South Africa Travel Guide

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South Africa Information

Population: 43.8 million

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2

Driving side: Driving is on the left side of the road

Languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Tswan

Religion: Christian
traditional religions

Emergency #: Police Services: 10111
Ambulance: 10177
Fire and Rescue: 107

South Africa Popular Destinations

Cape Town - This is without doubt the most beautiful city in South Africa. It has one of the most striking backdrops any city could have, the towering Table Mountain. Although the architecture is becoming more modern it still has some of the old unique buildings that were built in the early 1900's. It has some really good beaches, although the water is cold especially on the Atlantic seaboard side and all the way to Bloubergstrand. The beaches along the False Bay coastal region are also excellent and the water is warmer and very safe for bathing. There are some exceptional vineyard estates that can be visited. Not only does Cape Town cater for the more energetic there are some really great hikes and more leisurely walks in and around the city and up Table Mountain there are some good parks and museums for those looking for a more relaxing holiday.

Durban The city of Durban is situated in the north-eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal and its climate is sub-tropical. The city is definitely for the holiday-maker as the weather and the water stays warm through most of the year. It has long sandy beaches and the main attraction for surfers. The large port has been in operation since the 1850's and is a major port for South Africa. Apart from the beaches the city has a lot to offer the visitor such as museums, an art gallery in the city hall, a huge aquarium and the Botanical Gardens. The Marine Parade on the beach front is where most of the night life is located, as are the hotels and restaurants. The Victoria Indian Street Market in the Indian area is vibrant and has a buzz which is not found in most commercial districts in South Africa. A must see in this area is the oldest and biggest Alayam Hindu Temple and the Juma Mosque.

Johannesburg Probably the most intriguing city of all, it is huge and full of many contrasts. Here you will find the really wealthy living next door the desperately poor, tall modern buildings surrounded by mine dumps. It is a multiracial city and most definitely the heart of South Africa. There is perhaps not has much to do here as in Cape Town and Durban but the city does have some lovely parks and walking areas. However, it is a dangerous city and crime is very high, but if you ask for advice from the locals and follow the advice given, you will find this a really fascinating place to visit.

Garden Route This route runs along the coastline of the southern Western Cape and has some very spectacular scenery. This area is well forested and as the traveller drives through they will be assaulted by the heavily scent of fynbos (an indigenous plant species which is protected against destruction). From Mossel Bay almost all the way to Plettenberg Bay the traveller will be able to see the sea with its sandy white beaches on their right hand side. The Wilderness village is very popular and from about August to November is where you will see the whales as they travel up the coast. Around Sedgefield and Knysna you will find great tract of indigenous forests such as yellowwood trees and the commercially planted pine and eucalypt. Knysna is also famous for the Knysna elephants which are found in the forest just outside the town on the way to Plettenberg Bay. For the avid hiker there are many walking and hiking trails especially around the Tsitsikama forest reserve, especially the Otter Trail which has different types of hikes from a few hours to much longer.

Moving Around South Africa

The best way to travel in South Africa is by either hiring or buying a car, especially if you wish to cover vast distances. Public transport such as buses, trains and mini taxis are limited and can be very expensive. Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban all have international airports and there are regular local flights between them and to most of the bigger cities.

Although South Africa has some very good highways, public transport is limited and expensive. There are also two major national bus operators which are quite comfortable and travel to most of the main cities.

National festival and holidays

Festival of the Arts This festival in the town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, is held every year in July. You will find mainstream arts, opera and theatre performances held each day for the duration of the festival. There are also some exceptional productions performed in many of the languages which are spoken in South Africa.

Arts Alive Festival This festival is held in Johannesburg during September and October and this is a great place to hear some extraordinary local music. There are also plenty of workshops which expose both South Africans and visitors to the rich cultures of the continent.

Pretoria Show This show is very popular with the locals and is held in the third week of August. There is so much to see and do that it is best to take a full day so that the experience is not rushed but a relaxing day out with the family.

16 December - Day of Reconciliation
16 June Youth Day - celebrates the student uprising of 1976 which led to their liberation.
21 March - Human Rights Day commemorates the massacre at Sharpeville

Useful South Africa Links

Gauteng Music Events
A useful email notification system to keep you informed of music events in Johannesburg, Pretoria and the greater Gauteng region. Information is supplied directly to you by music venues, promoters, record labels and the artists. Enjoy!

South Africa - a personal guide
A guide to holidaying in South Africa based on personal experience.

South Africa Happenings
Gives links to all the tourist attractions and things to do in South Africa.

Cape Town Happenings
Gives information on places to see, accommodation, activities as well as the history of some of the towns in the Cape. Also gives full description of wine routes and wine cellars.

South Africa Online
South African Online Directory

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