The seasons play a huge role in the African wilderness, in fact it can be said that the seasons control the flow of life in Africa. Most wilderness areas in Africa rely on water for their survival and the coming of the rains signals a time of new growth – and the continuation of the cycle of life. The seasons also play a great role in the safari travel industry as many potential safari-goers plan their African safaris around ‘the best time to go’ to a particular area. In the past it was thought that the rainy season was a time to stay away but recent knowledge indicates that in some areas the rainy season is the best time to travel. The idea that the rainy season is not a good time to travel probably stems from the trophy hunting business where hunting operations are generally stopped at the onset of the rains due to it been a time when many of the species give birth.
The rainy seasons of Africa
Although the weather cannot be predicted with exactitude there is a general trend when it comes to the rainy seasons of the various safari travel destinations in Africa.
Due to the location of many of east Africa’s top safari destinations – saddling the equator – there are two rainy seasons. The long rains are from March through to early May and the short rains fall around November. This affects Kenya, Uganda and the northern parks of Tanzania. The southern reserves of Tanzania such as Selous and Ruaha are generally caught between Southern African and East African climates. Here the rainy season stretches from November through to May with a short dry spell in January and February.
Heading further south the destinations have one rainy season stretching from November through to March – with extension in some years during October and April. In Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe October is the hottest month and is generally referred to as Suicide Month in some quarters.
South African summer safari
Why is the peak season in South Africa’s safari areas during the wet summer months when all other destinations peak during the dry season? Cape Town is a winter rainfall region with the tourism peak in the dry summer months and as the city is Africa’s most-visited tourist attraction the rest of the country fits in to accommodate this influx.
Can I still go on safari in the rainy season?
The answer to this is a very definite yes. There may well be some areas that close during the rainy season due to inaccessibility but for the most you can safari throughout the year. Aside from the previous explanation regarding the South African safari season many of the leading destinations remain open year round – and provide a great safari experience. One of the iconic reserves of Africa, the Masai Mara, is a great year round safari destination, providing an unforgettable experience at whatever time of the year. Although travel consultants cannot guarantee the weather they are in the best position to assist in the choice you make for your African safari.
Safari Planning. What to Pack
Planning & Packing for Your Safari : What to Bring on Safari
Africa Travel essentials: Not to be forgotten items
• Valid passport
• Valid visa – if required
• Copies of passport and other essential documents
• Air tickets
• Spending cash
• Comprehensive travel insurance
Generally the days on safari are warm and shorts and t-shirts are ideal, but nights can be cold in some regions so long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and pullovers are essential. During the warm months the long trousers and long-sleeved shirts act as a protection from mosquitoes. It is important to note that clothing should be in earthy colours such as khaki, brown, beige and olive as bright colours may affect animal behavior. This is important for all safari activities. Night-time wear can be of colour of choice. Footwear is a very important part of an African safari – especially for walking activities. Comfortable and practical footwear is recommended. High heels and flip flops are not recommended for a safari.
• Personal Toiletries
• Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, antihistamine cream etc
• Insect repellent
• Protective eye-ware – the sun can be harsh on the eyes
• Hygiene wipes
• Sewing / repair kit
• Photographic requirements – batteries and chargers, film, memory cards
• Lightweight reading and writing material
• Sun protection for skin
• Lip balm
Important note: Prescription medicine
For any special medicinal needs – it is essential to bring sufficient supplies of prescription medicine with you for the duration of your safari. It is also very important to bring the prescription with you in case of emergencies.
Luggage on safari
A soft bag or backpack is recommended luggage for an African safari as the space on safari vehicles and aircraft is limited. Hard suitcases are bulky and difficult to pack in the airplanes and safari vehicles. A daypack is advised for carrying personal items such as binoculars and cameras. Special luggage concessions can be made for people on a private or specialist safari – particularly regarding photographic equipment.
Important note: light aircraft luggage
For itineraries that include a light aircraft flight there are serious weight restrictions – varying from place to place. The restrictions range from 10 – 22 kg per person and a soft bag is essential. Pilots and tour guides can refuse to load bags that do not comply to the restrictions.
Important: Photographic Equipment
Supplies such as photographic accessories can be obtained at lodges and shops whilst on safari but it is advisable to bring sufficient for the whole trip as they can be expensive and difficult to find here.
African Safari Vacation Package to Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a collection of islands, channels and seasonal floodplains, a place where the dry season signals the arrival of floodwaters from distant highlands. Such is the unique nature of the Okavango that the water levels will be the lowest during the rainy season and at their highest during the peak of winter. The wildlife experience in the Okavango Delta is exceptional, with the Big 5 present in many of the areas. Africa’s largest elephant concentrations are found in Botswana and the Okavango is one of the best places to see these herds. The Okavango is also where the elephant-back safaris originated. The delta is made up of a number of eco-systems that allow for a host of activities ranging from game drives and wilderness walks to boating and riding in dugout canoes.
Best time to travel to Okavango
The Okavango Delta is a year round safari destination. The rainy season is from November to March and is the best time for birding and to see antelope with their young. The dry winter months is the best time for game viewing and the best time to see the Okavango at its highest water levels.
African Safari Vacation Package to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe / Zambia
‘Scenes so beautiful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’ is how David Livingston described the wonder that is the Victoria Falls. As a natural wonder of the world the Victoria Falls offer visitors the widest range of activities in Africa from the serenity of an evening boat cruise on the Zambezi River to the adrenaline overload of plunging down the raging rapids below the Falls in a white water raft. Aside from viewing from the ground visitors can take a flight over the Victoria Falls in a helicopter or light aircraft for a different perspective. Adventure activities include bungee jumping, white water rafting, gorge swinging and parachuting among many. For something different guests can interact with a pride of lions during a walk in the neighbouring park or experience the park from the back of an elephant. Game drives are also offered in Victoria Falls National Park for those wanting a more traditional safari experience.
Best time to travel to Victoria Falls
The best time to travel to Victoria Falls is during the winter months when the water levels are not too high and not too low. When the water is very high, visibility is limited as are the activities such as white water rafting.
Hluhluwe Game Reserve
The Hluhluwe Game Reserve is one of the oldest South Africa game parks. It covers an area of 23 067 hectares and is linked to the nearby Umfolozi Game Reserve. The reserve is a stronghold for White Rhinoceros, but a wide range of other animals do occur such as lion, elephant, hippo, buffalo, leopard, the elusive cheetah, wild dog and other bushveld species. It has 1 rest camp situated in the north of the reserve by the name of Hilltop Camp. Hilltop rest camp is situated high on the edge of a steep forested slope and commands breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Accommodation ranges from luxury chalets fully contained and those non self-catering.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Where the red dunes and scrub fade into infinity and herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons, where imposing camel thorn trees provide shade for huge black-mane lions and vantage points for leopard and many raptors… this is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa was proclaimed in 1931 mainly to protect migratory game, especially the gemsbok. Together with the adjacent Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, this South Africa game park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares – one of very few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world. Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob show antelope and predator species off at a premium and provide excellent photographic opportunities. Kgalagadi could be considered a haven for birders especially when interested in birds of prey. Kgalagadi (SA) has six different camps of varying size, facilities and cost. Three traditional rest camps that have a basic shopping facility and fuel are situated on the South African side of the Park. Kgalagadi is the first Park to provide South Africa accommodation in three wilderness camps that, with no fences, invite the Kalahari and the tranquillity of Africa right into your room! The rest camps are Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob.
Augrabies National Park
The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, the place of the Great Noise, referring to the Orange River thundering its way downwards for 60 metres in a spectacular waterfall. Picturesque names such as Moon Rock, Ararat and Echo Corner are descriptive of this rocky region, characterised by the 18 kilometre abyss of the Orange River Gorge and craggy outcrops dominating scrub-dotted plains. Klipspringer and kokerboom (quiver trees) stand in stark silhouette against the African sky, silent sentinels in a strangely unique environment where only those that are able to adapt ultimately survive. The 28 000 hectares on both the northern and southern sides of the Orange River provide sanctuary to a diversity of species, from the very smallest succulents, birds and reptiles to springbok, gemsbok and the endangered black rhino. There is one rest camp at this South Africa game park, called Augrabies Restcamp, which consists of four-bed family cottages, two bedrooms, bathroom (bath), air-conditioning and an equipped kitchen; Bungalows (3 or 4 persons), bathroom (shower), air-conditioning and an equipped kitchen and two three-bedded bungalows have been adapted for handicapped persons.
Cape Peninsula National Park
Lying at the south-western tip of Africa, the Cape Peninsula National Park encompasses the incredibly scenic Peninsula mountain chain stretching from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south – a distance of approximately 60 km. The narrow finger of land with its many beautiful valleys, bays and beaches is bound by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the warmer waters of False Bay in the east. It has within its boundaries two world-renowned landmarks – the majestic Table Mountain and the legendary Cape of Good Hope. These were both important beacons for the early explorers. Many myths and legends have sprung from them. Recognised globally for its extraordinarily rich, diverse and unique flora, this singular land formation – with rugged cliffs, steep slopes and sandy flats – is a truly remarkable natural, scenic, historical, cultural and recreational asset both locally and internationally. Nowhere else in the world does an area of such spectacular beauty and such rich bio-diversity exist almost entirely within a metropolitan area – the thriving and cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. This is a must on any South Africa travel itinerary.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve & Sun City
Situated in the North West Province, just over an hour and a half’s drive from Johannesburg, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve offers the visitor who has limited time in the country a Big 5 game reserve that is close to Johannesburg and is malaria free. It has all the major mammals as well as some of the rare species such as wild dog and brown hyena. On its southern boundary (outside the reserve) is the famous Sun City Resort, complete with all market accommodation and leisure options. It has a wide range of sporting facilities of every description and is host to the Million Dollar Golf Challenge as well as championship boxing, casinos, cinemas, excellent restaurants and star studded extravaganzas. A visit to the casino is a good accompaniment to a South Africa wildlife safari.
Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal’s coastal World Heritage Site, is an extensive array of natural lakes along the north-eastern coastal plain extending south from the border with Mozambique for more than 220 kilometres to St Lucia. The terrestrial section of the park varies from one kilometre to twenty-four kilometres wide and the Marine Reserve, which extends five kilometres out to sea, protects 155 kilometres of the coast. This magnificent wetland park is the last remaining pristine subtropical area on the south-eastern coast of Africa. The Park is characterised by a broad diversity of local and migratory wildlife, and marine and bird species. The wetland and coastal ecosystems are believed to be of universal importance because of their evolution after the fragmentation of the Gondwanaland Super-Continent. The five interlinked ecosystems-the marine system; the coastal dune system; the lake system, including estuarine and freshwater habitats; swamps and the inland terrestrial system have created an area of almost unrivalled natural diversity. The Greater St Lucia area includes the oldest proclaimed South Africa game park, dating back to 1895 when the first reserve was proclaimed along the shores of Lake St Lucia.
Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is located in what is called the “Lowveld”, a vast tract of land that makes up the north eastern portion of South Africa and encompasses the Kruger National Park. The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve came into existence on July 1956, when a group of conservation-minded persons who owned “game farms” on the western boundary of the Kruger Park came together to form the Timbavati Association. The idea of forming such a reserve was first mooted as early as 1948, and for several years a handful of far-sighted men met frequently to discuss ways and means to create a nature reserve of a meaningful size in the area. These “leading spirits” of conservation and sustainable land use eventually succeeded in convincing a sufficient number of landowners in the region to join them in forming an Association governed by a Constitution that would limit the “rights” of the individual landowner for the benefit of all. Today the reserve consists of prime wildlife habitat situated on the unfenced western boundary of the world-famous Kruger National Park, a conservation area of more than 2,000,000 hectares (over 5 million acres), which makes for a fantastic South Africa travel experience.
Madikwe Game Reserve
The Madikwe Game Reserve is situated in the North West Province near the border with Botswana. It forms part of the very latest South Africa game park developments. Opened in 1991 it comprises of 75000 hectares of bushveld. It is currently the fourth largest game reserve in South Africa. The terrain is mainly open grasslands and bushveld plains, interspersed with rocky outcrops and single mountains. There is one perennial river in the park called the Marico River. It runs in the east of the park, and a number of game lodges have based themselves on this beautiful stretch of permanent water. Other water points in the reserve had to be built in the way of dams and pumped pans. Madikwe is regarded as one of the finest conservation areas in Africa, offering all the major species, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, both white and black rhino, along with almost all the plain’s antelope species. A special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone on the edges of the Kalahari, where a number of rare species occur naturally.
Sabie Sands Game Reserve
Sabi Sands is found in the Mpumalanga Province, south western boundary of the Kruger National Park, near the Paul Kruger Gate. It covers an area of 66 000 hectares. Lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, crocodile, baboon, zebra, and a large number of antelope are some of the animals often spotted in a day’s game viewing. Bird-watching is excellent with lilac-breasted rollers, vultures, hornbills and secretary birds to name a few. The terrain in Sabi Sands is mixed Combretum – Acacia bushveld. It has one perennial river that traverses the park from the north west to the south east. The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is home to many famous game lodges, such as Mala Mala, Ulusaba, Singita, Sabi Sabi, Leopard Hills, Londolozi and many more. It is the country’s leading private game reserve in terms of South Africa travel activities and popularity.
The Drakensberg Mountain Range is South Africa’s principle mountain range, with its highest peaks on the border of Natal and Lesotho. Along the lower slopes are some of some of the most beautiful and appealing country hotels, guest farms and nature reserves. Stone Age paintings decorate the walls of many caves and rocky overhangs, the flora and fauna of the mountains are a source of constant delight to naturalists who travel South Africa.
The Garden Route
The Garden Route is the stretch of land and coast line that runs between Mossel Bay and Storms River, which features lakes, mountains, golden beaches, cliffs and dense indigenous forests. Its lush beauty makes it a popular South Africa travel destination. The Oudtshoorn area in the Little Karoo is famous for its ostrich show farms, Cango Caves and Cheetah Ranch. The Knysna – Plettenberg Bay area has attractions such the Knysna Lagoon, Tsitsikama Forests and Featherbed Nature Reserve, Outeniqua Choo-tjoe Steam train, which runs between Knysna and George. The garden route in general is host to lots of intimate South Africa accommodation venues, including little country inns, lodges, guest houses and hotels making this a delightful area to spend a few days pottering around.
A South Africa tour simply has to include a foray to the verdant Western Cape. It was the Cape Peninsula – first known as the Cape of Storms, which was a critical landmark for early explorers during their intrepid voyages, but the full history can be traced in the rock paintings of the original inhabitants, the San or Bushmen, which date back approximately 7 000 years. However, with the arrival of the Dutch in 1653, colonisation began in earnest. These settlers were soon followed by the French Huguenots and the British – nations which have all played a part in shaping the province as it is today. Cape Town is the centre of activity with a busy international airport, well-developed port facilities and the landmark splendour of Table Mountain. Scenic drives to be enjoyed include Cape Point Nature Reserve, Simon’s Town, Hout Bay (where the original Dutch settlers harvested their timber – ‘hout’ being the Dutch word for wood), Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Signal Hill, Boulders Beach (known for its penguin colony) and other places of natural and historical interest. Home of the world-renowned South African wine industry, Cape Town is also the place where you will find the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront harbour development with its shops, hotels, theatres, museums and amusements equal to any in the world. Robben Island, a World Heritage Site, can be accessed via ferry from the harbour. Interestingly, Table Mountain boasts more endemic species of flora than the total number of indigenous flora species of the entire United Kingdom. A South Africa travel destination second to none, Cape Town has attractions to suit every taste and budget. Inland from the West Coast are the wheat farming and wine producing areas of the Swartland, the Boland and the picturesque university town of Stellenbosch. Across the Hottentots Holland mountain range lies the Overberg area, an intensive wine and farming region nestling within wide valleys and mountain ranges.Along the southern Cape coast is the area known as the ‘Garden Route’, epitomised by breathtaking sea-views and lush vegetation, which reaches down to secluded beach coves and up to cliffs, which are traversed by the Blue Train. The town of Hermanus is famous for its seasonal visits by birthing whales, which hug the coast on their journey north, while Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are two of the country’s prime coastal holiday spots. Inland from here is the Klein Karoo area, where populations of ostrich thrive in a dry, hot climate. This is also the location of the Cango Caves, a spectacular and accessible cave system regarded as one of the wonders of the world. South Africa accommodation providers in this region are known for their home-grown hospitality.
From the Tsitsikamma National Park in the south to Port Edward in the north, this province features 800 kilometres of pristine natural and cultural >South Africa travel attractions. The home territory of the Xhosa nation (from whose family former president Nelson Mandela is the most famous descendant) this area features the cities of Port Elizabeth and East London, both commercial centres famous for their tourist facilities and warm water beaches. But don’t ignore the smaller towns like Port Alfred with 30 kilometres of navigable river, Bathurst with its English country ambience or the university town of Grahamstown where the premier contemporary cultural event on the South African calendar, the National Arts Festival, takes place every July. South Africa safaris often skip over these towns, which is a crying shame. For those who are interested in visiting South Africa game parks in this region, the Addo Elephant National Park in the Sundays River Valley is an essential stop, where you can find elephant as well as black rhino, Cape buffalo and numerous antelope. For the wild at heart, Jeffery’s Bay is one of the world’s great surfing sites where, it is said, you can find the ‘perfect right-hand wave’. The former Transkei region is known for its so-called Wild Coast, which is stormy and windswept. This is where many famous shipwrecks have occurred, even in these days of modern seafaring technology. It is also one of the world’s most picturesque and untouched shorelines and will make a wonderful stop on a wildlife safari through South Africa.
A semi-desert area which stretches from the Karoo in the south to the Kalahari in the north, this is South Africa’s largest province, but most sparsely populated area. The main city is Kimberley, famous for the largest diamond rush in history, which took place from 1871 until mining was strictly controlled in 1914. The Big Hole was the main excavation, where some 30 000 men moved 25 million tons of earth to produce 14,5 million carats of diamonds. Today, the 365 metre deep pit remains as a monument to these hard and hopeful days. The southern region is the Karoo, a giant semi-desert, not unlike Australia’s Outback, where sheep farming is also the main industry. The Vaalbos National Park is where large herds of game survive on the water-storing local plant life and is the traditional territory of the San (previously known as the Bushmen), some of whom can still be found here, along with many rock paintings left by their ancestors. Rock art is a popular South Africa travel attraction and makes a good addition to any South Africa wildlife safari. In the interior lies the Richtersveld National Park (an established South Africa game park and nature reserve) and the region of Namaqualand. The landscape is stark and rugged and the climate is hot and dry, but when the seasonal rains come in spring, the area is miraculously transformed into a carpet of colour, an annual event which lasts for only a couple of weeks. People from all over South Africa travel to Namaqualand to witness the botanical metamorphosis, which starts in a matter of hours after the first rains have fallen. In the northern extremity of the province is the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park which shares an unfenced border with the adjoining National Park in neighbouring Botswana to allow free movement of migratory animals and the wandering families of San. The Orange River – South Africa’s largest – plummets 56 metres over the Augrabies Falls, a National Park area where plentiful wildlife thrive along its banks. Some distance below the falls, the river passes through an unusual channel with sheer, black walls made from cooled magma. This area, known as the ‘Alleyway’, boasts some spectacular scenery through which white-water rafting trips can be arranged. This is a South Africa travel experience not to be missed.
The Free State has literally been at the crossroads of the country’s history and is today a melting pot of local cultures where the San, Xhosa and South Sotho nations have variously established their domains. The seat of the country’s judicial capital (the appellate division) is the modern centre of Bloemfontein. Close by is the casino resort of Thaba’Nchu which, apart from its Las Vegas style high life, offers convenient access to the Maria Moroka National Park with its varieties of antelope. The eastern part of the province is a scenic highland area, the highlight of which is the Golden Gate National Park near Bethlehem. The park boasts some of the most striking sandstone rock formations in terms of colour, texture and dimension. Also present are a number of outstanding examples of San rock paintings, a great South Africa safari attraction. The central Quaqua area is the traditional home of the South Sotho people and features mountainous terrain. It is also one of the last refuges of the spectacular bearded vulture or lamergaaier. In towns such as Clarens there are a number of art galleries, local craft and traditional art centres.
North West Province
Although famous for its gold and platinum mining, which together account for about 60 percent of South Africa’s export product, this is mainly an agricultural region where the common crops are maize and sunflowers. This area is equally well-known for its world-class casino and resort operation at Sun City. The adjacent Pilansberg National Park, a prominent South Africa game park, offers a more serious view of the African wildlife and landscape. Not far to the north lies the Madikwe Game Reserve where a project to restock the wildlife – in one of the largest animal relocation schemes ever undertaken -has ensured that there are plentiful viewing opportunities, especially of the endangered wild dog. Similar to although not as impressive as Table Mountain’s, is the Magaliesberg cableway, which transports patrons to one of the range’s highest points overlooking the Hartebeespoort Dam. Here you can view hang-gliders and para-gliders as they take off at close range. The central part of the province covers the Mafikeng region where the important siege for control of the town took place during the Anglo-Boer War. Fittingly, the town offers an excellent museum of the region’s history, much of which involved the late Sir Winston Churchill when he was a lowly corporal in the British Army. For those whose interest is literature, Lichtenburg and the Groot Marico area is a must, as this is the setting of author Herman Charles Bosman’s famous stories about life in South Africa. The home-distilled spirit called ‘mampoer’ is still produced here – something any South African safari participant must try. Lichtenburg is situated near the ‘eye’ of the Molopo River, and it is these clear, shallow bathing pools that are reminiscent, though on an infinitely smaller scale, of Botswana’s famous and incomparable Okavango Delta. The Borphirima region also takes you back to distant times at the town of Taung, where the skull of an early hominid was discovered in 1924, beginning the scientific debate of whether Man originated in Africa. In the east of the province is the De Wildt Cheetah Research Centre – established to help preserve this endangered species and which, more recently, embarked on a successful wild dog breeding programme – and the Borakalalo National Park which offers further South Africa game park experiences.
The Limpopo province occupies 10.2% of the country’s land. Its northern border is the Limpopo River, its northern neighbour Zimbabwe. Mountain ranges include the northern Drakensberg to the west, the Soutpansberg in the north and the Waterberg towards the east. The province is rich in Bushveld and includes the northern part of the Kruger National Park, a South Africa game park which itself borders on Mozambique. It has variable summer rainfall. The far west, bordering on Botswana, is the driest area. The province’s centrally situated capital is Polokwane (previously Pietersburg), which is both on the Maputo Corridor route – a direct link with the Mozambique port – and on the N1 from Johannesburg to the Zimbabwe border at Beit Bridge. Part of the Great North Road, the N1 also conveniently connects the towns of Warmbaths, Nylstroom, Potgietersrus and, virtually on the border, Messina. Other significant towns are Phalaborwa, Thabazimbi and Tzaneen. Phalaborwa, on the Kruger Park border, has the world’s largest open-cast copper mine; Thabazimbi is an important iron mining centre. Other minerals include asbestos, coal, platinum, chrome, vanadium, nickel, titanium, diamonds, phosphates and gold. It is a major producer of vegetables, and the subtropical climate enjoyed by much of the province gives rise to the cultivation of tea, coffee and fruit, especially tropical fruit. Forestry makes a major contribution to the economy, as do sunflower, cotton, maize, groundnut crops, and cattle ranching.
KwaZulu Natal Province
One of the greenest and best-watered areas of the country is KwaZulu-Natal which accordingly, although it has only 7.6% of the area, is the second most populous province. Lying in a broad strip with the Indian Ocean as its western border, it borders on Swaziland and Mozambique to the north. Its western border is marked by the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range, which has several peaks well over 3 000 metres, and its topography combines mountainous areas, rugged green hills and deep-cut valleys. Between the mountains and the humid, subtropical coastline is savannah grassland, but there are also areas of indigenous forest here and along the coast. The largest of its many rivers is the Thukela. It is a summer rainfall area, with a climate that ranges from extremely hot along the coast in summer, to heavy snow on the mountains in winter. The Midlands are drier than the coast and can be very cold in winter. KwaZulu-Natal has two capitals: the more southern Pietermaritzburg (the province’s second-largest city) and Ulundi, the traditional capital, in the north (the two capitals a reflection of the province’s coalition government). Both are inland and well supplied with South Africa accommodation venues.
The largest city is Durban, a popular South Africa travel destination. South Africa’s two biggest harbours are situated in Durban and Richard’s Bay. The latter is a comparatively small town, its harbour specialising in bulk exports, especially coal which is mined in the interior. Heavy minerals are mined at Richard’s Bay. Durban’s is the busiest port in sub-Saharan Africa. Other major towns are Ladysmith, Newcastle. A world-renowned feature of the northern coastline is the St Lucia Estuary: the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park is a World Heritage Site (as is the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park). The fertility of the soil and comparatively good rainfall – more than 1 000 mm a year – make agriculture central to the economy. Sugar cane and tropical fruit are major products of the coastal belt. Dairy, stock and vegetable farming are important inland. Other land uses include forestry and tea plantations. Within a little over 85,700 square kilometres there are 71 Parks, Game Reserves and State Forests, ranging from the peaks and vast natural amphitheatres of the Drakensberg mountains to rhino sanctuaries in the sub-tropical bush of Zululand. The three most rewarding aspects of a South Africa safari that includes Kwazulu-Natal are the pleasures of the coast, the historical sites and game reserves of Zululand and the crisp, sub-alpine scenery of the Drakensberg.
This region is well known for its spectacular scenery, wildlife and historical interest. It is the province east of Johannesburg en route to the Kruger National Park. You have the advantage of some stunning scenery. The Mac Mac pools are worth stopping for and you can treat yourself to a swim in the crystal clear waters below. A small detour leads you to the town of Pilgrim’s Rest, a historic gold rush town well worth exploring before you continue on to Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve. Here you can feast your eyes on attractions like the Blyde River Canyon and the view across the Lowveld from God’s Window. It is a short drive from here to the world famous Kruger National Park, which was originally established by the great Paul Kruger himself.