Visiting South Africa

Visiting any country for the first time is an exciting experience and that is no exception for South Africa. When considering visiting a country as large as this, it’s really important to plan your trip well in advance. Think about what you would like to do and all the places you would like to visit while you are there. To truly make a trip here worthwhile it is recommended you spend at least 3 weeks here. Any shorter and you will be struggling to fit in your itinerary. South Africa covers an area of 471,000 square miles and has a population of 42.7 million. Getting about once you are here is actually quite simple. There are a number of low-cost airlines that serve the country and fly between the main airports and can be booked online prior to your trip. Once you are there it’s easy to hire a car and to travel between towns but just beware of distances as it’s easy to underestimate the time required to drive. For instance, Durban to Cape Town is 1,753 miles.
Driving during the day is recommended, although the roads are good, you will need to watch out for wild animals on some roads and even baboons on the major routes. A couple of excellent driving routes are the Route 62 which runs between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route which runs between Heidelberg and Stormsriver. Both these routes have some of the best views and scenery.

Let’s consider for a moment some of the top experiences that anyone should be considering as part of their visit. Obviously Big 5 game viewing is very popular but there is also the Drakensberg Mountains. The wonderful coastal life set against the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the magnificent wine regions, Table Mountain, the famous Garden Route, great sporting and adrenalin activities, superb top class golf courses and the nightlife available in top cities such as Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town. You can now see the importance of planning your trip and staying for at least 3 weeks.

Of course South Africa is gearing up for the World Cup in 2003 and this is involving considerable upgrades to infrastructure as well as the main stadia that are being built. The plus side is that major rail improvements are being made particularly between Johannesburg and Pretoria. For visitors there is going to be a brand new huge Rio-style carnival in Cape Town which kicks off on March 18th 2003. For 2 days Cape Town will come alive to the sound of music and parades through the streets. This is to become an annual event capturing the heart of the diverse communities found here.

Another great attraction for visitors is the deep sea fishing to be found here. Whether you are a novice or an expert you will have an amazing time. There are of course numerous charter trips to be found to view the many types of whales that migrate here each year. The Garden Route is particularly well served for this. Of course for the brave, you can also take a dive in a cage to view sharks up close and very personal!

It’s important to plan your trip so that you have a chance to explore the culture and people in South Africa. There is of course great history, with many museums and monuments harking back to times gone by.

If you are a keen walker or hiker then there are some amazing places to visit such as the Drakensberg area. The scenery here is stunning and there are many guided hikes or camping trips that will take you through some of the most stunning backdrops. Many people choose to visit Kruger for their Big 5 game viewing but to be honest, you can do this almost anywhere in South Africa. Perhaps more exciting is the many different ways that you can view game - on horseback, on quad bikes, in your own car - the choice is amazing.

Choosing accommodation early is important and is especially wise during World Cup year. There is accommodation to suit all budgets and some of the guesthouses that you find here are really good quality and will not break your budget. The owners are generally very helpful and will assist you with advice on local attractions.

For more information on the areas, events, activities and accommodation in South Afriica, visit
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