South Africa

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

South Africa remains to be one of the dreamiest places in the world. People flock to this country not only for that African safari experience but also for that tropical vacation, satisfying food coma and well, recently, the 19th FIFA World Cup.

Where is South Africa?

 

As its name suggests, South Africa is located in the southernmost part of Africa. It shares land borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique and surrounds the enclave kingdom of Lesotho. It has 9 provinces and 20 cities covering some of Africa’s most popular cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelspruit, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

How Do I Get There?

South Africa is huge. Visitors are advised to be familiar with the location of the place they’re visiting so that they can make an entry to the closest international airport and easily travel to their destination. Most tourists fly into Johannesburg through Oliver Tambo International Airport. However, there are 90 airports in South Africa, 3 of which are the major international airports that accommodate over 70 international carriers.

 

Oliver Tambo International Airport, most commonly known as O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) or sometimes referred to as Johannesburg International, is the primary gateway used by many tourists. It sits in the heart of Kempton Park (Ekurhuleni), Gauteng in South Africa, just 30 to 45 minutes away via car from the city centre of Johannesburg and 30 minutes to an hour from Pretoria.

 

The other world-class international airport that’s second busiest in South Africa and third in the entire continent is Cape Town International Airport (CPT). Then there’s also King Shaka International Airport (KSIA), which serves as the primary hub to Durban.

 

For travellers who wish to visit only Kruger National Park, South Africa holds two domestic hubs that service the park directly. You can choose the more popular route and fly to Nelspruit through Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI) via a connecting flight or you can also fly into Skukuza Airport (SKZ).

 

Additionally, South Africa has 8 ports wherein 2 are international ports that accept cruise ships from all over the world. These ports are situated in Cape Town and Durban.

Where is South Africa?

 

As its name suggests, South Africa is located in the southernmost part of Africa. It shares land borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique and surrounds the enclave kingdom of Lesotho. It has 9 provinces and 20 cities covering some of Africa’s most popular cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelspruit, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

A multitude of weekly flights is available from London to Johannesburg and Cape Town, which travels for 11 hours and 12 hours respectively.

  • For direct flights to Johannesburg: British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic
  • For direct flights to Cape Town: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic
  • For indirect flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town: Lufthansa, Air France, Ethiopian, KLM, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines

You have multiple ways to travel straight to South Africa from Europe. Direct and indirect flights are countless and they usually have a daily and weekly schedule.

  • Amsterdam to Johannesburg: daily non-stop flights via KLM (10 hours, 50 minutes)
  • Amsterdam to Cape Town: daily non-stop flights via KLM (11 hours, 20 minutes)
  • Amsterdam to Durban and Nelspruit: Kenya Airways, Lufthansa and British Airways offer one- to two-stop flights. You can also check Emirates and SWISS for a trip to Durban.
  • Paris to Johannesburg: daily non-stop flights via Air France (10 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Paris to Cape Town: non-stop flights via Air France are available 5x/week (11 hours, 30 minutes)
  • Paris to Durban and Nelspruit: Air France, SWISS and Lufthansa offer one- or two-stop flights. Also check Ethiopian and British Airways as they also offer flights to Nelspruit.
  • Frankfurt or Munich to Johannesburg: non-stop flights via Lufthansa and South African Airways (10 hours, 50 minutes). During summer in South Africa, Lufthansa also offers flights from Frankfurt to Cape Town, and Air Berlin offers flights from Munich to Cape Town.
  • Zurich to Johannesburg: daily non-stop flights via SWISS (10 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Istanbul to Johannesburg: daily non-stop flights via Turkish Airlines (9 hours, 50 minutes)
  • Istanbul to Cape Town: daily non-stop flights via Turkish Airlines (11 hours, 10 minutes)
  • Istanbul to Durban and Nelspruit: one-stop flights are offered by Turkish Airlines, South African Airways and Egypt Air. Also check British Airways for a trip to Durban, and Qatar Airways and Emirates to Nelspruit.

Other countries that offer one-stop flights to Johannesburg include Rome, Athens and Dublin. Carriers include Lufthansa, KLM and British Airways.

Flights to South Africa from the United States are quite limited, a tad steeper price-wise and the schedule frequently change. Only 2 airlines operate and fly directly to South Africa:

  • South African Airlines:
    • New York City (JFK) to Johannesburg – daily non-stop flights; 17 hours; leaves in the morning and arrives in Johannesburg around 8AM the next day
    • Washington DC to Johannesburg – daily non-stop flights; 17 hours; leaves late in the afternoon and arrives in Johannesburg in the afternoon the next day
  • Delta Air: Atlanta to Johannesburg -daily flights; 16 hours; leaves Atlanta early in the evening and arrives in Johannesburg late in the afternoon the next day

 

There are also several available flights to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit via United Airlines. Flight routes start from Newark, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Vegas, Dallas and Miami.

The only non-stop flights from Asia to South Africa are from Hong Kong and a few hubs in the Middle East.

  • Hong Kong to Johannesburg (13 hours) via South African Airways or Cathay Pacific
  • Dubai to Johannesburg (9 hours, 40 minutes) via Emirates or South African Airways
  • Tel Aviv, Israel to Johannesburg (9 hours, 10 minutes) via El Al Israel Airlines

Cairo, Egypt to Johannesburg (8 hours, 15 minutes) via Egypt Air

Direct flights to Johannesburg are offered by 2 airlines:

  • Qantas – travels from Sydney for approximately 11 hours
  • South African Airways – travels from Perth for approximately 11 hours and 5 minutes

Domestic airports in South Africa receive charter flights as well as cross-border flights from other countries in the continent. Self-drive options and overland safaris are also available, with some border posts open for 24 hours: Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho. Other border posts operate on normal working hours and some extend until midnight.

How much will it cost?

Flights cost differ depending on your travel dates, country of origin and destination. It may also vary depending on how early you booked your flights. Round trip flights to Johannesburg from UK are about £500 to £750; from Amsterdam about £400 to £700; from New York about USD690 to USD900; from Hong Kong about USD4500; and from Sydney about AUD1300 to AUD1500.

 

Check the airlines and also check out other air travel sites like Skyscanner and FareCompare for exact fares and promos.

WILDLIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA

With 299 mammal species, 858 bird species and a wildly diverse and dazzling landscape, South Africa remains to be a top African dream destination. It has a fauna that is beyond any doubt nothing short of spectacular. It is known to be the home of the Big 5: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. It is also the only country where you can find unique mammals like the Cape elephant shrew, spectacled African dormouse, Cape mountain zebra, riverine rabbit, golden moles and blue antelopes.

Top Parks in South Africa

WHY SOUTH AFRICA OVER OTHER AFRICAN SAFARI COUNTRIES?

The reasons could be endless. Well, we all know how stunning the landscape and how widely diverse and abundant the wildlife is. Aside from the exquisite game parks and private reserves, South Africa boasts a number of the best urban beaches in the world. It has excellent diving and snorkeling spots, year-round sunshine and beaches with a magnificent view, like Camps Bay Beach which is surrounded by the marvelous Twelve Apostle mountains. It is also like a huge playground as it has ample of activities available for you — from diving to mountain hiking to whale watching, horseback riding, wine tasting, safari touring and even paragliding.

South Africa also has very good infrastructure. It holds international airports with world-class standards that accommodates various international flights daily; has a network of national highways; has ATMs readily available; and mobile network and Wi-Fi signals are good. Also, South Africa is more affordable than the very busy East Africa.

If you are a foodie, South Africa will also not disappoint. In fact, it is a haven to sample the world best cuisines. They have excellent restaurants all over Franschhoek – a foodie’s paradise, Johannesburg and Cape Town. You can also tour around their wine lands in Cape Town and sample award-winning wines.

POSSIBLE TOURISM BARRIERS

  • Infrastructure is not so good when it comes to public transportation. There’s a metro train in Johannesburg that serves a few places and a mini bus in Cape Town but other than that, there’s nothing.
  • Fenced private game reserves and national parks.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?

It really depends on what you want to see and do. If you are after the safaris, safari condition in South Africa is basically excellent all throughout the year. Weather-wise, April-May and September-October are best when temperature is pleasant and rains are rare. However, travel experts suggest traveling between May and September. This is the dry season and vegetation is not lush so animals can be easily spotted and a lot of them even gather around waterholes and rivers.

 

If you are after a beach vacation, the best time to go is from late January to end of April when weather is perfect for that golden glow.