South Africa is the perfect location for a holiday in the New Year period. From cage diving with sharks, to wildlife watching and eating out in some incredible restaurants, South Africa is perfect for solo travelers, couples and families alike.
HOW TO GET A VISA
South Africa has been working on a new eVisa system which will allow you to gain a visa without having to visit their embassy in Cairo. As they make the transition, check their website (southafricavisa.com) for the most recent information.
The list of documents needed to travel is much less than most destinations and if you travel when the new eVisa system is active, it will be an incredibly quick and easy online application process. A small fee is required upon application either at the embassy or online in the case of an eVisa.
January-February is a very pleasant time to travel, as daytime temperatures fluctuate between 19 and 29 °C. Just like Egypt, the evenings can get chilly around this time, so pack a jacket and some warmer night clothes too.
Although public transport links are good, hiring a private car is probably the most practical and enjoyable way to travel.
With baboons and ostriches wandering around on the side of the road, a hire car enables you to pull over and do some wildlife watching wherever you want. Just be careful of pesky monkeys that might scratch your vehicle!
South Africa has so much food that’s worth trying, and even hosts food festivals throughout the year. One interesting delicacy is the African horned cucumber, which can be incorporated into a range of dishes!
TOP 5 WILDLIFE ACTIVITIES
Wildlife is one of the main attractions of this beautiful country, and it’s not hard to see why with such a huge variety of wildlife-based activities. We’ve done the hard work of narrowing it down to just five.
- Spend the day at Boulders Beach and admire the local penguins that waddle their way up and down all day long. It’s one of the most unique places to see penguins outside of captivity and some people holiday to South Africa just to visit this spot!
- Cage dive with sharks off the coast of Gansbaai, a small fishing village in the Western Cape which is now famous worldwide for what lies beneath its waters. Most companies use cages that fit around four people, so you don’t have to do it alone! They also have large viewing panels, allowing a crystal-clear view of one of the world’s most feared predators.
- Head to Knysna Elephant Park for a day and take a guided morning or afternoon walk. Home to around forty (mostly rescued) elephants, this park prides itself on ethical tours, which is why it’s definitely worth a visit.
- Take part in some conservation tourism by learning how to track, tag and transfer giraffes at Mattanu Private Game Reserve in Northern Cape Province. You’ll also be able to spot roaming roan, sable, impala and buffalos.
- Book a safari package in Kruger National Park that combines camp-style boutique accommodation with walking, driving and even quad biking tours. Here, you can spot the ‘Big 5’ which were traditionally the most dangerous animals in Africa – buffalos, elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards. Make sure to bring a camera!
OTHER THINGS TO DO
While it’s nice to see a monkey or two, wildlife watching isn’t for everyone. South Africa has so many amazing cities, towns and non-wildlife activities you can try too.
- Durban on the east coast is a really popular city for street food and has plenty of mosques, Hindu temples, Zulu murals and churches.
- In the Augrabies Falls region, companies offer the chance to kayak down the Orange River, which happens to be South Africa’s longest river. With paddling areas in some places and Class V rapids in others, it’s a great location for families of all abilities.
- Johannesburg has loads of amazing museums and restaurants and is home to Soweto, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. Nearby you’ll find the Orlando Power Station Cooling Towers which are covered in thought-provoking murals and host a bungee jumping platform for thrill-seekers.
- The Blue Train which shuttles between Cape Town and Johannesburg is worth a ride. As one of the finest luxury trains in the world, your ticket even includes a personal butler!
- Table Mountain is a popular hiking spot, although you can reach the summit 3,500 feet above Cape Town by cableway too. The sunset views here are some of the best in South Africa, and you can often be treated with a view from above cloud level too.