountains on the N5 road.
Phuthaditjhaba-is a town in the Free State province of South Africa. Phuthaditjhaba is a seSotho name that means meeting place of the tribes. It is located on the banks of the Elands River. It also located in a section of Drakensberg mountains.
Graaff-Reinet-is a town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It is the fifth-oldest town in South Africa, after Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Paarl then Swellendam. The town was the center of a short-lived republic in the late 18th century.
Table National Park-Nature reserve encompassing the iconic mountain, a penguin colony, forest, beaches & walking trails.
Kruger National Park-South Africa's first National Park containing significant numbers of all of the big 5 game species.
Pillanesurg Game Reserve-Big game reserve with more than 7000 animals & accommodation from bush camping to luxury lodges.
Sabi sabi Nature Reserve-Private game reserve offering high-end lodging & safaris with views of leopards, lions & elephants.
Addo Elephant National Park-Country's 3rd-largest national park, with hundreds of elephants & also home to lions & black rhinos.
Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park-Nature reserve in South Africa. Safari’s oldest game reserve. Protected park home to Africa's 'big five' animals, rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park-UNESCO-listed 820,390-acre wetland reserve with beaches, coral reefs, dunes and swamp forests.
Tsitsikamma National Park-National park offering varied wildlife & plants, plus trails, ocean vistas & waterfalls.
Wilderness-is a town in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, on a coastal stretch known as the Garden Route. It’s home to wide beaches and trails. The Map of Africa, a hilltop lookout point, has views of the Indian Ocean, the Outeniqua Mountains and the Kaaimans River. Nearby Wilderness Natural Park, part of the sprawling Garden Route National Park, is a habitat for wildlife including leopards, monkeys and eagles.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve-Photography is popular at this lookout point with panoramic views of a forested valley. River Canyon is a significant natural feature of South Africa, located in Mpumalanga, and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park-National park & camp in foothills known for vibrant rock colors, rare bearded vultures & bald ibis'.
Cradle of Humankind-131,000-acre, World Heritage listed area with caves containing primate fossils and rich wildlife.