INFORMATION SOUTH AFRICA

Information, the Republic of South Africa

Information, the Republic of South Africa

South Africa with its population of approx. 58 million has a land size which is 5 times larger than Great Britain. Within the borders of this multi-faceted country lays hidden unlimited beautiful nature, magnificent mountains, a vibrant culture, a lush wine district, enormous farming land, an unlimited coast line, savannahs, desert etc. South Africa offers experiences for everyone and a visit to the so called rainbow nation, with its colourful people, leaves wonderful travel memories. The country’s transformative history has resulted in a melting pot with peoples originating from different historical times. Influences come from the diverse African tribes as well as Dutch, British, French and German colonialists. South Africa is a country in constant development and despite the enormous problems faced by the country such as unemployment, HIV/AIDS and crime, the “new South Africa” is one of the most inspiring and promising countries to visit.

Climate South Africa: South Africa has two main climate zones. During the summer (November-April) there will be some heavy rain, especially in the east and along the Indian Ocean. During this period, it is very hot and humid in these areas. During the same period, it is hot and dry around the Cape Province. During the winter months (May-October), the weather inland and on the east coast is sunny, dry and fairly mild. KwaZulu-Natal, on the Indian Ocean, has about 20-30 degrees, while in the mountains towards Lesotho it can be zero degrees. In the Cape Province it is then very cool and some rain occurs.

Best period to travel: Depending on what you are interested in, it may be worth checking out the best season for desirable experiences. The Whale season runs from June to early December. The high season and especially the so-called “peak season” in December / January is very popular and requires booking for accommodation, safaris, activities and restaurants well in advance. The low season in May-August offers better prices on accommodation etc. The best time to travel in terms of weather, when it is warm and more stable, is from February to April.

Below you find information about the cities and areas that are included in Upplev Sydafrika’s different travel packages:

The Western Cape

The Western Cape is a province in southern South Africa. It covers the southwestern parts of the country, at the Cape of Good Hope, and has coasts to both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. The capital is Cape Town. Other famous cities / areas in the Western Cape Province include the wine districts with Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, the Cape Peninsula with the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Aghulhas – Africa’s southernmost point, Hermanus, the west coast and the Garden Route. The Western Cape Province was formed in 1994 by dividing the former Cape Province. The pleasant Mediterranean climate means that the summers (November-April) are usually sunny and warm with temporary thunderstorms. The hot days are “cooled down” by the colder breeze from the Atlantic. The average temperature in summer is 26 degrees. During the winter (May-October) it is cooler and it can rain a lot, followed by sunny pleasant days. Sometimes there are storms and strong winds. The average temperature in winter is 14 degrees. In the Western Cape Province you find some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. The water temperature is rarely above 17 degrees.

 

Cape Town

Cape Town has a population of approx. 4 million (including the suburbs), the country’s second largetst city, and is seen as one of the world’s most beautiful towns. It is easy to fall in love with South Africa’s best known town with its grand nature, beautiful coastline, white beaches and cloud covered mountains. Cape Town is the mecca of attractions which offers a large variation of fantastic experiences – something which suites all of us! The city is beautifully situated at the foot of Table Mountain, its most famous landmark. There are plenty of nice restaurants, bars, night clubs, shops, etc. and confortable accommodation at different standards and prices. Read more about EXPERIENCE CAPE TOWN & CAPE PENINSULA.

 

Hermanus

Hermanus has a population of approx. 95,000 and is situated around 120 km from Cape Town. The town and its grand nature is located in the beautiful area of Walker Bay which is surrounded by the ocean, beautiful mountains and miles of white beaches. Hermanus has become known as the “Whale Watching Capital of South Africa”. During the whale season, from june to the beginning of December, one can experience the Southern Right Whale the Humpback Whale and the Bryde’s Whale. East of the town you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, including the 21 km long Grotto Beach. The town offers a large range of accommodation of different standards and prices. There are many nice restaurants and it is teeming with small fascinating boutiques, galleries, and a number of markets, all within walking distance. Read more about EXPERIENCE HERMANUS.

 

Paternoster 

Along the west coast, approx. two hours from Cape Town, is the charming small old fishing village, Paternoster situated. The village, with its white washed fishermans cottages and the characteristic colorful blue and red painted wooden boats along the sandy beaches, has grown and become an increasingly popular destination in South Africa. Stroll along the long white beaches and have lunch at one of the charming fish- or gourmet restaurants. Visit galleries and buy your crayfish directly from the local fishermen in the village.

 

The Cape Winelands

The town of Franschhoek (population approx. 15.000) – which in Afrikaans means the French hook – is well known for three quality things, you should be able to: eat well, drink well and sleep well. The city definitely lives up to its reputation, located in one of the world’s most beautiful wine valleys. For more than 300 years ago settled by the French Huguenots in the region, whose vineyards and food knowledge today has resulted in South Africa’s gastronomic capital. It was only when the French Huguenots arrived in South Africa, the winemaking took off and with their knowledge laid the foundation for today’s South African wine industry. Around the picturesque town you will find some of the absolute best vineyards in South Africa.

Stellenbosch (population approx. 200.000) with its Victorian and Dutch architecture and historic buildings stand out as a vibrant university town with many restaurants, bars, clubs and accommodation in different price categories. The area’s rich soil is essential for the production of fruits, vegetables and good wine. Surrounded by spectacular mountains, is the most famous wine region in South Africa and the climate make it ideal for wine production. Stellenbosch is the wine capital of South Africa who was first to promote the so-called “wine route” (1970). This is where many of the country’s most popular wineries are located.

Paarl (population approx. 191.000) takes its name from the huge granite outcrop that stands proudly on the crest of Paarl Mountain. The town was founded in 1687, is the third oldest settlement in South Africa and has a rich cultural and historical heritage. The birth of Afrikaans as the world’s youngest language is celebrated by the iconic Afrikaans Language Monument that stands prominently on the southern slopes of Paarl Mountain. The town has many fine examples of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Cape Dutch buildings that compete for space with a wide variety of fine restaurants and coffee shops spread out along the 12 km long Main Street. Just outside Paarl is the Drakenstein Prison, where Nelson Mandela spent his last years of captivity and from which he completed his “long walk to freedom”. Paarl boasts true country hospitality, award winning wine farms and estates, and a plethora of accommodation to suit both your requirements and budget. Revel in beautiful fynbos-rich walks and hiking trails, cycle along superb mountain-biking trails or take a relaxing drive through the countryside to enjoy the spectacular scenery, followed by a leisurely lunch and fine wines from the region. Read more about EXPERIENCE THE CAPE WINELANDS.

 

Eastern Cape Province

The Eastern Cape is a province in southern South Africa, along the Indian Ocean, stretching from Stormsriver in the west, to Port Edward in the east and Lesotho in the north. The largest city in the area is Port Elizabeth, which is also the second oldest and fifth largest city in South Africa. The Eastern Cape Province is characterized by a diversity of nature, from the desolate, arid plateaus and bush steppes in the interior by the ridges, to the green forest areas in the south. The climate in the Eastern Cape consists of warm summers (February) and mild winters (July). The region has the most hours of sunshine in all of South Africa with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. There is an average of 476 mm of rain per year, of which most in March and least in July. The average temperature in July is 19.6 degrees and in February 26.5 degrees. It is coldest at night in July when the temperature can drop to an average of 6.4 degrees. Addo Elephant National Park is located in the Eastern Cape Province, just north of Port Elizabeth, and is South Africa’s third largest national park. The reserve was established in 1931 to protect the last eleven individuals of the region’s elephants. The malaria-free reserve is about 148,000 hectares, has about 550 elephants and the Big 5. Information about Addo Elephant National Park. Read more about SAFAR IN EASTERN CAPE.

 

Garden Route

The Garden Route is one of the popular destinations in South Africa. Reaching from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth the section known as the Whale Route takes you to the shores where the Southern Right Whales visit annually to calve. The inland on Route 62 through the Little Karoo offers some of South Africa’s most breathtaking mountain passes. The green and scenic coastal Route runs from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River Mouth in the east and is the most traditional of the Garden Route journeys. Garden Route has much to offer such as beautiful scenery, world class golf courses, beautiful endless white beaches, hiking trails, etc. The climate is mild with relatively high rainfall that naturally contributes to the greenery.

 

Route 62

The Cape Route 62 is a tourist route that meanders between Cape Town, Oudtshoorn, the Garden Route, and Port Elizabeth, offering the scenic alternative to the N2 highway. The beautiful Route 62 is named for the R62 provincial route, which it follows from Montagu to Humansdorp ca 650 km, but the tourist route extends further along other highways to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Also known as the Wine Route, Route 62 leads through the wine-growing areas of Wellington, Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson and the Klein Karoo and is thus one of the longest wine routes in the world. Activities along Route 62 include wine tours, safari drives, tribal art, cultural tours, museums, hiking, mountain climbing, 4×4 routes, canoeing, horse riding, ostrich riding, fishing, caving, and even skydiving. Read more about EXPERIENCE GARDEN ROUTE & ROUTE 62.

 

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926. To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the east is Mozambique, and in the north is Zimbabwe. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, an area designated by UNESCO as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the “Biosphere”). The park has 9 main gates that allow entrance to the different camps. At least 150 mammals species, 500 birds, 115 reptiles, 50 fish and 35 amphibians have been recorded in Kruger. Read more about SAFARI IN GREATER KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

 

Panorama Route

Mpumalanga is a magnificent region and home to many of South Africa’s most spectacular natural attractions and landmarks, including the magnificent Panorama Route. The most spectacular part of the Panorama Route is the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world. The cliffs rise hundreds of meters above the river bed. The mile-long canyon can be seen from many vantage points that begin and end at the stunning rock formations of Bourke’s Luck Potholes and Three Rondavels. In the same area are the dramatic lookout points Wonder View and God’s Window, the ancient caves Echo Caves and the stately cliff The Pinnacle. There are also lots of waterfalls, to name a few of nature’s amazing wonders in the area.

Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa and is also one of the lesser- known parks. This makes it a hidden- gem as it is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers “the Big 5” in a 680 km2 park (750 km2 including newly incorporated privately owned land). The Game Reserve lies 90 km north of Zeerust on what used to be farm land, but owing to the poor soil type, farming was not that successful. After extensive research, the South African Government found that this land would best be utilised as a national park, to economically uplift this otherwise rather poor area. The process reintroducing wildlife to the area began in 1992 under the codename Operation Phoenix which relocated entire breeding herds of elephants, Cape buffaloes, south-central black rhinos and southern white rhinos along with various species of antelopes. Following Operation Phoenix, Madikwe has also successfully reintroduce rarer predatory species such as lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and Cape wild dogs bringing the total large mammal population of the reserve to over 10 000. There are currently more than 60 species of mammal in the park. The park offers a number of luxurious lodges as well as community lodges in a malaria- free zone. Read more about SAFAR IN MADIKWE GAME RESERVE.

 

KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal, formerly Natal, province of South Africa, is located in the eastern portion of the country. It is bounded to the north by Swaziland and Mozambique, to the east by the warm waters of Indian Ocean, to the south by Eastern Cape province, to the west by Lesotho and Free State province, and to the northwest by Mpumalanga province. KwaZulu-Natal is generally hilly or mountainous, especially along its western border. The land rises from the coast to more than 11,000 feet (3,300 metres) along the massive Drakensberg Escarpment on that border. Beyond the Drakensberg lies the Highveld, or high plateau. The long coastal region includes a World Heritage Site, the magnificent Isimangaliso Wetland Park. KwaZulu-Natal’s people belong to various ethnic groups, a colorful fusion of cultures. The provincial capital is Pietermaritzburg. Durban, together with neighbouring Pinetown, is the province’s economic and industrial centre. KwaZulu-Natal offers a remarkable range of habitats for wildlife. It’s famous for rhino – they were brought back from extinction thanks to successful programmes in the public parks here decades ago. In the area a unique Kwazulu-Natal “Big 5” safari awaits and there is a range of luxury lodges that offer comfortable accommodation and daily adventures. Read more about SAFAR KWAZULU-NATAL.

 

History Of South Africa In Review

1488 Bartholomeus Diaz rounded Cape & landed in Mossel Bay.

1498 Vasco Da Gama rounds the Cape.

1503 António de Saldanha was a Castilian-Portuguese 16th century captain. He was the first European to set anchor in what is now called Table Bay, and made the first recorded ascent of Table Mountain.

1606 John Chapman 1st Mate of the “Consent” investigated Chapman’s Peak.

1652 Jan van Riebeeck arrives at the Cape (Dromedaris; Reijger and Goede Hoop) at the future Cape Town on 6 April and fortified the site as a way station for the VOC trade route between the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company.

1655 1st Vines planted.

1658 1st slaves arrive on “Amersfoort”.

1659 1st wine made.

1662 Jan van Riebeeck departed.

1666 Started building the castle. Completed 1679.

1672 1st Brandy distilled.

1679 Simon van der Stel 1st Governor.

1688 Huguenot’s arrive.

1699-1707 Willem Adriaan van der Stel 2nd Governor.

1700 Trek Boer movement begins.

1711 Constantia Wine became famous in Europe.

1713 Smallpox epidemic.

17511771 Ryk Tulbagh Governor.

1795 1st British occupation. Battle of Muizenberg 5-7 August.

1803 Cape returns to Batavian Republic.

1806 2nd British occupation. Battle of Blouberg 8th January.

1807 Abolition of slave trade in British Colonies.

1834 Slavery is abolished 1st December.

1835 Great Trek Started.

1838 Slaves emancipated.

1862 Preferential Tariff’s & Export market collapsed.

1866 1st Diamond discovered in Hope Town.

1867 Diamond mining starts in Kimberly.

1876 Die Patriot 1st Afrikaans newspaper.

1880 1st Anglo Boer War starts.

1881 War ends, Boer victory.

1885 Vineyards destroyed by Phylloxera.

1886 Gold discovered in Johannesburg.

1897 Nkosi Sikelela (composed by Enoch Satonga).

1899 2nd Anglo Boer War starts.

1902 2nd Anglo Boer war ends (British Victory).

1910 Union of South Africa. Dominion of British Empire.

1912 ANC formed.

1913 1st native land act. Resettling blacks to traditional tribal areas.

1914 1st World war.

1918 World War ends. KWV formed to protect wine growers interests.

1922 Chapman’s Peak Drive Completed.

1925 Afrikaans becomes official language.

1926 Union of SA becomes member of the commonwealth.

1939 2nd World War starts.

1945 2nd World War ends.

1948 National Party wins election.

1949 Prohibition of mixed marriages.

1950 Group areas act (based on 1913 act) Suppression of Communism act.

1953 Bantu Education Act & Separate Amenities Act.

1955 Coloureds removed from voters roll.

1957 SA Navy takes over from Royal Navy.

1960 Sharpeville massacre.

1961 SA becomes a republic & forced to leave commonwealth. Albert Luthuli receives Nobel Peace Prize.

1963 Nelson Mandela imprisoned.

1966 HF Verwoerd assassinated & District Six declared a white area.

1971 1st wine route (Stellenbosch).

1975 Afrikaans Taal Monument.

1976 Soweto riots.

1977 Steve Biko dies in detention.

1983 Tri-Cameral parliament.

1984 Bishop Desmond Tutu receives Nobel Peace Prize.

1986 Influx control & Pass laws abolished.

1989 FW de Klerk becomes state president.

1990 Nelson Mandela released. ANC, PAC & SAPC unbanned.

1993 FW de Klerk & Nelson Mandela receive Nobel Peace Prize.

1994 1st democratic elections (27/04).

1995 SA host rugby world cup. Mandela wears Springbok jersey. TRC – truth & reconciliation commission Est.

1999 Thabo Mbeki becomes president 14th June to September 2008.

2008 Kgalema Motlanthe took over presidency until May 2009.

2009 General Election May. Jacob Zuma becomes president. DA (Democratic Alliance) Won The Western Cape with an overall majority From the ANC with Hellen Zille as premier.

2010 World Soccer Cup a major success acclaimed by FIFA.

2011 SA followed the world economic trend decline.

2012 There are signs of recovery with a decline in crime statistics.

Info: SOUTH AFRICA
Capitals:
Cape Town (legislative)
Pretoria (executive)
Bloemfontein (judicial)

Population:
Ca 58 million

Area:
1 219 912 km²

Government:
Republic
President: Cyril Ramaphosa

11 official languages:
afrikaans, english, ndebele, pedi, sotho, swazi, tsonga, tswana, venda, xhosa, zulu.

Provinces:
There are nine provinces in South Africa: Eastern Cape, Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

National Symbols:
National bird: Blue crane
National animal: Springbock
National flower: (Kings)Protea
National fish: Galjoen
National tree: Yellowwood

Religions:
Religion: Christianity, approx 80 % (with elements of traditional and local religions). Large groups of hindus, jews and muslims.