Welcome to the South Africa Website
A guide for visitors to South Africa
South Africa, as its name suggests, is located on the southern tip of the African continent. Bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Indian Ocean to the south and east, it shares borders with Zimbabwe and Botswana to the north, Namibia in the northwest, with Mozambique and Swaziland to the northeast. The mountainous kingdom of Lesotho is contained within the southeast part of the country. All the major urban centres have modern, world class hotels, and like the Game Parks, have good facilities for tourists. Food can be excellent, and the water in most areas is safe to drink. Pretoria is the capital city, but the largest city, and the financial capital of the country, is Johannesburg.
South Africa is geographically very varied, with rolling fertile plains and wide open savannah, to the peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains. Summers in South Africa, especially in the southern coastal areas, can be quite hot, with more moderate temperatures inland and at higher elevations. Winters tend to be mild except in the mountains where snow is not unusual. The seasons in South Africa are, Spring, September to October, Summer, November to March, Autumn April to May, and Winter, June to August. For safaris, the best time to visit is between May and August, there is less rain fall and the vegetation is less, making it easier to spot the animals. The term "Big Five" refers to five of Africa's greatest wild animals, the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. These were once widely distributed throughout South Africa, but are now largely restricted to game reserves.
Although the vast majority of visitors to South Africa enjoy their stay, you should be aware that crime, including violent crimes such as armed robbery, occur on a routine basis. Attacks on vehicles, and other incidents are regularly reported by visitors and residents alike. Theft of passports and other valuables is most common at airports, bus terminals, and train stations. Even in comparatively safe areas, care should be taken if going out after dark. If you are driving, stick to the main roads, and try to reach your destination before nightfall. While driving through towns and villages, keep the doors locked. Fill up with fuel long before it is necessary, then if you reach a petrol station and you feel unhappy with the area, you have enough fuel to go on to the next station. Even if everything seems quiet, always lock the vehicle even if you are out of it for a few moments. Never leave the vehicle unattended with anything left on show. Often when parking, someone will approach you and offer to look after the car while you are away. If they do, agree to pay them on your return. When you do return to the vehicle, give the person who offered to look after the car a few Rand. If the person is not there, do not pay anyone else, as they are probably, having seen you return to the vehicle, just trying to con you out of some money. Cash dispensers are another place where great care should be taken. Never accept help from people you do not know, and always visit Cash dispensers in pairs if possible. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, move on. A little care and common sense can save a lot of problems.