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South Africa: Two Oceans, Three Capitals, Countless Opportunities for Adventure

Known For: The Big Five, Great White Shark Diving, World Class Wines, Adventure

Black rhino silhouetted against the setting sun, mountain ranges rising above cosmopolitan cities, countless stars gleaming in a desert sky, the waves of two oceans crashing along powdery beaches – South Africa is a country filled with diverse sights and landscapes to discover. Whether you’re looking to stroll along Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront before sitting down to dinner, explore the vineyards carpeting the hills and valleys of the Winelands, dive with Great White Sharks off the coast or trek through the wilderness in search of the Big 5, there’s a life changing experience to be found for every type of traveler – let’s find yours!

General Information:

Main Airports:

  • Cape Town International Airport (CPT)
  • O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)

Capital City:

  • Praetoria
  • Bloemfontein
  • Cape Town

    Currency: 

    • South African Rand

    Weather and Seasons:

    • South Africa is a year round destination but the summer months of November to March are the high season for tourism. 
    • The shoulder season of April to May and September to October provide great value for travelers in addition to some of the best weather throughout the year. 
    • Even the winter months of June to August bring benefits. During this time the vegetation is less thick, so game viewing is better than ever. 
      Who it’s great for:
      Family Vacations

      South Africa offers families of all ages a fun (and educational!) vacation! Spend time in Cape Town exploring history, drive the Whale Coast in search of the Marine Big Five or spend a day learning about conservation efforts while keeping an eye out for elephants!

      Romantic Getaways

      South Africa is one of our favorite destinations for a romantic trip! Start off a trip with a few days in the Cape Winelands taking in stunning views and world class wine tastings. When it’s time to start searching for the Big Five, choose a tented camp for some old school romance – many even offer private plunge pools!

      Art and Design Lovers

      There’s a very rich art history in the South African culture and our favorite stop for design lovers is Cape Town. We recommend staying at The Silo where the modern design of the hotel will take your breath away! Then head out into town in search of inspiration, from the colorful homes of the Bo-Kaap and Woodstock neighborhoods, to the V&A Waterfront lined with quaint local shops and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – there’s something for every art lover!

      Adventurers

      South Africa is an adrenalin junky’s dream! With excursion options like cage diving with Great White Sharks in Cape Town, helicopter tours over the Cape Winelands, or even helping to track down a black rhino for a medical checkup – there are adventures to be found around every corner!

      Advisor Tip 

      While the “Big Five” are a huge part of any trip to South Africa, there’s so much more to discover here! For a shorter trip we recommend spending some time in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands in addition to your safari. If you’ve got time for a longer trip then head out on a road trip along the Garden Route for stunning scenery, great beaches, and the Marine Big Five.

      Destination Guides

      Ready to dive in? Check out our in depth destination guides below for recommendations on activities, hotels, and more in some of South Africa’s most popular areas.

      Cape Town

      With Table Mountain guarding its back and the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its feet, Cape Town is an enchanting city that calls out for travelers to explore its vibrant streets. Located on the southwestern coast of South Africa, Cape Town is one of the three capital cities of the country and is also the most visited by travelers.

      Cape Winelands

      Only 40 minutes outside Cape Town but feeling a world away are the Cape Winelands, an area home to amazing accommodations, gorgeous gardens, and out of this world wineries. By venturing outside the city, you open yourself up to a whole new set of sights and experiences. 

      Cape Whale Coast

      This 90 mile stretch of coastline to the east of Cape Town offers up some of the most pristine landscapes in South Africa and arguably the best whale sightings in the world. With its location only a short drive from Cape Town, Hermanus is a great home base for travelers to explore the “Serengeti of the Seas”.

      Garden Route

      For travelers looking to explore at a leisurely pace, the Garden Route must seem a godsend! This 300 kilometer stretch of coastline between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth offers scenic sights, animal encounters and beautiful beaches galore.

      Kwa-Zulu Natal & Durban

      KwaZulu-Natal offers an eclectic mix of contrasts to every visitor – with mountains, savannahs and stunning beaches galore, not to mention the sparkling cities and authentic tribal settlements – the Zulu Kingdom offers plenty to keep a traveler busy!

      Greater Kruger 

      Journey to “Land’s End” where the crystalline blue waters of the Sea of Cortez meet the golden sand beaches and rusty desert of the Baja Peninsula. Come explore the bustling streets, stunning beaches and natural wonders of this glamourous paradise.

      Madikwe Game Reserve

      Between the Pacific Ocean and the Western Sierra Madre Mountains lies a pure treasure — Riviera Nayarit! With a coastline nearly 200 miles long full of white sand beaches and turquoise waters Nayarit is a perfect vacation spot. 

      Johannesburg

      The verdant jungles and crystaline blue waters at the southern end of the Yucatan peninsula are home to one of Mexico’s most popular destinations – Riviera Maya! With hot spots like Tulum and Cancun and luxe retreats like Mayakoba, this is a perfect destination for a getaway!

      Advisor Favorite Hotels

      1. The Silo – Cape Town

      This eclectic gem of a hotel may not look too lavish from the exterior (it is built in an old grain silo after all), but you know what they say – don’t judge a book by it’s cover! Once you step inside this landmark property the lush furnishings and chic design welcome guests to stay and enjoy themselves while the hotel’s signature pillowed glass windows sparkle like a jewel box in the sky!

      2. Singita Sabi Sands

      Set along the banks of the Sand River in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Singita Sabi Sand offers guests exclusive access to this protected part of South Africa, known for high concentrations of big game.  Singita Sabi Sand offers every traveler a world class safari experience with fine dining, wines, and white glove service, alongside phenomenal daily activities and game viewing. With 3 lodges to choose from (including a private use villa) there’s a perfect lodge for every type of traveler. 

      3. Shamwari Private Game Reserve

      A stay at Shamwari Private Game Reserve is one that will remain with you forever. Located in the heart of the Eastern Cape, the reserve offers abundant wildlife, fauna and flora exclusive to the area and unforgettable encounters with nature. Plus with 7 lodges; each providing distinct experiences from exclusive tranquility, effortless family enjoyment or the back-to-nature appeal of a luxury tented camp – there’s an option perfect for every traveler!

      More Inspiration

      Looking for more to inspire your next South African safari? Check out our blog posts for details on our favorite hotels, experiences and more to be found all along the Cape!

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      Ready to Plan YOUR South African safari?!

      Whether this is your first trip to South Africa or you’re returning for more adventure, our River Oaks Travel Concierge team is here to make your experience amazing! Reach out to our team today to get started planning your adventure!

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