Visit South Africa and enjoy the beauty of this part of the world. Every country worldwide displays some diversity but South Africa, stretching from the elephants in the Kruger Park to the Great White sharks swimming in the waters of the Cape, is the ultimate destination. In 1998 Conservation International declared South Africa one of the 17 mega diverse destinations in the world. South Africa is synonymous with wildlife and nature.
Visiting Southern Africa is a world full of possibilities and the safari tours by Eye See Africa listed here are just a taste of what we can offer. We have firsthand experience of all the places featured on our tour packages. Plan an exclusive safari trip to this incredible country on the southernmost tip of Africa or combine South Africa with other countries in the region.
All our safaris and tours are unique and tailor-made. Taking your interests into consideration, we will customize your African trip to the last detail, exclusively for you.
Why South Africa?
Visitors often comment on how friendly South Africans are.
Boasts some of the greatest game-viewing opportunities with a selection of superb game parks and private reserves.
From a budget point of view, very much affordable.
Falls in the top ten countries worldwide when one compares the average number of sunny days per-annum
With plenty of sunshine, wide open spaces, mountains, sea and rivers, South Africa is a playground for adventure seekers. Has a great infrastructure which allows self-drive holidays.
South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world. With two oceans, the country’s topography and prevailing winds, South Africa creates an environment that has everything from lush forests to savannah and desert. Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. Only Brazil and Argentina support a greater number.
South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are tearing down fences between the countries’ game parks to create a 13,500 square mile game park, which will become the largest conservation area in the world. It will be bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan.
Wine : South Africa is famous for its wines and has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean.
The majority of its vineyards are located just outside Cape Town. South Africa’s Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers. Included in the Cape Winelands region is Route 62, considered the longest wine route in the world.
South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park covers vast shrub lands populated by big game; the Western Cape encompasses lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, wild beaches, craggy cliffs characterize the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons lie along the Garden Route, and the beautiful city of Cape Town nestles beneath flat-topped Table Mountain
Population : 48 million
Capital : Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein
Language: South Africa has 11 official languages (and plenty more are spoken): Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Currency : South African Rand (ZAR)
South Africa’s summers (November to March) are generally warm with average temperatures around 77 Fahrenheit (25 C). Winters (June to August) can get quite cold, especially at night, with temperatures averaging around 50 Fahrenheit (10 C). In the Western Cape area most of the rainfall comes in the winters whereas in the north (Johannesburg and Kruger Park) and east (Durban) rainfall is heaviest in the summer months, causing some fantastic thunderstorms. Durban has an almost tropical climate and enjoys warm days even in winter.
Cape Town :
Cape Town is warm and dry during the summer months from November to March. It is often windy in Cape Town during the summer and gusts have been known to pick pedestrians right off their feet (grab a lamppost to be safe!). Winters are chilly and wet and some of the higher peaks in the Western Cape can have light snow. Water temperatures are always quite cold around Cape Town, even in the summer.
Durban has a more tropical climate than Cape Town and the Indian Ocean is significantly warmer and more pleasant to swim in than on Cape Town’s coastline. Summers can be quite hot and humid although it is easy to travel inland where it is somewhat cooler. Winters are very mild with warm, dry and usually sunny days. Most of the rainfall is during the summer.
Johannesburg gets warm during the summer (average around 25 C) and most of the rainfall comes during this time. Due to the summer heat, the thunder storms can be quite spectacular. Winters in Johannesburg are moderate, with dry sunny days and chilly nights.
When to Go : The best time to go on safari in the Kruger National Park area is during the dry season, from May to November. As this is winter, the temperatures can get a little chilly, yet you will not burn in the sun on your morning drives. Most importantly, the wildlife congregates around waterholes and the grass is shorter. These are all factors that make it easier to spot wildlife.
The dry season also means fewer mosquitoes, and therefore less chance of catching malaria. If you like to see little ones, many young are born around November to December when the bush is lush and there’s plenty to eat.
Best time for Cape Town :
There’s so much going on in Cape Town that it really is a year-round destination. But the dry summer season (November – March) is the most pleasant time to browse the markets, hike up Table Mountain and enjoy the beach. It can get crowded with local tourists, especially around the Winelands during this peak summer season, so if you would like to avoid the crowds aim for September to November and March to April. It is still dry and not too chilly and windy.
South Africa is a salad bowl of climate areas, from tropical to near desert – ask our team for more info!
HOW TO GET THERE
South Africa’s International Airports: Most international flights arrive at Cape Town International Airport – CPT – (20 minutes from Cape Town city centre), Tambo International Airport – JNB – (30 minutes from Johannesburg city centre) or King Shaka International Airport – DUR – (30 minutes from Durban city centre)
Getting to South Africa:
Over 70 international airlines now fly into South Africa. Award-winning South African Airways, the national carrier, flies to destinations all over the world and is connected to major international air routes.
It’s a long haul from Europe (10 to 12 hours), Asia (12 to 17 hours) and the United States (up to 15 hours or even more). Most flights go directly to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, but direct flights into Cape Town International Airport are increasing.
Durban’s King Shaka International Airport is South Africa’s third major international airport, located about 35km north of Durban.
Principal domestic airports include Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein, as well as airports in East London, George, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Upington.
There are also scheduled flights between Johannesburg and the privately owned Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport outside Mbombela (Nelspruit), which serves the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga. Visitors to the Kruger can also fly to Hoedspruit or Phalaborwa.
Several upmarket game lodges operate their own airstrips and charter direct flights from OR Tambo and other airports. Individual lodges will provide details of flights.
Whether heading off on safari, on a guided tour, or on your own, you might wish to break your journey in Johannesburg or Cape Town to catch your breath, do some sightseeing and adjust to the new time zone before heading for your next destination.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Kruger National Park:
In terms of wildlife alone, Kruger is one of the world’s greatest national parks. The diversity, density and sheer numbers of animals is almost unparalleled, and all of Africa’s iconic safari species – elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and zebra – live out their dramatic days here, along with a supporting cast of 137 other mammal species and more than 500 varieties of bird.
The landscape is on a grand scale, stretching over 19,485 sq km, and though less in your face than the wildlife, it certainly has the power to charm. Beautiful granite kopjes (hills) pepper the bushveld in the south, the Lebombo Mountains rise from the savannah in the east and tropical forests cut across the far north.
But what makes Kruger truly special is the access and opportunities it provides the visitor. A vast network of roads is there to explore on your own (incredibly), guided wildlife activities are everywhere and accommodation is both plentiful and great value.
South Luangwa National Park:
For scenery, variety and density of animals, South Luangwa is the best park in Zambia and one of the most majestic in Africa. Impalas, pukus, waterbucks, giraffes and buffaloes wander on the wide-open plains; leopards, of which there are many in the park, hunt in the dense woodlands; herds of elephants wade through the marshes; and hippos munch serenely on Nile cabbage in the Luangwa River. The bird life is also tremendous: about 400 species have been recorded.
The focal point is Mfuwe, an uninspiring though more prosperous than average village with shops as well as a petrol station and market. Around 1.8km further along is Mfuwe Gate, the main entrance to the park, where a bridge crosses the Luangwa River. Much of the park is inaccessible because of rains between November and April.
The wide Luangwa River is the lifeblood of the park. It rises in the far northeast of Zambia, near the border with Malawi, and flows southward for 800km through the broad Luangwa Valley – an offshoot of the Great Rift Valley, which cuts through East and Southern Africa. It flows all year, and gets very shallow in the dry season (May to October) when vast midstream sandbanks are exposed – usually covered in groups of hippos or crocodiles basking in the sun. Steep exposed banks mean animals prefer to drink at the park’s numerous oxbow lagoons, formed as the river continually changes its course, and this is where wildlife viewing is often best, especially as the smaller water holes run dry.
The park is famous for its herds of buffaloes, which are particularly large and dramatic when they congregate in the dry season and march en masse to the river to drink. Elephant numbers are also very healthy, even though ivory poaching in the 1980s had a dramatic effect on the population. Elephants are not at all skittish as they are very used to human activity and wildlife vehicles, especially around Mfuwe. This park is also a great place to see lions and leopards (especially on night drives), plus local species including Cookson’s wildebeest (an unusual light-coloured subspecies) and the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, distinguished from other giraffes by a dark neck pattern.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated in the southern Kalahari, with 73% lying in Botswana and the remainder in South Africa.
The area, which measures 37 256 km2, represents a large ecosystem relatively free of human interference – an increasingly rare phenomenon in Africa. The name Kgalagadi is derived from the San language and means “place of thirst”.
This peace park has been in de facto existence since 1948, thanks to an informal verbal agreement between the conservation authorities of the then Bechuanaland Protectorate and the Union of South Africa.
In June 1992 representatives from the South African National Parks Board (now SANParks) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Botswana set up a joint management committee to manage the area as a single ecological unit. This undertaking led to the drafting of a management plan, which was reviewed and approved by the two conservation agencies early in 1997. The plan provided a basis for cooperative tourism ventures and proposed the equal sharing of entrance fees by both countries. An integral feature of the agreement was that each country would provide and maintain its own tourism facilities and infrastructure, giving particular attention to developing and involving communities living adjacent to the park.
On 7 April 1999, Botswana and South Africa signed a historic bilateral agreement whereby both countries undertook to manage their adjacent national parks, the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa as a single ecological unit. The boundary between the two parks, which is also the international border between the two countries, had no physical barriers, thus allowing for the free movement of animals.
On 12 May 2000 southern Africa’s first peace park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, was formally launched by President Festus Mogae of Botswana and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lies in the southern Kalahari, an arid region where annual average temperatures range from 4 – 32°C, but extreme temperatures of -11°C and up to 45°C have been recorded.
The Nossob and Auob rivers cross the area. While these riverbeds are normally dry, they do flow once or twice a century after heavy rains. A good variety of game is supported by the three large pans in the Mabuasehube area of the park. Spectacular parallel dunes of both red and white sand, separated by dune valleys, characterise the area.
Shrubby Kalahari dune bushveld predominates and is characterised by scattered shrubs of grey camel thorn (Acacia haematoxylon) and grasses such as dune bushman grass (Stipagrostis amabilis), gha grass (Centropodia glauca) and giant three-awn (Aristida meridionalis). A second component of vegetation, the thorny Kalahari dune bushveld, is characterised by sparsely scattered trees of camel thorn (Acacia erioloba), shepherd’s tree (Boscia albitrunca) and false umbrella thorn (Acacia luderitzii).
The vastness of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park allows the nomadic ungulate populations and their predators to maintain themselves in balance with their environment, consequently there is little need for extensive management intervention. The 60 species of mammals recorded include large herds of ungulates, mainly gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, eland and to a lesser extent red hartebeest. These ungulates and an abundance of rodents support many carnivores.
The transfrontier park has built up a deserved reputation as one on the few ecosystems in southern Africa where a variety of large predators can be maintained, with leopard, brown and spotted hyena, lion and cheetah all being well represented. Other carnivores include the caracal, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox and Cape fox. The endangered wild dog is also occasionally sighted. Other threatened mammals include the pangolin, the honey badger and Woosnam’s desert rat. Three hundred and seven bird species have been recorded, including many species endemic to the arid southwest region of southern Africa. Large nests of the sociable weavers are also characteristic of the region and can contain colonies of up to 300 birds. Wild ostrich are frequently seen as well as the world’s heaviest flying bird, the Kori bustard. Of the 80 raptors recorded in South Africa, 52 have been recorded in the Kgalagadi.
Adventure / Wilderness trails
Deep in the heart of Botswana’s side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park the Polentswa wilderness trail is available through an area that has remained unchanged from the days of our forefathers. For some 257 km of track, on which only 4×4 vehicles may travel for two nights and three days, those who wish to experience a sense of solitude and freedom in the wilderness will find only minimal signs of human intervention. The trail sometimes passes through areas of tall grass and sometimes over dunes of soft sand. The route links various pans, some plain and some spectacular. Kalahari wildlife can be seen in varying concentrations along the trail and lion may explore camps at night.
The Mabuasehube wilderness trail runs through the centre of the Botswana part of the park from the Mabuasehube area of the park to Nossob rest camp. This is a two-day, one-night trail over 155km.
The Kaa game-viewing trail is a roughly circular route starting and ending at the Kaa entrance gate, consisting of a total distance of 191km with camping spots along the way.
The trails must be booked through the Botswana Reservations Office and only one group, of not fewer than two and not more than five 4×4 vehicles, is allowed to start on each trail on any given day to ensure exclusivity.
A further two access routes linking the Nossob riverbed with the entrance gates on the Botswana side alternatively at Kaa and Mabuasehube are also accessible. The distance from Nossob to Mabuasehube is 170km and from Kannaguass to Kaa 81km. Both routes can be driven in both directions.
On the South African side the Nossob 4×4 guided ecotrail runs into the magnificent Kalahari duneveld and allows for up to five 4×4 vehicles per trail. The route runs over three days and four nights and is an excellent way to experience the Kalahari’s tranquillity.
An important development in conservation as a land-use option took place in October 2002 when a total of almost 58 000 ha of land in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was restored to the Khomani San and Mier communities. The 27 769 ha of San Heritage Land and 30 134 ha of Mier Heritage Land will be managed as contractual parks by SANParks and the income generated will be split equally. The communities retain commercial benefits and rights, as well as the use of the land for symbolic and cultural purposes. A lodge that will further benefit these communities is also planned for the area. This is a prime example of environmental management that also ensures the sustainability of conservation.
Victoria Falls National Park.
Here on the Zimbabwe side of the falls you’re in for a real treat. Some two-thirds of Victoria Falls are located here, including the main falls themselves, which flow spectacularly year-round. The walk is along the top of the gorge, following a path with various viewing points that open up to extraordinary front-on panoramas of these world-famous waterfalls.
One of the most dramatic spots is the westernmost point known as Cataract View (just before you reach the David Livingstone statue), where steps lead down to outlooks of Devil’s Cataract, a dramatic view of the falls often accompanied by a rainbow prism effect. Heading back eastwards takes you past multiples viewing points of the main falls, where you’ll witness the drama with full 180 degree views. Another track leads to the aptly named Danger Point, where a sheer, unfenced 100m drop-off will rattle your nerves. From there, you can follow a side track for a view of the Victoria Falls Bridge.
If you’re here in April, you’ll need to hire a raincoat and umbrella just inside the gates – you will get soaked! During a full moon (and just before and after), the park opens again in the evenings in order for visitors to see the amazing lunar rainbow; tickets cost an extra US$10.
The falls are located around 1km from the town centre (just before the border to Zambia) crossing, so you can easily walk here.
Payment is accepted in US dollars, euro, pound and rand, as well as Mastercard and Visa. At the entrance there’s a series of detailed information boards, and a decent souvenir shop selling a good selection of cultural books. Here there’s also the quality Rain forest Cafe, which is a good spot for food or a drink.
A large ephemeral pan, is set amid red sand dunes that tower up to 325m above the valley floor. It rarely contains any water, but when the Tsauchab River has gathered enough volume and momentum to push beyond the thirsty plains to the sand sea, it’s completely transformed. The normally cracked dry mud gives way to an ethereal blue-green lake, surrounded by greenery and attended by aquatic bird life, as well as the usual sand-loving gemsboks, and ostriches.
This sand probably originated in the Kalahari between three and five million years ago. It was washed down the Orange River and out to sea, where it was swept northward with the Benguela Current to be deposited along the coast. The best way to get the measure of this sandy sprawl is to climb a dune, as most people do. And of course, if you experience a sense of déjà vu here, don’t be surprised – Sossusvlei has appeared in many films and advertisements worldwide, and every story ever written about Namibia features a photo of it.
At the end of the 65km 2WD road from Sesriem is the 2WD car park; only 4WDs can drive the last 4km into the Sossusvlei Pan itself. Visitors with lesser vehicles park at the 2WD car park and walk, hitch or catch the shuttle to cover the remaining distance. If you choose to walk, allot about 90 minutes, and carry enough water for a hot, sandy slog in the sun.
Although it’s much less famous than its neighbour Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is actually the most alluring pan in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – it’s arguably one of Southern Africa’s greatest sights. Sprouting from the pan are seemingly petrified trees, with their parched limbs casting stark shadows across the baked, bleached-white canvas. The juxtaposition of this scene with the cobalt-blue skies and the towering orange sands of Big Daddy, the area’s tallest dune (325m), is simply spellbinding.
It’s an easy 3km return walk from the Deadvlei/Big Daddy Dune 4WD parking area – follow the waymarker posts.
Mapungubwe National Park.
Stunningly stark, arid, rocky landscapes reverberate with cultural intrigue and wandering wildlife at Mapungubwe National Park. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Mapungubwe contains South Africa’s most significant Iron Age site. The birdwatching here is excellent, as is the wildlife, which includes lions, leopards and elephants. But the park is as much about history as wildlife – archaeological finds from the 1930s are on display at the excellent Interpretative Centre and the site itself can be visited on a tour.
In addition to the big cats and elephants, watch also for black and white rhinos, meerkats and some bird species that are hard to find elsewhere in South Africa, such as the rare Pel’s fishing owl.
The park is divided into an eastern and western section (with private land in between). The main gate is on the eastern side along with the Interpretative Centre, Mapungubwe Hill, a Treetop Walk, Leokwe (the main camp), and the magnificent viewpoints that overlook the confluence of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Mapungubwe has excellent organised activities, all of which must be booked in advance at the main park gate. The Heritage Tours are the only way to access the archaeological site, which is otherwise off-limits.
All activities begin at the main park gate unless otherwise arranged. These include wildlife drives at sunrise (from 5.30am; three hours) and sunset (from 4pm; three hours); both cost R303 per person. night drives (from 7.30pm; two hours) cost R303 per person, while guided walks (from 6am; three hours) cost R444 per person. A Heritage Site Tour (from 4pm; two hours) costs R247 per person, while Heritage Tour and museum (from 7am and 10am; two hours) will set you back R283 per person.
Cape Town : Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula up to Cape Point, are famous for scenic beauty, celebrity beaches, the magnificent Table Mountain, whale-watching, world-class shopping, nightlife, food & wine and a laid-back atmosphere.
The Winelands : Discover the joys of SA’s award-winning wines and cuisine along any of the beautiful Cape wine routes, taking you through green valleys and historic towns. Not only does the Cape Winelands offer magnificent landscapes and attractions but it also offers the most luxurious accommodation.
Garden Route : Known as South Africa’s Eden, the famous Garden Route traverses an area rich in natural beauty and charm, attracting adventure-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Kruger National Park : This world-renowned park of nearly 2 million hectares features 16 ecosystems. Spot the Big Five on a 4×4 game drive or walking safari.
Durban : For those with fun and sun on their minds, SA’s sunshine city has something for the whole family – golden beaches, surfing and a marine park.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Rerserve : Most famous for God’s Window, the panoramic splendour of the Blyde River Canyon makes it ideal for scenic drives and hiking trails. Visitors have the opportunity to encounter all five of the Big Five here, as well as hippos and crocodiles near the wetlands of Swadini Dam.
Wild Coast : Rugged and untamed, the Wild Coast offers deserted beaches, dolphins, horseback and hiking trails, cozy hotels, golf, gambling, mystical history, Xhosa heritage and the Hole-in-the-Wall.
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve : The only park under a formal conservation effort in KwaZulu Natal where you can see the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceros – the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve offers visitors wildlife viewing opportunities second to none. Wildlife enthusiasts may enjoy the vast expanses of indigenous plants and animals during guided walks, self-guided drives, or opt for a thrilling viewing experience by boat along the Hluhluwe dam.
Drakensberg Mountain Range : The name is derived from the dutch and means “dragons mountain”. The Amphitheatre is one of the geographical features of the Northern Drakensberg, and is widely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth. Cloaked in emerald green in summer or golden and snow-capped in winter, this dramatic mountain range is an awesome scenic destination with beautiful rock art, great places to stay, fly fishing, golfing and family activities.