If you are fed up with the UK’s cold and wet winters, then South Africa may be a good destination for you.
About South Africa
Sitting at the south of the continent between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Being a large country, the climate varies from North to South. In Cape Town, during our Winter, their Summer (January) you can expect an average temperature of around 20 degrees. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the young democracy of 55 million has made some progress on redistributing wealth. The gap though between rich and poor remains alarmingly wide, this though should not be a reason not to visit. Tourism is a key are for growth, which will help the economy and it’s people.
If on arrival you are expecting to see a country with tired infrastructure, you’re in for a surprise. The modern motorway system puts much of ours to shame, there is a sparkling new railway connecting Johannesburg’s modern airport to the city and the capital Pretoria and everywhere you look there are modern US style shopping malls.
Places to Go
Cape Town is one of the world’s great coastal cities, it’s also the legislative capital. Visit our dedicated page for what to see and do.
The Kruger National Park lies in the north-eastern corner of the country covering a similar area to Wales. All of the Big 5 can be seen here; Lions, Leopards, Buffalos, Rhinoceros and the African Elephant. Safaris are big business with many players in the market ranging from basis to super luxury.
Scenery throughout most of the country is good, reaching spectacular in the Drakensberg mountains and in the south-west. The 200 mile garden route runs east-west along the southern coastline from Mossel Bay.
If you like trains, Africa’s answer to the Orient Express, The Blue Train runs from Pretoria to Cape Town.
If wine is your thing, then the South Africa winelands are well worth visiting, only about one hours drive from Cape Town. Click here to see a dedicated article.
Johannesburg is the country’s biggest city, it lacks the beauty of Cape Town, it is gritty but in it’s own way impressive. Soweto (South West Township) famous for the wrong reasons is now a tourist destination. To see how the more prosperous residents live, head out on the modern Gautrain to the suburbs of Rosebank and Sandton both have huge modern shopping malls.
South Africa is one hour ahead of us in Summer and two hours in Winter. Direct overnight flights take about 11½ hours from London Heathrow to Johannesburg. There is no jet lag, you can enjoy an afternoon in the sun and be back at your office in the UK the next morning!
Standards in hotels and restaurants is generally excellent. They are proud of their farms and produce, this is reflected in the high quality of food. Prices are around half those found in Europe, generous tipping is expected but is deserved.
Getting around is easy, motorways are good, they drive on the left and english is almost universally spoken. Uber taxis can be found around the main towns and cities. Shopping malls are well stocked with pretty well anything you can buy at home. If you like M and S food shops, don’t despair, Woolworths are amazingly similar.
Final point, it’s a beautiful country and your made very welcome.
Not so good
South Africa remains a divided country, one minute you are driving past secure compounds with luxury housing, then to find yourself next to township with shanty town housing. High crime rates are an inevitable result. Crime rates although disturbingly high, statistically are no worse than some parts of the USA and much lower than Mexico and parts of South America.
Needless to say, you need to take care, take note of any FCO guidelines and avoid risky areas particularly after dark.