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Different ways to visit South Africa

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From the Winelands in the west to the Battlefields in the east, South Africa is a country of spectacular scenery and fascinating history.

It’s also one of the most diverse destinations on the African continent. It has vibrant metropolitan cities, picturesque self-drive routes, luxury rail journeys, and - of course - some of the best game reserves in the world. At Travelbag, we offer a range of bespoke South Africa holiday packages to help you discover this fantastic nation. To whet your appetite, here is our guide to different ways you can visit South Africa this year.

How to get there

Getting to South Africa from the UK is easy. BA and Virgin Atlantic fly directly from London to Johannesburg and Cape Town. Daily indirect flights also operate through Europe, the Middle East, and East Africa. Johannesburg is the entry point for safaris in and around Kruger. Durban is the gateway to KwaZulu-Natal and Drakensberg. For the Winelands, the Garden Route, and the Eastern Cape Game Reserves, you’ll head for Cape Town or Port Elizabeth. Our Travel Specialists will help you find the best flights for any South Africa journey.

Big Five expeditions

South Africa is one of the world’s top wildlife destinations. And it can’t be beat when it comes to luxury lodges and family-friendly Big Five game viewing. South Africa safari holidays are enjoyed across the country, but most visitors focus on Kruger National Park or the Eastern Cape reserves outside Port Elizabeth. At almost two million hectares with six distinct ecosystems, Kruger is the largest and most established safari destination in South Africa. It’s also neighboured by private reserves such as Sabi Sands, Thornybush, and the Timbabvati, which are unfenced to the national park, allowing the animals to roam freely. These private reserves offer uncompromised game viewing in an exclusive environment, while the all-inclusive lodges located within them showcase luxurious accommodations and exceptional service.

The Eastern Cape has no shortage of comfortable accommodation, while its proximity to Cape Town and the Garden Route has made malaria-free reserves like Shamwari, Kariega, and Pumba popular with families, honeymooners, and those wishing to enjoy their wildlife encounters as part of a wider itinerary. South Africa safari options don’t stop at these destinations. Excellent alternatives include the boutique lodges of Madikwe near Johannesburg and the mountainside plains of Pilanesberg beside the family resort of Sun City. If you’re staying in Durban or KwaZulu-Natal, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi and Phinda are fantastic choices, while Sanbona is just a three-hour drive from Cape Town for those seeking a wild day trip from the city. 

City breaks and winter getaways

When chilly days come to Europe, the South African summer is in full swing. Add in the lack of jet lag, and it’s easy to see why the cities, beaches, and historical locations of South Africa are top choices for winter breaks. Cape Town holidays have it all: a cosmopolitan city with an eclectic dining scene, spectacular views from the peak of Table Mountain, and sandy bays by the ocean’s edge. It’s also surrounded by inspiring day trip destinations, from world-famous wineries and penguin-filled beaches to the amazing flora and fauna of the cape itself.

On South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, just north of Durban, are two small beachside towns, Umhlanga and Ballito. Sunbathing days that flow into evening strolls between restaurants and bars make these two winter sun destinations the perfect places for relaxing when exploring KwaZulu-Natal, the Battlefields, and the Drakensberg Mountains. If you’re looking for a unique family holiday in South Africa, Sun City Resort close to Johannesburg offers a collection of hotels, from the luxurious Palace to the laidback Cabanas, with pools, waterparks, golf, safaris, zip-lines, casinos, nightly entertainment and endless facilities for young and old.

On the road

One of the best ways to enjoy multi-centre holidays in South Africa is to hit the road. In addition to smaller trips, there are two classic self-drive journeys in South Africa. The first is the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. On this world-renowned trail, 200 miles of meandering road carry you through the countryside and along the coast. Spectacular views are unveiled at every turn while picturesque towns such as Mossel Bay, Hermanus, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, and Plettenberg Bay encourage you to take your time and soak up idyllic views as you pause for whale watching, hiking, and mouth-watering food. The Garden Route is also flanked by the Winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and the safari reserves of the Eastern Cape. On the other side of South Africa, a network of roads is waiting to take you from Durban through the small towns of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands and out to the mountains of Drakensberg. From here, the battlefields of Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, and Fugitive’s Drift are just a scenic drive away. Afterwards, you can return to the game reserves of Thanda and Hluhluwe–iMfolozi by the coast, push north to Kruger, or even cross the border into Mozambique.

Tours and trains

If you don’t feel like driving, don’t worry. There are plenty of escorted touring opportunities in South Africa. You can choose journeys lasting a few days or a week or ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a 16-day South Africa Odyssey. These tours include handpicked hotels in convenient locations, deluxe transport, and knowledgeable guides. Many trips also feature exclusive extras available only to groups. On the South Africa Odyssey, travellers are taken from Johannesburg, through Pretoria and the stunning ‘Paradise Country’, then along the Panorama Route to Kruger. After spending time among the wildlife, the tour continues to KwaZulu-Natal before finding Umhlanga and Durban. Guests are flown west to Port Elizabeth and carried along the Garden Route to Cape Town.

If coach touring isn’t your thing, how about a luxury train ride? Rovos Rail or The Blue Train will take you through the countryside in complete comfort. Enjoy private suites and fine dining on voyages not just across South Africa but into Namibia, up to Victoria Falls, or even into Tanzania. What better way to travel than gliding through the scenery with every need attended to?

Beyond South Africa

With all these travel choices and more, from all-inclusive safari holidays in South Africa to self-drive adventures between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, you’ll never run out of ways to visit this extraordinary nation. South Africa is also an easy destination to combine with Namibia, Botswana, or Mozambique. It’s the perfect gateway to Victoria Falls or the paradise island of Mauritius. For even further-reaching itineraries, flights from Johannesburg to Perth connect you to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, while direct routes to Sao Paulo open up the Americas for exploration. Prefer something simpler? Choose Emirates, Etihad, or Qatar Airways to combine your South Africa holiday with a Middle East break in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Doha.

Ready to go?

However you choose to visit South Africa, we’re ready and waiting to get you there. Contact our Travel Specialists and begin tailor-making your travel today. 

Looking for more travel inspiration? From iconic wildlife experiences to luxurious hotels and multi-centre adventures, our brand-new Africa brochure has everything you need.

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