South Africa: Holidays
A World in One Country
Backpacking in South Africa
Backpacking holiday in South Africa
There are more than 150 backpackers' accommodations in South Africa, and you can book ahead by contacting Backpacker Tourism South Africa. Hostel rates are astoundingly cheap and they provide a perfect place to plug into the local travelling network and discover everything that South Africa has to offer. Whether you’re looking to part until dawn or relax and enjoy the surf, backpacking is a good way to explore the heaving melting pot of South Africa’s cultures, colours, languages and traditions.
Beach in South Africa
Beach holiday in South Africa
A great beach holiday destination for lots of sun, sand, sea and swimsuits - South Africa boasts a 3,000km long coastline with thousands of beaches, some of which are the most beautiful in the world. With such a large expanse of coast, visitors can enjoy the sun and sand without the crowded commercial feel that most beach holidays provide. The West Coast has some unbelievably beautiful, long, lonely beaches, where you can walk for miles and not see another person. It hardly ever rains, so the West Coast is a good place to work on your sun tan but – be warned – the water is freezing during the summer months (November – February). Probably the best West Coast destinations are Plettenburg Bay, Mossel Bay, Langebaan, Paternoster and, for surfers especially, Elands Bay.
Camping in South Africa
Camping is one option that will suit lower budgets in South Africa. South Africa offers its visitors over 700 camping sites to choose from. Most of these are located along in tourism routes, near or even inside nature reserves, and in the vicinity of tourist attractions and famous landmarks. The most popular camp sites in South Africa are found on the east coast. If you're visiting any of South Africa's cities however, camping may not be an option.
City Breaks in South Africa
City Break holiday in South Africa
South Africa is an exotic blend of adventure, spectacular scenery and wildlife, and vibrant resorts offering a rewarding short break or city break holiday. Stylish entertainment and abundant recreation provide attractions galore for all ages. South African cities enjoy a fabulous range of accommodation available for every budget from sleek city apartments, tropical beach resorts and rustic wildlife reserve lodges. Short breaks in South Africa feature the vibrant destinations of Durban and Johannesburg which each offer a unique atmosphere or Cape Town - the most popular choice for a city break.
Corporate Weekend in South Africa
Corporate Weekend in South Africa
If you are organising a Corporate Weekend, although a bit off the map, South Africa is a great destination. With its numerous and diverse range of activities, tourist sites and places to stay, South Africa caters for all budgets and tastes. It provides a space for the meeting of cultures, people and ideas ideal for customized team building and adventure programmes. On the downside however, the lengthy flight time is likely to cut into your corporate weekend itinerary.
Culture and Arts in South Africa
Culture and Arts holiday in South Africa
Many years ago, the streets of South Africa’s major towns were alive with the sound of marching feet, as those from various walks of life and races stood up against the unjust laws of the apartheid state. This ‘cultural struggle’ was symbolised by images of defiance painted on walls, portrayed on stages and printed on t-shirts and badges. Art became a weapon in the struggle to make people aware of the realities of South African society under apartheid. Today you can share in the historical, political and cultural memories of a country reborn.
South Africa has holds a number of Art Festivals throughout the year such as the National Arts Festival, which takes place in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape each July. As well as mainstream art, opera and theatre, there are fringe and student components to the festival, including theatre performed in many of the languages spoken in South Africa. The big Arts Alive Festival is held in Johannesburg in September and October. This is a great time to hear excellent music, on and off the official programme.
Disabled Needs in South Africa
Holidays in South Africa for Disabled people
South Africa has numerous places and activities all over the country that welcome people with disabilities – nature reserves, safari parks, crocodile farms, mountain cable rides, helicopter tours, boat rides, and more. Generally speaking, the facilities for disabled visitors in South Africa are good. Almost every national park has at least one accessible chalet and many accommodation establishments (other than backpacker hostels) have one or two wheelchair-friendly rooms. Most of the country’ sports stadiums have accessible suites, stands or areas for wheelchairs near accessible parking as well as toilet facilities for disabled visitors. Most public buildings also cater for wheelchair access.
Family Holiday in South Africa
Family holidays in South Africa
With its first world infrastructure, favourable exchange rate and varied attractions, South Africa is a great family holiday destination. Children of all ages, especially those of a sufficient age to walk and talk will find a visit to a game reserve or national park fascinating. It is important to note however that some private game reserves do not allow children, while others are very child-friendly, with self-catering family chalets and playgrounds. The Wild Coast, in the Eastern Cape, is a favourite with local families, and many of the hotels have special children's functions, playgrounds, children's dining areas and baby-sitting services. The Garden Route is also a great option if you're looking for a more exclusive experience, as there are a number of luxurious hotels and guesthouses that cater specifically for families, and many child-friendly attractions like a monkey park and walks with elephants. Dolphin and whale watching is another experience most children would never forget.
Gay and Lesbian in South Africa
Holidays for Gays and Lesbians in South Africa
South Africa constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of – among other things – gender or sexual orientation, which makes it the most gay-friendly country in Africa and one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world.
All the usual attractions – game viewing, birding, beaches, cultural attractions and a range of adventure activities – make this a great destination in general, but a number of gay and lesbian-owned tour operators and guest houses make it more comfortable.
All major cities have a night life that caters for both straights and gays – and anyone in between. Cape Town, in particular, is a great place as it has a huge gay population with all the attendant entertainment. In December, the Mother City Queer Project, one of the greatest parties in the world, and the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras in late May, welcome both gay and straight visitors from all over the world (see “Events”).
Hen Destination in South Africa
Hen holiday in South Africa
One of Africa’s most beautiful and cosmopolitan countries has now become one of a popular hen party destination. From Cape Town’s Pole Dancing parties to Belly Dancing nights, Nice & Naughty Presentations, Party Décor and Games, Male Strippers, Personalised invitations or even Bare Butt Butlers – South Africa is definitely a good option for bride-to-be’s. On the downside, if you're planning a "hen weekend" rather than a longer holiday, you have to take into account the lengthy flight times.
Stag Destination in South Africa
Stag holiday in South Africa
South Africa is one growing in popularity as a stag destinations – although slightly off the map, South Africa is a beautiful country packed with things to see and do, great nightlife, cheap food and drink, and affordable accommodation – and so ideal for a stag holiday. An airport limo pick-up, riverboat cruise or helicopter ride from the V&A is the best way to see the sights of its Mother City Cape Town. You might enjoy travelling the garden route, where, in peak season, you are bound to find a beach party or two on your way. On the downside however, if it’s a stag weekend you’re planning rather than a longer holiday, you have to take into account the lengthy travel time which will cut into your weekend stay.
Honeymoon in South Africa
Honeymoon in South Africa
Although a bit off the map, South Africa can provide couples with the ultimate romantic getaway. Most game lodges, resorts, beach hotels and guest houses have honeymoon suites that cater for any style and budget. Astounding in its beauty, South Africa is home to some of the most scenic views in the world. And, if you want to do the whole thing there – ceremony, reception, honeymoon – many country guest houses have small chapels, and almost all will organise a wedding or reception on the lawns, in the forest or on the beach. There are dedicated wedding planners who will organise everything from the flights and accommodation to the reception and honeymoon. With South Africa's favourable exchange rate and fantastic attractions, you should have no trouble persuading your friends and family to come out to your wedding and then probably enjoy a holiday of their own.
Naturism in South Africa
Naturist holiday in South Africa
Naturist holidays and tours do exist in South Africa, and the best way to get an idea as to whether South Africa is the ideal holiday destination for you is to contact a Nudist and Clothing Optional Tour operator directly.
Party Holiday - Singles Life in South Africa
Singles holiday in South Africa
South Africa’s nightlife doesn’t equal the best in the world but it definitely does have a party vibe all of its own. With options to suit every budget and taste, it makes for the ideal holiday destination if you’re single and looking to party until the early hours. Alive with distinct sights and sound, South Africa’s nightlife centres around the club scene where you will find a mix of music including dance, trance, drum ‘n bass, R&B or even classical.
If you prefer a more chilled approach, some of the world’s top comedians often visit South Africa to entertain. You can also listen and participate in a drum session at a drum café, or, for those who love the thrill of the stage, there’s theatre galore or exciting extravaganzas at Sun City. If you’re into gambling, South Africa also has a good array of luxury casinos, like the Roman-themed Caesar’s Palace in Johannesburg or the Grand West Casino in Cape Town.
Safari Activity Holiday in South Africa
Safari holiday in South Africa
Looking for the Big Five? Whether it's a mobile-tented camping safari, an overland safari, a budget safari, a self-drive safari, or a luxury fly-in safari, South Africa guarantee’s all bush lovers with a once in a life time safari experience. Safaris are definitely what South Africa does best. With a good mix of both luxury lodges and budget self-catering family-style camps, South Africa is great for both travellers on a budget or those looking for a more extravagant safari holiday. Most South African safari’s offer a wide range of game viewing and outdoor activities including horse riding, guided walking, hiking, 4x4 trails and picnic areas for day visitors.
Sabi Sand private reserve alongside the Kruger Park is the region where you have the greatest chance of spotting all the Big Five, but remember, in the wild, nothing can be guaranteed. If you were planning to fit a safari into your itinerary and weren’t looking to pay extra for a plane ride, Addo Elephant National Park, situated 72km from Port Elizabeth, is ideal for visitors touring the Garden Route. Established in 1931 to save 11 Elephants on the brink of extinction, the park is now the third largest in South Africa and is home to more than 350 elephants, 280 Cape Buffalo, black Rhino, Lion, and a range of Antelope species - perfect for the adventurous outdoor and nature lover.
Shopping Holiday in South Africa
Shopping holiday in South Africa
From high-fashion designer clothes to cutting-edge local style, South Africa makes for a good shopping destination if you’re looking to combine a bit of shopping with the beach or a safari tour. Whether you prefer large malls a la Sandton City, more intimate shopping zones like Constantia Village, or a flea market experience at Greenmarket Square, South Africa does offer its visitors choice. You can experience authentic Africa by exploring its selection of craft markets dotted around every city in the country – the imaginative handmade goods created by craftsmen and women from rural areas make great souvenirs and help the locals make a bit of money.
Most major shopping centres and malls operate 7 days a week, but you will find that in the smaller towns and rural areas that shops are closed on a Sunday. General opening hours are 9a.m to 5p.m on weekdays and 9a.m to 2.pm on a Sunday. Don’t be surprised to find supermarkets open for your convenience until 8 at night.
Well-being and Spa in South Africa
Spa retreat holiday in South Africa
South Africa is not renowned as a spa holiday destination – but when it comes to beauty and wellness, South Africa does have an exciting and expanding portfolio to offer spa-goers. Most hotel spas in South Africa also have steam rooms, outdoor pools, sun decks and relaxation areas and while the majority are of international standards, they are also competitively priced.
Touring - Driving holiday in South Africa
Tour Driving holiday in South Africa
Rated as the top destination in the world for a tour driving holiday, The Garden Route along South Africa's southern most coastline, is a secret place where unmatched luxury exists in one of the world's most spectacular settings. It is a slender stretch of coastal plain that between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth that can be driven in a leisurely ten day trip. The Garden route bears a legendary status as South Africa's paradise - reflected in local names such as 'Garden of Eden' and 'Wilderness'. This soft, green, forested swath of nearly 200 km is cut by rivers from the mountains to the north, tumbling down to its southern rocky shores and sandy beaches.
Wildlife-spotting, deserted sandy beaches, sheltered lagoons, bush land and mountain passes: this stretch of the Western Cape coastline is an area of spectacular natural beauty. And with outdoor sports including the world's highest bungie jump at Bloukrans bridge, and delicious local food, there's plenty of entertainment along the way.
Apart from the Garden route, South Africa as a whole has a comprehensive road network that crosses kilometres of beautiful countryside and makes driving and travelling a pleasure. Driving is on the left, the roads are good and all the road signs are in English. Car rental is straightforward and a self drive tour gives you the flexibility to enjoy the day as you want unconstrained by a set itinerary… the freedom to travel at your own pace.
If you prefer to join a tour group, there are numerous companies who will also craft a vast number of self drive holidays individually, taking a detailed brief from you.
The main driving routes around the country include the N1 between Johannesburg and Cape Town, the N7 that goes from Cape Town to Springbok and Namibia and the N2 that goes along the Cape Garden Route from Cape Town to Durban and further towards Swaziland. The N3 connects Johannesburg with Durban and the N4 Johannesburg and Kruger Park.
Wine Tasting Holiday in South Africa
Wine Tasting Holiday in South Africa
South Africa’s long wine history is one that reflects the country's colonial past, but also shines with the potential and expectation of the modern wine world. It can offer the wine-tasting world all kinds of new flavour experiences.
Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Groot Constantia and Somerset West are the main wine tasting regions of the Cape, offering the best of everything, from olive oil through to garlic infused cheeses, these regions have it all. So if you’re a self confessed wine buff or simply want something different and relaxing to do when on holiday then you should look into visiting one of South Africa’s many vineyards or wine producing regions.
Winter Sun in South Africa
Winter Sun in South Africa
There really is no particularly bad time to take a holiday in South Africa and it is one place on the world map that offers winter sun. The climate is pleasant all year round albeit reasonably hot in the summer (December, January and February) and cooler in the winter (June, July and August). The winter is definitely the best time for safari holidays to South Africa as it is generally more comfortable for outdoor pursuits not involving the beach and the heat also brings the animals to the watering hole. In contrast summer is a great time to grab a beach holiday although it's certainly not the time of year to find cheap holidays in South Africa. Summer sees the local population flock to the holiday resorts and prices can increase by as much as 100%. A great time to travel is from the end of November to the middle of December as most places won’t be crowded until school breaks start before Christmas. Generally speaking though, whatever time of year you choose to take your holiday, South Africa has plenty to offer.
Couples Holiday in South Africa
Couples Holiday in South Africa
South Africa is a great place for couples. With a vast amount of things to do and places to see, a couple will definitely not get bored. If you're looking for a romantic couples holiday, the favourable exchange rate means you can book a honeymoon suite for half of what you would normally pay in Europe. South Africa's scenery is breathtaking and you won't have to walk far to find a romantic setting, whether it be on the beach, overlooking a waterhole at sunset, or high up in the mountains.
Golf Activity Holiday in South Africa
Golf / Golfing holiday in South Africa
Tee-off on a golf holiday in South Africa. For the golf enthusiast, South Africa is a wonderful destination - and that's an understatement. The country boasts an ideal climate for spending time out on the fairways under the bright African sun, and golfers here are blessed for choice. According to Golf Digest USA (2005), South Africa has five of the top 100 golf courses outside the US with Leopard Creek Country Club in Mpumalanga coming in at number 25. Coupled with the growing number of golf resorts and communities, the South African golf vacations industry is stretching its wings. Travelling golfers are greatly spoilt for choice due to the mushrooming golf resort infrastructure. Golf tours to South Africa increase each year and the number of returning visitors testify to the incredible golf vacation experience on offer in South Africa.
Skiing - Snow Boarding in South Africa
Snow skiing/ Snow boarding Holiday in South Africa
OK - South Africa is a sunny country so it's not exactly a skiing or snowboarding paradise. However, it does have a winter and it does have mountains. There is one dedicated ski resort, high in the Drakensberg of the northern part of the Eastern Cape – the Tiffindell Alpine resort.
Sand boarding is a much more popular activity. With a slightly modified snowboard, you can board down sand dunes, either carving patterns in the sand showing off your skill, or tumbling head over heels showing off your underwear. It's not snow, but it is fun and it's warm and sunny. There is excellent sand boarding near Cape Town but the most spectacular is the enormously high red sand dunes of Namibia.
Sailing Activity Holiday in South Africa
Sailing Holiday in South Africa
South Africa is regarded as one of the finest skipper training grounds in the world owing to the wide variety and challenging nature of sea conditions. True proficiency and safe boat handling however only come from experience, and for those with less experience, the Cape is one of the world’s most attractive destinations for sail training. For those wanting to learn to sail for the first time, or to gain experience, a number of recognised, professional organisations offer accredited courses.
The four most popular regions for sailing in South Africa include: KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and the North Vaal. All have inland and coastal sailing regions, while the North Vaal is purely inland.
Cape Town is the country’s international sailing hub, with competitions such as the Cape To Bahia, as well as the Round The World Yacht Race and the Volvo Ocean Challenge launching from this maritime city, or stopping there en-route. Numerous national and regional sailing events take place throughout the year, so it’s advisable to check with the different regions for their latest calendar of sailing events.
Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in South Africa
Scuba diving Holiday in South Africa
Whether you want to dive with sharks and wrecks on rugged wild coasts, or simply relax with whales and dolphins and enjoy pristine coral reefs and abundant wildlife, scuba diving in South Africa is fast growing in popularity. All major organization's qualifications are recognized and good quality scuba dive gear is easily hired and foreign divers are welcomed with typical South African hospitality and are without exception made to feel at home.
South Africa is one of the cheapest and most popular places in the world to get an internationally recognised open-water scuba diving certificate, with courses at all the coastal cities as well as a number of other resorts. The most rewarding scuba diving is along the St Lucia Marine Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal coast, where 100,000 dives go under every year for its rays, sharks, wrecks, whales, dolphins, coral reefs and fluorescent fish. The Cape Province, with its huge number of sunken vessels, makes wreck diving and great white shark diving popular activities among both locals and visitors. You can also encounter the swaying rhythms of giant kelp forests.
Hiking Activity Holiday in South Africa
Hiking / Walking Holiday in South Africa
South Africa’s diverse landscape of mountains, forests, rugged coast and sandy beaches means that it is the hiker’s paradise. Over the past twenty years hiking has taken off in a big way. Wherever you are, you won’t be far from some sort of trail. The best ones are in the wilderness areas, where you’ll find way marked paths that vary from half hour strolls to major hiking expeditions of two to seven days for the more experienced walker. If you’re not looking for a long expedition, consider basing yourself in one of the wilderness areas such as the Drakensburg, where you can stay in chalets and set off on a series of day walks, returning each night. Unique to South Africa are guided wilderness trails which allow you to walk inside the borders of a game park (such as Kruger National Park). Accompanied by an armed guide, these walks give you a feel for the wild that no other hiking destination can.
Cycling Activity Holiday in South Africa
Cycling / Mountain biking Holiday in South Africa
With the cool breeze in your hair, the warm sun on your back and the open road in front of you - it’s easy to see why cycling is one of the best ways to explore the wonders of South Africa. With such an array of landscapes, from fertile mountain valleys to winding endless roads and flat farmland, South Africa has many fantastic trails that cater for all skill levels. If you prefer, why not choose from the wide variety of tailor made packages that’ll take you on some of the most spectacular cycling tours through one of the many national parks and game reserves. If you’re fit enough for the long haul, then why not try a group cycling ride along the magnificent Garden Route.
If you’re a mountain biking enthusiast, then South Africa is mountain biking heaven! With so many fantastic trails that will blow you away, South Africa is a treasure trove of exciting routes, discovered and waiting to be uncovered, with weather allowing for cycling at any time of the year, all day and just about every day.
See Events – Cape Argus Cycle Tour, March 2009