South Africa

A country that has faced atrocities beyond imagination, welcomed migrants of all diversity, is rich in culture and traditions but yet humble, modest and subdued,South Africa or The Rainbow Nation is a destinations which has something to offer everyone.
South Africa is all about diversity, sophisticated cities to quaint villages, wide open beaches to some of the highest mountains, cultures from all over Europe, Asia and Africa; traditions, cuisines, languages, close encounter with wild animals in their natural habitat etc. It is a destination that has anything and everything anyone can dream of. The sprawling township of SOWETO to the rural areas surrounding are all exceptionally beautiful.. The locals are a friendly and would do their best to make you feel comfortable and welcome.

May to September is the best time to visit South Africa, when it is sunny and the game drives are not interrupted by showers.Though it is considered low season in terms of tourism, it is still the best time as it avoids coinciding with the school holidays which is in December. It is also an opportunity to see a lot of animals in the same place as it is dry season and animals congregate around waterholes. 

Some of the best known tourist destinations are Cape Winelands in Western Cape, Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, Durban and some excellent beaches in KwaZulu-Natal etc.

Visit the SOWETO museum and feel the history of Apartheid, the atrocities, humiliation suffering and pain of the people who were the victims then.

South Africa has eight United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites
  • Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
  • Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa
  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  • Maloti-Drakensberg Park
  • Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
  • Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
  • Robben Island
  • Vredefort Dome

Abseiling from Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain, rock-climbing in the craggy Cederberg, bungee jumping from a Garden Route bridge, or surfing off the Eastern Cape coast are some of the outdoor activities South Africa has to offer.
South Africa is considered one of the best wildlife destinations in Africa. Spot the Big Five and more in the world famous Kruger National park. Enjoy either the self driven game viewing or join the innumerable tours that is led by the highly professional park rangers.
The best way to experience the diversity of South Africa is through is menus. Taste the spicy, Indian-style curries, in Durban, enjoy hearty Afrikaner stews in the hinterland, Sample traditional samp and beans in Limpopo; tuck into seafood along the coast to Cape Town. You can also take a pick on the of the bistros, cafes and top-notch restaurants that makes South Africa a manna for the foodies.Also most vineyards offer delectable restaurants with wines to match. The Cape Malay cuisine is a mating of cultures and flavors that best describes South Africa.
For a safe and enjoyable trip to South Africa it is important to heed the below mentioned safety tips:

Do not walk around the city at night, even if you are in a group. should there be a necessity, request your hotel or guesthouse to order a reliable taxi for you. Do not just hail a passing taxi on the street randomly!

In large cities, avoid the central business districts at night.

Avoid wearing flashy, expensive jewelry and watches and do not carry large amounts of cash. Carry your camera unobtrusively in a bag, rather than slung over your shoulder.  Hold your bag close to your body and beware of pickpockets and other confidence tricksters on the streets and in crowded stores. Be aware of ATM theft.

If driving in a car, keep the doors locked at all times in city traffic. Do not drive with the windows down. Disregard any stranger who tries to confront you at a red traffic light or stop street. 

Do not leave any valuables or any other possessions at all in sight when parking a car. Leave everything in the trunk. Use a good steering-lock at all times when leaving your car unattended. A lock on the fuel tank cap is also an essential and is fitted to nearly all vehicles. Use only a removable car radio and lock it in the trunk when leaving your car. 

Only use the services of a person wearing an official “bib” stating that he is a recognized car guard.

Distances between cities in South Africa are large and gas stations not all that plentiful, so be sure to fill your tank whenever possible and ensure that your car is in a good mechanical condition before you set out on any journey. 

Travel with a good, detailed, up-to-date map (available at most gas stations) and plan your route in advance.

Do not stop for any hitch-hiker or other person seemingly in trouble on the open road, in the street or at motorway off-ramps. Drive on and report the incident to the Police. Only stop at official Police-manned roadblocks.

The emergency number to call for the Police is 10111. It is advised to tourists carry a fully functioning mobile phone at all times.

The National Tourism Information and Safety number to call is 083 123 2345—they will give you up-to-date information on safety in any particular area. 

Leave your passport, air tickets and other valuables in a safety deposit box at the reception. Carry copies of your passport on you at all times. Keep photocopies of your credit and debit cards in a safe place.

Keep your hotel room locked at all times and only open the door if you are certain who is on the other side. 

Park only in areas which are well-lit at night. 

If you wish to visit one of the African townships, only do so on an organized tour, recommended by locals or by your hotel or guesthouse.

Be especially watchful at airports or bus stations, where criminal gangs are known to operate.

It is not safe to get down from a vehicle when driving through a game park—except at designated picnic spots and rest camps. Do not disturb the animals in anyway. If one happens to cross your path; stop and do not make noise.

Have essential numbers of your travel and health insurance and important local phone numbers to call in case of emergency at all times.
South Africa has a very amicable climate with plenty of sunny and dry days. Altitude and the surrounding oceans are the main influencing factors of the climate. There is a drop of 6o C drop for every 1000m elevation. Indian ocean on the east coast with its warm current and the Atlantic Ocean with its cold current on the west coast brings in the best of summer and winter experiencees to South Africa but at opposite times as Europe and North America.

Dry season - May to September - Winter
There is almost no rainfall during all of winter and humidity is very low. When water becomes scarce wildlife will gather around predictable water resources. The Western Cape has winter rainfall and will be cold and wet. Since this isn't a wildlife area, it won't be included in the rest of the descriptions.

May - This month brings the end of summer. Temperatures are relatively cool, typically 10°C/50°F in the morning and 26°C/79°F in the afternoon.
June, July & August - Morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold, so it's advised to pack warm winter clothing. The average morning temperature is 6°C/42°F. Afternoons will be more pleasant with temperatures around 23-25°C/73-77°F.
September & October - The heat gradually builds to about 28°C/82°F in the afternoons and the first rains bring relief from very dry conditions. Mornings are more pleasant as well, around 12°C/53°F

Wet season - October to April - Summer
The summer rains are usually afternoon storms and it can be uncomfortably hot on the Indian Ocean coast, with temperatures up to 30°C/86°F and high humidity. At this time, it is unbearably hot in the Kalahari desert area and temperatures can climb up to 40°C/ 104°F.

October & November - It gets warmer and starts to rain more often, mostly in the afternoons. Temperatures are between 15°C/59°F in the morning and 28°C/82°F in the afternoon.
December, January & Februay - These are the wettest months, characterized by torrential downpours in the afternoon. Afternoon temperatures are around 29°C/84°F and the humidity is high.
March & April - Rainfall will decrease and it slowly gets colder. This continues in April, which has lovely clear weather and few clouds. The nights get a bit colder but are still pleasant at about 15°C/59°F. Daytime temperatures are around 28°C/82°F on and humidity drops in April, resulting in very nice weather.
The name "Rainbow Nation", coined by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu is very apt for this country. There is an integration of multi ethnicity ranging from descendants of Dutch settlers, British, Afrikans and then the French, German and Portuguese in 1600s brought with them the Indian and modern day Indonesian slaves.

There are nine officially recognized local languages of which the Xhosa and Zulu are the most prominent, constituting almost 40% of the population.

Bead adornment forms a very integral part of the culture for both men and women and each color is symbolic e.g speaks of loneliness or "I will wait for you".

Dancing and music is as much a part of them as food and water, though with ethnic integration came the mixing of different types of music, yet with the strong flavor of Africa.

A (very) Brief History of South Africa

South Africa was colonised by the British and Dutch settlers, who fought over the land and resources. Under colonial rule, black South Africans were segregated from white South Africans, and were denied access to the many privileges afforded to the Whites, such as education and land. In 1948 the National Party came to power and introduced a strict policy of Apartheid, making the rules around the segregation of society much stricter.

Over the next 40 years, Black South Africans fought against Apartheid. In 1963, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1994, he became president of South Africa, and worked hard to bring unity to black and white South Africa. He retired in 1999. He died in December 2013, and was mourned worldwide.

In the 21st century, economic growth in South Africa has slowed. The legacy of colonisation and Apartheid lives on in many ways, with a society that continues to be segregated based on economics and financial success, and a society that, in some areas, continues to struggle with crime and violence.

Despite Apartheid, and in some ways because of it, South Africa is a country with a fascinating mix of cultures all interacting with one another in a way that provides any visitor with an amazing array of cultural experiences.