South Africa has the world’s richest floral kingdom and variety of bird life, with the only country that has an entire floral kingdom – the Cape fynbos – within its borders. Geographically there are two main regions, a large inland plateau that is fringed by a narrow coastal plain and an escarpment of mountains and hills, dominated by the Drakensburg Range. South Africa has at least 20 ethnic groups. English and Afrikaans are spoken widely, along with indigenous languages. There are nine Provinces, and for the tourist a wide variety of beautiful areas are recommended, from sandy beaches to the arid bushveldt, tropical wetlands to amazing mountain scenery. These Provinces namely are; Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, and North West.
When To Go? Climate
South Africa can be visited at any time of the year, summers are generally hot and thundery and winters are dry and mild, with occasional cold spells. The Western Cape experiences a Mediterranean climate, rain in winter and dry summers. The best months for game viewing are through April to September.
- Limpopo – Discover Mapungubwe World Heritage site ? rich in biodiversity, san rock art dating 15000 years, the richest burial site yielded about 2.2 kg of gold beads, a sacred hill to the ancestral spirits whose treasure lay hidden for thousands of years. The KrugerNational Park and big game concessions, rich in flora and fauna. The tropic of Capricorn, bushveld, valley of the elephants and Soutspanburg.
- Kwazulu Natal – Offers you the Elephant coast, uKhalamba DrakensburgPark & St LuciaWetlandPark are two World Heritage Sites worth discovering. Drakensburg ? South Africa’s world heritage site, the grandeur of the mountains soaring to 3482m are a treasure trove of artefacts, fossil, and rock art. The Battlefields, in the region of the ZuluKingdom is a land of natural beauty and steeped in history. Your journey takes you through the battlefields that shaped South Africa’s history. The Midlands Meander, South and NorthCoasts rich in marine life including the annual sardine run and whale migration.
- Mpumalanga – follow in the footsteps of the legendary Jock of the Bushveld, big game safaris into Kruger and sourrounding wildife areas, SudwalaCaves deep within the Drakensburg escarpment a dreamland of caverns. Discover a cultural heartland, wild frontier, grass and wetland, comos country, Panorama, highlands meander, lowveldt logote.
- North west – a diverse landscape rich in culture, predominantly BaTwana people trace their ancestry through a turbulent history of war and migration, other groups include the Ndbelele, and Sotho. The Taung child Unesco World Heritage site is one of the most significant archeological discoveries of all time – a 3.5 million year old fossil skull. Excellent game viewing opportunities exsist in the wildlife reserves.
- North/ West / East – The Cape and Environs is a treasure trove of marine and terestral wildlife, wineries, whale watching, cape fynbos eco system, experience some of the finest pristine wilderness of the garden route. Historical sites include the grave of Sara Bartman, a Khoikoi woman who was convinced to go to Europe and was used as an exhibit in the early turn of the century. Fascinating places await your discovery into the west coast, Cape Town, Cape winelands, Overberg, Garden route, Little and Central Karoo and also the Wild Coast.
What to do?
- Boat Safaris – cruise along rivers, lakes and ocean. – view prolific bird life, marine and terrestrial game as it comes down to drink.
- Game Drives – These are operated in open vehicles, usually at dawn and dusk to seek out the most interesting wildlife. Night drives are also arranged in certain areas enabling visitors to glimpse the nocturnal world.
- Walking Safaris – there is no better way of getting really close to nature than this. Lead by experienced armed guides/rangers/trackers, walkers are able to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the bush in harmony with their surroundings. On some treks you may be exploring areas untouched.
- Hiking Trails – Drakensburg and other – for the very fit.
- Wine Route tours of the Cape region.
- Horseback Safaris – lead by experienced rider/guides and offering bird life and game viewing opportunities exploring remote untouched areas. This is an incredible opportunity to explore the real Africa.
- Culture – a wide diversity of tribal people with their interesting traditions and ceremonies reflect their heritage. Battlefields ? follow in the steps of soldiers and warriors of yesteryear. Some of the bloodiest battles in history were fought in the north west corner of KwaZulu-Natal as Zulus, Boers and British forces clashed over land and sovereignity. The battles played out almost 100 years, guides brings to life the stories of defeat and bravery. Many are renowned historians who have fallen under the spell of this mysitical region and have made their homes here. Others are the descendants of warriors who lived and died in their beautiful region.
A wide variety of mammals – for further reading refer to the field guide to African mammals by Jonathan Kingdom and The Behaviour Guide to African Mammals by Estes.
More than 600 species. Further information go to www.birldlife.org.za
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