Official Name: Republic of South Africa
Population: 52 Million (2011 Census)
Land Area: 1.2 million square kilometres
Capital: Cape Town
Currency: 1 rand (R or ZAR) = AUD 9.50 cents (calculated 01 September 2016) Debit card with Cirrus or maestro symbol on it is accepted in most capitals. Visa and MasterCard are useful in major cities and US currency is commonly used
Time: 2 hours ahead of GMT (AWST is 8 hours ahead of GMT)
Language: Multilingual. There are 11 official languages and English is widely spoken. Afrikaans, isiZulu and isiXhosa are the most widely spoken languages.
Schooling: Education is compulsory for all South Africans from age seven to 15 years
Parliament: Bicameral Parliament elected every 5 years. Until 1994, the country was known for apartheid – white-minority rule.
Agriculture: 81% of total land area
Key Industries: Mining (worlds largest producer of platinum, chromium and one of the world’s largest producers of gold.) automobile assembly, metal-working, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizers, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair. South Africa is renowned for its wines and has the strongest economy in Africa. In 2010, South Africa hosted the first Football World Cup to be held on the African continent.
Health Tips: Many of the main tourist areas are malaria free but some areas of South Africa do pose a risk. Transmission is seasonal, with peak rates of infection occurring in April and declining by June. Consult your doctor or specialist travel clinic for latest advise as it changes regularly. High quality tap water is available in urban areas but not all water in rural areas are safe to drink straight from the tap. In the Cape, particularly, the water contains humic acid, which stains it the colour of diluted coco-cola – this is absolutely harmless and the water is wonderful, just a colour not usual to us. Bottled mineral water, both sparkling and still is cheap and readily available at most places. (1.5 litre from markets R12 = AUD1.20). For up to date advice refer to http://www.smartraveller.gov.au
Geography & Climate: South Africa lies between 22 – 35 degrees South. South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. On the West Coast is the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the Indian Ocean whose waters meet spectacularly at the most southern tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho (which is completely surrounded by South Africa). The South African coastline stretches 2800 km from Namibia’s desert border in the northwest, down the icy Skeleton coast to Cape Agulhas then the green hills and wide beaches of the garden route, along the Indian Ocean which is renown for whale watching, on to the subtropical Mozambique area in the North East. A mountainous escarpment separates it from the high inland plateau. South Africa is primarily a subtropical location moderated by ocean on three sides and the altitude of the interior plateau makes it a warm and sunny country. It is also dry, with an average annual rainfall of approx. 450mm, with approx. 21% of the country receiving less than 450mm. (the world average is 860). While the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, the rest of the country is mostly a summer-rainfall region. Seasons are the same as Australia.
The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa, while the agapanthus, gladiolus, Barberton daisy and Gardenia Thunbergia all originate from South Africa. Fynbos (an Afrikaans word meaning fine bush, a mix of ericas, heathers, proteas and others) are found throughout the south western area. Spring is a very pretty time to visit South Africa and a short few weeks it can be a breath-taking sight in the Namaqualand area where is dry, rocky and desert like but covered in a wide variety of wild flowers. The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town are well worth visiting to see many of South Africans wonderful flora.
South Africa ranks as one of the top birding destinations in the world and also its celebrated Big Five; elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. But so can the lesser known Little Five; elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise. There is nothing quite like the African bush and with 19 National Parks and countless private game parks and reserves and wetland parks, South Africa is a wonderful destination for a huge variety of wildlife unique to Africa.
Cuisine and wine in South Africa is second to none with anything from crocodile sirloins to fried caterpillars but also a familiar global menu served with finesse. The countries rich cultural heritage as well as the natural bounty of seafood, meat, game and plants are certainly taken advantage of here and of course washed down with international quality wines from picturesque Franschoek Valley and Stellenbosch.
Across the country you will find fantastic arts, crafts, markets, malls but no visit to South Africa would be complete without stopping at the most beautiful city of Cape Town. Perched between the ocean and Table Mountain it is truly a beautiful city – a fantastic base to visit Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) interesting buildings like the Dutch homesteads to the suwettos, live music, art exhibitions, museums, endless shopping at markets and high quality shops & restaurants at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, vibrant nightlife but also beautiful beach life, diving, surfing; it all can be done from Cape Town.
On the Panorama Route you will experience mountains sky forests and truly impressive Blyde River Canyon, with lush subtropical foliage its the worlds largest green canyons. Stunning vistas around every mountain corner, waterfalls plunging down sheer rock faces, eagles hover above your head while viewing scenic landmarks like Gods Window, Wonder View, The Pinnacle, Bourkes Luck Potholes and the Three Rondawels add some historical romance to the gold rush era of 1873.
Experience the diversity of South Africa, taking in the beauty of Cape Town, dominated by Table Mountain or the long sandy beaches along the Garden Route, as well as the abundance of wildlife in the Kruger National Park, the gorgeous beauty of the Blyde River Canyon and much more – the whole world in one country!
Australia passport holders do not currently require a visa to enter South Africa. Effective on/after 16 January 2017, all diplomatic, official and ordinary passport holders of New Zealand 3will require a visa to enter South Africa. For further information regarding visa requirement for new Zealand passport holders please visit www.dha.gov.za
Traveljoy Safaris that include South Africa:
27 Day Namibia Safari (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia)
29 Day African Splendour (Ultimate Safari)
29 Day Discover Kenya & South Africa (Ultimate Safari)
50 Day Grand Tour of Africa (Ultimate Safari)