Without question South Africa is the country offering the continent’s greatest variety for those on holiday. There’s urban chic in Cape Town, but it’s not just the city itself with its bustling markets and refurbished waterfront that draws people here.
The city is overlooked by Table Mountain, has sandy beaches, Cape Point Nature Reserve and penguins at Boulder’s Bay – an easy drive away.
The vineyards of the nearby Winelands offer tours, meals and accommodation. They’re accessible from Cape Town for people simply wanting a day visit, or a destination in their own right for those wanting to sample the world renowned food and drink on offer.
For many visitors a safari is part of any holiday to South Africa. Wildlife viewing is easier in dry conditions as animals are drawn to water, and with two distinct climatic zones it’s important to ensure it will be dry where you are going. However, with wildlife reserves and national parks dotted around the country there’s somewhere to enjoy good weather in both South Africa’s summer and winter months.
What’s more, areas such as Madikwe and Kwandwe offer malaria-free safaris for those not wishing to take tablets.
But there’s yet more to a holiday in South than Cape Town, the Winelands and safari, since the Anglo-Zulu or Anglo-Boer battlefields feature on many people’s wish lists.
Travellers of a certain vintage will remember Zulu starring Michael Caine which depicts the battle of Rorke’s Drift between the British Army and the Zulus. A guided visit brings the history to life.
Driving around is relatively easy as traffic is generally light outside the cities, although longer distances are more easily tackled by flying.
Another option, particularly between Cape Town and Pretoria would be one of South Africa’s famous luxury trains – The Blue Train or Rovos Rail. These two operate regularly in both directions and offer sightseeing options along the route. As the trains differ from each other in style and amenities its worth comparing them to see which would suit you.
I could continue and explore ways to include the spring flowers in the Western Cape, the beaches and seaside towns of the Garden Route, the Kalahari and much more.
South Africa really is ‘A World In One Country’ as the tourist board strapline will have you believe and with something for pretty much everyone it’s a great first step into Africa as a holiday destination.
Richard Smith is Operations Director at Aardvark Safaris.