South Africa

South Africa is an incredibly diverse holiday destination. You have one of the world’s most iconic cities in oceanside Cape Town, surrounded by rugged mountains, glorious vineyards and the sandy beaches of the Western Cape; you have the historic battlefields and world heritage wetlands of KwaZulu Natal further east while the wildlife rich plains of Kruger National Park, one of the best places to see the Big Five, lie to the north beyond the lofty Drakensberg Mountains. South Africa is undoubtedly a land for all people and all seasons.

You'll find a useful guide to South Africa and its main attractions at the bottom of this page, along with some sample holidays with guide prices. These holidays are there to inspire you and give you a starting point. It is important to emphasise that we are a tailor-made specialist - everything can be designed around you and your preferences - please do ask us for a quote. If you are travelling solo or would prefer to safari in a small group we also offer an excellent escorted tour of South Africa - you'll find full details below.

Why Real Africa? We remain true to our roots - small, specialist and committed to conservation. We're dedicated to offering you a personal service and all-round quality experience - something we've been doing for over 16 years now. You won't find the same expertise on the high street.

10 days
From £1,870
Classic Garden Route and Cape Town

A self-drive tour along the world-famous Garden Route including Knysna, Hermanus, the Winelands and Cape Town

12 days
From £3,100
Highlights of Southern Africa

This leisurely holiday gives you the chance to see Cape Town, a private safari in the Kruger and visit the spectacular Victoria Falls

13 days
From £3,880
KwaZulu Natal in Luxury

A self-drive tour of KwaZulu-Natal including the Drakensberg Mountains, the coast, a safari and the Zulu Battlefields

15 days
From £3,125
South Africa and Mauritius - Safari and Beach

A fabulous safari in Madikwe Private Game Reserve followed by a week on the beautiful island of Mauritius

12 days
From £2,500
South Africa: Family Caper

A self drive tour along the stunning Garden Route including Cape Town, the Winelands and a malaria free safari

10 days
From £3,965
Southern Africa: Wildlife and Beaches

Enjoy a fabulous safari at a tented camp in the Kruger before flying to beautiful Mozambique in search of whales, rays, sharks and dolphins

2 days
From £680
The Luxury Trains of South Africa

The Blue Train and Rovos Rail offer some of the most memorable and luxurious rail journeys in the world

12 days
From £3,935
Ultimate Southern Africa: Three Countries

Embrace the explorer in you with this three centre trip which includes Victoria Falls, a safari in Botswana's Chobe and Cape Town

4 days
From £1,820
Wild weekend: Kruger Fly-in

A long weekend to remember! Enjoy three nights at an authentic tented camp in the wilds of Kruger

Attractions in South Africa

Cape Town

This beautiful and multi-cultural ocean side city, with its string of windswept sandy beaches and Table Mountain backdrop has a fabulously relaxed air. Stroll the colourful waterfront, catch a concert at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, visit Robben Island and cruise the harbour.

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Attractions in South Africa

Cape Winelands

Picturesque villages, grand wine estates like Vergelegen and wonderful gourmet cafés and restaurants distinguish this beautiful region just beyond Cape Town.

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Attractions in South Africa

Drakensberg Mountains

Southern Africa’s highest mountain range is awe-inspiring. A series of basalt buttresses punctuate the skyline across four beautiful valleys. Walk, climb, bike, visit the ancient San rock art sites, or simply soak up the theatre.

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Attractions in South Africa

Eastern Cape Game Reserves

These vast malaria-free fenced private reserves are based on re-claimed farm land and are accessed from Port Elizabeth. A wonderful array of wildlife flourishes, including all the Big Five. Most reserves offer a choice of accommodation from family friendly lodges to tented camps

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Attractions in South Africa

Hermanus

From June to November Southern Right Whales gather in the shallows of Walker Bay with their young. Hermanus, just an hour from Cape Town, is one of the best places to observe them.

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Attractions in South Africa

iSIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK

Stretching for 200km from the border with Mozambique, this extraordinary place enjoys the beach and reef ecosystems of the Indian Ocean on one side, with leatherback and green turtles, dolphins and whales in the surf and on the other, forest, woodland, lakes and wetland home to antelope, hippo and zebra

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Attractions in South Africa

Kruger National Park

This vast national park bordering Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is one of Africa’s largest and best-known, offering a true wilderness experience. The wildlife is exceptional with all the Big Five in evidence. Unfenced, high quality private reserves like Timbavati, Sabi Sands and Manyeleti offer an exclusive safari experience

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Attractions in South Africa

Madikwe

Non-malarial 'Big Five' game reserve in North West province, north of Johannesburg, offering 75,000 hectares of bushveld.

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Attractions in South Africa

The Battlefields of KwaZulu Natal (KZN)

KZN’s north-western area is the site of South Africa’s most bloody episode in history – the Anglo-Boer Wars. Now these quiet hills are frequented by expert guides and international visitors who listen attentively to stories of the terrible battles that raged, most famously at Isandlwana in 1879. A visit to this area is emotional, fascinating and insightful.

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Attractions in South Africa

The Garden Route and Route 62

The Garden Route is a stunning self-drive which hugs the Cape’s dramatic coastline for over a hundred kilometres between Mossel Bay and Storms River, where fynbos, indigenous forest and golden sandy beaches are sandwiched between mountains and ocean. Route 62 is the quieter and shorter inland wine route which meanders via dramatic mountain scenery to Robertson before arriving in the arid Little Karoo.

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Map

Camps
Attractions

When To Go

For the Western Cape the summer months (Dec to Feb) offer long hot sunny days, with February being the hottest month. This is also the busiest time in the Cape. Whales frequent the coast June – November with the Hermanus Whale Festival held in September. Kruger’s peak period spans the winter months (May to Oct) when grass is short and days are dry. This is a great time to be on safari. KwaZulu Natal is also a joy at this time, with mild, dry winter weather.

Being in the Southern hemisphere, South Africa's seasons are the opposite to ours. Their summer runs from December to March, autumn until May and then winter from June until August. Of course, being such a large country and open to so many factors that influence the weather, its not as simple as that in terms of when to go. Additionally it depends on what your priorties are and what you want to get out of your visit - safari, whales, sightseeing etc.

In general South Africa’s climate is sunny and temperate throughout the year. However the best time for game viewing in the Kruger is the dry winter months – June to September. Winter nights can be extremely cold on safari so warm clothes are essential. The animals can however be seen year-round so safari is possible whenever you visit. The option of safari in the reserves of the Cape Provinces is now very popular and sightings are excellent throughout the year at these malaria-free game reserves. 

Cape Town and the Garden Route has a Mediterranean climate, with rains during the winter. So the best time for seeing the Cape, and Table Mountain, in all its glory are the summer months – November to March. The best time for flowers however is springtime, August to September.

Whale watching is best in the winter/spring months (July - November), and during this time proteas can be seen growing wild in the Riviers-Onderend and Outeniqua mountains.

Most of South Africa is classified as arid (less that 50 cm of rain a year) so rain is not a big issue. The exception of the Cape and Cape Town, with year-round rain fall that is responsible for the amazing plant life and high quality wines produced in the area. Although winters are wetter and cloudier, its still a great time to go to avoid the crowds. May is one of our favourite times in the Western Cape as the visitors are gone, the temperature is comfortably cool but still sunny, perfect for sight-seeing, and prices are greatly reduced. 

What To Do

South Africa is perfectly suited to tailor-made holidays with a fantastic range of accommodation from family friendly self-catering apartments with pools to beautiful Cape Dutch wine estates. While many areas can be easily explored using a hire vehicle, in game reserves and parks we recommend staying in a private camp/lodge where you can enjoy top class guiding in open safari vehicles.

Cape Town and the Cape provinces are a popular and must-visit destination. The City is one of the most stunning in the world, its centre is situated in an amphitheatre running up the lower slopes of Table Mountain. There is plenty to do here, from a trip on the Cable car up the mountain to enjoy the stunning views of the city and the surrounding coastline, to a boat trip to Mandela's old prison on Robben Island. The Waterfront offers great shopping and dining.

The Cape Provinces are home to the Winelands, rolling hills covered with vines that produce some excellent wines, with many of the vineyards offering tastings and tours. Their coastline forms what is known as the Garden Route, a rugged coastline that is rich in flora and fauna because of its temperate climate. From the Cape of Good Hope, through Boulders Bay with its penguin colony, you arrive at Hermanus, a pretty coastal town famous for its shore based whale-watching.

From here you continue to Knysna, beautifully situated on a tidal lagoon, and a great place to stay and explore the surrounding countryside and Tsitsikama forest. Moving east you arrive at Plettenberg Bay where you can take a boat trip out looking for whales and dolphins - last time we were here we saw a pod of over 100 dolphins. 

Most Garden Route tours end (or start, you can do the route in reverse and finish in Cape Town) in Port Elizabeth, the advantage of this being that you can end with a safari. To the east of Port Elizabeth there are several National Parks and Private Game Reserves that boast the Big 5 and excellent game-viewing. Addo Elephant reserve is Government owned and claims to offer the Big seven- the traditional animals of lion, leopards, elephants, rhino and buffalo, plus the two marine attractions of whales and sharks. The Private Reserves, such as Shamwari and Kariega, have different types of accommodation, from lodge, camp to private houses and great game viewing.

If safari is what your visit is about them the place to visit is Kruger National Park situated in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.. One of the largest and most famous reserves in the world, it is part of the Transfrontier Park with areas of Zimbabwe and Mozambique which together offer a vast tract of protected areas. You can stay at a network of Government owned rest camps and lodges, or in one of the many luxury lodges and camps that have private concessions around the park. For those in Johannesburg its is possible to drive to Pilanesberg National Park and either stay inside, enjoying the game, or in the resort of Sun City nearby.

Other interesting destinations include the Drakensberg Mountains in which you can enjoy some excellent walking or riding trails. A visit to Swaziland is possible on most tours, and a stay in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho can also be arranges. As you travel towards Durban you travel through Kwa-Zulu Natal, and are able to see the cultural homeland of the famous Zulu tribe and the battle fields from the Boer Wars.

As well as these few highlights, there are many other things to see and places to do. We can organize visits to townships where a local guide will show you everyday life, a tour that visits all the main places from the life of Nelson Mandela, or combinations of the best of South Africa with either Mauritius or the beautiful Victoria Falls in Zambia. Whatever you choose, South Africa won't disappoint.

 

Malaria free safari areas

You can safari in the following areas without taking malaria pills, based on current advice: The Eastern Cape, Madikwe, Pilanesberg, The Waterberg. To read our blog about non malarial safaris in South Africa please click here.

 

Why We Love

Of all the countries we offer holidays to, South Africa is probably the most diverse. Its landscapes vary from arid deserts to the verdant Garden route, high mountains to a truly stunning coastline.

There are so many great reasons to visit South Africa, not least because it's a fascinating country packed full of culture, heritage, wildlife and of course, excellent safari. 

We believe a trip to the Cape Provinces of South Africa is one of the truly great holidays, something that should be on everybody's bucket list. To start with there is Cape Town, one of the World's truly great cities. Nestling in an amphitheatre below the iconic Table mountain, you can explore its waterfront and its sights before enjoying a world-class meal with world-class wine. 

Next day you can drive out to the vineyards that made it, travelling through a picturesque landscape of rolling hills and Dutch-style estates, sampling their wares.

There is the famous Cape of Good Hope and the Botanical Gardens, not forgetting lunch at Boulders Bay, home to the only colony of penguins in Africa. Always a favourite with the children, its gets them enthused about the whales and dolphins you will be looking for as you head to Hermanus and Knysna on the Garden Route. If you're feeling adventurous, why not take a boat trip from Plettenberg Bay out in search of marine life, including whales and dolphins.

We took one of the speed boat tours, racing over the low swell in the gorgeous soft light of early morning. "We soon slowed and stopped to watch two passing humpback whales, an amazing sight. It was bettered twenty minutes later however when a pod of several hundred dolphins appeared and swam with us for several minutes. Wow" Rob, Real Africa director.

To cap it off a safari at one of the private reserves. Luxury, peace and the chance to game drive and see some of Africa's famous animals.

With no malaria, its a great place to take the kids, especially as there are plenty of activities we can suggest to keep them further occupied. With excellent roads, it makes for a relaxing and fun self-drive holiday and with the rand currently weak against the pound its excellent value for money!