ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA
Everything about South Africa is dramatic. From its landscapes to its history, the country seethes with depth and culture. It is a fascinating medley of languages, colors, cuisines, and nature. South Africa’s geography is vast and covers nearly every form of land - beaches, deserts, mountains, and prairies, making it a playground for any type of traveler. If extreme is what you’re looking for, sports like bungee jumping from Bloukan’s Bridge and paragliding down Lion’s Head mountain are readily available. Tone it down a bit with a hike along the Garden Route, sure to provide spectacular views. Art lovers will appreciate both traditional and abstract interpretations of South Africa’s history and culture with plenty of museums, including open air exhibits, in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Foodies will surely delight in the region’s vast array of tantalizing vineyards, whose wines pair perfectly with highly unique dishes boasting ingredients from lands far and wide.
We would be remiss not to mention that which drives travelers from all over the world to South Africa - its safaris. National Parks like Kruger or Madikwe Game Reserve are home to the grandest creatures: elephants, lions, and leopards to name a few. If wildlife makes your heart sing, consider adding on Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, or Namibia.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA
What’s the Best Time to Visit sOUTH Africa?
High season runs from November through March, South Africa’s summer and early autumn season. If beach hopping and outdoor activities are your goal, this is the time to go. Prices reflect the popularity of this timing. For wildlife lovers, the autumn months of April - May are most accommodating. Whales begin migrating at the end of May and can be easily scene by boat or helicopter through November. Prices are generally lower. Low season officially runs from June - August, during the cooler winter months, which coincides with Cape Town and Western Cape’s rainy season. It is, however, an ideal time for wildlife watching, with the added perk of lower prices.
BRAAIS, GIN, WINE, OH MY!
South Africa boasts an astonishing mix of cultural backgrounds. The food scene reflects that, with novel, flavorful dishes offering an array of both traditional and exotic ingredients. Keep your mind and stomach open to sample more styles of curry than you knew existed. Braais, or barbecues, are engrained in South African culture and can be found on street
corners in the likes of colorful Bo-Kaap or on beaches in Western Cape. Meat and fish dishes are prepared in ways that accentuate African, Dutch, and Indian influence. There is an eclectic variety of fresh produce as a direct result of the geographical layout, including a plethora of regional wines. Wine tours, or ‘safaris’, allow you to taste many styles of whites and reds. Cape Town’s burgeoning gin scene makes it home to some solid distilleries well worth the visit.
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THE RIGHT TIME TO GO WINE TASTING IN SOUTH AFRICA?
South Africa’s climate and landscape lend itself to the production of the world’s finest wines. Aside from its stunning scenery, the Western Cape wine region offers a vast array of delicious whites, reds, even its own sparkling version of champagne, lovers of all styles will find something to serve their palette. Sample local favorites such as the unique Pinotage, silky Chenin Blanc, and crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Most easily reached from Cape Town, South Africa’s most desired wine regions include Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl, each a breezy 45-minute or so drive from the country’s legislative capital. October is known for being the best month to go wine tasting, though opportunities abound
throughout the year. The winter months of June, July & August are naturally the coldest, but also the least crowded. Accommodations range from budget friendly hostels to luxurious seaside hotels, with plenty of options to book shuttles and hopper tours to get you from one vineyard to the next. Hermanus is an example of a lovely seaside resort that also boasts plenty of wine estates in close proximity.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM SOUTH AFRICA’S WEATHER
Everything. Climates vary drastically, depending on where you go. Cape Town, Jo’Burg, and Port Elizabeth max at an average summer high of 80F (27C), but could drop as low as 59F (15C). Winters are mild, with the lowest city temperatures hitting an average of 45F (7C), with most of the country’s rainfall occurring in the summer. The exception to the rule is Cape Town and Western Cape, where rainfall is at its highest during the winter.
WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES IN AFRICA CAN I COMBINE WITH SOUTH AFRICA?
South Africa’s urban hubs provide easy access to neighboring must-see destinations
including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
ABOUT SOUTHERN AFRICA
VISIT SOUTHERN AFRICA
The sub-Saharan region of Africa is glittering with a wide array of breathtaking landscapes, majestic wildlife, and fascinating cultures. To the untrained eye, it might seem that the countries of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia are all the same. However, further
investigation proves that each destination is highly unique, and highly worth visiting.
Botswana and Namibia: Between the two countries’ slew of game reserves, you are guaranteed to come across Africa’s Big Five. Lions and leopards are notable inhabitants. Bird aficionados will be nothing less than impressed with the bird population, especially in Namibia, with throngs of flamingos and ostriches showing off their long legs. Elephants and rhinos love the landscape here, often making public appearances. Hikers will rejoice in Botswana and Namibia canyon treks.
Zambia: Still one of the more remote destinations in Africa, tourists are few and far between, especially in comparison to Zambia’s well known competitors like Zimbabwe and Botswana. Bush Camps are intimate in both size and wildlife interaction, and activities range from walking safaris to multi-night canoe trips down the Zambezi River. Some of the rarest species can be found in Zambia’s vast array of national parks, and leftover architectural gems of the Colonial era pop up in the most random of places. No trip to Zambia would be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls, and experiences range from a relaxed view from the park to an unforgettable bungee jump from the bridge.
Zimbabwe: Still reeling from a historical change in its political climate, Zimbabwe is making a push to prove it is one of the most coveted and fascinating, as well as safe, African destinations to visit. A collection of protected national parks cover 20% of the entire landscape, and showcase a diverse variety of incredible wildlife. In addition to game reserves, Zimbabwe’s mountainous geography calls adventure travelers far and wide. Plains, lakes, and lush forest regions attract the most outdoorsy of tourists. Its shining star is undoubtedly Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall on the planet, which can be seen on foot or by air.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO SOUTHERN AFRICA
Namibia and Botswana: Peak season runs from May - October as its the driest period with prime wildlife viewing opportunities. November is also a viable option, when prices drop and birds begin migrating.
Zambia: Dry season is also high season, running from late May through early October. This is the best time to see the country’s incredible wildlife. November through April is known as “emerald” season, rainy but lush and green, and is the season of bat migration.
Zimbabwe: July through September is peak season with prime weather for outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, and optimal wildlife viewing. April - October offers ideal temperatures and lower prices.
UTENSILS OPTIONAL: SOUTHERN AFRICA’S CULINARY SCENE
Botswana and Namibia: Indigenous practices mix with Colonial influences to create particular flavors and dishes in both countries. Barbecued meat, known as braaivleis, is the general base of most plates. Various stews, cheeses, sausages, and vegetables serving as filling alternatives. Unique to Botswana is seswaa, mixed porridge and salted meat, sometimes accompanied by a tasty serving of African spinach. Namibia boasts a spicy stew called potjiekos, with fish, meat, and chicken cooked in a cast iron pot.
Zambia: Zambia might not be known for an exotic culinary scene, but the experience of eating in its traditional style is part of its charm. Food such as the local porridgenshima is meant to be filling, yet eaten with your hands, making dining a unique event in itself. Zambian coffee is beginning to make a name for itself, which will come in handy for those early morning starts.
Zimbabwe: Known for its quality beef, chicken, and fish, Zimbabweans prefer to cook their protein over a smoking charcoal grill. Pair that with traditional sadza, a maize-based porridge, and local veggies, you have a delectable and hearty meal to revive you for those long days chasing exotic wildlife. Wash it down with a local Chibuku beer or Arabica coffee for a complete Zimbabwean experience.
THE RIGHT TIME TO GO ON A SAFARI?
September and October are prime months to book your safari. It is at this point that water access becomes limited, encouraging Zimbabwe and Namibia’s rhino and elephant population to flock in droves to nearby watering holes. Botswana game reserves, which cover 20% of the country, are teeming with lions, leopards, & buffalos to name a few. Late May to early October are prime months in the more remote Zambia, where canoeing adventures bring you face to face with hippos and herds of buffalo can be seen gathering in South Luangwa National Park.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM SOUTHERN AFRICAN WEATHER
Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, and Botswana are generally classified as dry Climates, with dry, temperate and sunny winters giving way to hot, rainy summers. Winter lasts from May to early August, and while this is the time when the weather is most comfortable, temperatures at night can drop to near freezing. August through October’s spring-like climate is dry with rising temperatures. October tends to be the peak for wildlife viewing, but also for temperatures which are known to surpass 100F. November starts hot and humid, but incoming rainfall causes temperatures to drop, plants to flourish, and animals to birth. April and May are moderate and jumpstart the dry season, with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s F.
WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES CAN I COMBINE WITH THE REGION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA?
The diverse, exciting, and stunning country of South Africa borders Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, and is an excellent add-on to your African journey.