An Introduction To South Africa
Rich in history, varied in culture and magnificent in its natural beauty, South Africa rightly claims to be one of the most fascinating and spectacular countries on the face of the earth.
With the exchange rate currently in favour of the pound, there has never been a better time to take advantage of a holiday in this wonderful country.
With links going back to the Empire, South Africa has long been an attractive destination for the British but more and more it is beginning to appeal to a more diverse spectrum of visitor with the US, Germany and the Netherlands providing an increasing number.
Primarily they all come for the climate. No matter where you holiday in South Africa you will enjoy the sunshine. The seasons are the reverse of Europe which means when you are fed up with the cold, damp grey days of winter you can hop on a plane and land in glorious summer.
As far as winter in South Africa goes, Cape Town is usually wet and cold, while Johannesburg hot during the day and freezing at night. The best places in winter are KwaZulu Natal (where the winters are like a clear English summer) and the Garden Route.
Mossel Bay, for instance, claims the second most temperate climate in the world after Hawaii with the temperature never dropping below five degrees Celcius and rarely climbing above 28.
This sort of climate means that South Africa is a playground for anyone with a spring in their step. The oceans (Indian on the east coast, Atlantic on the west) provide a giant swimming pool with surfing, windsurfing, sailing, scuba-diving and whale-watching all popular sports.
On land, hikers will find their nirvana in the Drakensburgs, while golfers have more that their fair share of world-class courses.
For those of a more sedentary nature, the Cape wines and game park drives provide different escapes.
Attractions for the UK holidaymaker:
Flight: it is overnight (10-13 hours) from the UK and with South Africa operating two hours ahead of GMT, there is negligible jet lag. You just roll out of your plane, climb into your shower and you are ready for a hearty breakfast and a day on the beach.
Language: English is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa and unless you trek into the wilds you are unlikely to have to any problems with communication.
Driving: just like the UK, South Africans drive on the left. If that makes you feel at home straightaway then it may take a bit longer to get used to the "circles" (roundabouts) and "robots" (traffic lights).