Herd of elephants

South Africa

Few places on earth offer such an alluring variety of gorgeous scenery, historical relevance, modern cities, and world-class wildlife viewing. While words may begin to describe the thrill of seeking out game in a private reserve, or the peaceful moment at dusk as the setting sun silhouettes Table Mountain against a purple sky, nothing beats witnessing all of it firsthand! 

South Africa today boasts internationally acclaimed adventure; and traveling to South Africa has never been easier. Watch the turquoise blue ocean or dance the night away in Cape Town. Sip refreshing chardonnays from a Western Cape winery. Peer through "God's Window" down the Blyde River Canyon.

Tours & Packages to South Africa

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A Taste of South Africa
Scenic and historic Cape Town then 4 game drives in Entabeni Safari Conservancy; optional extension to Victoria Falls
9 days  •  from $2299 $1999
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Best of South Africa
Cape Town & Johannesburg, 3 game drives in Kruger and a private conservancy, plus an afternoon bush walk; stay in upscale hotels throughout
13 days  •  from $3599 $3199
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights
Incredible South Africa with Rovos Luxury Train
A Crown Collection Luxury Tour: Johannesburg, 4 safaris in a Private Game Reserve, 2 nights aboard Rovos Luxury Train & Cape Town
13 days  •  from $7599 $6999
per person, double occupancy*
dates luxury tour + flights
Kenya Wildlife Safari
Nairobi, then 9 game drives in Samburu, Ol Pejeta, Lake Nakuru & Masai Mara; Stay in deluxe Nairobi hotels & superior safari lodges
10 days  •  $3999 $3599
per person, double occupancy*
dates small group tour + flights

Highlights

  1. Kruger National Park Safari

    Lion family, Kruger National ParkTake a journey, beyond the familiar, on an unforgettable South African safari. Throughout the diverse landscape, Mother Nature reigns supreme. South Africa is home to more than 1,100 unique species of bird and mammal! Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, offers visitors the chance to glimpse an incredible ecosystem as well as rare or endangered animals. The reserve is home to the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes as well as cheetahs, giraffes and more.

  2. Johannesburg

    Johannesburg skylineKnown in Zulu as eGoli or “Place of Gold,” Johannesburg is the second largest city in Africa (after Cairo, Egypt). The city was founded in 1886 after gold was discovered in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range. Today, with a bustling night life and exploding restaurant scene JoBurg or Jozi (as it’s known to the locals) is a fantastic place to eat and drink, shop, and explore! It’s also known as the largest man-made urban forest in the world as the city’s government has planted more than 10 million trees to date in the bustling environment. Stops you can't miss (that are featured on our tours!) include: a tour of Soweto (short for Southwestern Township), the Apartheid Museum, and Lileslie Farm, were you will experience a first-hand account of the time when Nelson Mandela lived under an alias, and the events and circumstances leading up to the raid which ultimately led to his trial and incarceration on Robben Island. 

  3. Cape Town

    Camp's Bay, Cape TownCape Town, founded in 1652, is rich with history and culture. Notably, Nelson Mandala made his first public speech following his release from prison on the balcony of Cape Town’s City Hall. Tens of thousands of visitors each year take the short ferry trip to Robben Island, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to witness the place where Mandela served 18 years behind bars. In addition to touring the small prison island, visitors to Cape Town should make a point to indulge in the city’s vibrant food scene including some of the world’s best restaurants, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for shopping and entertainment, and hike one of the city’s adjacent natural parks.

  4. Table Mountain

    Table Mountain, Cape TownOverlooking Cape Town, Table Mountain’s dramatic and towering landscape draws thousands of tourists each year. At its highest point, this geological masterpiece, one of the world’s “New Seven Wonders of Nature,” rises 3,563 feet above sea level! Amazing vantage points can be accessed via the Table Mountain Cableway. Or, for the more adventurous traveler, Table Mountain boasts the world’s highest abseil (rappel) at 367 feet! In addition to stunning views, this diverse and bountiful ecosystem features more than 2,200 species of plants—many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Many of the plants species, found only in South Africa, have delicate or fine leaves and are referred to as “fynbos” foliage, which means “fine bush” or “fine forest.”

  5. Blyde River Canyon

    Bourke's Luck Potholes, Blyde River CanyonEvery inch of Blyde River Canyon’s 16 miles offers visitors a unique and unparalleled peek at the dramatic beauty of South Africa. Blyde is the third largest canyon in the world (behind the Grand Canyon in the U.S. and Fish River Canyon in Namibia), third deepest canyon in the world, and the greenest canyon in the world! From breathtaking views of rolling mountains, the Three Rondavels, God’s Window, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, to the diversity of life that inhabits the canyon, including some primate species only found in South Africa—this is a must-see!

  6. Cape Winelands

    Cape winelandsNestled among South Africa’s mountains is a network of sweeping green valleys perfect for vineyards! The Cape Winelands, as this region is known, offers visitors an amazing opportunity to sip unique vintages, such as Pinotage, among rows of neatly planted grapes…set against a striking backdrop! Wine production here goes back to the late 1600’s. Today, quaint farmsteads dot the valleys and historic towns like Franschoek (known as South Africa’s foodie capitol), Paarl, and Groot Drakenstein provide endless opportunities to shop, dine, and drink!

  7. South African Beaches

    African penguins, Boulders BeachBeautiful blue waters and white sandy beaches are plentiful—and popular with tourists and locals alike! South African beaches provide endless relaxing and recreation all year long. In KwaZulu Natal, known as the “Garden Province”, you can even enjoy the beaches in winter! Cape Town has many famous white-sand beaches, Sea Point and Clifton to name a few. Boulders Beach, formed of inlets between granite boulders, is home to thousands of African penguins. In Hermanus, on the Western Cape in the heart of the whale route, shore-based whale watching delights visitors between June-late October as southern right whales leave the Antarctic waters to mate and calve in the warmer waters of the southern Cape. Hermanus has been called one of the twelve best whale watching locations in the world by the World Wildlife Fund!

Fast Facts

Already booked on one of our packages to South Africa? See everything you need to know before you go.

Overview

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial)
Population:  49 million 
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
Languages:  Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Swati, Tshivenda, Tsonga, North Sotho
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: GMT + 2

Weather

South Africa is very mild throughout the year. Spring is an ideal season for touring, (October). In the mountains, snow is a possibility June through August. November thru February is best for visiting Cape Town. For those planning on viewing animal life, winter is the best time, June through August. The grass is short and animals gather around watering holes.

Entry requirements

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least 90 days after your return date, though we strongly recommend at least six months. Passports must have at least two blank pages for each entry into South Africa. (You will need four if visiting Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe during your trip.)

U.S. passport holders do not need a visa prior to travel to enter South Africa. Tourist visas will be issued upon arrival for stays up to 90 days. Consult the South African Embassy or the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

Booked on one of our packages with Scheduled Dates? If you do not hold a U.S. passport, you are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas and meeting all entry requirements. If a visa is required, we recommend using a fee-based visa service, such as our preferred provider VisaHQ.

Children under 18 must present an original or certified copy of their birth certificate which lists both parents. If the birth certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation. Children traveling alone, with one parent, or with a third party must have written authorization and copies of the identity documents or passports from the absent parent, as well as other documents. See the information leaflet from the South African government or the U.S. State Department website for more information.

More information about passports & visas.

Shopping

South Africa is the best place to buy art from all over Africa due to the value of the rand against most currencies. Gold, diamonds and semi-precious stones are very reasonable, especially in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Shop for beadwork, baskets, rugs, and wood carvings.

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Consult your doctor about Malaria suppressants if you plan to visit game parks in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, or Kruger National Park. Don't swim in any lakes or rivers without checking with authorities since certain parasites exist. AIDS is also a concern in South Africa.

South Africa requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry for passengers arriving from Zambia, Tanzania and some other countries. Passengers traveling to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe should note that if they choose to visit Zambia during their stay, they may be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination upon return to South Africa.

Center for Disease Control 
World Health Organization

Power & Adapters

220/230 volts. Plug M. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit before your South African vacation. View more information about electrical standards around the world.

Did you know?
  • South Africa has three distinct capitals: Pretoria (administrative and executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). Johannesburg is regarded as the country’s unofficial economic capital! 
  • South Africa’s flag is in the only one in the world with no emblems or insignia and six different colors! And their national anthem is the only one with five languages!
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi (later Mahatma Gandhi) once practiced law in Durban, South Africa. In 1893 he was evicted from a “whites only” train carriage, an incident that propelled his career in politics.
  • South Africans often affectionately abbreviate city names! Locally, Johannesburg is Jozi, Durban becomes Durbs, and Cape Town is warmly referred to as the Mother City.
  • On the same language lines, South African slang is particularly colorful! For example, traffic lights are called Robots and elevators are referred to as lifts. Read more about South Africa slang over on the blog!  

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I take my cell phone?

    See our blog post on using your cell phone abroad.

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Rave Reviews

Just about everything you need to know is out on the web before you make a decision. I believe I called the Friendly Planet office only once with only one question during the entire booking process. I really appreciate all of the full disclosure of just about everything on the web site. It helped me make my decision to do the safari with Friendly Planet as opposed to Vantage or other companies.

John Schwab

The Taste of South Africa was wonderful and picture perfect. This is the second time we have toured with Friendly Planet and I have to say, your tours are so well thought out. The excellent guides have always imparted their love of their homeland with the touring.

Virginia Bird
A Taste of South Africa